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Track News
Mid-Ohio 2006 schedule  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today announced its seven-race 2006 schedule, which features two new events and more of the world-class racing action fans have come to expect from America' s most competitive road course.
New to the Mid-Ohio schedule will be the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) Championships (Sept. 15-17) and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Superbike Shootout (Sept. 29 - Oct. 1). The inaugural NASA Championships will feature amateur road racing, time trials, autocross, drifting and rallying competitions in multiple classes. The Superbike Shootout will be the season finale of the AMA Superbike Championship, and will include a unique rider and points format. The event also will crown champions in the AMA's Supersport, Superstock and Formula Xtreme classes.

Among the traditional events in the track's 2006 lineup will be the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio (May 19-21), the EMCO Gears Classic, featuring the Rolex Sports Car Series, and the Unlimited Audio Accessories Triple Crown Tuner Challenge (June 23-25), and the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire (Aug. 4-6), one of the most popular stops on the AMA Superbike tour.

Also on the schedule will be two longstanding events for vintage racing enthusiasts. AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days (July 28-30) will feature a host of classic motorcycling events and competitions, while the Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (Aug. 18-20) will bring 50 years of auto racing history to the track, including the annual Concours d'Elegance and British Car Showdown.

"Every year our goal is to bring together the best collection of motorsports events possible for our spectators, our sponsors and our business," said Michelle Trueman Gajoch, president of TrueSports, Inc., owner and operator of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. "We feel we've done that for 2006 with the return of the American Le Mans Series, Grand American and the AMA Superbikes, as well as the addition of two new events and the continued growth of our other races. We're looking forward to another exciting season."

The modern sports car marvels of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) will be the featured attraction during the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio. The Mid-Ohio round once again will be the series' last race before its teams head to France for the world famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Sports Car Series will run a Saturday evening endurance race for its Daytona Prototype and GT machines on June 24 during the EMCO Gears Classic. The three-day event also will feature a Grand-Am Cup race for compact sports cars and the Unlimited Audio Accessories Triple Crown Tuner Challenge, which includes an import tuner car show.

The two wheelers get a temporary change of traditional dates in 2006, with AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days and the Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire moving to back-to-back weekends in late July and early August. Both dates likely will revert back to July in 2007. The addition of the fall AMA Superbike race gives the track three motorcycle weekends for the first time.

Season passes and individual event tickets are available now by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or logging on to www.midohio.com.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a 2.4-mile, 15-turn permanent road racing circuit in Lexington, Ohio. Located 60 miles north of Columbus and 75 miles south of Cleveland near Mansfield, the track has been called the most competitive in the U.S. and annually hosts a diversity of locally, regionally and nationally sanctioned racing events for amateur, club and professional riders and drivers. More ...

Danica ties the knot  Although Danica Patrick got plenty of publicity for her season in the IRL, she certainly doesn't want much for her wedding.  The 23-year-old driver, who finished fourth in the Indy 500, and physical therapist Paul Hospenthal, 40, were married Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Team spokesman Brent Maurer said Patrick has asked Rahal Letterman Racing to release virtually no information on the ceremony. Maurer could only confirm Tuesday that Patrick was married and that car owner Bobby Rahal was there.

Though she is accustomed to driving at 200-plus mph, Patrick told People magazine this year that one of her favorite things is sharing life in the slow lane with Hospenthal and their miniature schnauzer, William Robert, called Billy.

"She's kind of a TV junkie," who also enjoys barbecuing and working out, Hospenthal told the magazine. "But you won't see her watching much racing."  That'sRacin.com

Track News
Mosley visits Goldenport  Max Mosley, FIA President, visited Beijing's Goldenport International Circuit on the afternoon of September 23rd.  He met with Mr. Shi Tianshu, chairman of FASC and Mr. Ye Mingqing, CEO of Goldenport.  Mosley took a tour of the track.  Below left, Mr. Ye gives him an introduction of Goldenport’s expansion plans.

No recent word on Champ Car's plans to actually race there after signing a Memorandum of Understanding back in April of this year.  As we reported, at issue is who will pay for the upgrades to the track to bring it up to a class 2 facility given there are plans to move the race to the Beijing Olympic site after the 2008 Olympic Games.   Champ Car's Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was with (BSAM) Beijing State-owned Asset Management Company and its Chairman Li Aiqing, not with the track owner Jim Ye Mingqing, who would have to foot the bill for the extensive track upgrades required.  Mark C.

Centrix team wins Baja 1000 class  In the 38th Tecate SCORE Baja 1000 race held this past weekend on Mexico’s Baja peninsula, Team CENTRIX’s five Wide Open Baja Challenge class entries finished first, third, fourth, ninth and 12th with a mix of drivers from professional racing, Hollywood and business on the teams. 

Winning the challenge class for the third time in four tries was Team CENTRIX’s BC6 car, driven by CENTRIX Financial chairman and CEO Robert E. Sutton, rally legend Rod Millen, Baja 1000 veteran Mike “Mouse” McCoy. They finished in 19 hours, 38 minutes and 56 seconds.

“This was the most difficult course I’ve seen yet,” said Sutton.  “This team overcame many challenges to win this race.  We had two flats at the same time and a number of mechanical issues throughout the race, but this team refused to give up.  Mouse proved that he’s a champion on four wheels as well as two, and Rod’s combination of driving ability, perseverance and smarts were key to the BC6 team victory.”

In third place for Team CENTRIX were last year’s Baja Challenge class winners, Mexico’s own Michel Jourdain Jr., Bernard Jourdain, Michel Jourdain Sr. and Jean-Pierre Jourdain.

“Coming in third feels like a win for us,” said Michel Jourdain Jr. “The course was incredibly rough this year and we are proud to finish with our other CENTRIX teammates. The entire team had a lot of talent and desire to win – it was a great group that CENTRIX brought.”

Following in a close fourth were Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais, Claire Ragot, Wally Fisk III, and extreme skier Glen Plake.  “We tried to finish to receive a podium but four is not bad,” said Bourdais. ”Claire, my girlfriend, started the race with me.  It was very nice at the end, nice roads and we just had a good time. When we saw the finish line, we felt such relief. We saw the checkered flag, that’s all we wanted to see. Compared to what I usually drive, you just have to forget what you know, begin from scratch and enjoy yourself.”

The ninth place team was made up of Robert Sutton’s son David Sutton, brothers Ryan and Rhys Millen, and Burt McCready. And although they didn’t finish in the top ten, the 12th place Team CENTRIX entry made up of NASCAR driver Boris Said, Champ Car driver Oriol Servia, Kate Sutton, daughter of Robert Sutton and “Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey, came in with just one minute to spare under the 30-hour time limit, making them the final official finisher of the grueling race. More ...

Wheels Down Winter Test news  The American Le Mans Series' second annual Wheels Down Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway will include test sessions for IMSA's GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin. The second-year series, which pits semi-professional and gentlemen drivers in Porsche Type 996 and the new Type 997 GT3 Cup cars, will open its expanded seven-race schedule with the American Le Mans Series at the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The Wheels Down Winter Test is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 23-25. General admission is $10 per day. Overnight camping is not permitted, and spectators are not allowed into the paddock.

IRL drivers compete around globe  IRL IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Enge posted his first podium finish in the World Cup of Motorsports, finishing third in feature event at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.

"The podium feels great especially after such a difficult weekend," Enge said. "We proved that our pace on used tires was not a trick, and I feel that we were quickest after the first two at the end of the race."

The other IndyCar Series driver entered, Team USA's Bryan Herta, finished seventh, though he felt he could have done much better.

"I felt that we had the potential to make the podium; however, we had some problems with the pit stop and start and ended up placing seventh," Herta said. "I do feel that we have made progress since the race in Australia and that we will continue to be successful going forward."

2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice also competed in a race over the weekend, teaming with ESPN broadcaster Cameron Steele to finish 15th in the Trophy Truck division of the Baja 1000.

Patrick joins Hostess Race Diva Promotion  IRL IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick is one of three women drivers who have signed on to become Hostess "Race Divas" under a new sponsorship agreement with the snack cake brand.

Through the sponsorship program, which debuts in 2006, Patrick will be featured in a range of promotional activities, including special limited edition packaging and displays for Hostess Twinkies, Cup Cakes and Donettes.

"Having grown up with Twinkies and Cup Cakes, I am thrilled to have Hostess as a sponsor and to be part of the Hostess Race Divas program," Patrick said. "It's an exciting opportunity to bring together America's favorite brand of snack cakes with the country's favorite spectator sport."  The promotion will also feature NASCAR Elite Series driver Leilani Munter and NHRA drag racer Melanie Troxel.

"Interest in women in professional racing continues to grow, with Danica, Leilani and Melanie serving as excellent ambassadors for the sport," said Kevin Kaul, Hostess marketing manager. "We are pleased to sponsor these outstanding drivers as they pursue their dreams and inspire an even more diverse fan base, and, at the same time, leverage the opportunity to connect the iconic Hostess brand with the enthusiasm surrounding racing and women's increasing prominence in the sport."

Interview with Honda’s Yasuhiro Wada - raises V10 concerns  In the fourth of our exclusive Monday Interviews, Wada-san talks about the significance of Honda’s acquisition and its aspirations for future success.

Does Honda believe it needs to own its own Formula One team in order to ensure success?

“The ownership itself of a team isn’t the most crucial factor. Company ownership never comes first as the involvement of the right technical resources and people with the right skills and correct mentality is far more important. To me, zero to 45 per cent ownership was a far more significant jump than 45 to 100 per cent.”

What difference will Honda’s ownership make to the day-to-day running of the team?

“There won’t be a huge difference - we are already very focused on winning. Internally, though, there will be more co-ordination between R&D in Japan and our technical teams here in Brackley so more resources will become available. That’s one of the main benefits of this move.”

How can Honda turn what has become a regular podium winning team into a winner?

“Last season was a bit disappointing and it’s fair to say that we struggled to overcome the 2005 aerodynamic regulations and never managed to get the best out of our Michelin tires. Engine-wise we had some early issues but by the end of the season our engine was really strong and very reliable There’s no doubt we have the capability to win, we just have to harness all potential areas for improvement. Next season we have a new V8 engine regulation, which will be a challenge but it’s also an opportunity… and we hope it will be a big opportunity for us. It’s also important for us to be strong right from the start. Historically, this team has been good when it comes to improving during the season, now the key is to have a good start so we can build from there.” More ...

Legge crashes Minardi  UPDATE The young British driver was caught out by the cold conditions on the first run, her car spinning and brushing a concrete wall at the side of the track. The resulting damage was relatively minor, but with light fading and temperatures falling, it was decided to postpone her test until tomorrow. 

"I basically lifted out of the traction control and that meant it didn't work any more; I didn't know that before but now I do. It's one of the things that you have to learn but your mind is so caught up with the various different things that are new when you step into a Formula One car.

"Tomorrow I'll be running in the warmest part of the day and hopefully I can do some laps in the morning and then go for some timed laps in the afternoon when the temperature has risen a bit."

11/22/05 British driver Katherine Legge's first day in an F1 car was cut short after she lost control of her car on her second full lap and made contact with the wall.  "It's unlike anything I've ever driven before," Legge told autosport.com. "I'm fine. It was just a mistake on my part. I'm understanding the traction control and how it works all the time.  I'm just understanding how an F1 car works. I'm fine and it will be a good day tomorrow."

Industry News
Ford calls for nation to rally around USA auto industry  The day after General Motors Corp. announced it would slash 30,000 jobs and stop production at 12 plants, Ford Motor Co. Chairman and CEO Bill Ford delivered an impassioned manifesto about the importance of the domestic auto industry to the United States.

Tuesday's speech came as Ford Motor is preparing to announce a restructuring plan in January, which will likely involve idling plants, laying off thousands of workers and implementing other cost-cutting actions certain to hurt the local and national economy.

“Now, more than ever, with the competitive pressures of globalization, America needs to respond to the economic challenges of our time,” Ford told journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

“This is not the moment to stop investing and concede our competitive edge in vital parts of the economy. Just the opposite, we must take the lead and show the world that there is only one, true innovative manufacturing giant. And it has three distinct initials: U.S.A.”

Ford said that the domestic auto industry deserves “to suffer the consequences” if it doesn't adapt to the changing business climate.

“However, if we innovate and take the necessary steps, we will succeed as we always have, with the might of America behind us. That's what we've done throughout American history, through the ups and downs of war and tough economic cycles. Our government must view the challenges of this era through the same lens - and stand by American workers, and American industry as it always has.”

NASCAR nails another cheater  NASCAR has announced that Bryant Frazier, crew chief for the No. 64 Dodge driven by Mike Wallace in the NASCAR Busch Series, has been fined $2,500 for rule violations that occurred last week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  During opening day inspection on November 18, the No. 64 (owned by Rusty Wallace Inc.) was found to have an unapproved final drive gear ratio, a violation of Section 12-4-CC of the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series rule book (any team that uses a rear end gear ratio that violates the specified ratios during an event). That also violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) NASCAR
Hayden to stay with Honda team  American MotoGP rider Nicky Hayden will remain with Repsol Honda in 2006.   Hayden, 24, won his first Grand Prix in 2005 at Laguna Seca and is hoping to continue his improvement next season alongside MotoGP rookie Dani Pedrosa.  "The second half of 2005 has been good, not just for the win, but a general consistency in qualifying and the races has appeared," said Hayden.

Honda racing chief Satoru Horiiki is convinced a young rider line-up is the only way to challenge Rossi.  "In Nicky and Dani we have two of the best riders in the world and everyone within Honda and Repsol is excited about the 2006 championship," he said.

’05 vs. ’04 IRL TV Ratings  The following presents average Nielsen ratings for each network airing races during the ’05 IRL season, as well as race-by-race ratings, with comparisons to ’04. It appears Danica Patrick did not have to win a race during her rookie season to help television ratings. All three networks airing IRL races posted ratings gains over last year. ESPN aired the majority of races this season and posted a 50% gain from ’04  THE DAILY


NET '05 AVG. (NO. OF RACES) '04 AVG. (NO. OF RACES) %+/-
ABC 2.0 (7) 1.20 (10) 53.8%
ESPN 0.6 (9) 0.40 (4) 50.0%
ESPN2 0.4 (1) 0.20 (2) 100.0%


March 6 Toyota Indy 300 (Homestead, FL) 0.6 (ESPN) 0.9 (ESPN)
March 19 XM Satellite Radio Indy 200^ (Phoenix, AZ) 0.6 (ABC) 0.9 (ABC)
April 3 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg^^ (St. Petersburg, FL) 0.4 (ESPN) NA
April 30 Indy Japan 300 (Motegi, Japan) 0.5 (ESPN) 0.1 (ESPN2)
May 29 Indianapolis 500 (Indianapolis, IN) 6.8 (ABC) 4.1 (ABC)
June 11(p) Bombardier Learjet 500 (Fort Worth, TX) 1.0 (ESPN) 0.4 (ESPN)
June 25(p) SunTrust Indy Challenge (Richmond, VA) 0.4 (ESPN2) 0.2 (ESPN2)
July 3 Argent Mortgage Indy 300^^^ (Kansas, KS) 1.1 (ESPN) 1.2 (ABC)
July 16(p) Firestone Indy 200 (Nashville, TN) 0.3 (ESPN) 0.5 (ESPN)
July 24 ABC Supply Co. / A.J. Foyt 225 (West Allis, WI) 0.5 (ESPN) 0.8 (ABC)
July 31 Firestone Indy 400 (Brooklyn, MI) 1.3 (ABC) 0.8 (ABC)
Aug. 14 Amber Alert Portal Indy 300^# (Sparta, KY) 0.9 (ABC) 0.8 (ABC)
Aug. 21 Honda Indy 225 (Fountain, CO) 0.8 (ABC) 0.5 (ABC)
Aug. 28 Argent Mortgage Indy Grand Prix^& (Sonoma, CA) 0.6 (ESPN) 0.9 (ABC)
Sept. 11 Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 (Joliet, IL) 1.0 (ABC) 0.80 (ABC)
Sept. 25 Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix^$ (Watkins Glen, NY) 0.7 (ABC) NA
Oct. 16 Toyota Indy 400 (Fontana, CA) 0.6 (ESPN) 0.10 (ESPN)

NA = Not applicable. ^ = Previously Copper World Indy 200. ^^ = New event in ‘05. ^^^ = Previously Argent Mortgage Indy 200. ^# = Previously Belterra Casino 300. ^& = New event in ‘05, compared to ‘04 Firestone Indy 225 at Nazareth Speedway. ^$ = New event in ‘05. (p) = Primetime races. 

NASCAR Channel (SPEED) adds yet another show  The NASCAR Channel, oops we mean SPEED, is adding a one-hour NASCAR Champions Week special Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. ET. Hosted by John Roberts and Shannon Spake, the special will include features from the week's activities in New York City and interviews on the yellow carpet -- everything leading up to the crowning of the new NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion.

"As the home to NASCAR TV, we will continue to find ways of elevating the sport's biggest events," said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Channel Executive VP and General Manager. "We are going to take all the energy from last week in South Florida and carry it right through next week in New York. The fans wait all season for these events and we don't plan on letting them down."

Vicki Johnson, Craig Reynolds and NASCAR.com's Marty Smith will be reporting from New York.

Final day of testing for Ferrari  Fourth and final day of testing this week for Ferrari, the Italian team working at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. Under clear skies and a temperature varying between 28-33°C (track temperature: 29-40°), Marc Gene completed the endurance test on the V8 engine, which had begun a few days ago and was carried out in conjunction with Shell. The Spanish test driver covered a total of 66 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.34.455. Luca Badoer continued with a Bridgestone tire development program, completing a total of 53 laps, with a best time of 1.34.588. Ferrari
Formula BMW
Richard Philippe Gets First Champ Car Test  Fifteen-year-old Richard Philippe had the experience of a lifetime this past week as he strapped in behind the wheel of one of the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Champ Cars for the first time in his career.  The test at Putnam Park (IN) was arranged when Philippe cashed in on a promise made to him by Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner, Eric Bachelart.

“Eric promised me earlier this year, if I won the Formula BWM USA championship, he would give him a test in his Champ Car,” said Philippe.  “I won. So he set up the test.”

Philippe was crowned the 2005 Formula BMW USA Champion in September, as well as the “Rookie Cup” Champion.  He not only won the championship in his first year of competition, but he earned six pole positions and took home the trophy from three of the biggest races of the year.  With his win in round eight of the season, Philippe was named the youngest driver ever to be victorious at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Philippe turned in some of the most impressive stats accomplished in the Formula BMW USA Series. 

In order to prepare Philippe for the transition from the 140 horsepower BMW car he competed with in 2005, the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing crew brought along the newly acquired Toyota Atlantic chassis for Philippe to shake down.  He turned fifteen laps in the car before the team let him loose in the 750 horsepower Reynard Champ Car chassis.

Philippe’s performance during the test was just as impressive as he adapted well to both the Atlantic and Champ Car.   Operating under cool temperatures, Philippe turned very competitive lap times and showed great finesse with pit stop procedures. 
“Richard looked very comfortable working with both cars,” said Bachelart after the test.  “He demonstrated great driving talent and provided the team with good feedback.”

The recently crowned 2005 Champ Car “Most Improved Driver of the Year,” Nelson Philippe, Richard’s older brother, was also on hand for the test to watch and offer advice to the team. 
The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team was very pleased with the first test session with the new Toyota Atlantic chassis and the Reynard Champ Car.  Several more tests are planned in future months for the new Atlantic venue.  For further updates, please check back with www.conquestracing.com.

ALMS Notebook  
One more race to go, and Liz Halliday's season will be complete. Perhaps then she can take a break from a year that has involved two racing series on two continents and a strenuous equestrian schedule, too.

All totaled, Halliday estimates she's spent more than 140 hours in flight this year, racking up some impressive totals on her frequent flyer account, no doubt. That includes trips back and forth across the Atlantic to drive for Intersport Racing six times this year in the American Le Mans Series. Four of those trips resulted in victory, including the prestigious Petit Le Mans. She also competed for Intersport at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time.

On top of that, she ran a full season in the FIA GT Championship, which concludes this weekend, and several equestrian events, too. Halliday's racing plans for 2006 remain undecided; she says she is still negotiating with Intersport to run the full American Le Mans Series schedule.

On the side, she plans to continue her quest to represent the United States in Olympic equestrian competition.

"I have managed to take on two new horses (recently) so I will have three to compete next year," she said. "The reason being is that in eventing, you really need at least three if you want to be successful because that way you usually at least have one that is running! Unfortunately, horses do break on occasion in this sport, and they need to be able to recover properly without time pressure. Besides, I think maybe one of them could be Olympic one day, so we just have to see how things go from here!"  More ...

Renault's key moments of 2005  The review of the most important races for Renault in its fight for the double world championship, starting with the return to Europe.

As the Renault F1 Team arrived in Imola, Fernando Alonso stood on 26 points in the drivers’ championship. The car behind wasn’t a Ferrari or McLaren, but a Toyota – Jarno Trulli. The Italian was ten points behind the Spaniard, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault, in third position. In the constructors’ race, Renault led the way.  More...

Raikkonen elected 'driver of the year'  F1 Racing magazine has revealed the winners of the 2005 Man of the Year Awards, an awards list which honors the F1 teams and drivers. This year more than 43,000 people voted for their favorites to win in the 14 categories, the highest number of votes ever. Team McLaren Mercedes won six awards in total, more than any other team.

Kimi won two awards, including 'The Drive of the Year' for his performance in Monaco. F1 Racing said: “No drive in 2005 better combined steely strategic nous and outrageous talent than Kimi's victory in Monaco.”

Kimi also won the 'Driver of the Year Award' to which Kimi commented: “It's always nice to be appreciated, so I want to say thank you to the readers of F1 Racing for voting for me. It goes without saying that driver of the year is a great award for any driver to win.”

Juan Pablo won the award for the 'Overtaking Maneuver of the Year' for his pass around Renault's Fernando Alonso at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. F1 described it as “Nerveless and Gritty” and went on to say that “Juan Pablo comes second to no one when two drivers come eyeball to eyeball.” More ...

Industry News
Chrysler to ask UAW for cuts  UAW officials from Chrysler Group plants across the country will meet in Dearborn today and Tuesday to discuss whether the union should give Chrysler the same health care concessions that it recently agreed to with General Motors Corp., according to a UAW delegate who will attend the meetings.

GM hourly workers gave tepid support last week in favor of a deal with the automaker that would force retirees to pay more of their health care costs. UAW leaders agreed to the changes following an in-depth analysis that showed the automaker needed help paying its medical costs.  More at Detroit Free Press

Industry News
Toyota set to surpass GM as No. 1 in world  Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to release 2006 sales targets next month that, if realized, would push it past General Motors Corp. as the world's largest automaker, according to a report in Saturday's Wall Street Journal.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said Toyota's plan could set a production goal in 2006 of 9.2 million automobiles, 11% more than it expects to make in its current fiscal year.

GM made 8.99 million cars and trucks in 2004 and has projected it will build 9.1 million this year. The company hasn't made projections for 2006. GM has been the world's No. 1 automaker for more than 70 years.

Toyota officials have publicly said they're concerned about U.S. backlash from dethroning GM. Industry experts also worry about quality problems if the company expands too quickly.

But an 11% growth rate wouldn't be that far off what Toyota has done for the past few years. Worldwide sales grew 10% each year in 2004 and 2005.  More at Detroit Free Press

Fisichella banned for speeding  Formula One driver Giancarlo Fisichella has had his driving license confiscated for speeding just six days after appealing to Italian teenagers not to engage in street racing.

Fisichella was stopped by police early on Sunday morning in Rome after driving at 148 kph (92 mph) in a 60 kph (37 mph) zone on the edge of the Italian capital, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

"I was rushing back home because our babysitter had called myself and my wife to inform us that our son had a high fever," said Fisichella.

The Renault driver wrote a front page article in the daily Gazzetta dello Sport last week warning Italian youngsters against taking part in illegal street racing after a 16-year-old died following a high-speed crash in Rome.

"I apologize and I am ready to pay. I know that I made a mistake," said Fisichella, who won this year's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"My commitment to road safety remains strong," he added. CNN.Com
TV News
HDNet to televise ROC  HDNet will give U.S. racing fans an exclusive front-row seat December 3 as NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon and X-Games champ Travis Pastrana compete in the 2005 Race of Champions - Nations Cup, live from the famous Stade de France in Paris. The entire event will be available for the second year in a row to U.S. television viewers in the highest quality 1080i high-definition television (HDTV), only on HDNet, Saturday, December 3 at 11:00 a.m. ET, followed by a prime-time encore presentation at 9:30 p.m. ET. [Editor's Note: Travis Pastrana will be a sleeper at this year’s ROC. He has been running pro-rally the past 2 years in North America with Subaru and has been quite impressive.]

The 18th annual Race of Champions - Nations Cup is an end-of-season international racing showdown featuring two exciting competitions. First, in the Race of Champions, 19 the world's best drivers compete in a series of head-to-head heats in identical cars to determine the individual "Champion of Champions." Then, in the Nations Cup, the same drivers compete in national teams of two in a bid to determine "The World's Fastest Nation."

Team USA is sponsored by Centrix Financial, who has chosen four-time NASCAR champ Gordon and five-time X-Games Motocross champ Pastrana to compete against top drivers from all the major world class championships, including World Rally, Formula 1, Champ Car, IRL, Rally-Raid, DTM, Le Mans, and GP2. Drivers for the other Nations Cup teams are Sebastien Loeb (two-time World Rally Champion) and Jean Alesi (DTM) for France; Colin McRae (WRC Champion) and David Coulthard (F1 Grand Prix winner) for Great Britain; Marcus Gronholm (two-time World Rally Champion) and Heikki Kovalainen (2004 Race of Champions winner) for Finland; Tom Kristensen (seven-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner) Mattias Ekstrom (2004 DTM Champion) for Scandinavia; Felipe Massa (Sauber Formula 1 star) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (GP2) for Brazil; and Christijan Albers (Dutch Formula 1 star) and Francois Duval (WRC ace from Belgium) for a first-time Benelux team. The final team is yet to be announced. More ...

F1 teams hit the testing trail  Known upcoming F1 test dates by team

Barcelona : November 30 to December 2
Jerez: December 7 to 9
Jerez: December 14 to 16

Jerez: December 7 to 16

Barcelona: November 29 to December 2
Jerez: December 7 to 10
Jerez: December 13 to 15

Barcelona: November 29  to December 1
Jerez: December 7 to 9
Jerez: December 14 to 16

Red Bull
Barcelona: November 29 to December 1

BMW Sauber F1
Barcelona:  November 28 to 30
Jerez: December 8 to 10
Jerez: December 13 to 15

Midland F1 Racing  
Jerez: December 7 to 15

Vallelunga until November 24

Honda and McLaren
Unknown at this time

Industry News
Cingular name change to ATT  SBC, which closed its merger with AT&T on Friday [Nov 18th], plans to sell Cingular Wireless under the fabled AT&T name, Ed Whitacre, the chairman and CEO of the combined company, has confirmed to USA TODAY. Cingular, the USA's No. 1 wireless company, is 60% owned by the new AT&T; BellSouth controls 40%. SBC recently said it would adopt AT&T's name, putting to rest questions about what would happen to the famous name. But speculation had also swirled about what would happen to the Cingular brand name once the AT&T deal closed. In an interview with USA TODAY on Friday, Whitacre left no doubt about his plans. Asked if the company planned to drop the Cingular name in favor of the AT&T brand, Whitacre said, "Yes, we do." More at USA Today
Rudd honored by crew  When NASCAR failed to recognize the career accomplishments of Ricky Rudd during what might have been his final drivers meeting, his crew chief, Michael McSwain, came to the rescue. During a season dominated by recognition for the retiring Rusty Wallace, there has been little for the veteran Rudd. But at the conclusion of Sunday's drivers meeting, McSwain unexpectedly stood up and offered a tearful farewell to NASCAR's "Ironman." "My buddy is leaving me, and I don't think there will ever be another one like him," said McSwain, so overcome with emotion that he struggled to finish each sentence. "He's done a lot for this sport, and I know nobody will ever touch his record for consecutive starts." Rudd, who made his Nextel Cup-record 788th straight start on Sunday and has announced he won't return to drive the #21 Ford next season, seemed taken aback by McSwain's impromptu salute. He stood up and acknowledged his longtime crew chief, before addressing the drivers. "[I] thank everybody for allowing me to compete with you all," said Rudd, who wound up 37th in the season finale, five laps behind the leaders. "I'll come out and check on you on the weekends when I can sit up in the stands, drink beer and watch everybody." An hour later, as he strolled with his wife, Linda, to driver introductions, Rudd said he was caught off guard in the drivers meeting. "I didn't expect it," the 49-year-old Rudd said. "I was getting through this weekend, then I got a little choked up. I was awful proud. NASCAR sort of ignored me and [McSwain] got up and said a few words for me. I can't put into words what it meant." NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter defended the sanctioning body's decision not to honor Rudd before the Ford 400. "Ricky hasn't retired," Hunter said. "Rusty said he's retiring. Ricky said, 'I'm going to step back. I may drive if the right thing comes along.' As far as we know, Ricky hasn't retired. If he had said he was retiring, I'm sure we would have recognized him." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hutchins dies  Sonny Hutchins, one of the best stock-car drivers in Richmond history and a member of the famed "Strawberry Hill Mod Squad," died this morning. He was 76. Hutchins raced for more than 30 years, competing in Late Models, Modifieds and NASCAR's premier Winston Cup series. Often driving for the city's two greatest car owners, Junie Donlavey and Emanual Zervakis, Mr. Hutchins won hundreds of races and several track championships. He won Southside Late Model titles in 1968 and'80 and made 38 starts in Cup, placing a career-best second twice in 1969. Visitation and funeral arrangements are pending. Richmond Times Dispatch
Crewman OK  Richard Boyle, the rear tire changer on Scott Riggs' #10 Chevy of MB2 Motorsports , escaped serious injury when he was struck by Ricky Rudd's #21 Ford during a pit stop on Lap 18. Boyle, who was hit when Rudd's car was bumped by the #66 Ford of Kevin Lepage, was treated and released from the track's care center. The wreck also spoiled Rudd's hope of a fine finish in his last ride in the Wood Brothers' #21 Ford. The damage to his car doomed him to a 37th place finish. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sorenson near downed helicopter  Reed Sorenson, who finished 28th in the 400, was waiting to board one of the helicopters just prior to the crash. "I was the next one in line to go," Sorenson said. "I saw them hit. One went straight down and the other tried to land in the grass nearby. It took off part of his landing gear. I took off running because I thought parts were going everywhere. After seeing that, I don't think I'll ever fly a helicopter again." Speedway officials said only that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.  Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Legge F1 test news  UPDATE On track this morning will be:
Chanoch Nissany
Katherine Legge
Juan Caceres
Davide Rigon

11/21/05 The Minardi F1 Team today commenced the final test of its 21-year history, at the Autodromo Vallelunga, near Rome. The Faenza squad passed into Red Bull ownership at the beginning of November, but this testing commitment, organized prior to the sale of the team, has been honored in order to allow a number of young drivers to have their first experience of Formula One performance. In addition to three Minardi Cosworth PS05 chassis, plus a pair of PS04Bs, present at Vallelunga, there will be four of the Ledbury-based F1x2 two-seaters running this week, providing passenger rides to representatives from a number of Minardi sponsors, technical partners and suppliers.

The driver line-up for the test includes Spaniard, Roldan Rodriguez, Juan Caceres from Uruguay, and Britain's Katherine Legge (Champ Car Atlantic driver), as well as two promising young Italian drivers, Luca Filippi and Davide Rigon, selected as part of a driver-search program organized by the Italian autosport federation, the CSAI: In addition, official Minardi test driver, Chanoch Nissany, will complete his 2005 program with the team in the course of the four-day event. Monday's program saw Nissany running throughout the day, with Rodriguez completing 20 laps in the morning, and Filippi a similar number in the afternoon session.

The F1x2 cars will be driven by 2005 Minardi drivers Christijan Albers, Robert Doornbos and Patrick Friesacher, plus Gianni Morbidelli, Matteo Bobbi and Gabriele Lancieri.

Helicopter crash in Homestead  UPDATE #3 Johnny Campiglia went to cosmetology school and got a job as a hairdresser before deciding to make a major career change.

''He wanted to do something different,'' said his cousin Omar Gonzalez, 31. ``He became a pilot.''

It was a profession for which he had a passion.

''He was always happy, always kidding with people,'' said his brother, Frank Campiglia. ``He always had great plans in his head.''

Johnny Campiglia, 24, died Sunday night after the helicopter he was flying collided with another helicopter as he approached the landing pad at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The two choppers were trying to land on the same helipad about 8:45 p.m.

'He was very careful all the time. He had thousands of hours' experience,'' said his father, Francesco Campiglia, outside his Pompano Beach home. ``Because of some miscommunication, he died.''

Campiglia was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

The other pilot, Christopher McGinley, 42, of Kendall, landed safely on the field.  More at Miami Herald

11/21/05 Speedway officials confirmed none of those involved was a NASCAR competitor.

Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Richard Martin told The Associated Press the pilot of one helicopter was taken to a hospital.

"They had either a midair collision or a near-midair collision. One of them did a hard landing right on the helipad. No one on that craft was injured," Martin said.

The other ended up on top of a recreational vehicle outside Turn 2, according to an eyewitness. The pilot of that helicopter died after being airlifted to a Miami hospital, a spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade Police Department told the AP. The pilot's identification was being withheld pending family notification. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
Melbourne bags award
Minardi fire last ever test
Spa must run 2006 grand prix
Alonso not 'Driver of Year'
Macau winner wants F1 role
Stoddart sold for $75m
Liuzzi, Speed, to test 'STR'
Ameriquest Mortgage to sponsor Busch team for big $$$  UPDATE Ameriquest Mortgage Company, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, announced today a landmark partnership with Roush Racing to serve as the team’s primary sponsor of four of its drivers in the NASCAR Busch Series (NBS) for the 2006 racing season.

Dubbed the “Ameriquest Dream Team,” it will consist of drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. The partnership includes sponsorship of all four teams throughout the NBS race season – unprecedented in the series’ 24-year history. Through Roush Racing’s manufacturer partnership with Ford Racing, the “Ameriquest Dream Team” drivers will pilot Ford Fusions in all NBS races.

Ameriquest will serve as the primary sponsor for at least two drivers in 26 selected NBS races in 2006. In addition, in two of these events, all four drivers will carry the Ameriquest colors. Those events are: the May 27 event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C. and the Ameriquest 300 on September 2 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. The four drivers have combined to win 87-career NBS races, including nine this season, and three NASCAR national series championships.

In addition, Ameriquest, proud sponsor of the American dream, will become the official mortgage company of Roush Racing.

“Ameriquest is thrilled to partner with Roush Racing and its championship-caliber drivers in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2006,” said Brian Woods, Chief Marketing Officer, Ameriquest Mortgage Company. “Roush Racing is one of the most respected racing teams in all of NASCAR and has enjoyed a long history of success. This partnership presents an opportunity for our brand to reach NASCAR’s 75 million loyal race fans and strategically communicate our services and our positioning as ‘Proud Sponsor of the American Dream.’”

Ameriquest may activate the “Ameriquest Dream Team” and its primary sponsorship with Roush Racing with a comprehensive marketing communications program on several levels throughout 2006. The program will include: on-line consumer promotions and sweepstakes, dedicated NASCAR broadcast advertising, at-track / off-track mobile marketing, charitable integration, customer hospitality and on-going public relations.  More ...

2006 Bud Shootout entry list  The 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup pole winners who thereby qualify and will compete in the 2006 Bud Shootout at Daytona in February:

Car No. Driver Sponsor Make
TBA Michael Waltrip NAPA Dodge
01 Joe Nemechek U.S. Army Chevrolet
5 Kyle Busch Kellogg's Chevrolet
6 Mark Martin AAA Ford
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Budweiser Chevrolet
9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
10 Scott Riggs Valvoline Dodge
11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Chevrolet
12 Ryan Newman Alltel Dodge
17 Matt Kenseth Maxwell House Ford
20 Tony Stewart Home Depot Chevrolet
21 Ken Schrader Little Debbie/Motorcraft Ford
24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
25 Brian Vickers ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet
26 Jamie McMurray Sharpie/IRWIN Ford
29 Kevin Harvick GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
38 Elliott Sadler M&M's Ford
48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
88 Dale Jarrett UPS Ford
91 Bill Elliott Auto Value Dodge
96 Terry Labonte Texas Instruments/DLP Chevrolet
99 Carl Edwards Office Depot Ford

Brickyard winners tend to go on to win title  As he celebrated winning the NEXTEL Cup on Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tony Stewart couldn't forget the dream victory that helped propel him to his second NASCAR season title.

"To win at home in the Brickyard was the win of a lifetime for me," Stewart said, "and to be able to finish it off with a championship -- this is just perfect."

It also continued a trend of drivers winning the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and the NASCAR season championship in the same year. Stewart recorded the fifth Indy-title "double" in the 12-year history of the annual NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon achieved the feat in 1998 and 2001, while Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte pulled it off in 1999 and 2000, respectively. It was a four-year run of Indy-title doubles, a feat resumed this year by Stewart.  More ...

NASCAR season finale TV rating tanks  The overnight TV rating on NBC for the NASCAR season finale Sunday at Homestead was a 4.8/9 share down significantly (14.3%) from last year's 5.6/11 share.
Racing News
Alex Zanardi news  Alex Zanardi - My Sweetest Victory by Bentley Publishers (www.Bentleypublishers.com) won a Silver medal at the 2005 International Automotive Media Awards in the Autobiography category. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Madison Avenue Sports Car Driving & Chowder Society at Sardi's in New York on November 15, 2005. The IAMA awards are chosen from among some 400 automotive media entries across 11 different divisions.

Alex Zanardi was also featured on "ESPN THE MAGAZINE" - November 21st issue.

A1 Grand Prix
Where to watch A1GP in the USA  Fans interested in watching A1 Grand Prix races in the USA, and who have DirecTV, can subscribe to channel 615, Setanta Sports, for around $10/month.  The telecasts are 3-hours, and include the sprint and feature races.
Industry News
GM announces massive cuts  General Motors Corp., the world’s largest automaker and the biggest publicly traded company in Michigan, on Monday said that it would close 12 facilities and eliminate at least 30,000 jobs in an attempt to return to profitability.

The company also said it will undertake a variety of other cost-cutting initiatives, such as reducing operations at nine manufacturing sites.

The moves come after the company’s losses, especially in GM’s North American automotive operations, continued mounting into the billions of dollars.

"The decisions we are announcing today were very difficult to reach because of their impact on our employees and the communities where we live and work," Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said. "But these actions are necessary for GM to get its costs in line with our major global competitors. In short, they are an essential part of our plan to return our North American operations to profitability as soon as possible.

The following six assembly plant sites will be affected in the years indicated: More ...

Home Depot to activate around Stewart championship  NASCAR driver Tony Stewart finished 15th in yesterday’s season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, securing his second Nextel Cup title in the past four years. Today, The Home Depot, primary sponsor of Stewart’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing-owned Chevrolet, announced that it will sell three fantasy gift packages for $62,500 apiece that include a custom replica of Stewart’s Monte Carlo, a vacation package to the February 26 Auto Club 500 at California Speedway and the chance to meet Stewart before that race. The packages go on sale December 1 at www.homedepot.com/nascargift, as well as in the company’s direct mail catalog. THE DAILY  [Editor's Note: We're still waiting for McDonald's to activate around their two Sebastien Bourdais championships in Champ Car.  One of Champ Car's biggest failings is its inability to get their sponsors to activate in any meaningful way.....and we're not talking about some half-hearted efforts that we have seen.]
CTE Racing in the news  Champ Car’s newest team owner, Cedric the Entertainer introduced his business partners and acquaintances from the entertainment world to his latest venture when he and the team held a CTE Racing cocktail party at the luxurious Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Guests discussed the benefits of CTE Racing sponsorship opportunities and the wide range of business to business relationships available. With one of the team’s cars resplendent in its new livery, Cedric made good on his undertaking to introduce the entertainment world to HVM Racing and several exciting connections were forged during the star-studded evening.  Cedric, who is planning to take part in the Pro-Celebrity race at the Long Beach event in 2006, enjoyed a moment of friendly competition by strapping Frankie Muniz, star of “Malcolm in the Middle” and winner of this year’s Pro-Celebrity race into the CTE Racing HVM race car and challenging Frankie to drive the 750 hp masterpiece!

Cedric will cap the year with a great honor on Tuesday, as he hosts the 33rd annual American Music Awards show, honoring the achievements of musical artists and the recording industry.  The show airs live on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium, Tuesday, November 23rd at 8:00 pm ET. 

With a million people attending Champ Car races annually and a massive worldwide television audience, CTE Racing HVM offers a range of proven marketing and advertising platforms to enhance the business of its corporate partners. For more information on CTE Racing HVM and its partners, visit www.HVMRacing.com

Ferrari testing continues in Bahrain  Third day of testing this week for Ferrari, working again at the Sakhir circuit, in Bahrain. Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, worked on defining the best set-up for the cars at their disposal and benefited from the first really sunny day. Working respectively at the wheel of a modified F2005 and a F2004 with a V8 engine, both pf drivers completed their programs centered on both tire development and, in conjunction with Shell, of the new engine which will be used as from the start of the 2006 season. Luca Badoer completed 68 laps, the quickest in a time of 1.35.804. Marc Gené did 105 laps which the best time of 1.34.484. Both drivers continue testing here tomorrow. Ferrari
F1 2006 TV ratings increase  With Michael Schumacher dominating Formula One for a number of years, worldwide F1 television ratings have fallen or been stagnant. However, 2006 saw a ratings increase with the performances of drivers such as Räikkönen and Alonso.

Audiences increased again in Finland (MTV3 having a 67.4 per cent average market share for live broadcasts, and putting more than one in five of the population in front of their television set).

Audiences increased sharply in Spain (up from 6.7 per cent in 2004 to 10.2 per cent in 2005 on Tele 5), following Alonso's success.

In France, Renault's comeback saw TF1 increase its ratings with more than 3.7 million viewers on average per Grand Prix.

Germany and Italy, not surprisingly given Schumacher and Ferrari's decline, recorded the most significant drops in TV ratings. However, both countries still count among the biggest followers of the sport. In Germany they averaged more than 6.9 million viewers on RTL per race and 6.6 million in Italy on Rai.

The series has continued its expansion into other territories. In China for example, CCTV5 delivered more than 6.9 million viewers during the Hockenheim Grand Prix.

The figures are provided by Eurodata TV Worldwide. Created by Médiamétrie, it distributes programming and audience information.

Busch wins 2005 rookie award  Kyle Busch in the #5 Kelloggs Chevy clinched the 2005 Raybesto Rookie of Year at Homestead, beating out #77-Travis Kvapil, who was the only other full-time rookie driver. Busch racked up two wins, one pole, nine top-fives and 13 top 10 finishes this season. He claimed Raybestos Rookie of the Race 23 times in 36 races and was the only Raybestos Rookie to post a top-five finish this season. Busch joins Jeff Gordon (1993) as the only Hendrick Motorsports drivers to win Raybestos Rookie of the Year. He is the first Raybestos Rookie to post two or more wins since Jimmie Johnson won three races in 2002. Busch became the youngest pole winner in NASCAR's premier series (19 yrs., 9 mos. and 24 days) when he grabbed the No. 1 qualifying spot for the February 27 Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. He is also the most recent Raybestos Rookie to win a pole and is the only first-year driver to win a pole in 2005. Where the Raybestos Rookies finished at Homestead: T. Kvapil 32nd; K. Busch 41st. Raybestos/Camp and Assoc PR
Roush Crew Chiefs all back in 2006  Roush Racing President Geoff Smith said Sunday that the team has re-signed all of five of its crew chiefs for 2006, although it has some unfilled crew vacancies remaining. Roush is one of the few teams that had no midseason crew chief turnover and return of its five team leaders should help the organization get off to a strong start next season. Speed Channel
2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion: Tony Stewart  
• Tony Stewart won the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Championship in the 57th season of NASCAR’s premier series.
• This is Stewart’s second title in the seven seasons that he has competed in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Stewart was also the Series champion in 2002.
• Stewart has ranked in the top 10 every season since his 1999 rookie year and has never ranked lower than seventh in the final point standings.
• Stewart posted three Bud Poles, five victories, 17 top-fives and 25 top-10 finishes this season.
• This is Joe Gibbs’ third championship as a car owner. Bobby Labonte won for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2000 and Stewart in 2002. Gibbs has fielded at least one full-time team since 1992.
• This is also the second championship for crew chief Greg Zipadelli, both with Stewart. Zipadelli has been a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Crew Chief for seven seasons, all with Stewart and Gibbs.
• There have been 27 different champions Stewart is the 14th different driver to win multiple championships.
• Stewart was the 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year. He became the eighth Rookie-of-the-Year to subsequently win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship.
• Stewart started the season at Daytona in sixth place after leading the most laps en route to a seventh-place finish. He struggled for the next 13 races, finishing in the top 10 only five times but also finishing 24th or worse five times. He then finished second in the June Michigan race, beginning a 13-race streak of consecutive top 10 finishes that ran through Loudon in September. During the 13 races, he scored five victories and 10 top fives. His Brickyard 400 victory propelled him to first place in the point standings for the first time in 2005. He held the top position following all but one of the final 15 races.
• His biggest point lead was 213 points following second Bristol. His smallest lead was when he was tied with Jimmie Johnson in points scored after the second Charlotte race.
• Stewart started the Chase in first place by five points over Greg Biffle, 15 ahead of Johnson. Stewart led the standings after nine of the 10 Chase races (all but Dover when he fell to fifth after an 18th place finish).
• This is the 22nd time in 57 seasons a Chevrolet driver has won the championship; the first since 2001.
• Stewart’s other championships:
2001 World of Outlaws (Car Owner)
1997 Indy Racing League (IRL)
1995 USAC Midget; USAC Sprint Cars; USAC Silver Crown
1994 USAC Midget
1987 World Karting Association National Title
1983 International Karting Foundation Grand National
Stewart is 34 years old (5/20/71); Zipadelli is 38 years old (4/21/67); Gibbs is 64 years old (11/25/40). NASCAR Statistical Services
GP2 announces 13th team  Following the announcement of Trident Racing as the 13th GP2 series team, Team President Maurizio Salvadori speaks of his plans for the squad. Trident Racing would like to thank the GP2 Series Organization and Mr. Bruno Michel in having accepted our entry request for the 2006-2007 GP2 Series and for the confidence granted in our technical, financial and marketing projects presented.

The GP2 Series represents, together with Formula 1, the maximum expression in motor racing, for the excellent organization level, for the competitiveness of the teams and for the level of drivers present: an extremely difficult challenge but at the same time very exciting for the Trident Racing partners Maurizio Salvadori, Clarence Seedorf, Eros Ramazzotti and Massimo Sigala.

Trident Racing is aware of the hard work that awaits the technical staff who look forward to the first tests in 2006 at Paul Ricard.

We are pleased to announce that Gian Maria Bruni is the first official driver for Trident Racing. Trident Racing strongly believes in Gian Maria Bruni's technical qualities and his professional maturity.

Maurizio Salvadori
(President Trident Racing)

2006 GP2 series Race Numbers
ART Grand Prix 1, 2
Arden International 3, 4
Super Nova International 5, 6
iSport International 7, 8
Racing Engineering 9, 10
Piquet Sports 11, 12
DAMS 14, 15
Coloni Motorsport 16, 17
BCN Competicion 18, 19
DPR 20, 21
Durango 22, 23
Campos Racing 24, 25
Trident Racing 26, 27

Davide Rigon testing at Vallelunga  Besides Champ Car Atlantic star Katherine Legge, who is also scheduled to test, Davide Rigon, who finished his 2005 campaign in the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 with Italian outfit Victory Engineering, is set to experience one of the sweetest moments of his racing career to date. The Minardi F1 team and the ACI/CSAI “driver search” program have selected him to take part in a F1 test as one of the most promising young drivers on the Italian motorsport scene.

Last week, Rigon had just finished his daily fitness program – a program that has been increased from two to four hours since the Minardi F1 Team announced that he will be one of the drivers participating in the F1 test in Vallelunga. After achieving some good results in karting, Rigon adapted well to single-seater racing and this year the 19 year-old driver moved up into the World Series by Renault after several successful outings in the Italian F3 championship. Davide is extremely happy to be taking part in this test, which is part of the agreement signed with the Faenza-based team and the ACI/CSAI.

“I’ve just come back from my seat-fitting in Faenza," explained Rigon. “I was really impressed by the facilities and the warm welcome that they gave me. It is always impressive to talk with someone like Gian Carlo Minardi. For me, he is a legend.” More ...

Formula 3
Di Grassi wins thrilling Macau GP  UPDATE "I am delighted," commented DiGrassi. "I have been waiting for this moment all year. It's certainly the best day of my career: I have beaten the best F3 drivers in the world. At Macau, it is not always the quickest car that wins, but the driver that has the best strategy. That was me today, and I am proud we could demonstrate it."

The other RDD representative in action was Frenchman Loïc Duval, and he had distinguished himself throughout the weekend. Having topped qualifying and won the qualifying race from pole, he started from pole in the blue riband event. However, he jumped the start and, while leading, was penalized by the stewards. He served a drive-through penalty to emerge amidst the chasing pack. But he drove aggressively to climb back up to 6th position.

"I had a great chance to win today, but it all went wrong," lamented Duval. "At the start, my hand slipped off the handbrake and the car moved… I had to serve the penalty, which was completely justified. It goes without saying that I am really disappointed." Both drivers are Renault Development drivers.

11/20/05 Brazilian Lucas di Grassi (right) won a thrilling Macau Grand Prix on Sunday – snatching the lead from rival Robert Kubica with just two laps to go to take the checkered flag 0.6 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger.

The battle for victory was blown wide open at the start when pole position man Loic Duval, who had dominated the qualifying race on Saturday, was adjudged to have jumped the start when his car moved forwards when the lights were still red.

Duval managed to keep the lead at the start and stretched out an impressive 2.2 seconds lead over the first lap. After opening up his advantage by a further one second a lap, the Race Stewards decided to hand him a drive-through penalty. He pitted on lap six and dropped well down the order. (Di Grassi, left, benefited from a jumped start penalty for Duval)

Duval’s penalty meant that the fight for the lead was left between di Grassi and Kubica, who were locked in a thrilling battling for the entire race. Di Grassi had moved to the head of their battle on lap two, with a brave move around the outside at Lisboa, but lost what was then the lead on lap 10 when Kubica dived down the inside at the same corner after getting a good slipstream. More ...

Dyson in live chat  UPDATE Reminder that this live chat is today at 5 PM ET. 11/19/05 Fresh off the news regarding Dyson Racing's 2006 chassis-engine combo, Chris Dyson will chat with American Le Mans Series fans at 5 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 21. The chat is one of many we hope to have during the off-season, leading up to the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the kickoff for the '06 season.

Chris finished second in the LMP1 drivers standings and is a former ALMS class champion – 2003 in LMP675. He owns four race victories and claimed the first pole of his young career in September at Mosport. For the 2006 American Le Mans Series, Dyson Racing will field two Lola B06/10s powered by a new 3.6-liter, twin-turbo V8 from AER.

All American Le Mans Series chats are held in The Grid chat room at www.americanlemans.com

Barrichello, Kanaan and Wheldon win kart race  Rubens Barrichello and Indy 500 victor Dan Wheldon proved their winning style on Sunday by trumping the traditional 'Granja Viana' kart race in Brazil.

The duo, in a team also including last year's IRL champion Tony Kanaan, won the 12-hour race despite qualifying fifth.  It is Sao Paulo-native Barrichello's second 500 mile win on the trot.

Honda-bound Rubens Barrichello, 33, has now won the 'Granja Viana 500' six times.

The young man who is replacing him at Ferrari, countryman Felipe Massa, qualified on pole - nearly a second clear of Rubens' team - for the 600-lap event, and were the quickest team all weekend.

Marco Andretti crashed in the rain and was taken to the local hospital for a checkup but was pronounced OK.

Elsewhere in the motor racing world, Lucas di Grassi won the prestigious Macau F3 grand prix from Robert Kubica, with Sebastian Vettel third.

In the US, 2002 champion Tony Stewart secured the 'NASCAR Nextel Cup' at the Miami finale, while France - this time with Alexandre Premat at the wheel - continued to dominate the 'A1' series with another double victory at Sepang.

Granja Viana 500 - Top-10 finishers:

1) Rubens Barrichello-Tony Kanaan-Felipe Giaffone-Dan Wheldon, 615 laps
2) Vitor Meira-Juliano Moro-Pedro Pimenta-Beto Nini, 613
3) César Ramos-Júlio Reis-Pedro Gomes-Roberto Gomes-Fernando Wortmann, 607
4) Felipe Massa-Rafael Daniel-Ruben Carrapatoso-João Paulo Bertuccelli, 606
5) Rubens Barrichello-Tony Kanaan-Marco Andretti-Alexandre Barros, 605
6) Osvaldo Badula-Mário Maia-Geraldo Pavão-Antônio Urbano-Paulo Leme-Marçal Mello-David Prior, 605
7) Jorge Borelli-Vinicius Quadro-George Altmann-Felipe Ferreira, 605
8) Dennis Dirani-Daniel Landi-Rafael Monteiro, 605
9) Christian Fittipaldi-Mário Haberfeld, 602
10) João Paulo Bertuccelli-Marcos Gomes-Popó Bueno, 599

Latest F1 news in brief  
Ralf's five-year F1 deal
Speedy Fisichella
Oz GP cost $19m in 2005
F1 car stolen
Still trouble at Spa
'Jabby' Crombac dies
Ferrari test in Bahrain
Tardy V8 'on time' - Renault
Albers joins 'RoC' lineup
Political F1 engines in gear
BMW to complete '06 lineup
Fry hints at Honda's new name
Renault lauds Fisichella
Ford ready to begin Fusion era  Sunday's Ford 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway marks both the end of Ford Championship Weekend and the beginning of an era for the all-new Ford Fusion.

The Fusion will be Ford's entrant in the Nextel Cup and Busch Series next year, marking the first time since the Torino in 1968 that an all-new Ford model debuted in showrooms and on the track at the same time.

The NASCAR version of the Fusion was unveiled in Charlotte , N.C. , in July and participated in its first NASCAR test Aug. 2 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"Our guys did a terrific job of getting the NASCAR Fusion to where it needed to be, and we actually were ahead of schedule in getting it to NASCAR," said Dan Davis, director of Ford Racing Technology. "The goal of any new car is to take the lessons learned from the previous model and, working within the NASCAR guidelines, bring forth a slightly better product.

"I think we accomplished that, and I think we have a car that NASCAR fans will easily recognize," Davis said. "We're excited, and I know our teams are as well."  More ...

Carl Russo sees no chance for IRL/Champ Car merger  In this AutoRacing1.com interview RuSPORT boss Carl Russo responded to the following question:

Q. Do you have any hope for a reunion of the two series (IRL and Champ Car)?
Russo: None.

Fry: F1 Should Go Green  BAR Honda CEO Nick Fry says Formula 1 should prepare the ground for a radical switch to energy-efficient and environmentally friendly cars in the next few years. Fry believes that F1 manufacturers are well placed to deliver environmental goals because maximizing efficiency within a given set of rules is their stock in trade. Moreover, he claims F1's massive investment in research could have a significant payoff for the car industry as a whole.

"It's almost ironic: The specific area where development in Formula 1 will influence road cars is in efficiency and environmental issues," Fry was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters. "Formula 1 is all about efficiency, about getting the maximum from what you can do within the rules."

Fry cited fuel consumption a case in point: "If you can go that one extra lap, if you can use less fuel so you have a lighter car, then you will have a significant advantage. By the end of the season, the difference between the top teams was 20 horsepower out of more than 900. If you could go that extra lap on the equivalent fuel load or if you could start the car five or 10 kilos lighter that's a bigger advantage [than speed]."

Fry even floated the idea of F1 running a parallel class for hybrid cars, which are gaining popularity among ordinary motorists.

"Maybe Formula 1 in five years' time or more should have a special formula for hybrid vehicles," he said. "If in 10 years' time because of environmental reasons the key thing of interest to road car customers is a hybrid formula [then] I don't see why Formula 1 shouldn't migrate in that direction. It should be a mirror of what's happening in the real world. It shouldn't be an island. We might have Formula 1 develop into something with two classes within it. The final migration point might be something completely different. My personal feeling is that it should be something different. It should move with the times." [url:itv-f1.com]http://www.itv-f1.com/News_Article.aspx?PO_ID=34567[/url ]
Ferrari, Shell continue engine testing in Bahrain  Ferrari continued testing at Bahrain today, focusing on their engine development program ahead of the 2006 season. Italian Luca Badoer was behind the wheel of a modified F2005 while Spaniard Marc Gene was at the wheel of an F2004 that was fitted with a V8 engine. Both drivers worked with fuel and lubricants supplier Shell on engine testing as well as with Bridgestone on tire development. Gene covered a total of 87 laps with the fastest time of 1:34.807. Badoer covered a total of 86 laps, with a best time of 1:35.477. The two continue testing tomorrow at the Sakhir circuit. Ferrari
Rain could postpone NASCAR final  Per weather.com, there is a 50% to 60% chance of rain in Homestead this evening, but NASCAR has no plans to move up the 4:10 p.m. start of today's Ford 400. If the race is rained out, a spokesman said it would be moved to "the next clear day." The 2005 champion is scheduled to make a media tour of New York tomorrow and Tuesday.
Penske speaks out on Kurt Busch  In an exclusive interview with Sporting News' Lee Spencer, Roger Penske expressed his feelings on the recent Kurt Busch incident in Phoenix and the future of the No. 2 car.

TSN: Can you address the situation with Kurt Busch last weekend and how you expect to move forward?

PENSKE: I hired Kurt Busch because I thought he was a great racecar driver. The situation that took place at Phoenix is unfortunate for him and certainly unfortunate for us. We stood by him 300 percent. Our sponsors stood by him. I think a lot of his peers stood by him. From my perspective, I think it's a lot better for something like this to happen now than if we have to deal with it in the future. I think the other thing is for every bad thing that happens, usually a good thing comes out. I think it's a wake up call for all of us in the sport. We're all under a tremendous magnifying glass here, and because of that we're going to have to watch the things we do. For Kurt, it's one of those things in life -- I have four sons and I could say there were defining moments as they grew up and now they're great guys. It's my personal goal to have the best race team and Kurt's going to be part of that.

TSN: Jack Roush said there was no contrition from Kurt. Has he apologized to you for the incident?

PENSKE: Kurt and I talked about it after it happened. It's an unfortunate situation. Knowing all the facts and what happened, this could have happened to me, it could have happened to anyone. Unfortunately, given who he is and the circumstances, the outcome was a little tough. I met with Sheriff Joe (Arpaio), myself, on Monday night. He's a good guy. I think that all of us were disappointed with the situation but I've committed with him -- along with Kurt -- that once we're through this we'll come out there in the new year and see what we can do to show the community that Kurt Busch is a first class guy. He's not only a great racecar driver, he's a great person and I'm going to support him and try to help him.  More....

Kyle Busch trying to mend fences  Kyle Busch attempted to mend fences with the media on Saturday, six days after abruptly walking out of the post-race winner's news conference at Phoenix. Last Sunday when a reporter challenged Busch's comment that the media had spread misinformation surrounding his brother Kurt Busch's reckless driving charge, the #5 Chevrolet driver stormed out of the question-and-answer session, only to return 25 minutes later. "I made a mistake, and I realize that," Kyle Busch said on Saturday. "Everything that was said was [during] a high emotion time. All the speculation and everything else, it was just a bad time for me." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A1 Grand Prix
A1 Grand Prix a good ’development’ series  UPDATE #2 Unfortunately the attendance for race day in Sepang wasn't much better. As winner Alexandre Premat takes the checkered flag (right) the grandstands remained largely empty. The best thing Shaikh Maktoum could do given it is now clear the fans are not going to buy tickets for a development series trying to sell itself as a top-level series, is to take what he has established with this team/country concept and merge with Champ Car's efforts to do the same. Between Maktoum's $billions and Kalkhoven's $billions, Bernie Ecclestone will certainly stand up and take notice.  A marriage made in heaven?  Perhaps.

11/19/05 As the pictures below show from Saturday in Sepang, Malaysia, the A1 Grand Prix Series continues to attract very few paying customers as the grandstands didn't have one soul in them for qualifying.  As in most countries, very few fans will pay for a ticket for a development series.  After Sheik Maktoum runs through huge amounts of money for a couple of seasons paying the entire cost himself, he will realize he has to call up F1 or Champ Car and ask if he could run as a support series event on their weekends.

Photos courtesy A1 Grand Prix


11/18/05 A1 Grand Prix is having a difficult time developing a following for two reasons 1) The teams change drivers like a revolving door. The drivers must be the heroes, not the teams, hence A1 Grand Prix will never become too popular - no continuity; 2) The lap times today in Sepang were over 20 seconds slower per lap than the F1 cars ran earlier this year, making them on par with a Toyota Atlantic (now Champ Car Atlantic) car in terms of performance, another good 'development' series, but clearly can never be sold as a 'big' standalone event.

With that said, it is giving a lot of drivers some good seat time and exposure to the media, especially some of the young guns who hope that t big-league team will spot their talent and pick them up.

Fan on verge of winning $1million  As most NASCAR fans wait to see who will be crowned the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion on Sunday, November 20, Jeffery Rhoten of Bristol, TN will have his eyes on the finish line waiting to see if Jimmie Johnson made him an instant millionaire, as the winner of the Gillette Young Guns "Million Dollar Race to the Finish." Rhoten, who made his selection on Saturday, November 19 in Miami, has been tasked to select which of the Gillette Young Guns - Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will earn the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For more information you can visit www.gilletteyoungguns.com. Alan Taylor Communications
John Reiser dies  John Reiser, father of #17 crew chief Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth’s long-time Busch Series car owner, has passed away. John had been battling cancer for the past few months. Sympathies are with his wife, Alice, and Robbie, and the rest of the family this weekend. More details when they have them. Matt Kenseth website
Huisman wins FIA WTCC finale as Priaulx takes title  Duncan Huisman won the final round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship at Macau on Sunday, but all attention was on second-placed BMW team-mate Andy Priaulx who captured the title.

Priaulx was assured of the crown early in the race when his only remaining title rival, Dirk Muller, crashed out into the barriers at Lisboa on lap three.

By that stage of the race, Priaulx had already climbed from seventh on the grid up to third, and he took another place on lap five when he got past Alain Menu for second spot under braking for Lisboa.

Priaulx then set about chasing early race leader Huisman, who got past pole man Peter Terting at the start, and was just one second behind the Dutchman when the Safety Car was called out on lap six following a four-car collision at Reservoir Bend. That incident involved Adriano de Micheli, Peter Terting, Peter Scharmach and Marc Hennerici. More ...

A1 Grand Prix
France wins again, takes sprint race  A1 Grand Prix's Sprint race at the Sepang circuit produced a nail-biting climax after 15 laps of wheel-to-wheel racing. Although this was the seventh win of the season for A1 Team France, this weekend's driver Alexandre Premat worked from the start to the checkered flag and it was only on the final lap that he was able to take the lead.

France first had to pass Great Britain with Robbie Kerr getting a better start and on lap one slotting into second place behind A1 Team Switzerland, with the French car in third. A1 Team Switzerland was given some breathing space as France and Great Britain battled in the early laps. It was a slight mistake while under breaking into the hairpin on lap four that allowed France to gain the advantage into the following corner and so pass Robbie Kerr. At the end of lap five, Switzerland led France by 1.7 seconds but lap by lap, the gap came down and it was highly likely that France would manage the overtaking maneuver it had tried on several occasions when a gap at the start of the final lap was 0.170 seconds. Switzerland's Neel Jani didn't make it easy for France but after swapping positions it was finally in turn four where he had to accept the runner-up position. A1 Team France eventually won by 1.2 seconds.

Commenting on his win, Alexandre Premat said: 'I used my PowerBoost button to try and get past Robbie Kerr and in my mind was thinking everyone can make a mistake and hoped that those in front would do. Neel and I had a few corners very close and it was very hard. I hope to get a good start in the next race and get a good gap for the championship. That will be enough.' More ...

Threats made at WTCC finale  During qualifying for the Macau GP - the final races of the WTCC this year - Chinese driver Paul Poon from Hong Kong and Brazilian driver Augusto Farfus  - who has been penalized for rude driving against Jörg Müller and Alex Zanardi earlier this year -  crashed and Poon couldn't continue, which meant that the times he had clocked so far exceeded the 107% limit of the pole time and he can thus not take part in the races.  He got so upset about this that he threatened Augusto Farfus 'would not leave Macau alive'. Poon's team manager Kurt Treml of German team Engstler Motorsport confirmed the threat and so did the FIA.  Farfus' only comment about the incident was that Poon was a 'bad race car driver.'
Ferrari kicks off Bahrain test  Today was the first day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, their third week of action since the end of the 2005 Formula One championship season last month, with the test team turning out in force at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain.

The day’s work centered on the two test drivers, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, defining the best set-up for the cars at their disposal, namely an F2005 fitted with an engine modified to comply with the 2006 technical regulations and an F2004, fitted with a V8 power unit.

Between them, the drivers covered a total of 109 laps: 47 for Badoer and 62 (one on the short version of the track) for Gene. The best time of the day was set by Luca in 1.35.024, while Marc’s best time was a 1.35.408. Both drivers will continue testing here tomorrow. Ferrari

Racing News
Bike rider killed at Macau  The Macau GP weekend has been overshadowed by the death of Bruno Bonhuil following an accident during the Saturday morning warm-up session for the 39th Macau Motorcycle Grand Prix.

Bonhuil, who had qualified in 20th place riding for the Team of Paris Suzuki outfit, fell heavily on the exit of Mandarin corner during the session.  Despite receiving immediate medical attention at the circuit, the 45-year-old Frenchman would later succumb to his injuries.

"The Macau Grand Prix committee regret to announce that Bruno Bonhuil, competitor number 40 in the 39th Macau Motorcycle GP Hotel Fortuna, has passed away form injuries received in an accident during the warm up this morning," a statement from the Macau GP committee read.

"Mr Bonhuil, a Frenchman, was 45 years old and is survived by his wife and daughter. The Macau GP committee extend their deepest sympathy to his family and friends."

Newman Wins Sixth, Truex Gets Second Straight Busch Title  Ryan Newman won the battle, but Martin Truex Jr. won the war as he picked up his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He becomes the fifth driver in series history to win back-to-back titles.

Truex had to work his way through the field from the back of the pack twice during a day of frustration and drama to finish seventh. Truex ended the race 68 points ahead of Clint Bowyer to win the 2005 NASCAR Busch Series championship. Bowyer finished the event in eighth spot.

Point leader Truex came into the season’s final event leading by a margin of 64 points over second place Bowyer. Truex wrecked his primary car in qualifying, had to go to an untried back-up car and started on the back of the pack in 42nd spot. He worked his way into the top 20 by lap 16. Shortly after, title hopes were nearly dashed for the two point leaders as J.J. Yeley’s car broke loose between Truex and Bowyer as Truex tried to make it three wide in turn 4.  More ...

Bodine Wins Third Straight, Musgrave the Title  Todd Bodine tied a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record with his third consecutive victory Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway while Ted Musgrave captured his first-ever championship.

The Ford 200 had been scheduled for Friday night but was postponed just over 12 hours by intermittent rains.

Bodine had the dominant truck for much of the race, leading twice for 74 of the 134 laps around the 1.5-mile superspeedway. He put his Germain Motor Company Toyota in front for the final time on lap 134 when Brendan Gaughan stopped for fuel. More ...

Waste Management to sponsor Sterling Marlin  HOMESTEAD, Fla.-- Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE: WMI) and MB2 Motorsports today announced the companies have formed a racing platform that will commence with the 2006 NASCAR season.

The agreement calls for Waste Management to be a primary sponsor for 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races and a major associate sponsor for 24 other points races on MB2's No. 14 Chevrolet, which will be driven by Sterling Marlin. Waste Management’s first primary sponsorship race will be the season-opening Daytona 500, Feb. 19.

Waste Management is also an associate sponsor on MB2’s No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet, driven by Joe Nemechek.

"We are thrilled to sponsor MB2 Motorsports and have two-time Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin on our team," said David Steiner, Waste Management's chief executive officer. "We've had a great relationship with NASCAR since 2001 and are eagerly looking forward to enhancing our racing involvement in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series with our new MB2 Motorsports sponsorship. This new relationship will assist Waste Management in meeting our primary business objectives." More ...

Industry news
Ford to slash 10% of its white collar workers  Ford Motor Co. will cut about 10%, or 4,000, of its white-collar jobs in North America next year, mostly through involuntary layoffs, as part of a sweeping cost-cutting plan to be unveiled in January, the company told workers in an e-mail sent Friday.

The planned cutbacks are the latest blow to Michigan's already suffering economy and deal another setback to an auto industry still reeling from the October bankruptcy of Delphi Corp., the state's fourth-largest company, and massive losses at General Motors Corp.

The job cuts, which will include salaried and contract employees as well as workers hired from employment firms, are the latest move by Ford to head off the financial crisis that has battered GM. They are in addition to a plan to cut 2,750 white-collar jobs this year in North America.

One worker said the job cuts will not only hurt employee morale, but also the Michigan economy.

"Why should we be loyal to the company when they are not loyal to us?" said one worker, who has been with Ford for more than 30 years. "People like me are not going to spend money if they don't know if they're going to have a job next week. It's a trickle-down effect."  Detroit Free Press

The real reason Roush suspended Busch  It was not because he was drunk, because he was not. It was not because he was abusive to the local police when he was stopped in Phoenix. No the real reason Jack Roush suspended Kurt Busch was because he quit his team and went to Penske. Busch gave Roush the perfect avenue to get back at him.

Roush is still angry over Busch's decision to leave his organization to drive for Roger Penske, a decision Busch made just months after winning his first Nextel Cup title. His desire to move on shocked Roush and forever fractured their relationship, with Roush saying Friday he hasn't even spoken to the driver in at least four weeks.

So it was no surprise when Roush took the unusual step of kicking Busch out of the car and refusing to let him finish the final two races of the season. It was Roush's way of getting the final word.

Although police now say Busch was far below the legal drinking limit, they accused the driver or being belligerent, argumentative and verbally harassing the officer performing the traffic stop.

Roush said reports of Busch behaving badly didn't surprise him.

"I was doubting that Kurt was in fact intoxicated beyond a legal limit because it had been his nature to be very much like he was reported to be in contentious situations that frustrated him before," Roush said. "He's an extraordinary talent, but he's really had trouble dealing with the realities of normal social behavior."

Improvements planned for Edmonton  "I think that every year it gets tougher and tougher to come out with new and innovative events that occur on the site. But we're pretty creative, we think, and we have a tremendous amount of support," said organizer Tom Doerksen.

"We had great suggestions coming in from the fans, from sponsors, from the different levels of municipal and provincial governments, so there's no shortage of ideas. It's a matter of incorporating them, that are the right things to do for the fans that will keep them coming."

A significant change is moving the pit area adjacent to the start/finish straightaway and moving Grandstand B and the corporate suites further up into what was a 300-foot space.

Perhaps more importantly, this will open wider the foot-traffic lanes behind the grandstands. Grandstand B and the suites will also be angled slightly to allow better viewing of the pit area and of Turn 1. As well the north end family section above Turns 4, 5 and 6 is being expanded.

"In the first year, to a large extent it was a guessing game," Doerksen said of the logistics of site planning. "But fortunately our planning was to a level where we could accommodate (the volume of fans). But all of the areas that came to light - and there weren't really very many areas - they were solvable problems."

Team Australia works for Tagliani  Alex Tagliani came to Edmonton last February as a Champ Car driver to promote the inaugural Grand Prix here. A week later, he didn't know if he'd even be at the race. "No ride," he chuckled yesterday about getting bounced from the Rocketsports seat that went to eventual rookie-of-the-year Timo Glock. Derrick Walker Racing had signed a sponsorship deal with Aussie Vineyards, donned the green-and-gold national colors of the Land Down Under, and Team Australia was born. Walker had one car for Aussie rookie Marcus Marshall and needed a veteran for the other. Tagliani, whose wife Bronte is Australian, was a fit. And he proved it on the track.

"I was really pleased, what we did with Derrick Walker and the team. What we had to learn about the car this year was quite big. I'm looking forward to next year because everything shows we are going to be a lot quicker. It's going to be great to come back and compete towards the front. "Now we know what we have, some data." Tagliani's experience proved a vital component of that data. Especially after Marshall bombed. Another Aussie, 26-year-old Will Power, teams with Tagliani next season. "For the first year I think it was not too shabby." For next year? "I want to finish on the podium at every Canadian race.". Edmonton Sun
Formula 3
Duval wins qualifying race  Frenchman Loic Duval (pictured right) dominated the qualification race for the Macau Grand Prix on Saturday to finish 1.5 seconds ahead of Pole Robert Kubica, with Brazilian Lucas di Grassi taking third place.

Duval, who started from pole position, lost the lead briefly to Kubica at the start after making a poor getaway, but was able to move back to the front on the run into Mandarin Bend.

He then managed to open up a three second gap by the end of the second lap and, although he lost time late in the race after getting caught up behind a backmarker, he was never threatened after that. He backed off on the final lap when the win was assured. (Photo right, Duval takes the lead by the end of the first lap)

“After the first few laps I was two or three seconds ahead and it was easy to look in the mirrors and see what Robert was doing,” said Duval. “It was easy for me to push at the beginning and then it was just a question of keeping three or four seconds ahead.” More ...

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday  
Sepang, Malaysia
12:00 a.m.-4:00 a.m. ET (Live) Setanta Sports
'NASCAR This Morning'
Homestead-Miami Speedway
11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
Ford 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Live) NBC
24 Hours of Nurburgring
2005 Highlights
3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
Mid-Ohio  (9/23/05)
5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Showroom Stock B
6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Sports 2000
'Race Car Driver'
Episode 12: Las Vegas
Episode 11: Montreal
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Replay) WGN
'NASCAR Victory Lane'
Homestead-Miami Speedway
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
WIND TUNNEL with Dave Despain
Guest Cohost: Dick Berggren
Featured Interview: 2005 Tunnelhead of the Year
Featured Interview: Ted Musgrave
9:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED

For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

IPS Series
Rahal Tests Menards Infiniti Pro Series Car  UPDATE Even though he tested an IPS car, the young Rahal will forego that series and race in the Champ Car Atlantics series in 2006 where he certainly will learn a lot more against a stout field of drivers.
Q: What are your plans for the 2006 season?
“I will for sure be racing in Atlantics next year. I can’t say for which team yet, we haven’t signed anything so far, but we’re not going to start our own team.

“We did look at it, but decided it was not worth it, just way too much money to start from scratch. Also, I want to have a strong teammate.

“Other than that, I’m pretty sure I’ll drive in the [Grand American Rolex Series] 24 Hours of Daytona next year, and we also have a couple of offers in the ALMS to do Petit Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. But in the big picture Atlantics will be our main deal, what we’ll be focusing in next year.

"We would like to do the IPS race with Formula 1 at Indianapolis, to race in front of all the F1 guys like we did last year with Formula BMW.  We can’t race any other Pro Series races with the IRL though; I’m still underage, apparently because Marlboro’s sponsorship in IndyCar means drivers must be over 18 to participate in an IRL race.”

Q: And beyond that?
“We’ll see where this path leads us to. We’ve had some talks with World Series by Renault and GP2 Series teams, it’s something I definitely would like to experience. But I think that would be further down the road, in 2007...” SPEEDTV.com

11/14/05 [Editor's Note:  After placing an order for a Champ Car Atlantic car, it looks like the Rahals are being lured to race in the IPS instead. It will be interesting to see if young Rahal, who badmouthed the IRL in the interview he did with AutoRacing1.com, will now eat those words and go 100% throttle oval racing.] Bobby Rahal's 16-year-old son Graham completed a very successful test of a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car last week at Putnam Park Road Course in Mount Meridian, Ind.

The test was conducted by last year's championship-winning team, Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Three of the team's cars finished third through fifth in the entrant standings this year in the series, which is the official support series for the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

The railbirds watching Rahal were impressed.

"Graham once again showed me why he has a bright future in racing," said his driver coach, Mike Zimicki.  "On a less than ideal day and in an unfamiliar car he quickly got down to and then surpassed previously quick times. He listens, absorbs information and then applies it."

Schmidt, a veteran IRL driver himself, said giving Rahal some seat time was an important step for both of them. "I have been keeping my eye on Graham these past couple years and firmly believe the Infiniti Pro Series is the ideal format to showcase his talents," Schmidt said. "He displayed confidence and did a fantastic job at the test.  He was very consistent in his approach and was able to improve the car and his speed on every run."

"Graham showed me he is definitely a true racer," said Tim Neff, technical director for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.  "Even though he had no prior experience in the car and this level of horsepower, he adapted to the Dallara chassis and the speeds very quickly.  Graham exhibited good car control and excellent chassis information feedback."

"It rained some, but I did about 40 laps," the rising star said.  "The car is a lot of fun; it's really, really fast.  It handled well, but the power was the best thing. Power-wise, it had plenty."  More ...

Q and A with Tony Stewart  

Definitely different. It's probably one of the more radical changes I have seen to a speedway. But, I enjoyed both configurations. I enjoyed it when it was flat, I enjoyed it banked also. It's definitely more exciting for the fans when you're running higher speeds. We're able to run, with the way they designed it, a more progressive banking to make it better for the fans to be able to see us run two wide. (Photo right courtesy CIA Stock Photo)


Yeah, it has all year. That part of it hasn't changed. The hard part is that I haven't been home two days in the past two months. I'm just looking forward to getting through the weekend and spending some time there.


Unfortunately we didn't learn much last year because our Chase was virtually over 30 laps at Loudon, so really weren't even in a position to be a contender in the Chase. Where, this year when the Chase started, we were on top of our game. It's a totally different Chase for us this year. More ...

Q and A with Jeff Gordon  

The track has lost a lot of grip since the last time we were here. I think, I expected there to be less grip. I didn't test here. I'm just glad to get on the race track right now with all the weather conditions we've had today. I think we have a decent car but we're not where we need to be.


There's definitely. I always look at the positive of everything. You know, with us not being in the Chase, it puts us in the mindset of working for next year. Helps you get prepared for next year. It doesn't really do anything for Daytona next year, it's just mainly for tracks and speedway and mile and a halfs and building the chemistry and the confidence of the team to give us something to build on in the off-season. In the off-season, there's a lot of work that has to be done to building cars.


I am. I'm looking forward to some downtime. You know, it's been an up-and-down season for us. You know, I'm excited the way things have gone the past several weeks, so it's something to look forward to. I'm still looking forward to rest and relaxation.


Oh yeah. I think it's a big deal to win a championship but it's a huge deal when you win more than one. I think that, really, you go into one class when win a championship. You go into another one when you start winning more than one. And I think that it definitely separates you from a lot of the other drivers when you do that.


Yeah. He's a great race car driver and he's proven himself in all levels and Joe Gibbs have given him the tools to do what he's capable of doing. I was not surprised at all when he won the first one and wouldn't be surprised if he won a second one, or possibly more. I think that more it starts to come down to just desire, because it's a lot of hard work that goes into winning a championship. It's a lot of pressure-the ups the downs can be grueling and the demands on your time pick up more and more. It really starts to just get down to the team and how hard they are capable of working to put themselves in that position.


I think it's just getting me more comfortable. Instead of just trying to put cars out there like Jimmie has, or Kyle has or Brian has, we're putting race cars out there that give me that feel that I'm looking for and we went and tested at Atlanta and we tried some really drastic things, aerodynamically. And I liked them. And ever since then we've been leading more towards that. And, you know, also what happens is that when things start to go wrong, whether it is somebody spins in front of you or your blow a motor or whatever, and then you add on top of that not running good, the chemistry dwindles. And the confidence starts to go away, and I think we lost that. When Steve (Letarte) came in, and we made some changes and we had a couple of good runs, it kind of got that chemistry back going again. That can do as much for you as actually changing the race cars. I think a little bit of it is the cars. I think a lot of it of it is the chemistry and confidence that we've had.


We won in Martinsville but we didn't win at any of the other tracks, so. At Atlanta we were one of the best cars there and that was very promising but I want to see that at Texas, here, Kansas, Chicago. We know what area we need to work in the most and you know, we're still trying to figure it out. We haven't got it all figured out, but we've gotten a lot closer.

Gordon leads final practice at Homestead  
Pos No Driver Make Time Speed
1. 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 30.774 175.473
2. 6 Mark Martin Ford 30.838 175.109
3. 99 Carl Edwards Ford 30.846 175.063
4. 41 Casey Mears Dodge 30.849 175.046
5. 19 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 31.012 174.126
6. 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 31.029 174.031
7. 18 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 31.041 173.964
8. 42 Jamie McMurray Dodge 31.051 173.907
9. 12 Ryan Newman Dodge 31.086 173.712
10. 07 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 31.095 173.661
11. 5 Kyle Busch* Chevrolet 31.112 173.566
12. 09 Reed Sorenson Dodge 31.127 173.483
13. 10 Scott Riggs Chevrolet 31.132 173.455
14. 39 David Stremme Dodge 31.135 173.438
15. 22 Scott Wimmer Dodge 31.147 173.371 More ...
Roush ready to test new Fusion  Jack Roush, car owner of the five Roush Racing Tauruses in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, was part of a Q&A session Friday morning in the infield media center at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- Roush Racing Tauruses


"I think it will be a travesty if Tony doesn't win a championship. He certainly had the kind of luck going for him that we in 2003 and 2004, and he's had better performance than I've had in those same years. If he can't win this year, then it's real clear that I shouldn't have won the other two, which I'd hate to give back more than one of them. For Tony realizing all the success he had getting to this level and with the Gibbs organization being where it is with their technology and their teamwork and all the other metrics that go with that, it's their time. Tony is certainly gonna be celebrated by me and held up for the champion that he is and I congratulate him for the prospect of winning two. I hope that he does."


"I feel more honored and certainly feel that the task was more complex to put the five cars in than to win a championship. We had been in championship form with Mark Martin a number of times and because the owner let him down or the engine let him down or some other external force came into play, we came up dry. So to be able to look at that and say with a driver of Mark's caliber that I wasn't able to help him close the deal or provide the support for him to close the deal certainly got my attention and made clear to me how extraordinarily difficult this NASCAR form of stock car racing at its highest level is. More ...

A1 Grand Prix
Verstappen tops practice 3  Tire choice played an important part in the fastest lap times for the final official practice session of the Malaysia A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Sepang International Circuit presented by Astro, with the top eight teams on the timing sheet all having opted for new rubber.

A1 Team China was perhaps the biggest surprise, putting in the third fastest lap of the weekend knocking 2.433 seconds off his overall fastest lap time set in yesterday's second official practice session. With Tengyi Jiang having raced at Sepang before, his true potential is starting to show as he comes to grips with the A1 race car.

Official Practice Session 3 (11.00 - 12.00)

 A1 Team Driver Time No. Laps
1 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 1.55.193 8
2 Pakistan Adam Khan 1.55.489 16
3 China Tengyi Jiang 1.55.526 13
4 South Africa Stephen Simpson 1.55.660 16
5 New Zealand Matt Halliday 1.55.803 14
6 India Armaan Ebrahim 1.55.805 19
7 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 1.56.195 15
8 Germany Timo Scheider 1.56.999 22
9 Switzerland Neel Jani 1.57.269 18
10 Ireland Ralph Firman 1.57.590 17
11 Canada Sean McIntosh 1.57.780 11
12 Malaysia Alex Yoong 1.57.896 13
13 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 1.58.008 11
14 France Alexandre Premat 1.58.036 17
15 Great Britain Robbie Kerr 1.58.517 9
16 Austria Mathias Lauda 1.58.539 17
17 Japan Hayanari Shimoda 1.58.546 14
18 USA Bryan Herta 1.58.668 9
19 Mexico Luis Diaz 1.58.855 19
20 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 1.59.018 9
21 Brazil Nelson Piquet Jr 1.59.034 19
22 Lebanon Khalil Beschir 1.59.159 21
23 Australia Will Davison 1.59.507 6
24 Portugal Alvaro Parente 1.59.955 12

Qualifying consists of four 15 minute sessions with a 10 minute break between each. Only one driver per A1 Team is allowed to take part in Qualifying but that driver must have completed at least three timed laps in an Official Practice session. Each driver is limited to three laps - effectively one "flying lap" - per session and must record at least two times, an aggregate of which will determine that A1 Team's position on the grid for Sunday's Sprint race. The grid for the Feature race will be determined by the outcome of the Sprint race.

Daytona, not Indy, is king now  Throw away those Road to Indy hats.  The best dirt track and short oval racers in the USA are now wearing Road to Daytona hats, such is the destruction to Indy Car racing and to the Indy 500 since Tony George created the IRL.  Mr. George  take a bow.

Kraig Kinser, the 21-year-old son of 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser and a development driver for MB2 Motorsports, will move to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next season, ThatsRacin.com reports.  Kinser is expected to run the full schedule in Morgan Dollar Motorsports' No. 47 Chevrolet next season with veteran crew chief Randy Goss, sources said.

Kraig Kinser won the Automobile Racing Club of America race at Talladega, Ala., last month, driving a Chevrolet for MB2. He has seven World of Outlaw feature wins, including the 2005 Knoxville Nationals championship.

Fry calls for hybrid F1 engines  Formula One should be prepared to switch some time in the future to more efficient and environmentally friendly hybrid cars, according to BAR Honda boss Nick Fry.

Fry said energy efficiency was now a more important goal in design than the push for pure power and predicted the huge investment in research made by Formula One teams would have a knock-on effect in the car industry.

"It's almost ironic," he said at the Global Motorsports Congress on Friday. "The specific area where development in Formula One will influence road cars is in efficiency and environmental issues.

"Formula One is all about efficiency, about getting the maximum from what you can do within the rules.

"Fuel consumption is very important. If you can go that one extra lap, if you can use less fuel so you have a lighter car, then you will have a significant advantage.

"By the end of the season, the difference between the top teams was 20 horse power out of more than 900. If you could go that extra lap on the equivalent fuel load or if you could start the car five or 10 kgs lighter that's a bigger advantage (than speed)," he added.

Formula One is hardly known for its green credentials.  More at Reuters

Race of Champions
ROC lineup shaping up  The Race of Champion event in Paris in December will feature a Benelux team featuring Midland F1 driver Christijan Albers from Holland and Belgian rally star Francois Duval. They will be up against Brazil’s Felipe Massa and Nelson Piquet Jr, Finland's Marcus Gronholm and Heikki Kovalainen, France's Jean Alesi and Sebastien Loeb, Britain's David Coulthard and Colin McRae, Tom Kristensen and Mattias Ekstrom representing Scandinavia and Americans Jeff Gordon and Travis Pastrana. There will also be three wild card entries from raid rally star Stephane Peterhansel, Sebastien Bourdais and Dan Wheldon. Grandprix.com
Massa on pole, Kanaan leads IRL drivers in qualifying  Tony Kanaan will start fifth Nov. 20 in the ninth annual Granja Viana 500, a charity go-kart race held at Kartodromogranjaviana on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Kanaan, a five-time winner of the event, lapped the 7/8-mile circuit in 57.419 seconds in the open qualifying session on Nov. 18. In a one-lap shootout featuring the quickest 10, Kanaan finished fifth.

"I don't think we had the best car to qualify," said Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion. "But, I think we'll be very strong in the race, it's a long race. It's not about the fastest go-kart, it's about who's going to last the longest. The key tomorrow will to be consistent and not break anything."

During the race, Kanaan will share driving duties of the No. 71 entry with 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon, three-time Menards Infiniti Pro Series race winner Marco Andretti and Formula One competitor Rubens Barrichello.

Felipe Giaffone qualified the No. 73 kart 18th. His racing teammates will be Andretti, Menards Infiniti Pro Series Futaba Freedom 100 winner Jaime Camara, and Brazilians Roberval Andrade and Luis-Felipe Gama.

Barrichello put the team's third entry 19th on the grid of 73 cars. The No. 72 car will feature Kanaan, Wheldon and Giaffone. The same combination won the race last year.
The IRL/Firestone team entered by the Menards Infiniti Pro Series' Brian Stewart Racing will start 52nd. The team battled problems throughout the lone 50-minute practice session. They were able to better their time during qualifying, turning in a 58.488-second lap. The team was quicker than two other karts being run by the same team (TR3 Motorsports).

Wade Cunningham, the CIK-FIA World Karting champion in 2003, piloted the kart during qualifying. During the race, he'll be joined by Menards Infiniti Pro Series drivers Nick Bussell, Chris Festa, Travis Gregg and 17-year-old CR Crews.

"The guys are a bit disappointed with the results, but this whole trip is more about the experience than the results," Brian Stewart said.  IRL

Top 10
1) Felipe Massa/Ruben Carrapatoso/Rafael Daniel - 57:701
2) João Paulo Bertuccelli/Marcos Gomes/Popó Bueno - 57:930
3) Eduardo Leite/Glauco Vinokurovas/Emil Shayeb - 58:126
4) César Ramos/Júlio Reis/Roberto Gomes/Pedro Gomes/Fernando Wortmann - 58:250
5) Tony Kanaan/Dan Wheldon/Felipe Giaffone/Rubens Barrichello - 58:431
6) Daniel Serra/Ricardo Maurício/Norberto Gresse - 58:459
7) Michael Silva/Paulo Farias/Rafael Fernandes - 58:558
8) João Preto/Nélson Rangel/Pedro Paulo - 58:561
9) Juliano Moro/Vítor Meira/Beto Nini/Pedro Pimenta - 58:615
10) Danilo Ramalho/Maurício Mello/Antonio Terreri/Gamal Nsaif/Marcos Kassardjian - 59:041

NASCAR Phoenix TV rating  UPDATE The final rating for the Phoenix broadcast was a 5.0/10 share, up significantly from the overnight of 4.0.  The 5.0 was up slightly from last year's final rating of 4.9.  The rating is 2% lower than the 5.1 NBC drew for last year's ninth race in the Chase For The Nextel Cup, the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.  11/15/05 NBC's broadcast of Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway earned an overnight rating of 4.0 from Nielsen Media Research and a 7 share in the nation's largest television markets, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. The overnight rating is 13% lower than the 4.6 NBC drew overnight for last year's 35th Nextel Cup race, which was the Mountain Dew Southern 500 from Darlington Raceway. The Nov. 7, 2004, race at Phoenix, which was last year's 34th race, drew a 4.3 overnight rating. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
A1 Grand Prix
Scenes from Malaysia Friday  Selected scenes from Friday A1GP practice in Sepang, Malaysia.

(L to R) Fast man in the afternoon Ralf Firman, Tengyi Jiang A1 Team China, Robbie Kerr locks a wheel, Team USA driver Bryan Herta
Photos courtesy A1 Grand Prix

Champ Car Sebring tests slated  UPDATE So far PKV Racing and Newman/Haas Racing have confirmed they will test in Sebring on these dates, bit it's early and we expect other teams to confirm their participation as the date nears. 11/17/05 December will see a flurry of Champ Car testing activity in Sebring, Florida before the Christmas Holiday break. The track is reserved December 12, 13 & 14 and again on the 20th & 21st.
Richert and Manion Win Crew Chief of the Year Award  After a season of fierce competition, the 2005 WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief Challenge has crowned its champions.   Doug Richert, of the No.16 National Guard Ford, and Kevin “Bono” Manion, of the No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, were each awarded WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year honors.

At the conclusion of each Nextel Cup event this season, a panel of judges including a member of the local media, a WYPALL® Wipers representative, as well as Tony Eury Sr. and Robbie Reiser, selected the Crew Chief of the Race.  The decision was based on who did the most outstanding job.  It wasn’t necessarily the winner of each race, but was certainly the leader who made the biggest difference for his team.  Each Crew Chief of the Race was presented with a check for $1,000. 

Richert won the award five times throughout the 2005 season to clinch WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year honors among the Nextel Cup garage.  “Its an awesome feeling, but I’m not in this position without everyone on this race team,” Richert said, “The team has definitely come full circle, we have all the ingredients; we got the driver, we got the crew, we got the parts and pieces to work with, and the Roush/Yates engine program is second to none.”  He managed to hold off Bob Osborne of the No. 99 Ford, who finished the year strong, amounting four Crew Chief of the Race wins.  Richert took home a grand prize of $20,000, courtesy of WYPALL® Wipers, for his efforts.  More ...

Ken Schrader to run No. 21 Wood Brothers car  Ken Schrader has joined the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing Team. He’ll drive the famed #21 Ford Fusion during the 2006 Nextel Cup season. The car will be sponsored by the newest face in NASCAR - Little Debbie, America’s #1 snack cake. “I look forward to establishing a winning tradition with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing and Little Debbie Snacks,” says Schrader. “Some of the most victorious drivers in NASCAR history have driven the Number 21 car. I intend to continue that winning tradition in 2006. Three years ago, I thought that 2005 could be my last season. However, when the opportunity to drive for the Wood Brothers and Little Debbie presented itself, it made my decision to continue driving in the Nextel Cup Series very easy,” says Schrader. “There is always excitement when a new company realizes the marketing potential of NASCAR for increasing its business and then decides to enter the sport. This is going to be fun!” Little Debbie will be the primary sponsor of the #21 car for 19 races in 2006. Motorcraft Quality Parts and the U.S. Air Force will rotate their sponsorship of the Ford Fusion for the remaining races during the 2006 season. Collegedale, Tennessee-based McKee Foods, a privately held, family-run company, has manufactured more than 150 billion Little Debbie snacks since 1960 — that’s enough to circle the 1.5-mile oval track at Homestead-Miami Speedway more than 1.3 million times. Little Debbie snacks have even orbited the Earth on the space shuttle, traveling more than 17,500 miles an hour. The #21 Little Debbie-sponsored car was unveiled following a news conference today at the Homestead Miami Speedway. A $21,000 check was presented to the Florida Hurricane Relief Fund to offer immediate assistance to victims of Hurricane Wilma in southern Florida. McKee Foods/Little Debbie
Penske renews with Kodak  Kodak has extended its sponsorship of the Penske-Jasper Racing NASCAR Nextel Cup team, with Travis Kvapil returning to drive in '06  Milwaukee Sentinel Journal (Photo right courtesy Dodge/Getty Images).
Track News
Texas Motor Speedway ticket sales strong  Fewer than 10,000 individual seats remain for the first Nextel Cup race of 2006 at Texas Motor Speedway, the Samsung/RadioShack 500 on April 9. "Typically, we always have a big spike in ticket sales for the April event as soon as we release individual tickets," TMS president Eddie Gossage said of a sale that began Nov. 9. "This year has been no exception." Season tickets for 2006, ranging from $289 to $514 for 11 days of track action, are available by calling (817) 215-8500, or on the Web at www.texasmotorspeedway.com or at participating Ticketmaster outlets. TMS PR
V8 Supercar's Ambrose to drive for Wood Brothers  Wood Brothers Racing is in an expansion mode. The move to a new 129,000-square-foot shop began this week and will be completed by December 1, owner Eddie Wood says. Crew chief Fatback McSwain has been instrumental in hiring the additional crew members needed to operate two truck teams, two Busch teams and the #21 Cup ride. Drivers Bob East and Marcus Ambrose will be part of Ford Racing's developmental program in the Craftsman Truck Series. Jon Wood and Stacy Compton will drive the Busch cars. An announcement will come this weekend that Ken Schrader will drive the Cup car. Sporting News
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday  
Ford 300
Homestead-Miami Speedway
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
Ford 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
'NASCAR Live!'
Homestead-Miami Speedway
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED
Ford 300
Homestead-Miami Speedway
4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. ET (Live) TNT
Homestead-Miami Speedway
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. ET (Live) SPEED

Note: The Champ Car Reality Series, 'Race Car Driver', will be shown on Sunday this week at 7:00 p.m. ET on WGN.

For a complete listing of Saturday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

GPMA now has a website  The breakaway Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (GPMA) now has an official website.  Announced in May 2005, the GPMA (Grand Prix Manufacturers Association) is an interest group representing the car manufacturers that participate in Grand Prix motor racing. The GPMA's activities aim to further develop the sport for the benefit of all stakeholders, and in particular the fans.

In close cooperation with the teams that currently participate in Formula One, the founding members of the GPMA - BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Toyota - dedicate their unrivaled experience and resources to the long-term future of Grand Prix motor racing.

With that said, the breakaway series will never happen.  It's all posturing for final negotiations for a new Concorde Agreement in 2008 and beyond.  Notice that all its members are the same companies that are trying to tie up the entire F1 grid with engine contracts so they can control all the teams.  Only the Red Bull 'B' team (Squadra Toro Rosso - Red Bull Team in Italian) and Williams remain independent with Cosworth and of course Ferrari, also on the side of Bernie and Max, have their team and the Red Bull Minardi team.

Busch admits ’argumentative’ behavior, apologizes, and moves on  UPDATE #2 A repentant Kurt Busch says he regrets becoming "argumentative" with an officer during a traffic stop last week in Phoenix, but insists that alcohol played no part in his behavior.

"When I was asked by the officer if I had been drinking, I explained to them I had one drink during dinner, but I was certainly not intoxicated," Busch said in an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press from his Charlotte office Thursday night.

The reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion was pulled over for driving 60 mph in a 45 mph zone, swerving to avoid a car and running a stop sign last Friday night on his way back to Phoenix International Raceway. He said he was returning from dinner with his fiancée.

The police report said the deputy smelled alcohol on Busch, and the driver became belligerent.

"You're only doing this because you're a Jeff Gordon fan," Busch was quoted as saying to the officer in the police report, released earlier Thursday in Phoenix.

He was eventually issued a misdemeanor citation for reckless driving.

"I admit I became a bit argumentative with the officer when he continuously insisted that I submit to a field sobriety test and a breath test, which I ultimately did," Busch said. "I later learned my (preliminary breathalyzer) test was .017. That's consistent with an individual my size having one drink. That's brought us to this point.

"I regret that my actions, including saying some disrespectful things to the officer, made the situation worse. I have apologized for this and I want to reiterate this apology to the officer and to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department." More at USAToday

11/17/05 NASCAR star Kurt Busch accused a sheriff's deputy of giving him a hard time during a traffic stop last week because the officer was a fan of driver Jeff Gordon.

"You're only doing this because you're a Jeff Gordon fan," Busch was quoted as saying in a police report released Thursday.

The officer said he wasn't a fan of Gordon or Busch, nor did he follow NASCAR.

According to the police report, Busch told deputies they were "a joke," crowded an officer and asked "Do you know who I am?" at various points while he was detained by police.

"I resent him making derogatory remarks about our sheriffs," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Attempts to reach Busch for comment on Thursday were unsuccessful. ChicagoSports.com

11/15/05 An alcohol test taken by defending Nextel Cup Champion Kurt Busch showed the 27-year-old fell far short of the legal level for intoxication last Friday night near Phoenix International Raceway, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department said late Monday. Busch was charged with reckless driving near the raceway on Friday evening after he was clocked at 60-mph in a 45-mph zone by a Maricopa County deputy. Busch began fleeing from the deputy by running a stop sign and making erratic lane changes. Busch was pulled over less than three miles from the Phoenix track moments later after a second officer assisted in the pursuit. "Mr. Busch was administered a preliminary breath test at the command post which registered .017," Maricopa Sheriff's Lt. Paul Chagolla said. In Arizona, a person can be charged with driving under the influence with a blood-alcohol level at .08 or higher. A 170-pound male who consumes two drinks in two hours will have a blood-alcohol content of .01, according to estimates from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Web site. Chagolla said the decision to have Busch take a second breath alcohol test — this time on an Intoxilyzer 8000 machine — was at the sole discretion of the deputy. "It's all up to the investigating officer," Chagolla said. "He could have made that decision, but this is an experienced deputy sheriff who does many DUI arrests. You have to trust his decisions." Chagolla said Saturday that Busch had performed a preliminary breath alcohol test during Friday evening's roadside stop. Chagolla admitted Monday night, however, the chronology of events he originally reported was erroneous, and the initial breath alcohol test was conducted at the county's command post at the speedway. "The odor of alcohol, combined with dangerous driving, gave the officer the right to transport Mr. Busch," Chagolla said. Media reports from Chagolla on Saturday said the Intoxilyzer 8000 had failed.

When asked why the .017 reading wasn't made available to the public on Saturday, Chagolla said he was still on a fact-finding mission. "Whatever information I had at the time is what I was going to release," Chagolla said. "And it's important to note that never at any point did the sheriff's office say he was impaired."

Busch was suspended Sunday for the season's final two Cup events. Roush Racing president Geoff Smith defended the decision, saying Busch's actions violated contractual obligations with sponsor Crown Royal, whose parent company is Diageo. "Regardless of whatever level of [alcohol] presence was there while driving, we have some very strict sponsorship rules in place,," Smith told reporters. "We feel very strongly that those rules have been significantly breached." Busch and Roush Racing representatives could not be reached for comment Monday evening. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

[Editor's Note: Bottom line is that NASCAR and Roush Racing overreacted to the incident and used Busch to cover their posteriors because they now allow hard liquor sponsors and they have ad campaigns saying Don't Drink and Drive. To have one of their drivers pulled over and hauled away by the police might not look too good. Ironically the Crown Royal ads promote pacing yourself when you drink, i.e. don't consume too much too fast. Given Busch's low blood alcohol level it appears that is exactly what Busch did - paced himself. So to suspend Busch is rather hypocritical wouldn't you say? To add insult to injury, the Homestead track this weekend has cancelled events honoring the 2004 champion, Busch. He won the 2004 title fair and square and in no way should the events that transpired this past weekend take away from that accomplishment. All this makes NASCAR look like a Kangaroo Court. Wonder if Busch will sue......or walk away from NASCAR in disgust and race elsewhere.]

Fisichella Seeking a car to suit his style  To the outside world, Giancarlo Fisichella's season might seem something of a paradox.

Driving a world championship winning car, he finished fifth in the championship; driving for a team with an exceptional reliability record, he endured nearly all of the mechanical failures.

He had been known as one of Formula One's most under-rated drivers at the start of the year; by the end of the season the limits of his talent had been found... or so the story went.

Within the team, the reality was somewhat different: at Enstone and Viry, the personnel recognized an integral member of a world championship winning team; a true team player ready to put the team's priorities ahead of his own; and a driver with genuine resolve and mental strength.

Fisichella has called 2005 'the best season of my career', something the stats bear out as he took his best championship finish, and came very close to third position in the drivers' championship.

This week, the Italian showed that he is approaching 2006 with his ambitions undiminished.

"I think I am a better driver now than I was a year ago," Fisichella stated. "I am in a team that is 100 percent behind me, and we support each other in difficult moments. With this year's car, some elements of it were not adapted perfectly to my driving style. But I have worked with the engineers to change some of my characteristics, and they also know how we need to work to adjust next year's car to better suit me."

So the rivalry with his world champion team-mate is alive and strong? "Fernando and I are very similar. We work together, we help each other, we laugh and joke. There is a good relationship, we are friends," said the Italian. "But I know that in some races this year, I beat Fernando. Next year, we start again from zero, and I think that with an even better environment in the team, I can do it more often." Press Release Renault

The progress of the Renault V8  
Rob, the winter is traditionally the period during which development happens behind firmly closed doors. How is the RS26 V8 project progressing?
"The entire team at Viry is focused on arriving at the first race in Bahrain as well prepared as possible. Timing is a crucial aspect of the project, as with any new engine. The project was committed in October 2004 when the 2006 rules were announced, and the timing constructed based on making the best use of our resources for V8 design and development alongside development of the RS25. We ran a V10-based V8 demonstrator engine extensively on the dyno to guide our work, and the definitive engine was fired up this summer on the exact planned date. We have since accelerated our work, to hit our performance and reliability milestones. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are on target."

How major a change is the transition from V10 to V8 engines?
"It is a deliberately major step: it was motivated by the desire to substantially reduce engine performance to off-set the continuous progress from engine, tire and car improvements. But an important distinction to draw is that it is more of a change in design than technology. The design of the 2006 engine will be very different, but it is based on similar technology to, and inspired by, the V10s up to 2005."

To what extent can track-side running be simulated on the dynos at Viry, during engine development?
"Engine testing is one of our core skills at Viry. We are very well equipped to simulate track conditions, and we constantly work to maintain and extend this capability. We measure performance, characterize engine behavior, prepare the calibration of our control systems and develop reliability. In 2005, we completed 37,000 km of track testing with the RS25 – but approximately four times as much work on the dynos. However, we cannot simulate everything at the factory, and this is why track testing remains an important final stage in validating an engine. But the preparation work behind the scenes is on a larger scale now than many people appreciate."

So with the V8 and other developments, track running is simply a final approval stage rather than part of the development process?
"No, circuit running is an integral final stage in the development process. We need to understand the dynamic behavior of the engine in the car, but only after having made it reliable through our work at the factory. With the V8, the vibrations that ‘escape’ externally are very different to those on a V10. It will be important to understand how the car and its systems, and also the drivers, respond to these differences. But circuit running must also be as efficient as possible, so that maximum benefit is gained from every kilometer by the chassis team. We try and ensure our track programs are focused on confirmatory work rather than speculative research and development that could cost track time."

In conclusion, then, the RS26 engine project is on time, and on target…
"Our goal is to arrive well prepared at the first race of the 2006 season, and at the moment we are on target to do so. We have planned the project in a prudent, pragmatic way, balancing the needs of the teams at Enstone and Viry, as well as the as well as the imperative to maintain performance until the final race of 2005, with the necessity of not over-stretching our resources."

"Some rivals are already running a V8 engine on track, and we are not under-estimating their performance, nor in any way over-estimating our own. But we do not know what constraints they are operating under, or how their development philosophy compares to our own. We are confident we have the correct answer for our team, and are looking forward to running our representative RS26 V8 engine, in a representative R26 chassis, early in the New Year." Press Release Renault

Formula 3
Duval takes pole in Macau  Frenchman Loic Duval lived up to high pre-event expectations by taking pole position for Saturday’s Macau Grand Prix Qualification Race in a spectacular second qualifying session.

The ASM driver overcame the distractions caused by four red flag incidents to snatch the top-spot with just 11 minutes of qualifying remaining. Brazilian Lucas di Grassi claimed second spot with a last-minute lap but was moved back two places after the stewards deleted his two best times for ignoring yellow flags.

That leaves provisional pole man Robert Kubica with second spot on the grid, ahead of Briton Mike Conway.

“For sure it was a very difficult session and there was a lot of traffic,” said Duval. “I felt I could be on pole here and although I know it is sometimes not best to be on pole position for the first race, because of the long straight after the start, I still hope to have a good race.” More ...

A1 Grand Prix
Shimoda back in seat  Hayanari Shimoda (JPN) A1 Team Japan gets into his new car after destroying his previous car in a spectacular crash at Eastern Creek in Australia.  Photo Courtesy A1 GP.
A1 Grand Prix
Verstappen and Firman fastest in Sepang  The A1 drivers and A1 Cooper tires were tested to the limit today in the searing heat of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. With a track temperature of 39ºC and an ambient temperature of 32ºC, this was A1 Grand Prix's hottest two sessions to date. (Photo right, Neel Jani pulls out of the garage in front of empty grandstands - no fan can stand the heat in Sepang. Photo Courtesy A1 Grand Prix)

In a relatively trouble free day, with no red flags, the drivers took their time to learn their way around this highly technical circuit. The fastest lap time of the day was put in by a master of the Sepang circuit, A1 Team Netherlands’s Jos Verstappen. Verstappen last raced at Sepang with F1 in 2001 when he went from seventeenth to sixth in the first lap of the race and then worked his way up to second place as the rain fell. A slow pit stop and drying track saw Verstappen finish the race in seventh.

Commenting on his performance Verstappen said: 'We were trying a lot of different set ups with the car, but not a lot of things worked as the grip level was falling and the track was very slippery. It will certainly make for a very interesting qualifying session tomorrow.' More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
Midland adopt Russian label
Sepang still trying to sell
Paffett says F1 test 'proper'
Monza to appeal court ban
BMW exit a 'major regret'
Willi Weber in trouble
BMW-Sauber to test youngster
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