Shell Did Not Force Firing Of Kurt Busch Penske Racing had stood by Kurt Busch despite an array of emotional outbursts in recent years. And Busch didn't think Penske was improving its performance as he finished outside the top 10 in points in three of the last four years. And that meant it was time for both sides to move on, Penske Racing President Tim Cindric said. Busch is no longer the driver of Penske's Shell/Pennzoil-sponsored #22 car in a move that Busch and the team said was by mutual consent. "A lot of things that we've gone through weren't new discussions," Cindric said Monday afternoon in a phone interview.
"Roger is the last one that wants to admit failure. It's difficult to know that what you set out to do, you didn't do in terms of finishing out Kurt's career in a good way and have something that ends on a good note. Roger is as loyal as they come, in my opinion. He's someone that is certainly there to try and help. It just got to the point where we didn't feel like we were really helping him progress and obviously he didn't feel we were progressing at the right rate. So it was time to move on."
Cindric said Shell executives did not force the firing. As far as who will replace Busch, Cindric said the job is open and he wants to hire a new driver as soon as possible. He said there has been no decision on who will drive the car next year. Cindric said he has talked to David Ragan, one of several free agents looking for rides on a list that includes Brian Vickers and David Reutimann. "He is somebody that we would consider," he said. "He certainly is not someone that has the job by any means. But he's one of a handful that's out there that is a quality driver. SceneDaily
Daytona Rolex Series Testing Day One A trio of new Corvette Daytona Prototypes shared the spotlight with new cars from Ferrari and Audi as a two-day GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series test opened at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29, 2012.
Testing concludes Tuesday, with cars on track from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One of the most eagerly anticipated debuts at the test was the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, of which there were three at Daytona on Tuesday. Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato, the 2009 Rolex Series GT co-champions, will share a Ferrari 458 Italia for the entire 2012 season with AIM Autosport, and Segal and longtime co-driver Nick Longhi turned the car's first laps on Tuesday.
Robert Wickens was presented with the British Racing Drivers Club ‘Bruce McLaren Award’ in a ceremony on Monday, 5th December, with the Canadian being recognized for his championship success this season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
The 22-year-old from Toronto – a reserve driver in Formula One this year for Marussia Virgin Racing, was presented with the trophy, awarded to the best performance of the year for a non-British driver from the Commonwealth, by motorsport legend, Sir Stirling Moss.
Previous recipients of the award, named after the late Bruce McLaren – founder of the McLaren Formula One team, include the likes of Formula One’s Mark Webber, and IndyCar Series racers, Scott Dixon and Will Power.
Button hails Wheldon Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Wheldon, who died from injuries suffered in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October, was awarded the honor at the Autosport British Racing Drivers' Club awards last night.
Button was a friend and competitor of Wheldon since childhood and said: "We grew up together and had so many great experiences together, it's an era of drivers that have gone on to achieve a lot.
"Most of the time you couldn't beat him, when you did it really did mean a lot. He's the guy you'd get out of bed to race.
Lotus To Create More Than A Thousand New Jobs in UK Luxury car companies including Norfolk-based Lotus, are among the businesses to benefit from the near-£1 billion of grants announced by the Government.
Lotus, based at Hethel in Norfolk, was on the list of companies that had been successful in getting a Regional Growth Fund (RGF) grant.
The company says its Esprit supercar, the Elite coupe, a new Elise roadster, plus the Eterne - a four-seat supercar - and a luxury electric motor, the Ethos will be built at its factory in Norfolk.
It also says it plans to double its annual production to 6-thousand cars by 2015.
If there’s one owner/driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock who isn’t paying attention to the old adage of “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” it’s Ed Carpenter.
With the recent forming of Ed Carpenter Racing, the 30-year-old Hoosier has a prime opportunity to take control of his future, to leave some of his shortcomings behind and to be taken seriously as a start-to-finish championship contender.
The road to earning the title he desires won’t come easily, nor will it happen in ECR’s debut season, but as his recent actions reveal, assembling his new team has been about hiring the best, rather than the most familiar or readily available.
Buy a cheap IndyCar on eBay Don't ask KV Racing General Manager Mark Johnson for the Carfax reports on the three 2011-spec Dallara IR07s the team has for sale through eBay's classifieds service.
Frankly, even if he could produce Carfaxes [a USA-based car checking service similar to REVs] for the team's fleet of redundant Indy cars, it might just be easier to watch the humorous (but expensive to make) highlight reel of some of the crashes the cars were subjected to.
Yet for one lucky customer (or possibly three individual buyers), the cars of Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso can be had as a package for $135,000, or individually for $50,000 apiece, minus engine and a few miscellaneous bits.
Kamui Kobayashi reviews what was his second season in Formula One. By coming fifth in the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix, the Japanese driver put in the Sauber F1 Team’s best race result of the entire season, and by finishing ninth in Brazil he achieved a positive result in the season’s finale. The 25-year old scored points in nine out of 19 races. With 30 points in total he finished 12th in the drivers’ championship.
How would you sum up your season?
Kamui Kobayashi: “We had a promising winter testing and a strong start to the season. In the beginning we had every reason to be happy with our performance. Later, I would say from the British Grand Prix onwards, which was the ninth out of 19 races, we struggled due to the decisions made about the rules and our own technical development. We didn’t follow the direction of the ‘off throttle exhaust blown diffuser’ any further. Instead we worked hard on the direction of development we had decided to go in, but we could not make up for the disadvantage that came from not having the same technology as the other teams. I can be happy that I still scored points in the final two races. This was a good achievement under the circumstances.”
James Hinchcliffe’s off-season has been far from quiet as the 2011 IndyCar Series ‘Sunoco Rookie of the Year’ is fulfilling a packed diary of engagements. The Canadian, who celebrated his 25th birthday on Monday, sat down to review a busy few days that included the news of Newman/Haas Racing, who James raced for in 2011, closing its IndyCar operation:
Q: You received the news about Newman/Haas Racing closing its IndyCar team just as you were getting ready to fly to England on Thursday – what was your immediate reaction?
James Hinchcliffe (JH): “Immediate reaction was shock, for sure. I obviously was somewhat aware of the fact that the team had recently received some bad news about potential sponsors, but it’s Newman/Haas. You just sort of always assume that they will find a way to make it work. The cars had been ordered and the engineers were into their preparation. So for sure it was a shock.”
Busch, Stewart One-Two in TV Exposure Kyle Busch's memorable 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign led to $68 million of television exposure for his sponsors, a figure higher than any other driver managed to generate this past season, and nearly $1.7 million more than Series Champion Tony Stewart.
According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which has monitored every NASCAR race telecast over the last 27 seasons — Busch's sponsors as a group appeared for 27 hours, 23 minutes, 10 seconds (27:23:10) during live and replayed telecasts of the season's 36 points races. When also factoring in verbal mentions (292) of Busch's sponsors, the 12th-place driver amassed more than $68.3 million of in-broadcast exposure value for his backing brands.
Danica Patrick in Hawaii for R&R before long NASCAR season She’s a speed demon who is no stranger to turning up the temperature, and speed, on the race track. And it seems that Danica Patrick has no problem heating up the beach too and showed off her trim and toned figure in a red hot bikini on Friday.
The 29-year-old driver sported the two-piece, which boasted criss cross detail, as she stepped out for a sunbathing session in Maui, Hawaii.
But despite intending on a day of soaking up the sun was not to be and Danica was seen sitting on a chair wrapped up in a towel due to the overcast weather. After a time the racing star gave up and headed back inside taking her chair with her. As Danica made her way back to the hotel she showed off her patriotic tattoo, which displays an American flag, which sits at the base of her back. Read more, including photos. Daily Mail
Every year since 1998, ESPN The Magazine has recognized an elite group of emerging athletes to watch in the year ahead -- athletes they call NEXT. They are competitors not only on the cusp of stardom, but on the verge of transcending their sports. NEXT is what happens when the hype is real. This year John Force Racing driver Courtney Force is in the motorsports group going head to head with Darrell Wallace Jr. (NASCAR), Chase Elliot (NASCAR), Ryan Truex (NASCAR) and Josef Newgarden (Indy Car) as the NEXT big driver in motorsports.
“This is really a big honor. I honestly didn’t know I was being considered as one of the NEXT athletes. I am really excited about my future and getting on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series full time,” said Force, winner of the 2009 Seattle NHRA national event in the Top Alcohol Dragster category.
Kurt Busch responds to release from Penske RacingUPDATE Kurt Busch, announced Monday as having mutually parted ways with Penske Racing, appeared on a special edition of SPEED Center Monday evening to explain his side of the story in the split.
Busch told co-hosts Adam Alexander and Steve Byrnes that despite numerous media reports that he had been fired by Penske Racing, he and the team mutually agreed to separate, effective immediately.
A transcript of the interview follows:
Byrnes: In Vegas, we were talking about things you were building on from seasons past. It seems like this would be a complete surprise to you. Is that correct?
Busch: “Well, no, the way we came to a mutual agreement, discussions were ongoing. Obviously out in Las Vegas to celebrate with Tony Stewart as our champion, there was discussions, and behind the scenes, things were developing.”
Hunt Brothers Pizza Partners with RCR for Multi-Team Program Hunt Brothers® Pizza, the nation's largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry, will sponsor two of Richard Childress Racing's NASCAR Nationwide Series teams as well as the No. 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with Kevin Harvick through a multi-year partnership agreement that begins in 2012
Hunt Brothers Pizza will be the primary sponsor for three NASCAR Nationwide Series races on the No. 33 Chevrolet Impala when Harvick is the driver: May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.; June 29 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky.; and August 24 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. The No. 2 Chevrolet Impala, with driver Elliott Sadler, will carry the Hunt Brothers Pizza primary sponsor paint scheme for the July 22 NNS event at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. In addition, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company will be an associate sponsor throughout the NNS season for the No. 2 and the No. 33 Chevrolet teams.
Peter Gethin dies Peter Gethin, the man who earned a place in the history books with his win for BRM in the 1971 Italian GP, has died at the age of 71. In only his second race with the BRM P160 at Monza he scored the remarkable Italian GP victory that was to earn him a place in the history books. He outfoxed Ronnie Peterson and others at the Parabolica on the last lap to win by the tiniest of margins in the sprint across the line. He also scored an unwanted win the end-of-season victory race at Brands Hatch, which was stopped early after the fatal crash of his team mate Jo Siffert.
New Corvette DPs, Ferraris, Viper to Highlight Two-Day Test GRAND-AM fans will get a look at the future Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway in a two-day Rolex Sports Car Series test at Daytona International Speedway. Four of the new Corvettes are among the six Daytona Prototypes entered, with additional DPs expected for the session.
GT has a strong, 19-car turnout, including three new Ferrari F458 Italia Grand Ams, two Ford Mustangs and a Dodge Viper.
The Corvette DP was unveiled on the eve of the recent November test at Daytona, with the Spirit of Daytona entry turning its first laps with Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin at the wheel. Both Garcia and Gavin will return for next week's test in the No. 90, with Action Express Racing and SunTrust Racing expected to debut their new Corvettes. David Donohue and Darren Law are entered in the No. 5 Corvette DP, with Joao Barbosa, Terry Borcheller and JC France in the No. 9. SunTrust regulars Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor are set to drive the No. 10.
Formula One Teams' Association members are to meet on Tuesday to discuss how the group should proceed following the resignations of Red Bull Racing and Ferrari last week.
Ferrari and Red Bull Racing elected to quit the organization in the wake of mounting frustrations following a long-running dispute over the implementation of the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA). Although their exit, which will become official at the start of February, prompted talk that FOTA could fall apart, high level sources within FOTA say they are actually upbeat about its future.
One team principal, whose team remains a member of FOTA, said that the removal of Red Bull Racing and Ferrari could actually provide some benefits to the organization, in allowing it to get things done.
"It could now be easier to make some positive decisions, rather than there being this log jam with things constantly being blocked by teams arguing with each other," said the source. "So, let's see where we stand after the meeting." Racer.com
Reaction to Busch's firing unanimous Penske Racing officially confirmed Monday a mutual parting of ways with driver Kurt Busch. Busch’s departure follows an obscenity-laden rant directed toward ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as other well-publicized incidents and controversies in 2011.
Below, SPEED on-air personalities react to the news of Busch’s departure, including its potential impact on his future career.
Huge Japanese crash claims 8 Ferraris, 3 Mercedes-Benzes, and a LamborghiniUPDATE #2 This article has more photos of the accident and another video.
12/05/11 A single miscalculation from a Ferrari driver in Japan led to a chain reaction that ultimately wrecked or destroyed 14 vehicles including eight Ferraris, three Mercedes, a Lamborghini, a Skyline, and a Prius that was in the right place at the wrong time.
A group of foreign car enthusiasts were heading to Hiroshima from Kyushu when one of the drivers lost control trying to overtake a car on a wet, curved part of China Road in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Ferrari driver reportedly hit the median and created a reaction that caused the other cars in the lineup to crash, according to Japanese media.
12/04/11 Fourteen cars crashed at 10:15 a.m. today in Shimonseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, on the Chugoku Expressway in Japan. Eight Ferraris, three Mercedes-Benzes and one Lamborghini were involved in the accident. Ten people were taken to the hospital and suffered only minor bruises, according to police. In the first hours after the crash, there was a lot of confusion as to what happened. No details were given; the expressway police are investigating the incident. However, a 36-year-old man claimed the cars were making loud noises as they passed him by. Video follows...
ESPN2 to Air NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series Season Reviews With one of the most competitive NASCAR seasons in history now in the record books, ESPN2 will take a look back at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series seasons in a pair of programs to air later this week.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, which ended with Tony Stewart winning his third championship in a hotly-contested battle that went to the final lap of the final race, will be reviewed on Friday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series season, in which Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won his first NASCAR championship, will be reviewed on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m.
It's official - Busch fired Penske Racing announced today that it has reached a mutual agreement with driver Kurt Busch to end its driver/race team relationship, effective immediately.
The team will evaluate its options for the driver of the No. 22 Sprint Cup Series car in the future while Busch will seek new opportunities with another race team.
"I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years," said Roger Penske. "While I am disappointed that Kurt will not be racing for our team in the future, both Kurt and I felt that separating at this time was best for all parties, including our team and sponsors. I wish Kurt the best in his future racing endeavors."
New Mercedes to debut at second test (GMM) Mercedes on Monday announced that its 2012 car, the W03, will not make its track debut until the second pre-season test in late February, at the Barcelona track.
F1's pre-season test period kicks off two weeks earlier, at Jerez, where Mercedes will presumably be running with its 2011 single seater.
"We believe that the decision to run the car at the second winter test is the optimum compromise for our design and development program," said team boss Ross Brawn.
The news came as Mercedes announced that it is adding the acronym 'AMG' - its high-performance arm - to its official name in 2012.
"We are very proud to reveal our new team name (Mercedes AMG Petronas) today," said Brawn.
Video: NASCAR star shows his true colors (Penske Team Apologizes)UPDATE #4 When we broke this video on November 28th we stated that we were surprised Roger Penske, as professional as he is, would tolerate what Kurt Busch did to Jerry Punch at Homestead. Well it seems Penske has decided he has had enough of Kurt Busch's profanity laden tirades and rumor has it that today he will be fired.
11/28/11 "Shell and Pennzoil are disappointed with recent actions by driver Kurt Busch at the final race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race season," the company said in a statement. "His actions are in no way consistent with the way we want our brands represented and we have expressed our disappointment and concerns directly to Penske Racing." USA Today/AP
11/23/11 This Sirius-Speedway article calls for Penske to sack Kurt Busch for his profanity (this isn't the first time) much like Jack Roush sacked him years ago. The author calls the press release from Team Penske Horse Manure.
Dallara receives Autosport Award Dallara Automobili founder Gian Paolo Dallara thanked Enzo Ferrari for providing the opportunity in 1960 to start his race car design career and for contributing to the vision that continues today with the introduction of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car.
Dallara, who joined the Ferrari racing staff in 1959 and started his design company in 1972, accepted the John Bolster Award for technical achievement during the annual Autosport Awards on Dec. 4 in London. IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Chip Ganassi won the award in 2010, while Honda received the award in 2004.
TrueCar Becomes Driving Force in Auto Racing with “Women Empowered” Initiative TrueCar, Inc., creators of the intelligent automotive marketplace that benefits both buyers and sellers has announced an extensive, multi-year commitment to support top female race car drivers in premier racing series, along with young rising stars across several developmental racing series.
The TrueCar Racing “Women Empowered” initiative is an extension of the company’s efforts to help women enjoy the best possible car buying experience. With over 80% of car buying decisions influenced by women – and 50% of all car purchases made by women – this impactful audience is a significant part of the automotive retail landscape.
NASCAR hopes to keep Sprint Cup ceremony in Vegas As invitees filed out of the Sprint Cup awards ceremony on Friday, it marked not only the end of the event, but also the end of the three-year deal that brought NASCAR's Champion's Week to Las Vegas. The week-long championship celebration moved to the desert in 2009 after a long stint in New York, where the event often struggled for recognition. In Las Vegas, NASCAR has found that and more -- strong crowds attended events such as the Victory Lap show car parade down the Strip, which even attracted news helicopters hovering overhead. As this Champion's Week concluded, indications were that the event would return to Las Vegas, although no formal announcement of such has yet been made. An agreement between NASCAR and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority brought the event to the city.
Alguersuari keeps F1 dominance in Massa kart event
Toro Rosso's ace Jaime Alguersuari won the sixth edition of the International Challenge of Go-Kart Champs this Sunday at Arena Sapiens in Florianopolis, but was able to celebrate only right before the Top 3 press conference. At that time, the rookie Jules Bianchi was the man to deserve all the credits with two victories in the double-header race, but the French failed to comply with the regulations regarding the minimum weight after the second heat and allowed the Formula 1 brigade to extend their dominance - Felipe Massa (2006), Michael Schumacher (2007 and 2009), Rubens Barrichello (2008) and Lucas di Grassi (2010) were the previous winners.
Alguersuari took part of the Felipe Massa promoted event for the second time, after his début in 2010, and displayed a strong shape all the weekend. He was only unable to match Bianchi's pace as the French driver seemed to be far out of reach for the remainder of the field. The Spaniard got the checkered flag twice in the second spot, the first one, on Saturday night under tricky conditions in the wet, after a fierce battle against Massa.
Winner Sebastien Ogier (L) and 2nd place Tom Kristensen (R)
Sebastien Ogier delivered a thrilling performance to eclipse 15 fellow superstars of motorsport and win the Race Of Champions on a packed afternoon of competition at Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena.
Ogier, who took five wins in this year’s World Rally Championship, overcame Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen in the best-of-three Grand Final on the ROC parallel track to earn the title of Champion of Champions at his very first attempt.
"I’m so happy," said Ogier. "It was a very nice weekend and it was already great to be in the final at my first time. There are a lot of cars to learn here and the track as well. But I didn’t do too badly and I pushed hard all the way. Tom is a really good driver but to win this race is amazing."
City must do more to support Baltimore Grand Prix The dust has settled on the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix, an event that I and several others lived and breathed over the past two-plus years. I acknowledge that I am not objective, having invested substantial money, effort and reputation as the "face of the race" since I began working on this challenging project in 2008. Like most of my investor partners, my primary goal was to bring a world-class event to Baltimore in the hope of changing certain perceptions about our city.
Despite the many naysayers, I think it is fair to say that the great majority of the 160,000 people who attended over Labor Day weekend viewed the event as a fantastic success. Cars screamed down Pratt Street at 175 mph as packed grandstands cheered. Visitors from all 50 states and several countries filled downtown hotels on a weekend that is traditionally a "dark" one for Baltimore. National and regional bands played on city streets into the evening. The teams and drivers from the IndyCar and American Le Mans Series and international media had nothing but praise for Baltimore.
Q & A: Oriol Servia on Newman/Haas on IndyCar departure
The dispersal of most of the Newman/Haas Racing team not only left the IZOD IndyCar Series community reeling, but also – so soon after the shutdown of Kenny Bernstein Racing in NHRA – came as a sharp reminder that even the legendary teams of motorsports are still feeling the aftershocks of the economic crisis. Our hearts go out to all those who lost jobs.
For CART/ChampCar/IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia, it's a tough blow, too, for he and James Hinchcliffe were the ideal pairing for this team in 2011 and the results proved it.
Servia and Newman/Haas enjoyed three stints together – 2005 when he subbed for the injured Bruno Junqueira (and finished second in the Champ Car point standings), 2009 when he replaced Robert Doornbos with five races to go, and 2011 where he did the whole season, got a handful of podiums and finished fourth in the championship. RACER editor David Malsher caught up with Oriol to get his thoughts on the recent past, and his own prospects for 2012.
Crew Chief DeGennaro joins Force team, Venables returns John Force announced this week that crew chief Danny DeGennaro has joined John Force Racing Inc. and that Dickie Venables, who helped Tony Pedregon win a pair of NHRA Funny Car Championships, is set to return to JFR as part of the crew chief “brain trust” that includes Jimmy Prock, Mike Neff, Dean “Guido” Antonelli, Ron Douglas and Bernie Fedderly.
DeGennaro, most recently tuned side by side with Cruz Pedregon, who finished in third place for the NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car title, will assume a similar role on a JFR Ford Mustang Funny Car. With DeGennaro, Pedregon started from the No. 1 position a category-best six times last year and won the Countdown to 1 event at Dallas, Texas.
V8 Supercars results from Sydney and final standings Final Drivers Points Standings after Race 28 1. Jamie Whincup 3078 2. Craig Lowndes 2995 3. Mark Winterbottom 2560 4. Shane Van Gisbergen 2543 5. Garth Tander 2526 6. Rick Kelly 2358 7. Will Davison 2345 8. Lee Holdsworth 1920 9. Tim Slade 1904 10. James Courtney 1869 13. Greg Murphy 1750 18. Todd Kelly 1550 19. David Reynolds 1519
Formula 1 superstars Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher hailed Team Germany’s incredible fifth successive victory in the ROC Nations Cup after a dramatic evening’s work in front of their home crowd.
The German duo defeated Team Nordic’s Tom Kristensen and Juho Hanninen in the final after being taken to a decider in the best-of-three semi-final against Team Great Britain’s Jenson Button and Andy Priaulx.
After such an exciting ROC Nations Cup, the drivers gave their reaction to events. Here’s what some of them had to say.
Engineers puzzled why Volt batteries catch fire days/weeks after crash General Motors engineers are studying two post-crash-test fires in the Chevrolet Volt's battery to learn more fundamentals about electric vehicles, GM product chief Mary Barra said Friday.
Volt last week became the subject of a government safety investigation, following two fires in Volt batteries that had sat around for at least a week after being punctured in federal crash tests. Those fires are the only ones to start in a Volt's lithium-ion battery.
GM and government engineers are working together, "just trying to understand what happened," Barra told the Automotive Press Association. GM has said the fires could have been prevented by draining the battery after the crashes, which GM promises to send engineers to do after any real-world crash.
Raikkonen makes first visit to Lotus Renault factory Kimi Raikkonen visited the Lotus Renault GP factory in Enstone for the first time on Friday. The newly-signed Finnish driver was greeted by team boss Eric Boullier and Chairman Gérard Lopez, before being taken on an in-depth tour of the facility.
"It is my first time in Enstone," Raikkonen explained. "It is very nice to see the factory - it feels good. It is a very warm feeling and I’m very relaxed. I haven’t really read the newspapers about all the excitement (of returning next season) but it is quite normal, isn’t it? It doesn’t put any more pressure on me.
"I always try to do my best, so I don’t put myself under pressure. It will be exciting, yes, but no pressure really and we will see how it goes."
Raikkonen also attended his maiden event as a Lotus Renault GP driver in the evening, with BBC F1 presenter Jake Humphrey hosting the team’s Christmas party.
Robert Weaver wins the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award
Robert Weaver with his trophy
Getty Images for NASCAR
The NASCAR Foundation announced that Robert Weaver, an 83-year old Talladega, Ala.-native, has won the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The announcement was made by The NASCAR Foundation Founder and Chairwoman, Betty Jane France, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 2, culminating the Champion's Week celebration in Las Vegas.
“There was a clear common thread with not only our finalists but every single one of our nominees,” said Betty Jane France. “All of them had made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the last five years. There also was another important thread: All of our nominees love NASCAR.
“The fans have chosen Robert Weaver, a man who really personifies what this award is all about. It is a true honor to announce Robert as our inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner.”
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, left, shakes hands with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart
Getty Images for NASCAR
Transcript: Sprint CEO Dan Hesse from 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet:
Good evening. I agree with many of you. This was the best Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ever. Congratulations to all of the drivers and teams who contributed to the excitement of this amazing series. Your passion for the sport and commitment to excellence continue to "wow" us. I am privileged to be among those recognizing Tony Stewart and the number 14 team for their third NASCAR Sprint Cup championship - joining the ranks of legendary drivers Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Lee Petty, who all hold three Cup titles. Tony's down-to-the-last second duel with Carl Edwards was a stunning example of the competitive spirit that drives the sport and why we love NASCAR.
Jan Heylen Wins Kart Fight in Orlando, Announces 2012 plans Under the bright lights of Orlando, Florida and in front of a standing room only crowd, Racers Edge Motorsports driver Jan Heylen claimed victory in the 2011 edition of the Red Bull Kart Fight as part of the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. Driving a Rotax powered CRG kart as part of the CRG USA team, Heylen successfully defended his win in the previous running of this annual event.
Drivers in the All-Star race included Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani, AJ Allmendinger, EJ Viso, Jay Howard, Townsend Bell and Martin Plowman. Qualifying fourth, Heylen secured a second row starting position for the Pre-final with Viso taking pole followed by Howard and Allmendinger. At the start of the Pre-Final, Howard got the jump on Viso going into Turn One, with Heylen following Howard into second place. Heylen glued himself to Howard’s rear bumper and waited until the last turn of the last lap to make the pass to claim victory by one-tenth of a second and, more importantly, garner the all-important pole position for the Final.
Michael Waltrip Racing owners Rob Kauffman and Michael Waltrip announced today that they will race in the 50th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 26-29. The AF Waltrip entry is a joint project of multiple sports car championship winning AF Corse and Michael Waltrip Racing.
Joining the pair behind the wheel of the new GRAND-AM version of the Ferrari 458 GT will be action sports star and four-time North American rally champion Travis Pastrana and world-renowned road racing veteran Rui Aguas.
"We have been looking at expanding the organization in the sports car world and this is a great next step," said Kauffman. "The Rolex 24 at Daytona is a world class event with huge historic relevance in motor sports, and bringing a Ferrari to the 50th running is a terrific opportunity. We raced Petit Le Mans and Le Mans itself this year, and plan to increase our presence in North American road racing.”
"My racing career will forever be linked to Daytona, because it was defined on those high banks," said Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion. "I've raced at Daytona for 25 years and I can't wait to turn left at the end of pit road and race through the infield for the first time. It will be special to share this experience with Rob, Rui and Travis."
Despite the shock announcement Thursday by his employer, Newman/Haas Racing of Chicago, that it wouldn't participate in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, Canadian Indy car racer James Hinchcliffe of Oakville remains optimistic he will be on the grid when the season opens next March.
"I'll have to regroup but there are still some seats available on good teams," said the young Canadian, who won the series Rookie of the Year title in 2011.
Hinchcliffe and his teammate, Spanish veteran Oriol Servia, were left high and dry Thursday when their employer issued a terse, two-paragraph statement in mid-afternoon.
"Newman/Haas Racing announced today that it will not enter cars in the 2012 IndyCar Series," the statement said.
"The economic climate no longer enables Newman/Haas Racing to participate in open wheel racing at this time,” said Carl Haas, owner and co-founder of Newman/Haas Racing."
Crowds Swell and Business Booms At PRI Trade Show Both crowds and sales swelled at the 2011 PRI Trade Show on Friday, traditionally the busiest day of the three-day show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
Attendees arrived early on Friday morning and remained steady throughout the day.
“We’ve been very, very busy since the show opened yesterday,” said Dale Aldo, Motorsports Marketing Manager for Mopar, who’s highlighting its crate engine programs with its Gen-2 Hemi and Gen-3 Hemis, as well as the Mopar Drag-Pak. ” “We haven’t even had an opportunity to walk the show because we’ve been too busy.”
Newgarden in for Dixon for Indy Karting Classic Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden will replace Scott Dixon on the INDYCAR team for the Indy Karting Classic on Dec. 11 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis because of a scheduling conflict.
The event bisects engine manufacturer development dates at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sebring International Raceway. Dixon, the two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, is driving the 2012 Honda-powered Dallara during the late rounds of testing. He completed two days of testing, totaling more than 325 laps, on the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval this week.
Hinchcliffe to run Rolex 24 With the IndyCar team he was slated to drive for, Newman/Haas Racing, closing its doors, former IZOD IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe will join Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series frontrunner SpeedSource to race in the 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona in late January.
The Canadian, who won the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award, will join regular drivers Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito as well as Marino Franchitti in co-driving the team’s No. 70 Mazda RX-8 in the GT category.
“I'm thrilled to be able to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year,” Hinchcliffe said. “That race has been on my bucket list and to get the chance now is awesome. I know a little bit of what to expect because I did a race with SpeedSource back in 2005, so it will be great to reunite with Sylvain and the guys and get back in the RX-8. It’s a huge opportunity.”
Additional IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who will participate in the Jan. 28-29 twice-around-the-clock event will be announced soon.
Daniel Abt back on top in Jerez Today marked the final day of GP3 Series post-season testing at Circuito De Jerez and the teams were greeted with cool temperatures in the morning. There was just one new face in paddock with Aaro Vainio returning to Lotus ART. Tom Blomqvist switched teams to Status Grand Prix, Facu Regalia also switched to the Irish team for Day 2. Conor Daly moved back to Carlin and Fabio Gamberini to RSC Mücke Motorsport.
After his impressive test in Valencia last week Daniel Abt was back on top of the time sheet this morning for reigning champions Lotus ART. The young German slotted straight into P1 at the start of the session until David Fuminelli took over the reins after twenty minutes. During the first hour of running sophomores Michael Christensen, Marlon Stockinger and Matias Laine also took their turns at the top until Abt moved ahead once again with a 1:33.885 lap leaving the rest of the field to battle it out for second.
Mario Andretti dominated the 1987 Indy 500 like no one had ever dominated the race before. Then his Chevy engine broke with 13 laps to run. His engineer - now F1 genius Adrian Newey. The Newman/Haas team had some great people. It's sad to see the team fold.
For nearly 30 years it was one of the most high profile and prolific racing teams in North America. Mario Andretti brought it instant respect, Michael Andretti launched his career there, Nigel Mansell added to the aura and Sebastien Bourdais continued the legacy.
But the essence of what made Newman/Haas so successful in Indy car racing came from its eclectic owners.
The selfless acting icon who loved the escape and exhilaration that racing gave him and the cigar-chomping Chicago entrepreneur who reveled in wheels and deals.
Paul Newman and Carl Haas were much more Oscar & Felix than Butch & Sundance but the Odd Couple shared a passion for competition, a giddiness for winning and a mindset to do it the right way.
Top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers Hold Nothing Back
Jamie Little (R) hosted the show
Getty Images for NASCAR
The 2011 top-12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers held nothing back today at the third annual, fan-favorite NASCAR After The Lap held at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas and sponsored by Coca-Cola and Ford. ESPN pit road reporter Jamie Little hosted the event along with co-host Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo.
A list of the top-10 unfiltered, driver “tell-all” comments are outlined below.
Ryan Newman was asked if he purchased his boss (2011 Champion Tony Stewart) anything special after winning the championship.
Jamie Little followed with “Ryan, you told me earlier there was a waxing appointment but that no appointment was long enough to cover Tony’s needs.”
Grosjean to test DTM car in Spain Lotus Renault GP reserve driver Romain Grosjean will test a DTM car at Spain’s Circuito Monteblanco next week, taking to the wheel of BMW’s 2012 contender.
The Frenchman will get a taste for the popular touring car series alongside fellow single seater driver Marco Wittmann, who contested the full F3 EuroSeries campaign and almost claimed honors during the Macau Grand Prix last month.
Toyota Honored With 2011 NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award Toyota was honored with the 2011 NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award today at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards held at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Toyota’s Sponsafier, PitPass and Owners Hospitality campaigns, among many others, directly engaged millions of NASCAR fans through the implementation of an integrated social media campaign as well as an at-track fan activation display.
Each year, NASCAR recognizes an industry partner who has exemplified the spirit of NASCAR through integrated marketing campaigns for all racing fans, consumers and employees.
Kurt Busch is working with a sports psychologist to help him with anger issues that led to a $50,000 fine by NASCAR after the final Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch also is looking for a new crew chief that will "be able to put me back in my box if I get out of it.'' Busch said the most likely scenario is his new pit boss will be hired from within Penske Racing.
"I need somebody that respects what I've done but also can control me in a way that is also positive,'' the 2004 Cup champion said. "I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader. I'm actually working with a sports psychologist to try to help me work through that."
Asked if his sessions with the sports psychologist dealt with anger issues, Busch said, "It's personal, of course. Working with a sports psychologist I've gotten a small grasp, but there's obviously bigger things I have to accomplish. Things can't happen overnight.' Busch said he doesn't believe former crew chief Steve Addington's decision to leave the team had as much to do with his behavior as it did Addington being offered to become Tony Stewart's crew chief. ESPN
Watch ROC 2011 live on the web – for free The 2011 Race Of Champions will be streamed LIVE on the web this weekend (December 3-4). Moreover, this year it will be provided as a free service.
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season competition that brings together the world’s greatest drivers from all motor sport’s disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery on a specially constructed parallel track.
Saturday night (December 3) features the ROC Nations Cup from 1900-2200 CET (1800-2100 GMT) while Sunday afternoon (December 4) has the individual Race Of Champions itself from 1400-1700 CET (1300-1600 GMT).
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