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NASCAR to change front bumper of Sprint Cup cars NASCAR is expected to change the shape of the front bumper on all Sprint Cup cars for the 2011 season to help improve brand identity for its auto manufacturers.
For Ford, that could eventually lead to a change in what nameplate it puts on its car, with a possible move from the Fusion currently being used to the Mustang.
But first, Ford officials want to see how the changes affect the front of the Cup car.
NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton said Friday the sanctioning body is close to approving the final specifications for the new front bumper.
Will NASCAR HOF be a bust? For several years, NASCAR Hall of Fame supporters have said they were hopeful that 800,000 people would visit the racing shrine in its inaugural year.
But the hall's first operating budget, released this week, and attendance numbers from its opening weeks indicate thinner crowds can be expected.
Based on estimates for ticket revenues in its first year, the hall would see more like 600,000 visitors. And based on the traffic in its opening month of May - 30,000 people between May 11 and May 31 - even 600,000 would be pushing it.
Red Bull wants Webber for 2011, Vettel through 2015UPDATE #2 (GMM) Sebastian Vettel has played down rumors that Red Bull is pushing to secure his services for the long term. The 22-year-old is already under contract to the end of next season, amid reports (see below) the Austrian squad now wants him to re-commit through 2015.
Vettel and Webber likely teammates again in 2011
His teammate Mark Webber, 33, has signed a contract extension keeping him at Red Bull Racing in 2011, and Vettel on Thursday denied that the move was some sort of reaction to their recent collision in Turkey.
"I've known this piece of information a little longer than the public," he said.
"In regards to the (Vettel) rumors, I can say that we have not spoken as of yet about this topic, as 2015 is quite some time into the future," added the German.
Red Bull not close to perfecting F-duct (GMM) Several more races could pass before Red Bull is ready to race a McLaren-style F-duct system.
The Austrian team tested an early prototype of the downforce-stalling concept during the practice sessions in Turkey, but it is believed the F-duct will not re-appear at all this weekend in Montreal.
According to Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat, the subsequent Valencia and Silverstone rounds might also pass without a race-able version of the F-duct fitted to Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel's RB6 cars.
The report said the German round at Hockenheim could be the earliest possible qualifying and race debut for the Red Bull F-duct.
Before then, new iterations of the Turkey-specification F-duct could be tested in practice as soon as the forthcoming European grand prix at Valencia late this month.
WRC and IRC to merge? FIA president Jean Todt has quelled rumors of a merger between the World Rally Championship and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge. Autosport.com reports that the rumors surfaced earlier this season as the possibility of both championships including the Monte Carlo Rally in their schedules was reported in the media.
But Todt said there was no news to report on the matter, adding that he would like to see the Monte Carlo Rally back on the WRC calendar.
Lotus - Force India 'spy scandal'UPDATE #2 Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has played down speculation that off-track events will affect his team’s performance.
The team is in the process of undertaking legal action against Lotus, as well as a company called Aerolab, claiming that the two copied their wind tunnel design. Furthermore Mallya is in a battle to keep designer Mark Smith, who may also leave after technical director James Key jumped ship to Sauber.
But Mallya insisted his race team were fully committed.
“We are fully focused on the task in hand, which is to score as many points as we can and to regain that fifth position in the championship,” Mallya told Autosport. “We’re not so far away from Renault and there are plenty of opportunities left to rack points up and some circuits that we should really fly on, including Montreal. Any actions we’re taking away from the track won’t affect the team’s focus on sealing our most successful season to date..
“Our technical team, despite reports, is still very much intact – Mark [Smith] will stay with us until April 2011 and we will, in due course, announce a structure that will take us to the next level of performance. I’m very comfortable with where we are as a team and where we are going. The structure and any off track events are for me to worry about, so the team can get on with doing what they do best at the track.”
Will Christijan Albers be the latest ride-buyer to test for HRT to bolster its bottom line?
(GMM) HRT could be set to sign a third test and reserve driver. The new Spanish outfit has already appointed Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien to attend grands prix and occasionally drive during Friday morning practice.
According to the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, the third test driver could be Christijan Albers.
Dutchman Albers, 31, raced for Minardi and Midland in 2005 and 2006, and lost his Spyker drive due to sponsorship issues mid-way through 2007.
But he has retained his links to former Midland and Spyker boss Colin Kolles, including driving for his Le Mans and DTM teams. Kolles is now the boss of HRT.
"Also last year there was a possibility (of being in F1), but there was no chance of driving, so that was useless," said Albers.
Time could be right for Rossi's F1 switch (GMM) Such is the sport's rumor mill that Valentino Rossi badly breaking his leg has reignited speculation he might switch to formula one sooner rather than later.
24 hours before he fell during MotoGP practice at Mugello last Saturday, the 31-year-old Italian admitted he would "like to explore the possibility" of racing a third Ferrari in F1.
With huge two-wheeled success behind Rossi, the New York Times' F1 correspondent Brad Spurgeon admits the news of the Mugello injury gave him pause for thought.
"My first thought was 'Could this finally be the end of his amazing run of dominating the sport?'
Wal-Mart is in deep discussions with NASCAR team and league officials about a wide-ranging deal that has both sponsorship and licensing implications and could see the retail giant sponsor Hendrick Motorsports or another Sprint Cup team.
Senior-level Wal-Mart executives were guests of NASCAR at the May 22 Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte and returned a week later to tour race shops and meet more team executives as the mass retailer explores potential partnerships.
Heidfeld to return to F1? Nick Heidfeld could return to Formula One racing with reports linking him to a Sauber race-seat. With BMW withdrawing from F1 at the end of last season, Heidfeld was linked to a possible race-seat with the rebadged Mercedes GP team.
However, instead of going with Heidfeld, Ross Brawn's squad opted to bring Michael Schumacher out of retirement, forcing Heidfeld to settle for a test driver role.
But he may not be sidelined for too long as reports in the German media claim he could be on his way to his former team, Sauber.
"There could be room for Mercedes test driver Nick Heidfeld at Sauber," claims the Bild.
Rain possible at PoconoUPDATE Rain did delay the start but that was it.
06/06/10 The weather for cast of Pocono Raceway: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm before noon, then showers and thunderstorms after noon. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds. High near 73. Breezy, with a west southwest wind between 13 and 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms
Red Bull may swap engines in 2011 Christian Horner has indicated there is no guarantee that Red Bull will still be powered by Renault engines beyond 2010.
The team principal is quoted by Italy's Autosprint as saying he is happy with the relationship between Red Bull and Renault, but he reportedly wants the French marque to be allowed to catch up the power deficit to the leading suppliers.
"We've shown that we have an excellent chassis, but the engine has maybe 20 or 30 horse power less than the competition.
"We are happy with the relationship with Renault," said Horner, who wanted to switch Red Bull to Mercedes engines this year but was vetoed by the German supplier's existing customers.
Low fuel lights for IndyCars? In the wake of Mike Conway's Indianapolis 500 crash, IndyCar officials don't plan on mandate minimum fuel levels for its cars. But warning lights could be in the future, if feasible.
"So a driver following can know, 'Hey, this car is getting low (on fuel)," Barnhart said.
Barnhart noted there are several ways a car can mechanically lose power, as Ryan Hunter-Reay's did, but there weren't many ways Conway could have avoided hitting Hunter-Reay's car in turn three.
Conway suffered fractures of the leg and back when his car struck the catch fence above the wall. "It just happened to be in the worst possible place on the track," Barnhart said. "You tell drivers not under power to take the lowest line. There is no low line at Indy; there's one line. "(Conway) caught him at absolutely the wrong place." Conway, who has had two surgeries on his left leg, was released from Methodist Hospital on Friday. IndyStar
Tesla has one foot in the grave?UPDATE #2 A related article on this rumor regarding Tesla founder Elon Musk being broke.
06/01/10 'Last week, Tesla and Toyota announced that they were partnering in a joint bid to developing electric cars, auto components, production systems and engineering support.
In this regard, Toyota said it will buy an undisclosed stake in Tesla for $50 million.
Tesla also said it will buy a shutdown Toyota-General Motors Co. joint venture factory, known as NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.), in California for $42 million to build its Model S, a sporty electric sedan, and other vehicles.
However, strains began to appear when Toyota said it will continue to develop its own range of electric vehicles though Tesla's long-distance models would give it more options.
Double-file restarts for IndyCar IndyCar officials are considering a change to double-file restarts for the series, similar to the rule NASCAR adopted one year ago. Team owner Roger Penske and Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage are in favor of the change. They talked to IRL officials about the possibility two weeks ago. Brian Barnhart, the IRL president of competition, confirmed the conversation.
"We have discussed it with Roger," Barnhart said Friday. "We are open to the possibility of double-file restarts. Right now, we're exploring all possible scenarios and taking a look at how they could play out and affect an event."
Gossage said he and Penske lobbied for the change on a recent conference call with IRL chief executive officer Randy Bernard.
NASCAR Silly season ramblings June is the middle of the season for most racing series, but seems to mark the beginning of silly season for NASCAR, with a scramble for sponsors and driver/crew chief combinations taking unexpected turns every week. Here are a few drivers and teams we have had news and speculation come through the spy are few things for you to think about from things we have been hearing…
Ford to kill off Mercury brandUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact'. Ford Motor Co. has sent franchise termination offers to each of its 1,712 Mercury dealers, with lump-sum payments based on the number of Mercury vehicles they sold during the past three years and the brand's percentage of their total business.
The Dearborn automaker announced Wednesday that it was killing the 72-year-old brand by year's end, ending years of speculation about its future. In the documents delivered to dealers Thursday, Ford informed dealers that Mercury will officially be discontinued Dec. 31.
According to copies of documents obtained by The Detroit News, Ford is basing its buyout offer on the average number of Mercury vehicles -- excluding large fleet orders -- sold by each dealership in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Ford also will replace Mercury signs with new Lincoln displays.
05/28/10 In a reversal from just a few months ago, Ford Motor Co. is preparing to kill its mildly up-market Mercury brand so it can more intensely focus scarce investment dollars on its Blue Oval and Lincoln luxury marques. The move, if approved, also would enable Ford to winnow its dealer network, a politically fraught exercise company executives would be forced to manage.
The Dearborn automaker says its plans for Mercury "haven't changed. Like any good business, we are constantly assessing our portfolio," Ford said in a statement. "If things change, we'll let you know."
But they already have changed, if not officially. Earlier this year, Ford told the National Automobile Dealers Association that it planned to introduce in 2012 a compact car based on the Ford Focus, and the car was expected to be shown last month at the New York Auto Show. The car was pulled from the event.
2010 Korean GP could be called offUPDATE #2 (GMM) Fears are growing that the inaugural Korean grand prix this October may have to be called off. Although Bernie Ecclestone recently dismissed rumors that construction of the new Yeongam circuit might not be finished on time, political tensions between South Korea and the rogue North have been ramping up.
South Korea pointedly blamed the North for the recent sinking of a naval vessel that killed 46 sailors, and the North retaliated by threatening all-out war.
"If there is (war), we won't be there obviously," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told reporters in Turkey.
Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper cites sources as saying the political situation may already have further slowed down construction of the 5.62 kilometer circuit.
Amid the uncertainty, it is believed that the F1 teams association FOTA is not currently prepared to charter some of its equipment to Korea ahead of time if there is no guarantee of a race.
Scheckter to replace injured Conway Tomas Scheckter is in line to take Mike Conway's place for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for this weekend's Izod IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, although a contract has not been signed.
Red Bull to have Milton-Keynes crisis meeting (GMM) A crisis meeting will be held in the next few days at Red Bull's Milton Keynes headquarters, in a bid to ease the ill-feeling in the wake of the Sebastian Vettel-Mark Webber shunt.
"The goal is to win the world championship with the fastest driver. Above any individual interest must be the general interest, and that is the success of the team," team advisor Helmut Marko said on Austrian television Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar-7.
"The two drivers do not need to go out for dinner with each other, but they must cooperate," he insisted.
Massa to Red Bull, Webber to retire?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today, but retirement for Webber might only be a year away. Mark Webber is still set to have his contract renewed by Red Bull Racing. After he collided with teammate Sebastian Vettel whilst the pair ran first and second in Turkey, team chiefs pointed the finger of blame at the Australian.
Webber may only drive one more year
Championship leader Webber, 33, had been in the throes of a contract renewal, in the wake of his dominant wins from pole in Spain and Monaco.
Dr Helmut Marko had been the most strident in his criticism in the wake of the Istanbul crash, but he said on Tuesday that Webber is still set to stay alongside Vettel in 2011.
"I would say it is more or less a formality that the ongoing cooperation with Webber will be finalized in the next few days," he said on Austrian television 'Sport und Talk aus dem Hangar 7'.
But Red Bull advisor Marko clarified that it is only going to be a one-year deal. "Webber is not a youngster," he insisted.
Webber might have beat McLarens had he not stopped Had Mark Webber not pitted in Turkey for a new nose – an endplate was missing – he might have been able to keep the pressure on the McLarens as they went into fuel saving mode. But Marko has no regrets about the stop.
“At that stage we didn’t know about their fuel problem. And once you are ahead here, and especially a McLaren is ahead, they are so much quicker on the straights where should we overtake them? Once they are ahead, even if they have a fuel problem, they just go around the corners slow and then on the straights they accelerate.”
It is widely known that Dario Franchitti only negotiates single-year contracts. With his second Indy 500 win and a season that has put him in good position in the championship standings once again, despite tougher competition requiring increased demands of the Scot driver, it looks like he will be around for a while longer.
"Chip told me, you’re not going to retire anytime soon, so I guess we’ll start talking soon...I love driving in this series, I love where this series is going … and I still love what I’m doing. Long may it continue.”
Franchitti's Indy win and consistency, along with his tenacity (such as his drive in St. Pete and Barber) has put him second behind Will Power in the standings.
Franchitti is in his 14th season in the top level North American open-wheel racing.
UPS to stay with Roush Ragan and UPS stay with Roush thru 2011: While rumors swirl that David Ragan and sponsor UPS might be on the move, Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith said he expects the #6 Ford to have the same driver and sponsor in 2011 as it does now. UPS has a contract through 2011 with Roush Fenway and Ragan has a contract that includes options for 2011. SceneDaily
Todt's ART to merge with Sauber?UPDATE #2 (GMM) Peter Sauber has confirmed that Nicolas Todt visited the Swiss team's Hinwil headquarters last week. Earlier, it was rumored that Frenchman Todt was eyeing a merger of his GP2 team ART, but Sauber insisted in Turkey that his team is not being sold.
The 66-year-old said in an interview published at motorsport-aktuell.com: "I have had a very good relationship not only with his father (Jean Todt) but also with him, especially through Felipe Massa."
Nicolas Todt also manages the 29-year-old former Sauber driver and Brazilian Massa.
05/29/10 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' per this hot news item.
05/28/10 (GMM) French GP2 team ART could merge with an existing team rather than go it alone in formula one next year.
The outfit headed by FIA president Jean Todt's son Nicolas has applied to debut in 2011.
But Spain's El Mundo Deportivo reports that ART is also looking at other options, including merging with the under-financed former BMW-owned outfit Sauber.
The move would make Spanish hopeful Epsilon Euskadi, already with a state of the art headquarters, wind tunnel and proven Le Mans car-making abilities, the favorite to fill the 13th team slot next year.
Massa set to sign 2011 contract (GMM) Arguably the best-connected member of the Brazilian formula one media, Galvao Bueno, has revealed that Felipe Massa only needs to put his signature on a new Ferrari contract for 2011.
In the wake of strong speculation that the 29-year-old Paulista might lose his seat to a rival driver, it was reported in Turkey that Massa is now closing on a new deal.
Galvao is the influential lead commentator and head of sports for Brazil's Globo TV.
Ferrari had a bad weekend at Istanbul Park, but Galvao said: "Want the good news about Felipe Massa? Everything is set (for a new deal).
"(The contract is) missing two or three commas, but the signing should happen quickly now."
Intrigue in Turkey after Webber/Vettel crash (GMM) Red Bull had instructed Mark Webber to switch his engine to a fuel-saving mode in the moments before his crash with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Turkey.
In the aftermath of the controversial incident, rumors began to swirl inside the Istanbul Park paddock that there was more to it than met the eye.
Australian Webber alluded to the intrigue by telling reporters after the race that Vettel had a "big top speed advantage" when he launched the move.
Pressed for whether there was a reason for the speed difference, Webber answered: "Hmm, maybe.
Teams designing 2011 cars for current F1 tires (GMM) Because the decision about next year's supplier is taking so long, F1 teams are designing their 2011 cars around the current specification of Bridgestone tire.
The Japanese marque is departing the sport, and it had been expected that the Italian company Pirelli would be unveiled this weekend as successor.
But Michelin has thrown a spanner in the works, sending competition boss Nick Shorrock to Istanbul, where a 90 minute meeting on Sunday resulted in the teams still not deciding on an outcome for next year's world championship.
"It's going to take a little while longer," Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn told Reuters in Turkey.
Brazil extends deal with IndyCar According to AutoRacing1.com sources Brazil officials signed an extension with the IRL to host an IndyCar race on the streets of Sao Paulo for another 8 years (8 plus this year's race = 9 total).
Williams team has secured most of 2011 budget The Williams team has already secured most of the finances required for the 2011 season after successfully making a profit last year. The news comes despite the loss of major sponsor The Royal Bank of Scotland, which will depart at the end of this season. Although Williams has failed to finish in the top three of the Constructors' Championship since 2003, the Grove-based outfit continues to remain healthy from an economic point of view.
"This year I am expecting results at least as good as in 2009, very similar," Chief Executive Officer Adam Parr explained in Turkey after financial results were revealed for the period stretching from the beginning of December 2008 to the end of December 2009.
"For 2011, we've got pretty much where we typically are at this time of the year; the majority of our budget is covered for next year but we are in discussions with current and potential partners to build that up.
"I don't know if any team has got all of its budget covered for next year, unless somebody is literally writing a check."
IndyCar return to Houston doubtful Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage indicated that he "would not consider the announced addition of Austin to the 2012 Formula One schedule as 'an invasion'" of SMI's Texas territory. However, "I have a problem concerning the rumored addition of a street-race in Houston to a future Izod IndyCar Series schedule." Gossage said, "There's been some discussion about it, but it would be problematic." He added, "There's a difference between running an F1 race in Texas and another IndyCar race in Texas. We contend this is our turf for NASCAR and IndyCar, and if they (IndyCar management) want to put in jeopardy their most successful race outside of Indianapolis, that (a Houston event) would sure do it." Gossage said that he "did not anticipate discussing that specific issue with Randy Bernard." Gossage: "I don't see any reason that we would have a discussion because they know our position" Tacintoday.com reports Meanwhile, according to the Houston Chronicle, Russ Goodall reports officials for Mi-Jack Promotions, which is leading efforts to land an IndyCar race in Houston, "are not worried" about Austin landing an F1 event. Mi-Jack Promotions Dir of Sales & Marketing Austin Crossley: "Texas is a huge market and is certainly big enough to support more than one open-wheel race"
Only Ferrari and Renault still want Michelin tires (GMM) Only two teams are still holding out for a supply of Michelin tires for the 2011 season. It has been reported in recent days that an announcement about Pirelli becoming the sport's new tire supplier is imminent.
Bernie Ecclestone said on Friday that he hopes the situation is clearer by the end of this Turkish grand prix weekend.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims that ten of the 12 teams are clearly in favor of Pirelli's proposal.
Some time ago, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Mercedes were voting for Michelin.
Why Austin won the USGP - Money A day after the sudden announcement that one of the world’s highest-profile sporting event is heading to Austin, more details are emerging, including a $25 million-per-year state government incentive offer (over 10 years = $250M - When in doubt, follow the money).
Promoters, who want to build a track specifically for the race for the first time in its history, did not specify a location and offered few other details. But the Associated Press reported Full Throttle saying the property will be more than 700 acres. The company also reportedly brought on German firm Tilke GmbH to design the venue. Tilke has built racetracks in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Shanghai and Istanbul among other cities.
Webber could replace Massa at Ferrari - NoUPDATE #4 (GMM) Ferrari on Thursday came close to confirming that Felipe Massa will be retained as Fernando Alonso's teammate for the 2011 season.
Brazilian Massa's contract expires in December, and it has been rumored that Robert Kubica or Mark Webber are being lined up as potential replacements.
The 29-year-old has struggled with the F10 car alongside Alonso so far this season, but when asked if Ferrari will field an identical lineup in 2011, team boss Stefano Domenicali answered: "Yes, I think so."
The Italian indicated that Maranello based Ferrari prefers to work with Massa to overcome his difficulties rather than oust him.
Cosworth to pickup 5th f1 team? Cosworth would be able to supply engines to a fifth Formula One team next season but expect competition from Renault, according to manager Mark Gallagher. Renault last week indicated that they were looking to power another team in addition to their own and championship leaders Red Bull, triggering speculation that Cosworth could lose one of their four current customers -- possibly Williams or Lotus.
Gallagher, who heads Cosworth's F1 operations, told Reuters in a telephone interview before Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix that he was sure all four would stay with the British-based company and suggested Renault were more likely to do a deal with a possible new entry.
Wheel nuts to blame for Vettel, Hamilton failuresUPDATE Meanwhile, Red Bull's Vettel finished the race at the Circuit de Catalunya third, but without touching the brakes in the last dozen laps.
Auto Motor und Sport said the left front brake disc was longitudinally broken, with the team reportedly believing vibrations caused the failure.
The magazine speculated that, as was also the cause of his Melbourne problem - and Michael Schumacher's retirement in Malaysia - a wheel nut not fitted tightly enough at the pitstop was at the heart of Vettel's failure.
05/13/10 (GMM) Extreme wheel nut and hub designs in 2010 are contributing to failures, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
The specialist magazine said technical solutions to speed up pitstops this year are related to the most recent failures seen on the Red Bull and McLaren cars last week in Barcelona.
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh confirmed this week that a wheel rim failure due to "human error" caused Lewis Hamilton's deflation and crash on the penultimate lap.
Auto Motor und Sport claims that a mechanic had pulled his gun off the wheel too soon during the pitstop, with Whitmarsh now confirming that the nut subsequently "loosened slightly".
"The magnesium part heated up and eventually broke," added the Briton.
USGP to returnUPDATE #4 (GMM) A United States grand prix will once again feature on the formula one calendar. In the midst of reports that New York was Bernie Ecclestone's favored location, the sport announced late on Tuesday that Austin, Texas will in fact stage its first race in 2012.
The 10-year contract is for a "purpose-built" facility, F1 chief executive Ecclestone said in a statement, although details including an actual site, cost or race date were not released.
A report of the AP news agency said the venue would be built "within 10 miles" of Austin airport.
The promoter is Full Throttle Productions, headed by Tavo Hellmund, who Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Susan Combs revealed has a "30 year relationship with Mr. Ecclestone".
"We have been diligently working together for several years to bring this great event to Austin, the State of Texas and back to the United States," said Hellmund.
Mario Andretti coaches Mark Wahlberg as he prepares to take laps at the Indy 500. Wahlberg will sit passenger to Michael Andretti in the IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation PVH announced today on behalf of its IZOD brand, sponsor of the IZOD IndyCar Series, that Mark Wahlberg, award winning actor and producer, will join the field at the start of the 2010 Indianapolis 500 – "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing®." Michael Andretti will drive Wahlberg in the custom-built, two-seat Indy car billed as the "IZOD Fastest Seat in Sports," as Mario Andretti, 1969 Indy 500 winner, coaches the two by radio from the IZOD Performance Pit.
Andretti and Wahlberg will follow four parade cars and lead the official pace car and the 33-car field of IZOD IndyCars on three parade laps. Once the parade cars exit the circuit, the two-seat race car will round the track at nearly 200 mph to catch the field from behind as the field takes the green flag for the most famous race in the world. This historic moment, which marks the first time in modern history that a driver and passenger will join the field of the Indy 500, will be captured live on ABC at Noon EST on May 30, 2010.
"This sport is incredible. I was blown away at the Long Beach Grand Prix by the speed and skill of these drivers – I've had the racing bug ever since," said Mark Wahlberg, Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor, producer and AquaHydrate business partner. "My career has taken me down many amazing roads, but nothing compares to this. This should be the ride of my life."
Liuzzi rejects de Resta rumorsUPDATE (GMM) Force India's test and reserve driver Paul di Resta will this week sit out another morning practice session.
The Scot has tested during the initial track session at every grand prix event this year with the exception of Bahrain and Monaco.
Di Resta, 24, had to defer to the race drivers in Bahrain because of the altered track configuration, and Monaco "due to the challenging layout of the circuit", amid the need for Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi to maximize their cockpit time.
Force India confirmed on Tuesday that the DTM driver, who raced in Valencia between the Monaco and Turkish grands prix, will sit out Friday's session at Istanbul Park because the car will be fitted with "some new development items".
Foyt says bump day dispute 'was no big deal' A.J. Foyt on Monday downplayed tension with his grandson, race car driver A.J. Foyt IV, in their failed pursuit of a starting spot in this week's Indianapolis 500.
Foyt IV left Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday without speaking to reporters after stepping out of A.J. Foyt Racing's No. 41 car prior to bump day qualifying. He couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
Foyt IV was struggling to get the speed necessary to make the race. Jacques Lazier later drove the car and failed to qualify.
Bass Pro Shops looks to stay with EGR Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris says while he's good friends with a number of owners and drivers in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, he doesn't anticipate the company's sponsorship moving from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing anytime soon. "I saw [team co-owner] Chip [Ganassi last night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame," Morris said Friday. "We don't have any contract for next year or anything, but Chip and [co-owner] Teresa [Earnhardt] & I think they're happy. And we're happy." Morris was at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday to help unveil a special Bass Pro paint scheme to be run by EGR driver Jamie McMurray later this year, honoring NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt fielded a similar Bass Pro-themed paint scheme in the 1998 all-star race. Bass Pro, which is sponsoring McMurray's car in half of this year's Sprint Cup races, is headquartered in Springfield, Mo., and the fact that McMurray, winner of the 2010 Daytona 500, grew up in nearby Joplin "is huge back home," Morris said. "It's not been a surprise, but back around Springfield and the Joplin area, with Jamie's affiliation with Bass Pro, it's been pretty cool," Morris said. SceneDaily
Cosworth to go public (GMM) According to reports in the financial media, F1 engine supplier Cosworth could soon be floated on the stock exchange.
The reports estimated the value of the flotation at about (US) $360 million, following the famous British marque's return to F1 with Williams and all three of the new teams.
Main investors Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, who bought Cosworth from Ford in 2004, are reportedly considering the move as profits are expected to surge from $2m in 2008 to more than $70m this year.
Williams may revert to old wings for Turkey Williams will revert to older versions of their front wing in Turkey this weekend after both of the Formula One team's cars crashed at the last race in Monaco.
Technical director Sam Michael said in a preview for Sunday's race that new parts had to be manufactured after accidents involving Brazilian Rubens Barrichello and Germany's Nico Hulkenberg.
"All of the items that needed replacing have been replaced now, apart from the front wings which require more time," he said.
"As a result, we have to revert back to a previous specification for this race and wait until Montreal for the updated version."
The Canadian Grand Prix is on June 13.
Michael said the former champions, currently languishing in seventh place with eight points from six races, hoped to see a performance boost from engine provider Cosworth at the Istanbul circuit.
He said the cars would also have new brake ducts and mechanical changes. Yahoo Eurosport
Loose drain cover caused Barrichello crashUPDATE #2 A reader asks, Dear AR1.com, When I worked with Atlantics and ChampCar all the temporary street circuits we ran on had the man hole covers welded shut. I'm just curious as to why the premier racing organization in auto racing doesn't have some sort of similar safety measure in place? Mark Bartlett
05/24/10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Williams has confirmed that a loose manhole cover caused Rubens Barrichello's high speed crash during the recent Monaco grand prix.
With technical director Sam Michael initially diagnosing a rear suspension failure, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport subsequently reported that an investigation showed that the left rear wheel was in fact damaged by a loose drain cover.
In a media statement, the British team has now confirmed that a manhole cover at turn two "was spun up and hit the rear left wheel, causing failure. This incident has been reported to the FIA," added Williams.
05/21/10 (GMM) Williams and the FIA suspect that a loose drain cover caused Rubens Barrichello's high speed crash during the Monaco grand prix.
The team's technical director initially diagnosed a rear suspension failure.
"We have a good idea which part is suspect, but to be completely sure, we need to await the results of materials tests back at the factory," Sam Michael said earlier this week.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport now reports that FIA experts conducted an investigation and now think a loose drain cover damaged the left rear wheel.
Cosworth to also lose Williams team to RenaultUPDATE #2 (GMM) Williams has played down reports it is in the market for a new engine supplier. The British team, as well as F1 newcomer Lotus and the French hopeful ART, have all been linked with a supply of Renault engines for 2011.
It is rumored that Williams is particularly unhappy with the performance degradation of Cosworth's 2010 engine.
But chief executive Adam Parr is quoted by motorsport-aktuell.com: "I am satisfied with them (Cosworth), we are not looking at other engines."
He added that Williams and Cosworth are working on how to maintain the performance of the engines as they accumulate more kilometers.
"This is definitely something on which they are working and where they have already made progress," confirmed technical director Sam Michael.
Mateschitz eyes title sponsor for Red Bull Racing (GMM) Dietrich Mateschitz has revealed he might sell the naming rights to his top formula one team Red Bull. The Milton Keynes-based team is leading the constructors' championship, while Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are atop the drivers' standings, after the RB6 proved the dominant car after six races in 2010.
"As soon as Red Bull Racing is recognized as an established team, a title sponsor could be possible," Austrian billionaire Mateschitz told the Sunday Express.
The British tabloid said Mateschitz, 66, favors a luxury goods brand for a sponsor deal that could bring in about $38 million.
Kyle Busch's team sabotaged? During the race broadcast, TV analyst, Ray Dunlap reported that the #18-Kyle Busch Motorsports team found eleven lug nuts loose on three wheels just prior to race start. On Lap 10, #3-Austin Dillon suddenly broke loose, veered right and hit the wall. It was later found that there were loose lug nuts on the left-rear of the #3-RCR truck.
There was also concern before and early in the race about at least two trucks -- including Busch's -- that mysteriously had loose lug nuts. "They just found that three of the wheels were loose," Busch crew chief Eric Phillips said before the green flag. "We've just got to keep a better eye on our stuff, I guess." Phillips refused to speculate if he thought someone intentionally loosened the wheels. But 20-year-old Austin Dillon -- whose car was parked behind Busch's in the impound area after qualifying -- claimed his wreck on the 10th lap was caused by the same problem. "They left the left-rear lugs loose. We don't know what happened," said Dillon, grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. A NASCAR official said they were looking into the matter. ESPN/AP
Turkish GP to be dry? The long-range weather forecast for next week’s Turkish Grand Prix suggests a dry weekend of racing is in store. Temperatures are expected to be around 20 degrees C on all three days with minimal chance of rain.
This is somewhat cooler temperatures than the race used to in its original late-summer place on the calendar. In 2008 the race was moved from August to May, meaning the race is held in less blazing temperatures than it used to be.
This has helped ease tire wear concerns at one of the most punishing tracks on the calendar. Drivers will use the soft and hard compounds in this year’s race, the same which were used last year.
Harvick to stay at RCRUPDATE Richard Childress Racing and driver Kevin Harvick "appear to have reached an agreement" to keep Harvick as the driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 29 Chevy for beyond the '10 season. An official announcement is expected Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. SCENEDAILY.com
05/07/10 If Kevin Harvick is close to signing a contract extension to remain with Richard Childress Racing, it wasn't foremost on his mind after qualifying for Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
"I'm not worried about that," Harvick said Friday when asked about possible negotiations. "I'm worried about Darlington."
“We've been talking. Hopefully we'll have something together here in a week or so." Earlier in the day, Childress said ongoing negotiations between the two sides have resulted in what could be a deal to keep Harvick in the RCR fold, at least for the foreseeable future. The team owner expects something to be finalized before the end of the month.
Cosworth to lose Lotus contract to RenaultUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. See this rumor update.
05/20/10 Car manufacturer Renault is currently providing its own Formula 1 team and the Red Bull Racing team with its powerful F1 engines this season. In 2011 though the team could end up supplying even more teams that the current two teams in Formula 1.
The Renault powered Red Bull team currently leads both the drivers' and constructors' championship. According to Italian magazine Autosprint Renault is currently in talks with both Lotus and Williams to supply them with customer engines in 2011.
Mercedes working on 'automatic' F-duct (GMM) Mercedes is working on an F-duct system that does not need to be controlled by the drivers.
Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport reports that the German team's downforce-stalling solution could be ready to debut on the W01 car in Istanbul in just over a week.
McLaren pioneered the technology this year, where the blockage of an air inlet inside the cockpit with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button's knee allows air to flow through the engine cover and out a slot in the rear wing.
Ferrari and Sauber's subsequent systems involve the air inlet being blocked by a driver's hand.
Bruno Junqueira's car sits idle in the garage as the Fazzt Race Team is awaiting funds for the ride. The only good fortune Bruno has had at Indy thus far is that the rain has kept his competitors off the track as well.
FAZZT Team manager Rob Edwards said."It's the same old story," "The check has been due to arrive every day since May 3. . . . The car's here and we want to run it. We just need the money to arrive."
Has HMS stopped sharing information with Stewart? As I have said many times before, I am the mistrusting type who often falls for conspiracy theories. With that said, I have wondered lately if Tony Stewart is getting as much help from Hendrick Motorsports as everyone seems to think.
Take a look at the statistics compiled by Stewart in the time since he began driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the first 26 races of 2009, he won three times, had 13 top-5s and 18 top-10s. He was leading the points going into the Chase for the Championship cutoff by more than 200 points over the competition.
Since then, Stewart has won once in Kansas last fall. He has nine top-10s over the last 22 races. He has ten finishes outside the top-15 in that same time span.
Symonds to Williams, Pat Fry to Red Bull? (GMM) Pat Symonds could soon be working with the famous British team Williams. The authoritative Italian magazine Autosprint is linking Renault's former long-time executive director of engineering with the Grove based team.
With his five-year crashgate ban reduced to three years in a recent deal with the FIA, 56-year-old Briton Symonds said recently that his company Neutrino Dynamics could be engaged immediately for F1 consultancy work.
Autosprint said Symonds could be a consultant for the design of Williams' FW33 car for 2011.
Meanwhile, McLaren's recently departed chief engineer Pat Fry is also being linked with other formula one teams.
He has just begun a compulsory six months of so-called 'gardening leave', but Finland's Turun Sanomat is already linking him with possible moves to Red Bull, Mercedes, Toro Rosso or Force India.
Kanaan setting up all the Andretti cars Tony Kanaan might need to put in for overtime after being the session's busiest driver, turning laps in all five Andretti Autosport cars during Saturday's Opening Day for the Indy 500. Helping the team determine baseline speeds to begin the week of practice, Kanaan ran his fastest lap of 224.793 mph in John Andretti's No. 43 entry. Kanaan was also sixth in his own car -- the No. 11 ride -- with a lap at 224.685 mph. He also ran 15th in Marco Andretti's No. 26 at 223.516 mph and 16th quick in Danica Patrick's No. 7 at 223.208 mph. Ryan Hunter-Reay's No. 37 was the 25th fastest at 221.230 mph with Kanaan behind the wheel and 22nd quick at 221.707 mph with Hunter-Reay taking over.
Stewart Haas to run Kahne for Hendrick?UPDATE Kasey Kahne, playing out the string in his final season with Richard Petty Motorsports, said Friday at Dover International Speedway that there still has been no decision made on where he will be racing in 2011.
Kahne announced last month that he would leave RPM to join Hendrick Motorsports in 2011. But the popular 30-year-old’s move called for him to drive for team owner Rick Hendrick in 2012 in the organization’s No. 5 Chevrolet currently driven by Mark Martin. That being the case, the question remains of just where Kahne will be driving next season.
With the NASCAR cap of four teams per organization, Kahne won’t be in a Hendrick entry unless someone currently driving for the team vacates a seat. One possibility would be for him to drive for a Hendrick-affiliated team, such as Stewart-Haas Racing if that team expands from two to three teams.
“Still no word on any of the specifics,” Kahne said after qualifying second-fastest for Sunday’s Autism Speaks 400. “Nothing has changed since the announcement. There is a lot going on – talking to Mr. Hendrick this week and last week, I think we are about three or four weeks out from finding anything out.
“I know I am getting a little anxious about it. They are working hard and want it to be the right decision. Whatever is decided, they want to do [it] the right way and make sure that they come up with the perfect place for me for next year.” Scene Daily
Many empty seats expected in DoverUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this news item.
05/14/10 Dover Int'l Speedway President & CEO Denis McGlynn "expects to see vacant seats" at Sunday's Autism Speaks 400. McGlynn said, "Nobody's selling out. When you see 40,000 empty seats at Bristol (Tenn.), it tells you it's the economy and the impact it's having on ticket buyers." Races at the track, which seats 140,000, "haven't sold out for several years." Some seats "have been closed for races and covered with advertising banners" PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS
Junqueira to miss Indy 500UPDATE Plans for the second FAZZT Race Team car entered for Junqueira have not been finalized. "Bruno is racing in Brazil this weekend," said Edwards. "The plan wasn't for him to be here until Monday or Tuesday, anyway. We had the car prepped. It made sense to get the car here. We're hoping we can run him, but we still don't know at the moment. We'll see how it plays out."
05/14/10 Bruno Junqueira could be in danger of missing the Indianapolis 500 for a second straight year. The Brazilian, who won the pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2002, is entered as Alex Tagliani's teammate with the new Fazzt Race Team. But there is a question about the funding of his No. 33 car.
Team manager Rob Edwards said resolution figures to come today -- at least he hopes so.
"There is some question," Edwards said without further explanation. "But the car's here, and it's being prepared. It's that wacky world of racing." Indy Star
Lotus eyeing new engine supplier for 2011 (GMM) Lotus could be contemplating a change of engine supplier for its second season in formula one.
That is the claim of Heikki Kulta, the F1 correspondent for the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.
Veteran Kulta, who has been attending grands prix since 1983, is known for his close relationships with Finnish drivers, including Lotus' Kovalainen.
He reported from Monaco that Lotus, the most impressive of F1's three new teams this year, will unveil one more big aerodynamic update for the British grand prix and then turn its attention to the 2011 car.
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has psychologically "destroyed" his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. That is the belief of former Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson, who now attends grands prix as a commentator for British radio BBC.
Ferrari incumbent Massa, 29, has struggled to match team newcomer Alonso so far this season, but the Brazilian has put the situation down to the F10 car and the tires.
HRT to announce technical plans by Canada (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone is helping HRT on the technical side. The F1 chief executive caused a stir this weekend when he indicated he was helping the struggling Spanish team to financially survive its debut season.
But according to the Daily Telegraph, that help actually relates to HRT's efforts to establish a technical facility, following the split with car designer Dallara.
"The development will please F1's Spanish community reeling from errant reports of financial hardship," said the newspaper.
Virgin to drop out of F1? (GMM) Sir Richard Branson on Saturday insisted Virgin Racing is not in danger of dropping out of formula one.
After Bernie Ecclestone hinted that one of the new teams is in trouble, HRT's Jose Ramon Carabante as well as boss Colin Kolles insisted the F1 chief executive was not talking about the Spanish outfit.
"I'm surprised Bernie said what he did," billionaire Branson said in Monaco. "He might know something about the other teams I don't."
The Briton told the Daily Mail that Virgin has sponsors on board and will definitely "go all the way to the end of the season, and hopefully for many seasons yet".
IndyCar to add more ovals in 2011 Oval tracks could be on the verge of making a comeback in the IndyCar Series..
Asked this week if either New Hampshire Motor Speedway or Las Vegas Motor Speedway could be on the 2011 schedule, the owner of those tracks, Bruton Smith, offered resounding support.
"We expect to do both," he said.
IndyCar's new chief executive officer, Randy Bernard, has stated his desire to keep a balance between ovals and non-ovals. This year's schedule has eight oval and nine non-oval events.
Bernard confirmed negotiations with both tracks. New Hampshire represents another step toward strengthening the league's position in the Northeast, and Las Vegas is a city Bernard had extensive dealings with while CEO of Professional Bull Riders, Inc. He secured the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority as title sponsor of the PBR's World Finals. Indy Star
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact today. With an average starting position of 13th, this Swiss IZOD IndyCar Series rookie has not only captured the attention and respect of her competitors, but the hearts of IndyCar fans as well so it makes sense that the second-largest provider of nuclear-generated electricity in the U.S., Entergy, would call upon the “Swiss Miss” to once again be the brand ambassador for “Nuclear Clean Air Energy.”
Brought together in part by her then 2008 Atlantic Championship Series team owner Eddie Wachs, Entergy and the nuclear energy industry launched the “Nuclear Clean Air Energy” public awareness program that year with Simona. The program is designed to educate the public about the carbon-free production of electricity through nuclear power.
Is NASCAR's new spoiler already upsetting the balance of power in Sprint Cup Series? There have been six races since NASCAR switched from the rear wing to a spoiler on its Sprint Cup car and it certainly looks as if the change has made a huge impact on the series.
Kurt Busch certainly thinks so. All you have to do, he says, is look at who’s running good now and who’s not.
“I think it's made a significant change in the sport, and some teams have adapted to it better than others,” says Busch, who finished third last week at Darlington Raceway.
“There could be different drivers within the same organization that have done better or worse with it. Jeff Gordon has really flourished with the new spoiler, where Mark Martin has struggled a little bit.
Servia in 2nd Newman Haas car? Newman/Haas Racing officials still are considering a second car to go alongside Hideki Mutoh. Oriol Servia, who had four solid races with the team last season, would be a leading candidate to drive it. Indy Star
Team 3G to miss Indy 500 Team 3G owner Greg Beck said Thursday he's "not optimistic" about his team participating in the 500. He has hopes of a deal for IndyCar races later in the season, but "we're running out of time to get Indy done." Beck's teams have been a fixture in the event during the Indy Racing League era. Indy Star
Big award to be offered for Indy 500/Charlotte 600 double
Motor-mouth Bruton Smith
According to this SPEEDTV.com article, The new CEO of IndyCar, Randy Bernard, who came up with the idea two months ago of a proposed doubleheader with Charlotte that would pay $20 million to any driver winning the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, was undoubtedly shocked to hear Smith broke the story on Thursday.
One, because Bernard thought they had an agreement to keep it quiet until later this month when there would be a dual press conference in Indy and Charlotte with drivers from both series.
And two because it’s not a done deal just yet and IMS owner Mari Hulman George has yet to sign off on it.
Mayfield subpoenas Gordon & Johnson Sources tell Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were served with subpoenas this week, and will be deposed by Jeremy Mayfield's legal team regarding sworn statements they gave as part of Mayfield's lawsuit against NASCAR. Mayfield was suspended indefinitely early last season for an alleged violation of NASCAR's substance abuse policy. NASCAR says Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamine, while Mayfield contends he is the victim of a false positive due to a combination of over-the-counter allergy medication and prescription medicine used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. The case is scheduled to go to trial in September of this year. A spokesman for Hendrick Motorsports confirmed that Gordon's attorneys have received a subpoena on his behalf. Jimmie Johnson's representatives also confirm the his attorneys were served this week, on his behalf. Sirius Speedway
Magny Cours to replace Korea on 2011 calendar (GMM) Magny Cours is a potential replacement venue should the inaugural Korean grand prix fall off the 2010 calendar.
That is the rumor published in the latest edition of France's Auto Hebdo magazine.
Last month, Bernie Ecclestone even visited the site of October's Korean race and told the media that the October date is definitely still on.
But the uncertainty about the event has persisted, and Auto Hebdo reports that teams do not want to see the calendar shrink from the scheduled 19 races at short notice.
Magny Cours is famously not the F1 chief executive's favorite venue, but Auto Hebdo says the idea of being a reserve track for Korea is the idea of Gilles Depeigneux, an advisor to prime minister Francois Fillon.
The stumbling blocks, however, are said to be the EUR20 million budget as well as political opposition.
Cunningham to replace Winslow? Rumor has it that 2005 Indy Lights champ Wade Cunningham is running the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race with Sam Schmidt. We believe he is replacing James Winslow for this race and we hear this is a done deal. We await confirmation.
Rivals conspire to uncover Red Bull secrets (GMM) Red Bull's three title rivals are conspiring against the team with a common goal -- to rein in the dominance of the RB6 car.
According to Germany's Bild-Zeitung tabloid, the dramatic solution was devised after Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber scored every pole position in 2010 so far, and then pulled even further ahead with developments debuted in Barcelona last weekend.
Bild said the "secret pact" between McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes involves the "exchange of data" about the technical superiority of the latest car designed by Adrian Newey.
Ross Brawn is quoted as saying: "In some areas Red Bull have gone in different directions. Our people are looking at it closely."
Kahne stole Harvick's ride Over the past weekend, Richard Childress suggested he and Kevin Harvick were close to signing a contract extension. In fact, Childress suggested the deal would be done by the May 30 Charlotte race. My, how the worm turns …
Harvick excoriated the team publicly last season. As a result, most observers of all things NASCAR said he had irreparably burned bridges with Richard Childress Racing, and his chances of staying with that team were slim to nil. I even went so far as to suggest the time might be right to bring Kevin Harvick Incorporated to the Cup series. Now, we all look pretty silly. Some of us more than others …
The secret to Red Bull speed The rumor from observation of the Red Bull car on the grid...it's in the exhaust design.
Observing the car in Spanish GP paddock Red Bull's exhaust design might just be responsible for as much as half of their pace gap on the rest of the field.
The typical exhaust arrangement concludes at the top of the tail bodywork, but the RB6 has a much lower positioning, at the side of the gearbox and lower wing-post mount.
This causes the hot exhaust gases to dump into the double-diffuser, producing incremental downforce from higher air volume and resulting pressure. It also appears to clean up airflow at the rear of the car; namely the rear wheels.
This difference could be visibly noticed watching the rainy Chinese GP, noticing the spray diverting around the rear wheels, and avoiding the resulting turbulent air from the rotating wheel.
Tires and "Schumi-tiredness" putting a dent in F1 season
The weekend saw two reports of sponsorship woe for Formula One, as tire company Michelin said it would only return to the sport if more than one supplier could compete, and Michael Schumacher's personal marketing manager admitted that his lackluster return to the track is failing to ignite merchandise sales.
"It is easier to find a 50-year-old virgin than a sponsor for Formula One," said Willi Weber, Michael Schumacher's personal sponsorship and merchandising man, speaking to German newspaper Bild-Zeitung last week, as reported by Motorsport.com.
Formula One needs a new tire supplier as Japanese company Bridgestone has announced it is pulling out of the sport after 14 years once this season is over.
Rain for Monte Carlo? Of the five Grand Prix so far in 2010, two have been affected by rain - a 20 percent rate - although that proportion could rise to 50 this weekend because intermittent heavy showers are expected to hit Monte-Carlo and the majority of the Côte d'Azur.
Last year's dry race in the principality, won by Jenson Button and Brawn, followed a soaking afternoon in 2008 on which the 58-lap race - won in stunning fashion by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - hit the 2-hour time limit for the first time since 1997, another wet afternoon on which Michael Schumacher and Ferrari demonstrated their brilliance.
Although forecasts vary, local predictions for the upcoming weekend do state that temperatures in the mid to late teens are likely to be joined by some rain, which could - should it fall on Sunday afternoon - throw strategies into oblivion.
Pippa Mann at Indy? We heard today that Pippa Mann might also be giving Indy a go this year. This is a speculative right now right now but Panther has 4 cars entered, which leaves two spares once the primary drivers are qualified, and that team really knows how to set the car up for Indy. This would make for a possibility of six female drivers in the Indy 500, which would be consistent with the historic nature of the event.
Now Kumho joins race to supply F1 teams in 2011 (GMM) Yet another name has joined the race to supply tires to formula one teams in 2011.
Amid reports that Michelin, Pirelli and Avon were vying to replace the departing Bridgestone, it emerged in Barcelona that F1's current supplier might be reconsidering its decision to leave the sport at the end of the year.
It was then rumored that Michelin - having reduced its financial terms by half - is the favored 2011 supplier, with teams particularly not keen on the cheaper but riskier Avon option.
FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh also fears that opting for Pirelli or Avon could ultimately cost more because there is no available data.
F1 tire decision by Monaco? Formula 1 teams are hopeful that agreement on the sport's tire supplier for next year can be reached by next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, with further meetings scheduled to take place in Spain in the next 24 hours according to Autosport.com.
Michelin, Pirelli and Avon Cooper are all in the running to supply tires for F1 next season, with teams eager to get a decision soon so they can get on with designing their 2011 cars.
It is understood that the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) is due to meet in Barcelona on Sunday morning to talk about the latest tire developments, with the FIA also set to make a decision next week on its preferred route for next year.
Renault team principal Eric Boullier told AUTOSPORT that he felt the situation would be relatively simple to sort out, especially now that the tire makers had submitted formal proposals about exactly what they were offering and what their commercial terms are.
Speaking about the FOTA meeting, Boullier said: "It is more a general talk about what the tire companies are offering. We [the teams] have different opinions, but we need tires, so it will be quite easy to sort out.
"It is up to the tire companies to definitely commit, and then we will decide. I think in a couple of days it should be done."
'Q1' session split unlikely for MonacoUPDATE (GMM) Nick Heidfeld on Friday admitted it is unlikely the 'Q1' qualifying session will be split for next weekend's Monaco grand prix.
Some drivers have called for the split so as to prevent the traffic chaos of 24 cars - some with vastly different pace - all circulating the short and twisty street layout within a short 20-minute window.
But the FIA's Charlie Whiting reportedly told the drivers during their regular pre-race briefing in Barcelona that such a rule change would need to be unanimously proposed by the teams.
"We therefore hope that the teams will get together and make a proposal," Mercedes reserve Heidfeld, also the new president of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, told Motorsport-Magazin.com.
"I hope so, but honestly, I think that within a week it is a little difficult," acknowledged the German.
Schu could have been 'extra light' on Friday (GMM) David Coulthard has an alternative theory after Michael Schumacher seemed to have taken a major step forward in Friday practice.
In the wake of his lackluster showing in Shanghai three weeks ago, the seven time world champion faced a barrage of criticism, while at the same time Mercedes worked on significantly updating the W01 car.
Schumacher was then comfortably faster than teammate Nico Rosberg in both 90-minute sessions at the Circuit de Catalunya, outpaced only by the dominant Red Bulls.
Hakkinen to become Hamilton's new manager soon?UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Lewis Hamilton has played down rumors Mika Hakkinen will shortly be unveiled as his new personal manager.
The McLaren driver admitted exaggeratingly that he has fielded "millions" of calls from potential candidates after announcing his professional split with father Anthony.
But as his day-to-day affairs are currently handled by his Woking based employer, the 25-year-old suggested he wants a non-F1 expert to focus on developing Lewis Hamilton the "brand".
Referring to conventional driver managers, the 2008 world champion told British newspapers in Barcelona: "I think what they can offer me is a bit limited -- limited to F1.
"There are other ways you can go."
It was reported that former McLaren champion Hakkinen was a frontrunner, but Hamilton insists there has been "no movement" in terms of a decision about his new manager.
IRL eyes possible race in Quebec City Representatives from the IndyCar IZOD series, among them Tony Cotman, were in Quebec City yesterday to evaluate the possibility of holding an event in the city in 2011.
Andre Azzi, the promoter of the event and co-owner of the FAZZT Racing Team, is optimistic and believes that the IRL brass is keen about having a race held in the old city but that there is a lot a work to be done first.
“The streets of Quebec are narrow so that is why we have to look for the proper course in order to have sufficient speed to make it an exciting event,” declares Azzi.
“ We are looking at the lower part of Quebec, in the Old Port and Bassin Louise.”
The promoter has met yesterday with Regis Labaume, mayor of Quebec and although he received a warm welcome, the emphasis was put on the fact that the evaluation of the project should be made as to minimize the impact on the local residents.
As for the costs of holding such an event, André Azzi wants to wait for the final layout of the proposed circuit. Either way, no final decision will be made before this coming October. Auto123.com
IRL to return to Vegas, Nashville or Phoenix? Q: What is the likelihood of Nashville getting back on the schedule if IICS leaves the ISC tracks? In my opinion, this was a successful venture and Nashville was very receptive to IndyCar. By the way, if Nash/Vegas does get back on the schedule there is a BBQ dinner at Neely's for ya on me!
RM: Randy Bernard met with Lisa Kennedy France last week and will be meeting with her again this month and, obviously, there's some major issues with ISC tracks. Does IndyCar want to be back at Phoenix? Hell yes. Does it want to stay at Homestead and KC? Hell no. But Nashville and Las Vegas are both back in the conversation, I'm told. SPEEDTV.com
Rahal to sit out Indy 500 or drive for his DadUPDATE #2 This rumor is now 'fact.' Graham Rahal doesn't have a full-season ride yet. At least he's got one for the biggest race of the year. And the best part? It's for his dad.
Rahal will drive for Bobby's Rahal Letterman Racing at the Indianapolis 500, teaming one of IndyCar's up-and-coming drivers with his father who won at the Brickyard as a driver and an owner.
"It's always flattering when one of your children wants to follow in your footsteps,'' Bobby Rahal said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "It's even more so when they want to be a part of what you've built over the years. We at Rahal Lettermen are thrilled that Graham will represent us at Indy in two weeks.''
The 21-year-old Rahal will drive at the May 30 race in Rahal Letterman's No. 30 Dallara/Honda for a yet-to-be-determined sponsor.
Considered one of the IndyCar Series' best young drivers since becoming its youngest winner at 19 in 2008, Rahal went into this season without a full ride after two years with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
Rahal drove in three of the first four races for Sarah Fisher Racing, his best finish a ninth at St. Petersburg. Fisher moved behind the wheel at Kansas Speedway last weekend, leaving Rahal with an uncertain future, so teaming with his father for Indy was like birthday and Christmas presents all coming at once.
"I am extremely excited to be racing with my father and with this team,'' said Rahal, who failed to finish in two previous Indy 500s. "I have known a lot of the guys on this team since I was very young and to go after the dream of winning Indianapolis with them means a lot to me and my family. I know we can put together a quality effort and we expect to be competitive.'' SI.com
05/04/10 Speaking of young Rahal, a last-minute deal to get him back with Newman/Haas has apparently stalled so it would appear he'll likely be with his dad at Indianapolis. SPEEDTV.com
04/25/10 In a number of recent reports and rumors, it is being said that Graham Rahal would rather sit at home and watch the race than to piece together a last minute second-rate effort just to run in the race. He also said it is not his father’s place to bail him out and put him in a car.
Unfortunately, this seems to underscore a problem in IndyCar that has really been a problem in the lower ranks of the sport for many many years, but only mildly affected the top ranks until now. Most of the most deserving drivers just don’t get the opportunity, because it is too easy for a team owner to take a driver who comes with a check of his own or his "sponsor" despite driving ability or talent.
Right now we see Hunter-Reay struggling despite having a sponsor that also ended up as the series sponsor. Rahal, and even Paul Tracy and J.R. Hildebrand can be added to that list as well. So the current indication is that there will be no Graham Rahal at Indy. We will keep you posted as we hear more.
USGP to Jersey City?UPDATE (GMM) Hopes that Jersey City could host the US grand prix in the near future were dealt a blow on Wednesday.
Barely 24 hours ago it emerged that officials were in preliminary talks to hold a night race beginning in 2012 inside Liberty State Park, amid the backdrop of the New York skyline.
But mayor Jerramiah Healy has now backed a public opposition group in warning the city's Tourism Office to scrap the plans.
"I have come to the same conclusion ... that this type of event is not suited for Liberty State Park," he said in a statement.
"While we work to attract national and international events to our city, we must ensure that they are appropriate and will have the least impact upon the quality of life of our residents and our community," mayor Healy added.
Moreover, state officials who operate the public park are not confirming if the venue will be approved for F1.
"Each (park) event is considered based on benefit to users and its impact on the natural and historic resources on the site," a spokesman is quoted as saying by nj.com.
Can't win a race Gordon has sponsor woes? During a press conference on Friday at Richmond, some notes from a Team Chevy transcript on Jeff Gordon, who has definitely slowed and can't win when it counts in his middle age.:
HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS TO LOCK UP CHAD KNAUS AND ALAN GUSTAFSON? "I think it was important. Those two guys are instrumental to our organization, our program and our future. I think it's definitely a positive thing."
DO YOU FEEL THAT STEVE LETARTE WILL RETURN AS YOUR CREW CHIEF? "I feel good about it. This is a guy that's been at our organization for a long time. I think he and I are really, really connecting this year and it's showing with our performance on the track. I think things are going great so I don't see any reason why not."
WHAT IS YOUR SPONSOR SITUATION? "We're openly pursuing things. DuPont is still going to play a major role in our organization and with the 24 team. The overall cost of the sport and the way the trends are progressing, it's tough to have one sponsor that can cover everything. We had a lot of conversations with Shell/Pennzoil and we have a lot going on right now as well." Team Chevy
NASCAR to switch to 15% ethanol next year When NASCAR takes the green flag in 2011, race cars are expected to be fueled by E15 -- a mixture of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.
Hendrick Motorsports is already testing the fuel and Roush Yates engines will start development with E15 in the next few weeks. According to RYE co-owner Doug Yates, the conversion is important to the sport.
"Change is scary, but it's exciting as well," Yates said. "We have to keep up with the changes in the world to stay relevant. We need to be moving ahead."
According to the ethanol.org website, ethanol is a clean-burning, high-octane motor fuel that is produced from renewable sources. At its most basic, ethanol is grain alcohol, produced from crops such as corn.
Another IndyCar oval event headed for failure? It seems that yet another IndyCar oval race is headed south. Judging by the lackluster attendance Saturday for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, most people in Kansas are NASCAR fans.
The big change for Kansas Speedway's IndyCar race this year was the switch in race days from Sunday to Saturday - it's now a support event to the weekend feature, the truck race. But the most pronounced difference seemed to be the grandstands, which were about half-full compared to near-capacity crowds for past IndyCar races at Kansas Speedway, which seats 82,000.
"Usually it seems pretty close to sold out when we're here, but the parking lot didn't look that crowded today," Eastland said before Saturday's race. "The weather and the economy, I'm sure, have an effect on it."
Hunter-Reay needs $3.2 million to finish season As the calendar turns to May and the Indianapolis 500 approaches, an Izod IndyCar Series star-in-the-making wonders if he'll be driving much past month's end.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, one of the few U.S.-born drivers in this series and the winner of its most recent race, doesn't have sponsorship to stay with Andretti Autosport beyond the June 5 race at Texas Motor Speedway.
He figures to be about $3.2 million short, and he's getting nervous. So is his boss.
Kansas might drop IndyCar race The future of IZOD IndyCar series racing at Kansas Speedway could be in question when a second NASCAR Sprint Cup race is awarded to the facility as soon as 2011.
Lesa France Kennedy — chief executive officer for International Speedway, parent company of Kansas Speedway, as well as a vice chairman of NASCAR — pledged that she would request a second Cup date from NASCAR as a condition for the state’s approving the Hollywood Casino.
So if the second Cup weekend is awarded this spring, it’s possible the IndyCar Series could be squeezed out unless it returns to the early July date that it occupied from 2001 to 2006 — a schedule that led to fan complaints about summer heat.
“We’re in the middle of an extensive analysis of both NASCAR schedules as well as IndyCar,” Roger VanDerSnick, ISC executive vice president and chief operating officer said after Friday’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the Hollywood Casino.
Ecclestone, Todt, in Morocco, eyeing F1 venue? Perhaps not just by coincidence, two of F1's most powerful figures have appeared in the paddock of the Marrakech street circuit.
The temporary track in Morocco is hosting its second round of the FIA's World Touring Car Championship this weekend.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone was shown around by series promoter Marcello Lotti and also event promoter Marrakech Grand Prix chief Aly Horma.
"I have to say that I was impressed by the track and facilities they have built, which are very nice and suit the WTCC well. My congratulations to the event promoter," said the 79-year-old Briton.
Also in the north African country this weekend is FIA president Jean Todt. Last year's round of the WTCC was the first international car race in Morocco since the 1958 Moroccan grand prix in Casablanca.
However, Bernie has been looking at a future race in South Africa for years, so maybe he has decided to consider Morocco instead, which of course is also in Africa just south of Spain.
Kentucky Speedway likely closer to 2011 Cup date Kentucky Speedway’s prospects of getting a Sprint Cup race in 2011 improved Friday as former co-owner Richard Duchossois dropped his lawsuit against former co-owner Jerry Carroll.
Duchossois sued Carroll over the right to continue the Kentucky Speedway founders’ antitrust litigation against NASCAR. Carroll didn’t want to continue pursuing the case, while Duchossois wanted to consider requesting the Supreme Court to hear an appeal. A May 7 trial had been scheduled in the battle between the founders, but a filing in the case Friday indicated both sides had settled.
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