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DATE News (chronologically)
10/29/08
track news

Miller Motorsports Park announces '09 schedule
With the 2008 racing season fading in the rear-view mirror, Miller Motorsports Park is gearing up for its fourth season of operation in 2009 with another action-packed calendar of events.

The 2009 schedule of major (bold face) and minor events, which is largely unchanged except for a couple of new events and some tweaks to existing events, is as follows:

Dates Events
April 17-19 Snap-On Stars of Karting presented by the IndyCar Series
May 15-17 Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix
May 22-24 WERA Motorcycle Roadracing
May 29-31 HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship®
Jul 31-Aug 1 NASCAR Camping World Series West
August 8-9 Great Salt Race (SCCA Utah Region Double National)
Sept 4-6 Cycle Fest Bonneville Vintage GP (AHMRA) Pro-Am Supermoto
Sept 10-13 National Auto Sports Association (NASA)
Sept. 18-20 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series
Sept. 25-27 Porsche Club of America


Comment
10/29/08
f1

Australian Grand Prix F1 race loses $40M
The 2008 Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne suffered a record $40 million loss, figures reveal.

Taxpayers again had to prop up the struggling event to the tune of $40.1m, the Australian Grand Prix annual report shows.

The report, tabled in the Victorian Parliament today, also shows the MotoGP race had a loss of almost $4m.

Revenue for the FI Grand Prix was down marginally from the 2007 event, while expenditure soared by more than $5m.

Overall losses exceeded the previous year's deficit by more than $5m.

Comment
10/29/08
nassprint

NASCAR takes rear-end housing of #18 UPDATE A NASCAR spokesman says sanctioning body officials have found that the rear housing taken from the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Kyle Busch following the Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway was within the rules.  NASCAR took the rear housing to its research and development center in Concord, N.C., to be measured electronically and found it to be in compliance with the rules, according to the spokesman, so the team will not face any penalties.

10/27/08 NASCAR officials opted to take the rear-end housing of the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup car driven by Kyle Busch to electronically check the measurements following Sunday's Pep Boys 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said. Tharp said that NASCAR does not anticipate there will be a problem with the car, but wanted to check it more closely at the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. SceneDaily

Comment
10/29/08
F1

Q&A with Vijay Mallya
Force India Chairman Vijay Mallya reflects on the team's performance this season and also discusses the way forward.

Q: How would you sum up the last few races?
VM: "We've had a year that's been pretty erratic. We started out pretty well, and then we flattened out. We improved again, and flattened out again. And since Europe, we've just stayed flat. I did however say that following the introduction of the seamless shift gearbox that we would not do any further development of the 2008 car, and that all the focus would be on 2009. Perhaps this is also reflecting that. But I'm a firm believer that one should look ahead and not behind. You certainly learn lessons from past history, but you can't keep moaning and groaning over split milk. As you know, I am in active discussion with McLaren and Ferrari. We will make an announcement either in Brazil, or before Brazil. I'm very confident that we will put on more than a decent show in 2009."

Q: What's the thinking behind the decision for next year?
VM: "I have asked for the entire drivetrain and KERS package from both. Ferrari are not very sure that they can give me the entire drivetrain. Adrian suffered gearbox failure [in Shanghai]. At the end of the day what sense does it make for me to have a great engine, a great KERS system, and a gearbox that's tentative? That's why I said go for the whole hog, a good tried and proven and tested package from the top two teams. And that's what I'm seeking to achieve." 

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10/29/08
automotive

Cash crunch: GM delays spending
General Motors is postponing nearly all of its spending on product development in 2009 and 2010--a cost-cutting move that could delay the introduction of key vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze.

The automaker also is cutting spending on engineering, design and R&D, say sources familiar with GM's plans. So far, nothing has been officially canceled, but nearly everything is delayed, the sources say.

"The 2009 stuff that's too late to cancel is coming out, then everything else gets pushed out anywhere between three months and up to a year," said one of the sources. "It's not just capital budget; it's also engineering, design ... everything that would cause money to flow out in 2009."

General Motors is taking drastic action to avoid running out of money sometime next year. With its product delays, GM hopes to save as much as $1.5 billion, said the source.

GM spokesman Dee Allen declined to comment on plans for individual products. "There have been all kinds of speculation," he said. "We've said we're reviewing our portfolio, and we do that as a regular course of business."

Two high-profile vehicles--the Chevrolet Camaro and the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid--are protected from the cutbacks, says one source close to GM. Likewise, the restyled Buick LaCrosse, the Chevrolet Traverse and possibly the Cadillac CTS wagon are still due to market as planned. AutoWeek

Comment
10/29/08
alms

ALMS impressions from Chris Hall
In the traditional sense, Chris Hall is one of those drivers who wasn’t quite a rookie in 2008. Oh sure, it was his first full season of competition in the American Le Mans Series but the British-born driver came into the season with plenty of experience from stock cars, sprint cars, open-wheel and sports cars. Having just finished the season with Primetime Race Group’s Dodge Viper Competition Coupe in GT2, Hall shared a few insights on his now completed first season.

First impressions
“It has been awhile since I have been involved with an international racing series, and I am blown away at the professionalism and magnitude of the American Le Mans Series. The competition is fierce which I really enjoyed. Racing during the 10th year anniversary is an unforgettable memory which I feel blessed to be apart of. Competing in the Series reconnected me with a number of my old racing buddies from the UK which resurfaced a lot of great memories from my previous racing career.”

Favorite stop
“Overall I would say Petit Le Mans. Road Atlanta immediately became my home track when I moved over from UK. Petit Le Mans brought back a lot of memories such as teaching the Panoz Racing School and competitively racing on many levels at Road Atlanta. However, the 12 Hours of Sebring was another big event for myself and the team. Sebring was a true test to my endurance which I really enjoyed. The fifth place finish for Primetime was a great way to kick-off the 2008 racing season.”

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10/29/08
nastruck

Fire damages BBM trucks & hauler
Two Toyota racing trucks, a toolbox, a pit box and a tractor-trailer car hauler were heavily damaged by fire on Interstate 20 on Tuesday. Biese the hauler driver told deputies he ran over some debris on I-20 and stopped to check for damage, finding a small air leak. He drove approximately two miles, when smoke started coming from his trailer wheels and flames erupted, Baswell said. Biese was hauling the two Toyota trucks to the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth where one of them was to be driven by NASCAR's Kyle Busch in Friday's Chevy Silverado 350, part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The equipment, which is valued at $1,000,000 and may end up being a total loss, is owned by Billy Ballew Motorsports out of Woodstock, Georgia. Investigators say overheated brakes may have caused the fire. No one was hurt in the blaze, Baswell said. Shreveport Times

Comment
10/29/08
f1

Force India to compensate Ferrari for split
(GMM)  Further to reports that Force India will shortly unveil its technical partner for 2009, the team's high profile co-owner Vijay Mallya has revealed that an announcement will be made "in Brazil, or before Brazil".

It is now common knowledge that the Indian billionaire, whose team is currently powered by customer Ferrari engines, is in talks with McLaren-Mercedes about a full technical package for 2009.

"I am in active discussion with McLaren and Ferrari," he said on Wednesday.  "We will make an announcement either in Brazil, or before Brazil."

Mallya said the McLaren talks began because Ferrari "are not very sure" if they can bundle a customer KERS system for next year.

And despite Force India debuting its own seamless gearbox this year, he also said he wants to buy a complete transmission for 2009.

"Adrian (Sutil) suffered gearbox failure (in China).  At the end of the day what sense does it make for me to have a great engine, a great KERS system, and a gearbox that's tentative?" Mallya said.

"That's why I said go for the whole hog, a good tried and proven and tested package from the top two teams.  And that's what I'm seeking to achieve."

Complicating his talks with McLaren is Force India's ongoing contract with Ferrari, and the fact that the split is to occur so late into preparations for 2009.

"It is recognized that if for whatever reason we need to part, it will be a very friendly parting.  And that's all agreed," Mallya insisted.

"If they have incurred some costs developing engines for us for next year, we'll talk about it.  We're certainly not going to be bloody minded.

"If they have incurred costs on my behalf, I think I owe it to them to offer to reimburse."

Comment
10/29/08
track news

New Jersey Motorsports Park Off To A Fast Start In 2008
Millville, NJ – As the inaugural season at South Jersey’s New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) winds down, evidence of the facility’s positive economic impact on the region is surfacing.  NJMP’s 3 major racing venues – Thunderbolt Raceway, Lightning Raceway and F1 New Jersey Karting – have been booked virtually every day over the course of the season and will continue to host events until it closes for the winter.  Since it’s opening on July 5, 2008, NJMP has hosted six marquee spectator events – drawing well over 30,000 fans – as well as hosting over 60 different car and motorcycle clubs, driver training schools and corporate events.

Major spectator events included the Eastern Motor Racing Association (EMRA), SVRA Vintage Racing Association, Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC), Grand-Am Road Racing Association, Mazda Formula X, “Wheels and Warbirds” airshow, and the ARCA RE/MAX Series.  Every day one or both of the two road courses have been rented to organizations such as racing teams looking for private testing time, car and motorcycle enthusiast clubs, or private businesses like Supercar Life, which rent exotic cars and provide instruction to paying customers.

Read more & Comment...
10/29/08
f1

Scheckter slams today's F1
(GMM)  Former world champion Jody Scheckter has issued a damning appraisal of today's incarnation of the sport he conquered in 1979.

The 58-year-old South African, who won his title for Ferrari, slammed formula one as a "big dictatorship", despite remaining involved as recently as last year, when he sold his organic farm products to Honda.

"I don't like the way formula one has gone," he admitted in an interview with The Independent newspaper.

Scheckter believes controversial FIA president Max Mosley is a chief "problem", arguing that McLaren's penalties for spying in 2007 is an example of why the sport needs reforming.

"They are not managing it in a fair way," he said.  "F1 was always the ultimate technological challenge and the ultimate challenge against each other.  But they are destroying it.

"The sport is much softer than it was, technically less difficult."

He said some of the penalties handed to Britain's Lewis Hamilton this year were "ridiculous" and therefore hopes the McLaren driver wins Sunday's championship showdown in Brazil.

Comment
10/29/08
f1

Force India to announce 2009 partner 'shortly'
(GMM)  High profile Force India co-owner Vijay Mallya said on Wednesday he hopes to confirm the team's technical partner for the 2009 season "very shortly".

It has been reported widely that the Silverstone based team is in detailed talks with McLaren-Mercedes about a collaboration.

Force India is currently powered by Ferrari engines, but team figures have expressed concern about the Italian squad's uncertainty about its KERS package for next year.

Moreover, it is expected that McLaren is offering additional technical support, that may extend as far as chassis and aerodynamic parts.

"As many of the media has reported, we are currently looking into our package for next season and I hope I will be able to announce a deal very shortly," Mallya said on Wednesday.

"I will make sure that my team has the best solution for engine, drivetrain and KERS possible so we can get a good head start and try to get the points that have eluded us so far this season," he added.

Comment
10/29/08
euro3000

2009 Euro3000 series schedule
The Euroseries 3000 Championship announced their new 2009 season calendar. The maximum cost for the Italian and European F.3000 championship has been set at just 350,000 Euros.  The Lola B02/50-Zytek with Formula 1-style paddle shift gearbox will be used.

There will be 14 races (in 7 events) in four countries - Italy, Portugal, England and Spain. The opening race is scheduled on the 19th of April on the Imola track, which comes back in the F.3000 calendar after the recent work done to update the track.

2009 Calendar

19 April Imola Italy
17 May Algarve - Portimao Portugal
28 June Spa Belgium
05 July Donington England
20 September Vallelunga Italy
18 October Monza Italy
01 November Barcelona Spain

Comment
10/29/08
euro3000

Ex-Atlantic driver David Garza wins at Jerez
David Garza
The second race on the Spanish Jerez track goes to the Mexican rookie David Garza who, with Lola B02/50 of the Sighinolfi Autoracing, wins ahead of Adam Khan (TP Formula) and Fabio Beretta (Bull Racing) getting his first win F.3000.

At the start Ramon Zapata (Emmebi Motorsport), started from the first row, is very slow and Garza and Beretta get the lead. The Mexican manages to take a good pace, while behind him Adam Khan, started from the fourth row, begins a great come back: after a good battle with Fabrizio Crestani (GP Racing), the Anglo Pakistan manages to overtake him at the third lap thus getting the fourth place behind the Spanish Bruno Mendez (Bull Racing). At the tenth lap, due to a mistake by the Spanish, he manages to get the third position, behind the leader David Garza and Fabio Beretta. Two laps to the end the TP Formula driver overtakes also Beretta thus ending second, as in race 1. Thanks to this result Khan is now third in the overall standings. 

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10/29/08
speedcar

Speedcar Series announces 3 million US dollar prize pot
For Season 2, Speedcar Series is making the prize money more attractive to teams and drivers alike. The 3 million dollar prize pot includes 500,000 US dollars to the winning championship driver and an additional 500,000 US dollars to the winning championship team. Drivers will also win pre-determined amounts of money for each of the 12 races through the season. As an added incentive drivers on pole position for each of the 6 rounds will be awarded 10,000 US dollars.

The new prize money structure is the highlight of the "Team entry information pack" that Speedcar Series is releasing to potential new teams and drivers after a successful initial round of testing and prior to a second test session scheduled for 9-10 November, 2008 at the Dubai Autodrome.

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10/29/08
f1

Hamilton poised to become youngest champion
England expects Lewis Hamilton to become Formula One's youngest world champion in Brazil on Sunday at the same circuit where last year he buckled under pressure and blew his chance.

Brazil hopes Ferrari's Felipe Massa can somehow upset the odds and, with his home Interlagos crowd roaring him on, be crowned the country's first champion since the late Ayrton Senna in 1991.

After last year's astonishing finale, with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen clawing back a seven-point deficit to prevent Hamilton becoming the first rookie to take the title, anything could happen. The only certainty is there will be a first-time champion.

Hamilton, 23, is back with another seven-point advantage while Massa must win and hope the hand of fate favors him. All the McLaren driver has to do, to become Britain's first champion since Damon Hill in 1996 and his team's first since Mika Hakkinen in 1999, is finish fifth. That proved beyond him at Interlagos last year, despite starting alongside Massa on the front row, when he struggled to seventh place.

This time Formula One's first black driver is determined to make amends and show he has learned from the past by playing it safe.

"I remember last year, going into the final race, I was really on the back foot," he told Britain's Observer newspaper.  I felt the whole country, the whole world ... I just felt this huge weight on my shoulders. I went in and made several mistakes and we dropped back. This year, because I've experienced it, I'm much better prepared." More at Reuters

Comment
10/29/08
nassprint

NASCAR team owner indicted on tax charges
The general manager of Abingdon-based Morgan-McClure Motorsports has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges relating to wire fraud, mail fraud and violations of federal tax law, the U.S. Attorney’s office said late Tuesday. Larry Allen McClure, who has been general manager of his family’s motorsports team for 25 years, faces a maximum penalty of 115 years in federal prison and up to $2.75 million in fines if convicted on three counts of mail fraud, three counts of filing a false tax return, two counts of obstructing a tax investigation, two counts of money laundering and one count of wire fraud. The indictment against McClure, also released Tuesday, accuses him of filing fraudulent income tax returns in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Internal Revenue Service investigators said the returns omitted several large payments from an unidentified Florida man who leased race cars from McClure to use in races conducted by the American Racing Club of America. The family-owned Morgan-McClure team won 14 Sprint Cup races and 13 pole positions over a couple decades relying on sponsorship from Kodak. That record included three victories in the famed Daytona 500.

Read more & Comment...
10/29/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Brazil GP improves rain drainage with grooves
  • Standard engine 'not feasible' - Mercedes
  • Only new rules give Rosberg hope for 2009
  • Massa hits back at Eddie Jordan jibe
  • Boss hopes for unlikely Ferrari title

Brazil GP improves rain drainage with grooves
(GMM)  Brazil could be set to stage a wet finale to the 2008 world championship.

Local forecasts from the scene of the Interlagos circuit, located about a half-hour drive from downtown Sao Paulo, suggest that cloudy conditions could bring rain at any point throughout the weekend, including on Sunday.

It has emerged that Brazilian organizers have this week added grooves to three sections of the 4.3km Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace layout, to improve drainage in the event of heavy rain.

Standard engine 'not feasible' - Mercedes
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has added yet another F1 manufacturer's opposing voice to plans for a standard engine formula.

The German, representing McLaren's carmaker partner Mercedes-Benz, told Auto Motor und Sport that he does not "believe a single engine is feasible for the manufacturers".

Haug said F1 remains a technical challenge, but notes that "in recent years, technical excellence has been limited".

Mercedes therefore joins Ferrari, Toyota, Honda and BMW in spelling out their distaste at the prospect of a third party supplying either an engine or a mandatory detailed design in 2010 and beyond.

Toyota and Ferrari this week threatened to quit F1 over the issue, but Haug told Bild newspaper that he is hopeful a "solution can be found, but everyone must be prepared to compromise".

BMW's Mario Theissen explained to the German news agency DPA: "We don't expect the standard engine to come after the talks held so far, and our formula one concept is based on this."

Renault boss Flavio Briatore told the Welt newspaper that, instead of standard engines, F1 will "probably" pursue the route of a future engine formula that, "on the basis of costs, will not go beyond certain development borders".

Read more & Comment...
10/28/08
nastruck

Truck TV ratings increase
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race from Atlanta scored a Nielsen Household Rating of 1.00 (732,000 households), a dramatic 79-percent increase from last year’s 0.56 (410,000 households). As a growing number of race fans continue to tune in to the closest points race in all of NASCAR’s top three national divisions, the Atlanta race peaked at a rating of 1.17 (855,000 households), up 44 percent from last year’s peak of 0.81 (588,000 households).

The Atlanta numbers mark the sixth time this season that Truck Racing on SPEED has hit or surpassed a full 1.00 rating and the 16th time Nielsen ratings have increased year-to-year on SPEED. Younger audiences continue to tune into NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racing on SPEED, as ratings for Men 18-49 were up 84 percent from Atlanta and ratings for Men 18-34 were up 92 percent.

With only 31 points separating the leaders, the final three races of the season are all LIVE on SPEED, with the next race, dubbed “Truck or Treat,” scheduled for Friday night beginning with NCTS Setup at 8:30 p.m. ET and race coverage from Texas Motor Speedway beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

In other weekend race coverage, the simulcast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on SPEED scored a Nielsen Household Rating of 0.75 (548,000 households), peaking at a 0.92 (672,000 households).

Comment
10/28/08
nassprint

RCR Names DiCio Director of Business Development
Michael DiCio has been named managing director of business development for 11-time NASCAR championship-winning Richard Childress Racing. DiCio comes to RCR with nearly 30 years’ experience in marketing and business development with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. His day-to-day responsibilities will include overseeing overall business development, including sponsorship opportunities across RCR's teams and new corporate and technical partnerships. He will also explore new strategic partnerships, potential B2B opportunities for RCR and its partners, and incremental revenue opportunities.

“We are excited about Mike becoming a key member of our marketing team at RCR,” said Ben Schlosser, RCR’s vice president of marketing. “Mike’s energy and his nearly 30 years of strategic planning, business development, brand management and international business experience will make him a valuable asset to RCR and our partners.” DiCio earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He was the 1978 NCAA Division III Springboard Diving Champion and a six-time All-America in both one-meter and three-meter competition (1977-79). RCR PR

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10/28/08
nassprint

Waltrip team gets new Technical Director
Nick Hughes has been named to replace Dr. Eric Warren as  technical director at Michael Waltrip Racing, the team announced Tuesday.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of combining the skills of our engineering group with the experience and knowledge of our teams and other departments in order to continue increasing the performance and competitiveness of our cars,” Hughes said in a news release.

Warren had been with the team for 13 months.

"Michael Waltrip personally asked me to help get the team on its feet, and Andy Graves from [Toyota] was instrumental in me coming to MWR," said Warren, who joined MWR in September 2007 after stints at Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Penske Racing. "I feel like we were successful over the course of the year. I’m looking forward to a new opportunity at the pinnacle of our sport and wish the team continued success."

Comment
10/28/08
nascar

NASCAR sponsorship money expected to plunge
New sponsorship money for NASCAR race teams is down about 10 percent this year and may fall more in 2009 as the financial crisis takes a toll on the most-watched U.S. motorsports circuit, the head of the racing league said. Race teams have received about $86 million in new sponsorship money so far this year, compared with $96 million in 2007, said Andrew Giangola, a NASCAR spokesman. Some sponsorships for this year may still be announced. ``That's lower than we've traditionally had as a rate of increase,'' Brian France, NASCAR’s chief executive officer, said on a conference call after announcing Camping World Inc. will be the title sponsor of its truck series beginning in 2009. For 2009, France said, new sponsorship money may be as low as $80 million. Bloomberg

Comment
10/28/08
Team USA

Daly and Newgarden Taste the High Life
After their spectacular showing at the Formula Ford Kent Festival, 2008 Team USA Scholarship winners Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden have been busy with a variety of activities over the past 10 days and are now ready to concentrate on preparations for the Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone this weekend.

The two American teenagers spent a day sightseeing in London immediately after their successful foray to Brands Hatch, then traveled to Banbury for a tour of Prodrive which encompassed visits to Aston Martin Racing and the Subaru World Rally Team. The next day included a visit to the WilliamsF1 team, for which Conor’s father, Derek, drove in the 1980s.

“Our visits to Prodrive and Williams F1 were awesome,” said the younger Daly. “Going to Prodrive for Josef and me was a real treat mainly because we both have Subaru road cars! Williams was really great as well because of the fact that my father raced for them and because it’s a Formula 1 team factory – and you don’t get to see those everyday!

“Being able to visit a team that my Dad drove for was very cool because I don’t really see much evidence any more of his racing career other than pictures and trophies at our house. But here I could see an actual car, his name, his helmet in a trophy case, and when I was introduced to everyone in the factory and reception building, they seemed to acknowledge me as a Very Important Person as the son of a former Williams F1 Team driver. I felt incredibly honored.”

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10/28/08
automotive

GMAC end auto loans in 7 countries
GMAC LLC, the money losing home-loan and auto finance lender, will halt new vehicle loans through its financial services unit in seven European countries as global credit markets deteriorate.  The company will stop originating loans in the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Slovak Republic and Spain, Detroit-based GMAC said today in statement.

In those countries and in Hungary and Denmark, GMAC will ``assess the implications of this challenging environment with the aim of diversifying funding sources for dealers over time,'' the company said.

Plagued by tumbling auto sales, ratings cuts and tightening credit markets, GMAC is scaling back lending in Europe following reductions in the U.S. and Canada. GMAC's part owner, General Motors Corp., had its debt downgraded by Moody's Investors Service yesterday and AmeriCredit Corp., the lender to car buyers with blemished credit record, said uncollectible debt jumped in the quarter ended September.

Chief Executive Officer Al de Molina said in an e-mail to employees this month that the company has ``limited if any access to funding'' for its mortgage and auto-lending units and may trim lending in some international markets. The company also said this month it will limit auto loans in the U.S. to borrowers with credit scores of at least 700, making it harder for some customers to buy a car or truck.  Bloomberg

Comment
10/28/08
ga

Grand-Am Test Day 2 Notebook
Day two of the three-day October Test Days for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 at Daytona International Speedway gave several drivers the opportunity to become reacquainted with the track, while others their first chance with a new team or ever running in a Daytona Prototype or GT car.

The test, which is using the 2008 Pirelli P Zero tires for the final time, will conclude tomorrow with practice at the 3.56-mile track, following two days of nine-hour test sessions. Wednesday's schedule will be shorter, with teams and drivers seeing action from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Only two incidents interrupted the session Tuesday. Billy Asaro, who was involved in an incident late Monday, lost his brakes in Turn 5 in the early afternoon, and his No. 11 AIM Autosport Ford Riley slid into the tire barrier, damaging the car's front bodywork and mechanical pieces. The team will forego Wednesday's session. Christophe Bouchut, driving the No. 55 Level 5 Motorsports BMW Riley, also brushed a tire barrier after a pedal problem in the early laps Tuesday morning. The car sustained minor damage, and the team made repairs and sent the car back out for several laps.

Read more & Comment...
10/28/08
nassprint

FCC to sponsor Yates car UPDATE A taxpayer watchdog group named FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin the October Porker of the Month, hitting the Republican for the agency's sponsorship of Mr. Gilliland, a fellow North Carolina native.

"Even though the commission has inundated networks with paid announcements for months, Martin considered it necessary to use additional taxpayer dollars to pay for the car and driver to bear slogans such as 'Is Your TV Ready for Digital?'" said Citizens Against Government Waste, citing the $355,000 price tag of the sponsorship.

10/16/08 Yates Racing announced today that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will sponsor the No. 38 entry with driver David Gilliland for a total of three races in the remaining NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.  The primary sponsorship will debut at Martinsville Speedway on October 19th as the No. 38 Digital TV Transition Ford will take to the track.  The primary sponsorship is to help educate the American public about the fact that on February 17th, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United State will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital.  Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality along with additional channels. 

"I'm flattered that the FCC chose our No. 38 Ford to help them convey the message about the upcoming digital television transition taking place next year," commented Gilliland.  "This is a very big undertaking to convert the entire country to digital services, but the end result will be improved picture and sound quality and those are definitely important factors to NASCAR fans.  Yates Racing has had a tremendous 2008 season which allowed us to have a variety of important partnerships, and our No. 38 Digital TV Transition Ford will be another great example of partners who believe in the reach that we have. I am honored to help promote the Digital TV Transition messaging."

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10/28/08
nascar

Germain Racing to run in all 3 NASCAR series
Germain Racing plans to keep its Nationwide Series program and at least one of its two Truck Series entries on track next year while it enters the Sprint Cup Series with Max Papis for at least 18 races.

“We’ve had a plan all along that we were going to expand this team and get it to the top level of NASCAR but try to do it in a way that as we went along, we grew the team at a reasonable pace and had some success in the series that we raced in,” said team co-owner Bob Germain, whose team won the 2006 Truck title with Bodine and has competed in the Nationwide Series in 2008.

“In my opinion, we were a little bit ahead of schedule. We didn’t start until almost all the way through the 2004 season. Our goal was to race in the Cup series.”

With Geico sponsoring half the season, Germain is looking to fill out the rest of the 2009 Cup schedule for Papis.

“Our hope was to probably get up to 25 races next year,” Germain said. “We want to try to do a lot of testing. I think it’s going to end up somewhere between the 18 races that we are now and a full schedule. We have a lot of potential sponsors that we’re talking to. The affiliation with Geico is one of the biggest selling features of the rest of the program.”

Comment
10/28/08
nassprint

MWR names new Technical Director
Nick Hughes has been named technical director at Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). "I am looking forward to the challenge of combining the skills of our engineering group with the experience and knowledge of our teams and other departments in order to continue increasing the performance and competitiveness of our cars,” Hughes said. Hughes replaces Dr. Eric Warren who recently departed MWR to pursue new opportunities in the Sprint Cup Series. "Michael Waltrip personally asked me to help get the team on its feet and Andy Graves from TRD was instrumental in me coming to MWR," said Dr. Warren, who won 13 Cup races while at Gillette-Evernham Motorsports before joining MWR in September 2007. "I feel like we were successful over the course of the year. I’m looking forward to a new opportunity at the pinnacle of our sport and wish the team continued success."

"I want to thank Eric for all he’s done for Michael Waltrip Racing," Calvin Wells III stated. "He helped build a strong foundation for MWR’s teams during his tenure. We wish him success in his endeavors. We also are pleased to announce Nick Hughes as technical director and congratulate him on his new position." MWR PR

Comment
10/28/08
f1

Klien ‘certain’ BMW has KERS advantage
BMW Sauber test driver Christian Klien is confident that the Hinwil-based squad is way ahead of its competitors in the development of its Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS).

Next year’s rules permit (but do not require) the use of KERS devices, which store energy otherwise lost during braking and convert it into power.

Klien believes BMW is at a more advanced stage of development with its system than all of its rival teams – despite the high-profile incident in July when one of the team’s mechanics suffered an electric shock while handling a KERS-equipped car.

“It goes without saying that every team is trying to come to terms with all this as quickly as possible,” Klien told BMW Sauber’s website.

“I am certain that we at BMW are furthest on with our preparations.”

Comment
10/28/08
f1

FIA hits back after Ferrari quit threat
(GMM)  The FIA has hit back at Ferrari's warning that the imposition of a standard engine formula could lead to its withdrawal from the sport.

"It seems the Ferrari board were misinformed," said a statement issued by the Paris based body, whose president is the controversial figure Max Mosley.

After a meeting of its board of directors on Monday, the famous Italian team said the advent of control engine designs would cause Ferrari to consider "the viability of continuing its presence" on the grid.

But in its response, the sport's ruling federation said Ferrari seems to have overlooked the alternative option of making available engine supply packages to small teams for 5m euros per season.

"It is now for the manufacturers to agree one of the three FIA options or themselves produce concrete proposals to reduce costs to a sustainable level," the statement said.

"If neither happens, the FIA will take whatever measures prove necessary to preserve a credible world championship for both drivers and constructors."

Earlier this week, Renault boss Flavio Briatore suggested teams will indeed go down an alternate route to standard engines.

BMW-Sauber team principal Mario Theissen told the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Tuesday: "We don't expect the standard engine to come after the talks held so far."

Comment
10/28/08
f1

Alesi backs Ferrari over F1 quit threat
(GMM) Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi says the famous Italian team is right to threaten to quit formula one over the prospect of standard engines.

The Frenchman, who raced with the Maranello squad between 1991 and 1995, said the FIA's plans to mandate the design of engines from 2010 is "absurd".

"I have exactly the same thoughts as Ferrari," Alesi, 44, told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview.

"It's an absurd idea, because with a standard engine you would not be contesting a real constructors' championship."

He defended Ferrari's right to threaten to abandon the sport it has contested every year consecutively since its modern inception in 1950.

"Ferrari is F1's flagship, and whoever has proposed this is not thinking about what is good for Ferrari nor F1.

"With standard engines, Maranello would be right to step out," he said.

Alesi said even the global financial crisis is no justification for the proposal.

"It has nothing to do with it," he said, "but rather it is a very deep and very complicated political issue, about which I do not want to say any more.

"It goes for all manufacturers. It is in effect asking BMW, Toyota or Mercedes to sack their engineers and buy an engine from the supermarket."

Alesi said that not only should the proposal be "withdrawn", its authors should publicly "apologize".

Comment
10/28/08
alms

McNish says Thank You to fans who voted for him

Allan McNish is grateful for ALMS Driver of the Decade award
Ever gracious, Allan McNish has a simple message for the fans who recently voted him the American Le Mans Series' Driver of the Decade: Thank you.


"I'd like to thank everybody from the American Le Mans Series who voted for me as the Driver of the Decade," McNish says in a special audio message to fans. "I was very pleasantly surprised when I arrived into Laguna and was told that I had won the overall vote. To be voted No. 1 out of that group is quite a humbling experience. I certainly have enjoyed my time in the Series tremendously. It has been excellent fun, excellent racing, great fans, great circuits and a brilliant championship. I look forward to the next 10 years of the American Le Mans Series and seeing the championship grow even further again."

McNish and Audi won overall at Petit Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Le Mans this season. In his Series career, McNish has three LMP1 championships, 26 victories (18 overall), 36 podiums, 12 pole positions and 15 fastest race laps.

The Drivers of the Decade contest helped celebrate the American Le Mans Series' recently completed 10th season of world-class sports car racing.


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10/28/08
automotive

Honda reports 41 percent drop in quarterly profit
Unlike inept run American car companies that lose money, the Japanese and German companies, for the most part still make a profit in this bad economy.  Honda reported a 41 percent drop in quarterly profit (but a profit nonetheless) Tuesday on declining sales and a stronger yen, forcing Japan's second-biggest automaker to lower its forecasts for the full year.

Honda Motor Co., with its fuel efficient Civic and Accord models, has avoided the deep problems of its money-losing American rivals. But the latest results show that even Honda appears to be suffering some from a global slowdown sparked by the U.S. financial crisis. Particularly damaging has been the sluggish North American auto market, which has shrunk to its smallest in more than 15 years amid tighter credit and fears about bank failures and a Wall Street meltdown.

Honda Motor Co. reported a July-September group net profit of 123.3 billion yen ($1.3 billion), down from 208.4 billion yen. Sales for the second quarter fell 4.9 percent to 2.827 trillion yen ($30.4 billion).

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10/28/08
irl

Tagliani makes strong impression
Alex Tagliani's performance in his third race in the No. 36 Conquest Racing car (second on a street course) impressed even the veteran open-wheel racing driver.

Tagliani, who registered the best starting position of the season for Conquest Racing (seventh), delivered its best result (fourth) in the Nikon Indy 300 on the 2.795-mile street course. He hopes the results work in his favor as he looks for a full-time ride for 2009.

"I'm very happy with this result for the Conquest team," said Tagliani, who has competed in the event each of the past seven years and led one lap. "Brandon (Fry) and Eric (Zeto) worked so hard on the engineering aspect of the car. They saw potential in Detroit and were very excited with the feedback they received. They were able to take that information and prepare for this race in Australia. I'm pretty sure that the winter will be much sweeter with this good result.

Read more & Comment...
10/28/08
irl

Danicar circus
A reader writes, Not that any true open-wheel fan needs any real explanation why the IRL (no, it is hardly a merged series; it is still the IRL) has failed miserably and the worst is yet to come. If you knew about it, just watch the replay of the once great Surfers Paradise race from Australia this weekend and the reasons become clearly obvious.

Reader feels Danica Patrick's lack of driving skill makes the IRL look like a circus
Not only was the broadcast archaic and uninspiring, but we got a full-fledged dose of a two-year old child, the hero of the IRL's ratings boost, greatest racecar driver of this century (according to the grossly inept media), and the only driver worthy of a F1 test drive (according to Honda - the main supporter of the IRL), throw a hissy fit (watch a video of Danica's latest tantrum in Surfers Paradise) and promptly blame all others that it was their fault that she stalled her car on-track, had multiple contacts with other drivers, and, despite being in arguably the series best team and car, was regularly 5 seconds (yes, 5 SECONDS!) off the pace in EVERY session and couldn't even make one lap in qualifying before crashing twice.

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10/28/08
f1

A lap of Interlagos with Alex Wurz
Aut¢dromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos
Round eighteen is the final race of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship and takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The 71-lap race takes place at the atmospheric 4.309km (2.677-mile) Aut¢dromo José Carlos Pace in Interlagos. Alex Wurz takes us for a lap around the track.

Alex Wurz: “Brazil is a great place to end the year because the Brazilians are very passionate about Formula One and they will have a lot to shout about this year with Felipe Massa still in the running for the World Championship.

“The track is a good challenge for the drivers. You are in seventh gear as you cross the start-finish line and you brake for Turn 1 at about 317kph (197mph). This corner is banked and has a blind apex, which makes the braking quite interesting. You can brake very late, which makes it a very good overtaking place.

“You then dive downhill into a right-hander and you’re up into fourth gear by the exit. To help get the car turned in, you need a little lift here and you need to be wary of a bump on the entry, which destabilizes the car. It’s quite a difficult corner and it will be even harder to get right this year without traction control. Turn 3 is a long left-hander, which should be flat.

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10/28/08
f1

Interlagos, the technical challenge
The high altitude and a bumpy track surface provide the two biggest engineering challenges at the Aut¢dromo José Carlos Pace. At 800 meters above sea level, the reduced atmospheric pressure at the circuit reduces engine power and has a negative effect on aerodynamic performance.

The track was resurfaced prior to last year’s race, but some of its notorious bumps still remain, particularly in the braking area for Turn 4, the ‘Descida do Lago’. To avoid bottoming out, the cars have to run with increased ride heights, which reduces the effectiveness of their diffusers.

There are two overtaking points on the lap: into the ‘S do Senna’ at the start of the lap, and under braking for the ‘Descida do Lago’ left-hander at the end of the back straight. However, the most important corner is ‘Juncao’, Turn 12, from where the cars accelerate up the hill towards the start-finish straight. Good traction at the exit is vital to achieving a good lap time.

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10/28/08
automotive

Volkswagen Overtakes Exxon as World's Most Valuable Company
Volkswagen AG became the world's biggest company by market value after Porsche SE announced plans to raise its stake in the German carmaker to 75 percent, triggering demand from short-sellers. Volkswagen rose as much as 485.01 euros, or 93 percent, to 1,005.01 euros and was up 89 percent as of 9:55 a.m. in Frankfurt trading. Porsche said it will increase its holding from 42.6 percent, prompting some short-sellers to buy from a shrinking pool of stock to end their bets. Volkswagen has risen more than six fold this year, valuing it at 294 billion euros ($367 billion), more than Exxon Mobil Corp.'s $343 billion market value at yesterday's close, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Comment
10/28/08
f1

McLaren previews Brazilian GP
The 18-race 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Championship finally reaches its climax in Sao Paulo, Brazil, next weekend. And the daunting Interlagos circuit will play host to a thrilling title decider for the fourth successive season, between Vodafone McLaren Mercedes championship leader Lewis Hamilton (94 points) and local hero Felipe Massa (87).

With each driver poised to win his first world title, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the constructors’ championship has also to be decided; Vodafone McLaren Mercedes currently lies 11 points behind leaders Ferrari.

Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit was born out of a 1926 suburban construction program which aimed to regenerate an area of the huge Brazilian city located between two enormous drinking-water reservoirs [Interlagos is Portuguese for ‘in between lakes’].

The venue was finally completed in the late 1930s and hosted its first (non-championship) Formula 1 race in the spring of 1972, on the original 7.96km switchback course. The inaugural event’s success led to its inclusion onto the world championship calendar the following year - a position it relinquished in 1980. After a stint at Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepaguá track, Interlagos returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 1990 in a more modest 4.3km configuration. 

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10/28/08
nhra

Technicoat, Kalitta Motorsports extend partnership through 2013
Technicoat Cos., a worldwide leader in industrial waterproofing and flooring, and Ypsilanti, Mich.-based Kalitta Motorsports will extend their long-running and greatly successful partnership for an additional five years.

Technicoat Cos. will continue its support of Kalitta Motorsports' NHRA Professional drag racing team as a major associate sponsor on the Top Fuel dragsters driven by Doug Kalitta and Dave Grubnic and on the Ken Black-owned, Kalitta Motorsports-managed Top Fueler driven by Hillary Will. Technicoat will also continue to have major associate signage on the Team Kalitta Funny Car driven by Jeff Arend.

Technicoat Cos., based in Las Vegas and Westminster, Calif., specializes in high-tech performance coatings and floorings, wearing surfaces for pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic, as well as new and existing roofs. Technicoat President Bob Coffman and COO Glen Williams, aka "the Cowboys," are fixtures in the Team Kalitta pit area at most NHRA national events with their trademark cowboy hats. Technicoat Cos. and Kalitta Motorsports began their marketing partnership near the end of the 2002 NHRA season.

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10/28/08
motogp

Gibernau thrilled to be back
Sete Gibernau made his official return to the world of Moto GP at Valencia on Monday when he completed his first day of testing for his newly formed Ducati Satellite team, Onde 2000 on board the Desmosedici GP8.

Sete has been out of the series since 2006 and his anticipated return was confirmed at Valencia over the weekend and he couldn’t wait to test on the Spanish track for the first time in three years, even if he was a little off the pace compared to his new colleagues.

“All the other riders are too fast for me to follow at the moment!” he told the sports official website. “They are all pretty sure of what they are doing, and I´m not yet. I´m still in need of learning what I have to do to get this bike fast; I´m not scared, but I’ve got a lot of respect for what everyone is doing in this championship.”

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10/28/08
lmes

Quifel-ASM Buys Ginetta-Zytek 09S
Quifel-ASM, one of the leading LMP2 teams in the Le Mans Series, has become the first customer for the Ginetta-Zytek 09S, as Zytek Engineering's latest car is to be called.  Developed from the already impressive Zytek 07S, the 09S will feature a revised aero package and will be powered by a new version of the 2007 Le Mans class winning, 3.4-litre Zytek ZG348 engine. The power unit improvements include a 3kg reduction in weight and increases in both power and torque.

Runner-up in the Le Mans Series LMP2 championship in both 2006 and 2007 with wins at the Nürburgring, Jarama, Spa and Valencia, the Lisbon-based Quifel-ASM Team has been one of the LMS's most consistent performers. Indeed, it should have won the series in 2006 but for the fact that, due to an idiosyncrasy in the rules, it had to be entered under a different name during the early part of that year. Lead driver, and former GP2 winner, Olivier Pla has already tested and raced the Team LNT LMP1 Ginetta-Zytek 07S. "I can see the car has a big, big potential," he said just prior to the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta where that car led overall in the early stages. "Both the engine and chassis appear to be very good and there is still a lot of development to come. For me, it is the car to give a hard time to the Porsches."

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10/28/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ferrari joins Toyota in F1 quit threat
  • Kimi should ask for help - Schumacher
  • New wing for McLaren's last title push
  • Massa promises no 'dirty' title tactics
  • Massa engineer eyes engine advantage
  • 2008 was hardest ever year - Heidfeld

Ferrari joins Toyota in F1 quit threat
(GMM)  Ferrari has threatened to "re-evaluate" its commitment to formula one should the governing body impose standard engines.

Despite also boasting of increased revenues and profits after a board meeting on Monday, the famous Italian team made clear its strong opposition to cost-cutting via the method of homogenizing powertrain design.

In a statement issued after the board meeting headed by president Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari said it believed Max Mosley's plan would "detract from the entire raison" of a sport "based principally on competition and technological development".

"The board of directors expressed the opinion that should these key elements be diminished, it would have to re-evaluate, with its partners the viability of continuing its presence in the sport," the statement warned.

Ferrari, nonetheless, pointed out its "wholehearted commitment" to cost-cutting in F1.

It was reported recently that Toyota has also threatened to quit F1 over the issue of standard engines, but the Japanese team issued a clarification on Monday.

"We believe formula one must remain a technological challenge; this is an important point for Toyota and provided this does not change we expect to continue in formula one until at least 2012," Toyota said.

Kimi should ask for help - Schumacher
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has urged Kimi Raikkonen to ask for Ferrari's help in overcoming his competitive slump.

Raikkonen, the reigning world champion, has been reduced to a supportive role for teammate Felipe Massa's 2008 title challenge, after struggling for recent form.

Retired seven time world champion Schumacher, who is now a Ferrari advisor and occasional test driver, believes the 29-year-old Finn's problems are purely technical.

"I think I have to protect him in many ways, because in the middle of the season we made some developments to the car but Kimi simply didn't get on with these ones," the German said in an interview with the BBC.

"The moment we went back with those changes, we got him back to competitive lap times," the 39-year-old added.

But Schumacher also concedes that Raikkonen's naturally reticent character could be playing a part in his struggle to get back up to speed.

While Massa openly embraces friend Schumacher's role as a mentor, Schumacher points out that his relationship with Raikkonen is "very different".

"In a way it is his strength that he has a very focused vision, and maybe sometimes it doesn't always help him," the German said.

"We could maybe help him more if he would ask for it."

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10/27/08
roc

Pastrana and Edwards to Represent USA at ROC
Carl Edwards
Two motorsport champions, both famous for back-flips, will represent the USA at The Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium in December. Ninetimes X Games Gold Medal Winner Travis Pastrana and reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion Carl Edwards will take on a star line-up including Michael Schumacher, Troy Bayliss and Sébastien Loeb in the end-of-season event.

Pastrana has starred on both two wheels and four, winning 9 Gold Medals in the X Games for motocross and rallying, plus three US rally titles. He made history at the X Games in 2006 when he became the first man to perform a motorcycle double back-flip in competition.

Edwards, a 14-times winner in NASCAR’s premier category and the winner of last year’s NASCAR Nationwide Series, does a celebratory back-flip off the side of his car every time he wins a race. He currently lies second in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series points after wins in both categories at the weekend.

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10/27/08
ga

Grand-Am Test Day 1 Notebook
Twenty-four cars were on hand for the first of three days of Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 testing at Daytona International Speedway, as teams and drivers earned nearly nine hours of quality track time at the 3.56-mile track.

The test, which will be the final time teams will use the 2008 Pirelli P Zero tires, ushered in several new teams and many drivers who are hoping to compete in their first Rolex 24 At Daytona in January 2009. There was only one incident, as AIM Autosport's Billy Asaro hit the wall in Turn 3 with the No. 11 Ford Riley, causing bodywork and mechanical damage.

Tuesday's schedule will mirror that of Monday's, with practice from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (with two one-hour breaks) and Wednesday's practice from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. No official times will be available during any of the three test days.

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10/27/08
nassprint

Three Red Bull Racing employees punished
Officials with Red Bull Racing have fired one employee and disciplined at least two others, following penalties for an infraction after the Oct. 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.  The car's sheet metal did not meet the minimum thickness requirements set by NASCAR.

Team General Manager Jay Frye said that one supervisor, whom he declined to name, was released following an in-house investigation after the team’s No. 83 Toyota failed a post race inspection conducted Oct. 21 at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

NASCAR officials penalized driver Brian Vickers with the loss of 150 driver points and car owner Dietrich Mateschitz 150 owners points; crew chief Kevin Hamlin was fined $100,000 and placed on indefinite suspension, and car chief Craig Smokstad was also placed on indefinite suspension.

Frye said he was in his office at work when he got the call from NASCAR informing him of the infraction.

“One of the first things I did was go to those involved and ask if it was a mistake or if they knew what they were doing,” Frye said. “Based on that information, we took the appropriate actions.

“I asked if it could have been a mistake and was told, yes, it could have been. I asked if it was and was told that it wasn’t.”

Comment
10/27/08
nassprint

McReynolds on Jimmie Johnson and Cale Yarborough's Record
Larry McReynolds, NASCAR analyst for SPEED, discusses Jimmie Johnson’s day at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his strengths and his chances of matching Cale Yarborough’s championship record.  Following are McReynolds' thoughts:

Q: Is everyone else running for second in points right now?

Larry McReynolds:  “I don’t expect another team to simply beat Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 out of the title on the race track – not enough to overtake them in points.  It will take something befalling the 48 team, like we’ve seen with the other 11 Chase drivers at least once, whether a wreck, an engine failure or a blown tire.  Johnson has a full race cushion, a one-race mulligan, in his pocket.  The way he’s running, it will be very hard to beat that.  It’s almost like you can hear that engraver engraving his name on the trophy.  I wouldn’t etch it on there just yet but if he keeps running the way he has and we expect him to, no one will overtake him without some bad luck on his part. If he’s got a 70 or 90-point lead heading into Homestead, I’d say it is over.”

Q: Why is the 48 team so good?

Larry McReynolds: “I don’t want to praise Johnson and the 48 team to death but to not do it is like trying to ignore the elephant in the living room.  What they’re doing is unbelievable. They have proven again, just like in last year’s Chase, that they’re trying to lead laps and win races, despite their sizeable points margin.  Last year, Johnson raced Matt Kenseth hard at Texas, trying to lead laps and win the race, when second would have been fine.  Then, instead of being content with 11th, he passed cars all the way to second and had it been a 503-mile race, he probably would have won.

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10/27/08
f1

Q&A with Renault's Pat Symonds
Pat Symonds
After a shaky start to the season, Renault has made late gain in recent events and has now secured fourth position in the constructors' championship. Ahead of the season finale in Brazil, Pat Symonds talks of the turn-around and his hopes for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Pat, the team has secured fourth place in the championship. You must be happy with that?
"Yes and no. I like to set very high targets and the goal we set mid-season to finish fourth in the championship with the third quickest car was not as ambitious a target as I would normally like us to set. Having said that it was, at the time, a difficult target and I am pleased that the first part of that target is both objective and proven – we’ve finished fourth and can’t be beaten; the second part is probably subjective, although I think in the past couple of races we’ve shown that we have the third quickest car, so in my eyes we’ve achieved both those objectives."

How rewarding has it been to see the team’s progress over the course of the season and how valuable is that for team morale heading into next year?
"It was disappointing that we started the year further back than we had expected to, and had the situation remained like that it would have been quite disheartening for us. There were reasons for it, but in this particular case it’s the facts that matter, not the reasons for those facts. The way we’ve turned the situation around has given us an enormous boost as we’ve proved we can out-develop our competitors and arguably out-develop those that are leading the championship because we really have moved a lot closer to them. I think that’s a great message to take through to next year with so many new factors being introduced because we’ve shown that we can steal the initiative with this sort of thing."

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10/27/08
ga

Krohn Returns to Ford Power for 2009
Krohn Racing is testing at Daytona International Speedway with the same car and same drivers that ran with the team in 2008, with one big change. The team is returning to Ford engines, which it last ran in 2006, when Jorg Bergmeister captured the Daytona Prototype championship.

Nic Jonsson tested the lime green No. 75 Ford Lola on Monday, and is expected to be joined by Tracy Krohn and Ricardo Zonta on Tuesday. Jonsson and Zonta finished eighth in the 2008 Daytona Prototype championship, co-driving the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola.

"The decision to run Ford was made a couple of weeks ago, to go with a different powerplant for the '09 season, switching from Pontiac to Ford," Jonsson said. "I think we saw last year that the Ford powerplant was strong. We definitely struggled last year, not just with the car, but with the powerplant. We've done everything we can on our part to get the best engine at the back of our ProtoAuto Lola, and now it's up to us to get the car fine-tuned to where we can win some races next year and run for the championship."

Read more & Comment...
10/27/08
a1gp

Switzerland Set the Pace in Final UK A1GP Test
As the A1 Teams made their final preparations for round two of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in Chengdu, China next week it was the home event team and A1 Team Portugal who tested for the first time in the UK at Silverstone today. They were joined by the teams from Brazil, France, Korea and Switzerland, with the latter setting the pace in the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car.

Ho-Pin Tung and Congfu Cheng were both behind the wheel for A1 Team China, the pair both having claimed a podium finish for the team as it continues to chase its maiden victory. Tung was recalled to race in the season-opener at Zandvoort last month opening China’s Season Four campaign.

With the announcement yet to be made on who will get the chance to represent the team for their home event, they both had the chance to put the car through its paces today.

“These were the only dry laps we have done so far in this car” Tung commented after running in the morning session. “So we are still sorting out the base set up and things like that to be well prepared for our home race in Chengdu. It’s a very nice car to drive though, very stable and impressive at high speeds.

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10/27/08
nassprint
ga

Kodak ends NASCAR and Grand-Am sponsorship
Ryan Newman won't be wearing those Kodak sponsor shoulder straps anymore
Kodak said today it will conclude its corporate sponsorship of motorsports with NASCAR and Penske Racing effective at the end of 2008. “NASCAR and Penske Racing have been great partners for Kodak. These have been wonderful relationships that have served us well and we celebrate all we have done together,” said Kodak’s Betty Noonan, Director and Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Branding. “Just as we have transformed our company, we are transforming our marketing. We want to express our deepest thanks to our friends at NASCAR and Penske Racing for their partnership and support. We remain big fans and wish them continued success.”

In December 2007, Kodak announced a new marketing partnership with the PGA TOUR that includes the Kodak Challenge competition and Kodak branding on digital scoreboards. Noonan added that Kodak is now focusing on opportunities to engage customers in other countries. About 60% of Kodak’s sales are outside the United States. Kodak has been a sponsor of NASCAR since 1986 and Penske Racing since 2004. In 2008, Kodak was a primary sponsor of the #12 Dodge in six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and an associate sponsor on the #3 and #6 Team Penske cars in the IndyCar Series. Kodak has been a part of four Daytona 500 wins, this year with Ryan Newman, in 1994 and 1995 with Sterling Marlin, and in 1991 with Ernie Irvan. To celebrate the Kodak Moments in motorsports, Kodak has posted a story on its A Thousand Words blog at 1000words.kodak.com. Kodak PR

Comment
10/27/08
irl

Danica throws another Hissy Fit UPDATE We have added a video of Danica's latest tantrum in Surfers Paradise.

10/27/08 Danica Patrick yesterday angrily took out a frustrating week at the Nikon Indy 300 on youngster A J Foyt and track crew after the pair came together on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

On the back straight as the drivers turned into Breaker Street, Patrick and Foyt made contact and both required assistance to get back to the pits. They were both able to continue but not before Patrick, who has had a poor week, let out all her pent-up frustrations after making a driver error and stalling her engine trying to get around the incident.

The track crew approached Foyt's car to help him back into the race, but they were not as quick to get to Patrick, much to the anger of the American.

A livid Patrick waved her fists wildly at the track crew for a good 30 seconds. Watching it on TV had to be one of the best comedy acts of the year.  She looked like a 5 year old kid who just had her Halloween candy taken away from her.

We have seen her throw many childish hissy fits in the past but this ranks right up there with the best of them.  This from a driver so slow in Surfers all weekend she could not get out of her own way.

The incident with Foyt came after an earlier drama on lap 12, when she was running 20th and came into contact with Jaime Camara and needed a new nose cone.

Her day did not get any better and she finished 18th, while Foyt recovered to finish 17th.

"Well, it wasn't the way I wanted to end the 2008 season, but that is part of racing," said Patrick. "There were a couple of on-track incidents that I got caught up in that caused me to become a lap down. But I have to thank the Motorola team for their hard work this weekend. We accomplished a great deal and hope to come back stronger."

Comment
10/27/08
SnapOnStars

Hunter-Reay to compete in PRI All-Stars Karting Classic
Confirming his participation in this year’s highly anticipated Snap-on Stars of Karting All-Stars Karting Classic, 2008 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay will join a number of pro racing’s top drivers for this third annual event, held in conjunction with the 21st Annual PRI Trade Show in Orlando, FL, Dec. 11-13, 2008. 

The race will take place Thursday night, Dec. 11, on a specially prepared road course built directly outside the Orange County Convention Center, site of the one million-square-foot show floor housing the PRI Trade Show.  Last year, the Snap-on Stars of Karting All-Stars put on an exciting show, highlighted by the drivers making up the Masters division, including Jamie McMurray, Marco Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi and Ron Capps, all of whom were returning to their karting roots.  Grand-Am’s Michael Valiante took the All-Star win, while ICC National Champ Gary Carlton won the Karter Division race, while placing second in the Masters Division race.

Based on the success of last year’s event, many pro drivers have stated they plan on returning, including 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, and road racing veteran Bryan Herta.  Other drivers who have made plans to race include former F1 and rising star of ARCA and NASCAR Scott Speed, NASCAR driver A.J. Almendinger and French open wheel racer Nelson Philippe. Both Valiante and Carlton are also returning to compete this year.

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10/27/08
f1

Hamilton spotted in Beverly Hills
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I saw F1 driver Lewis Hamilton walking down the street in Beverly Hills, California on a sunny warm Saturday afternoon. Sporting workout gear, he was walking past many people without anybody knowing who he was. He looked relaxed and when I approached him to say hello, I asked what are you doing in Beverly Hills, he said "I am hanging with my girlfriend, she lives here.”

I mentioned from here do you go to Brazil? Which he said “yes.” For a guy who is on the verge of potentially winning his first F1 championship he sure has his priorities correct. Who wouldn’t want to hang in Beverly Hills and party with your famous celebrity girlfriend. Wonder if Massa had a similar exciting weekend? A Reader

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10/27/08
nassprint

Logano to attempt Texas
Joe Gibbs Racing will try yet again to get Joey Logano into one of its cars this season by sending him to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend. Logano has tried three times to race the #02 car in the Sprint Cup Series, but all three qualifying sessions were washed out by rain, including this weekend at Atlanta. In those situations, the 43-car field is determined by the points. Logano, a regular in the Nationwide Series this season, was left out each time. "We're going to run Texas and there is a possibility that we will add some more to it," team president J.D. Gibbs said Sunday. "It probably depends on our test schedule and what we've got going on."

The 18-year-old phenom has been tabbed to replace Tony Stewart in the #20 ride next season, and JGR is trying to get him as much Cup seat time as possible before his promotion. He's made two Cup starts this season, both for Hall of Fame Racing, and struggled to finishes of 32nd and 39th. Logano is not yet NASCAR-approved to run the season-opening Daytona 500, and racing at Texas could secure it. But Gibbs thinks Logano's experience running in the ARCA and Truck Series' at Talladega earlier this month might be enough. "I think he's probably done enough," Gibbs said. "From our standpoint, we've talked to NASCAR, too, we want to see him in some more stuff as well. We're going to run at least one or two more." AP/ESPN

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10/27/08
DTM

Timo Scheider wins DTM title
Timo Scheider's Audi
In front of the DTM record crowd of 165,000 fans, the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg was the scene of a heart-beat finale. At 3.02 pm, fireworks accompanied Audi driver Timo Scheider on his final meters towards the finish line and towards his most important title in motorsport to date, the 2008 DTM champion. After a perfect race with an excellent start, tactically planned pit stops and a margin of 3.062 seconds after 37 laps, the 29-year old could hardly believe his luck.

“This is the most important day of my life in motorsport. I thank my family and my team. To my son, I want to say: ‘Loris, I love you’“, said the emotional winner. Audi’s motorsport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich was also excited and already planned his activities for the evening:

Timo Scheider
“Tonight, we will have a party, and a good one.”

For Scheider, it was his third win in his 88th DTM race in seven years. Scheider’s main rival Paul di Resta from Scotland finished second. The Mercedes- Benz driver closed up to the new champion until the final lap, but couldn’t overtake him and thus became runner-up, both in the race and in the final points’ standings. Third place went to British driver Jamie Green (Mercedes-Benz). DTM record champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes-Benz) ended his 237th and last DTM race in sixth place.

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10/27/08
f1

Coulthard to attend all races in 2009
(GMM)  David Coulthard has confirmed he will attend every grand prix next year.

After a 15 year career spanning 13 grand prix victories, the 37-year-old Scot is stepping down as race driver after Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

He is continuing as a team consultant and part-time test driver, and it is strongly rumored he will take up an expert commentating role with Britain's new BBC coverage.

To the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung, Coulthard denied that his impending fatherhood is going to change his lifestyle.

"Not much will change dramatically," he said.  "I will still be working with Red Bull, coming to all the races, and driving at tests.

"The main difference is that on Sunday I will be sitting and watching the grands prix rather than being in the car," said Coulthard.

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10/27/08
automotive

Porsche increases Volkswagen stake
Automaker Porsche said Sunday it had boosted its stake in Volkswagen AG to 42.6 percent as part of its goal to take a majority hold in Europe's biggest car maker before the end of the year.  Porsche Automobile Holding SE was already Volkswagen's biggest shareholder, with just over 35 percent, and said this month that its stake had increased, without giving an exact figure.

Porsche said it wanted to announce its holding now, given the ongoing turbulence on financial markets. It also said it held an additional 31.5 percent in cash-settled options, that would give it indirect control of 74.1 percent of VW shares.

"The goal remains, as long as the financial conditions are right, to increase (the stake) to 75 percent in 2009 and clear the way for a controlling stake," the Stuttgart-based company said.

As part of that goal, Porsche said it was sticking to plans to lift its VW stake above the 50 percent mark before the year's end.

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10/27/08
f1

Hamilton does not fear Ferrari drivers
Hamilton says he is not afraid of Ferrari drivers
(GMM)  As he shapes up to face a Ferrari offensive in Brazil this weekend, championship leader Lewis Hamilton has revealed he does not see the Italian team's drivers as his fiercest competitors.

The Briton's battle for 2008 honors with Felipe Massa will be played out at Interlagos this weekend, and as in China recently, the Brazilian's teammate Kimi Raikkonen will play a support role.

But when asked who on the F1 grid he fears most, the 23-year-old McLaren driver Hamilton looked elsewhere.

"I don't fear anyone," he told The Observer newspaper.

"Kubica is going to be a serious challenger in the future.  He and Alonso will be, perhaps, the two most fierce competitors I have to face," Hamilton said.

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10/27/08
f1

Hamilton should have two titles - Fisichella
(GMM)  According to grand prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella, Lewis Hamilton should be a back-to-back world champion by now.

The veteran Roman, who currently races for the back of the grid team Force India, won two races for Renault in 2005 and 2006, while his then teammate Fernando Alonso became a two-time title winner.

Hamilton may wear the same yellow helmet as former great Ayrton Senna but he certainly is not as good according to Fisichella
But his own statistics did not deter Fisichella, a 35-year-old Italian, from criticizing Hamilton's failure to make the most of his opportunities since bursting onto the scene with McLaren.

When asked for his opinion about the 23-year-old Briton, Fisichella told the Times of India: "I don't like talking about other drivers.

"I'll say this much.  A driver can become a champion when he makes less mistakes than others.  Lewis is quick and he has a fantastic car.

"He should have won the title last year and he should have wrapped up the (2008) championship a few races ago.  He didn't," Fisichella told the Indian newspaper on a visit to the country.

He insists that Hamilton cannot be compared to F1's recent greats including Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

"No.  He's nothing like them," Fisichella said.

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10/27/08
f1
gp2

Pantano waiting on unlikely F1 future
The talented Pantano has been overlooked by F1 and IndyCar/Champ Car teams for years.
(GMM)  Newly crowned GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano is still waiting to know if he has a future in formula one.

After recently securing the 2008 title, the 29-year-old Italian admitted he might have to look to options in America for his next career step.

If F1 bosses do turn him down, he would be the only champion in the history of the current GP2 format spurned by the sport's highest category.

"I knew this was my last chance to go back to formula one," Pantano, who raced most of the 2004 season with Jordan, told the French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

"I am still waiting for some answers, but I will not wait forever, because I have to ensure my career as a professional driver has a precise direction," he said.

Pantano flirted with the American open-wheeler scene a couple of years ago, racing a couple of times in the IRL and testing for the now defunct Champ Car series.

"I have always had the highest regard for these championships," the Italian confirmed.  "I am convinced it is a competition that will return to its level of the days with Mansell and Zanardi."

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10/27/08
f1

Canada can win back F1 race - Gurdjian
(GMM)  Canada has a good chance of recapturing its spot on the formula one calendar, according to Philippe Gurdjian.

Frenchman Gurdjian is known as a close ally of Bernie Ecclestone, and a F1 race 'fixer', whose latest project is the new Abu Dhabi grand prix.

He told the French magazine Auto Hebdo: "I am less concerned about (the future of) Canada than about France.

"I can imagine Canada will quickly get back its place," Gurdjian said.

For the moment, however, the future of the race at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is unclear, despite the assistance of Canadian levels of government.

Federal minister Michael Fortier, present at last week's meeting in London with F1 chief executive Ecclestone, refuses to cite a dollar value on the rescue of the event.

"Before that can be done, all the options must be evaluated," he is quoted as saying by La Presse.

"One cannot talk about figures until the discussions with Bernie Ecclestone are concluded," Fortier said.

Similarly, Quebec government minister Raymond Bachand is not willing to "guarantee" a solution will be found.

"But if a financially responsible option can be put in place, it is very possible that the grand prix will be held in 2009," he said.

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10/27/08
f1

Rossi wants F1 test as title reward UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Ferrari's team boss has confirmed that plans will move ahead for Valentino Rossi to return to the wheel of a formula one car.

Rossi, the high profile MotoGP rider, said last month he wants to celebrate his latest title success with another test for the famous Maranello based team.

Subsequent reports last week suggested it is possible the 29-year-old's test will take place over the forthcoming winter period.

Rossi pictured with Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher the first day he tested a Ferrari in 2005
"We have a great relationship with Valentino and we'll definitely give him the chance to be part of our group again," Stefano Domenicali told Sky television.

However, the Ferrari team boss played down expectations Rossi might want to switch to formula one.

"I think he has already decided the path for his future," Domenicali said.

10/26/08 MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi declared that he's in discussion with the Scuderia Ferrari about another Formula One test. Rossi already tested for Ferrari in 2006 and considered a switch to F1, but later on decided to commit his future to motorbikes. If the Italian would test for Ferrari, it would only be for his pleasure and not as he considers moving to F1, he insists.

09/28/08 (GMM)  MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi wants to celebrate his latest title success with another test at the wheel of Ferrari's formula one car.

The Italian won his sixth world title on Sunday, confessing afterwards in Japan that he misses the thrill of his flirt a few years ago with the four-wheeled world of grand prix racing.

Asked by La Gazzetta dello Sport what he would like as a reward for his 2008 championship, the 29-year-old replied: "I'd like to drive a Ferrari again.  Not a road car, but the F1 one".

He insisted that "it would be a simple desire, with no future in it."

Rossi has two years to run on his MotoGP contract, to whom he reconfirmed his commitment by stating that "to start in F1 at 31 could be too late".

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, who has remained in close contact with Rossi since his first test with Ferrari in 2004, welcomed the proposal.

"He's great," the Italian said, adding that "everything can be done".

Rossi last tested for Ferrari in 2006.

Comment
10/27/08
a1gp

A1GP Signs Up New Talent for its TV World Feed
The millions of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport fans who follow the fortunes of the series on their TV screens will have two new personalities to watch and listen to in Season Four. The series will have Diana Binks and James Hinchcliffe as its world feed pit lane reporters, working alongside its regular, vastly experienced commentary team of John Watson and Ben Edwards.

This will not be totally new territory for Hinchcliffe, who raced for A1 Team Canada in Seasons Two and Three.  He has been a co-commentator for Champ Cars’ international TV feed and also made a guest appearance in the A1GP pit lane as a reporter last season in Sepang. He views taking on the role full-time as a natural next step: “I am thrilled that A1GP has asked me to be part of the pit lane line up for Season Four,” he commented. “I got the opportunity to work with A1GP TV last season and it’s great to now be on board full-time.  This is shaping up to be the best season of A1GP yet, with the introduction of the new car, and it's awesome to think that I get to watch all the action unfold from pit lane. “

Talking about how his A1GP experience behind the wheel will help, he commented: “Obviously having driven in A1GP I hope I am able to bring a little bit of the driver’s perspective to the fans watching at home.  There is so much that is happening in the driver’s seat and being able to relay all that excitement to those watching on television will definitely be a new and fun challenge for me.”

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