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DATE News (chronologically)
Furniture Row to buy Penske engine program?  UPDATE Furniture Row Racing is prepared to switch from Chevy to Dodge in 2013 if the manufacturer chooses to go in that direction. Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone said Sunday at Pocono Raceway that there have been initial talks with Dodge about making a switch and adding a second team, potentially with 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch. "If Dodge comes to us and says here's the right deal, we would do it," Garone said. "They're trying to figure out who they're going to do it with and how they're going to do it." Furniture Row currently gets its chassis from Richard Childress Racing and engines from Earnhardt Childress Racing. Everything else is built in the organization's Denver shop. Garone said the organization intends to keep driver Regan Smith, who won at Darlington Raceway last year, beyond this season. He said there have been talks with Busch about expanding, but that would depend on finding a sponsor or a manufacturer willing to give financial help. Garone said he has not given Dodge a deadline for making a decision, but he'd like to know sooner than later. Garone said they are waiting on a decision from Dodge before completing a deal with Smith. "It's our intention to bring him back," Garone said. "With all this other stuff pending, you don't make a commitment and find there is another avenue we should have taken."  ESPN.com More ...
track news
Mid-Ohio track changes coming  
AR1.com has said for the last 10 years Mid-Ohio needs alterations to improve the racing
When Kim Green and Kevin Savoree bought Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year, Green said it struck him that he had just come into possession of the motor-racing equivalent of a Rembrandt.

“It’s like a fine piece of art,” Green said yesterday. “It’s been around for quite a long time, and we don’t want to screw it up.”

That came in response to questions about possible changes to the layout of the 2.238-mile road course that might make it a more-competitive track in terms of passing possibilities. Some plans are in the works, Green said, but they aren’t final. More ...

track news
Indy Speedway might get lights, pathetic NASCAR crowds  UPDATE #2
Swamp Buggy Racing at Indy would draw more fans than the Grand-Am Series did last Friday.
I was at the Speedway last Friday and Saturday. You said all along that the GRAND-AM and Nationwide cars wouldn’t draw a crowd. You were right. Question? Which had a greater attendance: this year’s Carb Day or the Super Weekend’s Thursday, Friday and Saturday combined? Mark in Carmel

Robin Miller Speed.com: I’d say that NASCAR’s “announced attendance’’ of 125,000 for the Brickyard is closer to the total for all three days with 6,500 on Friday, 20,000 on Saturday and maybe 75,000 on Sunday (that's only 100K Robin, not 125K). If there are 250,000 seats at IMS, every other one needed to be occupied to have 125,000 and at least four grandstands were closed so why try to kid anybody?

[Editor's Note: Suffice it to say Indianapolis has fallen out of love with the France Family products.  Given the big purse payout, did IMS lose their shirt this year?  Time for the Hulman George family to bring in the next gimmick to dilute IndyCar's popularity in their home shrine.  Swamp Buggy Racing anyone?] More ...
Lot's of good IndyCar drivers will be free agents in 2013  The following IndyCar drivers are rumored to be without a contract for 2013 and will become free agents after the Fontana race in September:
  1. Ryan Briscoe
  2. Graham Rahal
  3. Sebastien Bourdais
  4. Oriol Servia
  5. E.J. Viso
  6. Rubens Barrichello
  7. Takuma Sato
  8. James Jakes

The remaining drivers either have a contract that extends through 2013, or they are expected to stay with their current team.

Who will replace Allmendinger?  Now that AJ Allmendinger has been released, it is officially “game on” as far as who could drive that car in 2013.

Here is a list of people likely calling Penske about that ride and their chances.

Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish probably feels like he doesn’t need to call. After all, Penske knows where to get hold of him, as Hornish still drives for the team. Sitting fourth in the Nationwide Series standings, Hornish is showing signs that he deserves another shot in Cup. He’ll get it as the replacement for Allmendinger the rest of the season. Combine that with a successful past relationship with Pennzoil, and he doesn’t really need to call Penske. He just needs to prove that Penske doesn’t have to answer the phone. More ...

Glock being setup to fail like Michael Andretti?  
Timo Glock - being setup to fail so a ride buyer with more money can be brought in?
(GMM)  Timo Glock's nightmare form is back.

In June, we reported that the highly-rated German was at war with the team's 2012 car -- outpaced by rookie teammate Charles Pic and certain something was fundamentally wrong with his chassis.

Then, the mystery seemed to be solved when a flaw in the rear suspension wishbone mountings were fixed.

At Monaco, he looked back in the game, but more recently the bad form has crept back in.

Marussia even decided to give him an entirely-new chassis for the Hungary weekend, but in Budapest he was outqualified and outraced by the sister car, complaining bitterly about the handling. More ...

Pantano to sub for injured Kimball  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

Giorgio Pantano
Rumor has it that former GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano from Italy, who has been coaching EJ Viso this year, will sub for Ganassi driver Charlie Kimball at Mid-Ohio. 

Kimball broke a bone in his hand in a recent testing accident. 

Pantano has substituted for Ganassi before - the first time in 2005 at Infineon and Watkins Glen.
Ecclestone could buy embattled Nurburgring  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said that he "wants to help the financially troubled Nurburgring racetrack, but a complete takeover of the German course is out of question," according to the DPA. At Sunday's Hungarian F1 Grand Prix Ecclestone said, "We have to save the German race -- so we will try everything we can." Asked about possible reasons for the financial troubles of the racetrack the 81-year-old Brit said, "It is surprising to me that all German racetracks have their financial worries. Germany probably gave all its money to Greece -- and that's the cause." Ecclestone wants to save the historical racetrack in Germany's Eifel region, and announced further talks with Nurburgring representatives. He said, "I don't want to lose any of the racetracks." However, if the two parties are unable to come up with a solution, the alternative is to the have the German F1 Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring next year. DPA More ...
'Raikkonen back to Ferrari' rumors swirl in Hungary  UPDATE
Kimi Raikkonen driving for Ferrari in 2007
(GMM)  As he pushed for victory on Sunday, rumors Kimi Raikkonen is back on Ferrari's radar continued to swirl and flourish in the Hungaroring paddock.

The rumor was given life by team boss Stefano Domenicali, when to Finnish broadcaster MTV3 he said Ferrari's number one Fernando Alonso and the team's departed 2007 world champion share "a lot of similarities".

"The talk in the paddock this weekend is that Felipe (Massa) has already lost his drive for next season," Martin Brundle said on British television Sky. More ...

NJ USGP again in doubt for 2013?  UPDATE #2 The latest rumors have Valencia being dropped next year to make room for New Jersey.

Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard recently visited the NJ site
06/25/12 (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has, for a third time, questioned the viability of next year's scheduled New Jersey street race. Organizers have consistently sounded puzzled by the F1 chief executive's continual skepticism.

The 81-year-old's latest comments prompted race president Tom Cotter to insist that preparations for the event amid the Manhattan skyline are actually ahead of schedule.

But when asked if the race will go ahead next year, Ecclestone told the BBC on Saturday: "No.  Definitely, no."

Confusingly, he then added: "If they can get it (the circuit) completed and confirm to us it will be done, for sure, they'll be on the calendar." More ...

Sear Point contract precludes Laguna Seca race  UPDATE With yesterday's announcement of a 3-year deal for GoPro to sponsor the Sonoma IndyCar race, it appears the Sonoma IndyCar deal will get renewed when it expires in August.

06/24/12 According to sources, Laguna Seca would like to host an IndyCar race, possibly even a replacement for the China race.  However, Sears Point put a clause in their contract to prohibit IndyCar racing in Monterey, California because it is deemed too close.

So until that contract expires, Laguna Seca cannot host a race. The Sears' contract is up for renewal in August and there is some doubt that it will be renewed.

Bottas staking claim on 2013 Williams seat  
(GMM)  Valtteri Bottas is staking his claim on a race seat at Williams in 2013.

The Finn, who is the British team's reserve and morning practice driver, was marginally faster than Williams racer and Spanish grand prix winner Pastor Maldonado early on Friday at the Hungaroring.

Reigning GP3 champion Bottas, 22, was keen to underline his achievement, telling the Finnish broadcaster MTV3: "There was no (specification) difference between the (two) cars." More ...

Kimball hurts hand in testing?  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Charlie Kimball suffered a broken hand during IZOD IndyCar Series testing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Thursday afternoon.

Kimball was treated for a fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his right hand at MedCentral Hospital in Mansfield, Ohio, after being involved in an incident during the test. Kimball will be re-evaluated by an Indianapolis-based specialist on Friday.

07/26/12 We are getting unconfirmed reports that Chip Ganassi driver Charlie Kimball may have injured his hand in IndyCar testing at Mid-Ohio today.
Some NASCAR testing could return in 2013  Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said NASCAR also is talking to teams about adding testing [not just tire testing] in 2013. The governing body eliminated open testing a few years ago to keep the playing field level at a time when smaller teams couldn't afford to test as often as the big teams. But with the economy turning around and teams testing at non-sanctioned tracks anyway, Pemberton said there's a good chance NASCAR will schedule tests at a few sanctioned tracks.  ESPN
NASCAR looking at changes to qualifying?  UPDATE Here's further proof that the sport once accused of being a dictatorship that cared little about what its fans wanted has done a complete 180.

This is not your father's NASCAR, or even your grandfather's. It's definitely not Brian France's grandfather's NASCAR.

In the old days if NASCAR fans didn't like a NASCAR program like the Top 35 rule it was tough luck. But these days, spurred by an economic recession that still leaves empty seats at most NASCAR tracks, NASCAR is all ears to fan discontent. More ...

IndyCar eyeing Phoenix, Austin and Brasilia for 2013  UPDATE #4 Phoenix International Raceway won’t be on IndyCar’s 2013 schedule, but Bernard said Sunday that his goal remains 19 races. He said he has “weekly” conversations with Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage. “We continue to negotiate,” he said. ... IndyCar is exploring opportunities for a second Brazil race next year. The new target is the capital city of Brasilia, which is home to Vitor Meira. Porto Alegre was considered for this season, but a deal couldn’t be reached. IndyCar has twice raced in Sao Paulo in April. Indy Star

07/20/12 Absent a major sponsor unexpectedly stepping forward to help pay IndyCar's usual $1.5 million race fee, it's doubtful the series will be at Phoenix International Raceway in 2013. But series CEO Randy Bernard says he considers a 2014 event a "must" as part of the Avondale oval's 50th anniversary season.

As AR1.com has always told you, when in doubt follow the money.  Let's run the numbers:

$1.5 million Sanctioning Fee
$1.0 million Advertising Budget
$0.7 million Operating Cost
$3.2 million Total Cost to host the race

Without a race sponsor, the track would have to sell 64,000 tickets @ $50 each just to break even (less for every sponsor they can add).  If you think even 50,000 will pay to watch an IndyCar race at Phoenix, we have a bridge to sell you. More ...

Edmonton IndyCar race to be axed  UPDATE #2 The Edmonton Indy race remains popular with the public, was an artistic success Sunday, start to finish, and will return in 2013, the final year of its three-year contract with the City of Edmonton and the IZOD IndyCar Series.

But Octane Motorsports Events, the Montreal-based promoter, is seeking even more traction with the fans and especially the Edmonton corporate community to ensure the long-term survival of the event here.

“This is a major sporting event of international caliber, coming to Edmonton once a year, and not too many cities have the privilege to host an IZOD IndyCar Series race,” Francois Dumontier, the Octane CEO, said in a news release Sunday. “To build a strong event, maintain the global visibility and the economic fallout for the host city, and ensure its continuity, the attendance is key, as is the business community joining as sponsors or corporate hospitality customers.” More ...

IndyCar to change engine penalty?  IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Sunday the series will consider during the offseason changing the penalty currently levied on teams for unapproved engine changes.

IndyCar this season added Chevrolet and Lotus to the series, marking the first time in seven seasons Honda has manufacturer competition. To control costs - as an enticement for the new manufacturers - IndyCar instituted strict rules on engine changes.

An unapproved engine change currently costs a team 10 spots on the starting grid, and many have wondered if the penalty should instead be levied against the manufacturer. More ...

Red Bull under investigation use of an illegal engine map?  UPDATE German Grand Prix race stewards have decided to take no further action against Red Bull over torque map irregularities. The stewards stated that, while they did not accept all of Red Bull's arguments, there was no infringement of Article 5.5.3 of the technical regulations.

This means that Sebastian Vettel will be allowed to line up second on the grid for the race, with teammate Mark Webber eighth after a gearbox change.

The statement from the stewards read as follows: "The stewards received a report from the FIA technical delegate, along with specific ECU data from Red Bull Racing cars #1 and #2. The Stewards met with the team representatives and the representative of the engine supplier Renault. More ...

Hockenheim race promoter drowning in red ink  
The main section of the grandstand and even there the crowd was sparse
With two straights days at the Hockenheim circuit where the F1 teams are gathered for Sunday's German GP, word is that the race promoter will take a financial bloodbath this weekend.  With most fans staying away due to the weather the race promoter is losing out on ticket sales and concession sales.  Meanwhile he still has to pay Bernie Ecclestone (FOM) the high sanction fee and he gets not TV money and other advertising revenue.  With Nurburgring the latest to file for bankruptcy, will we see another F1 promoter going bankrupt soon?
Red Bull next to debut double-DRS - report  
Mark Webber in his Red Bull
(GMM)  Red Bull could be the next team with a 'double DRS' on board, the Spanish sports newspaper AS rumors.

After it emerged the car driven by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen was fitted with a Mercedes-like top speed boosting system on Friday, the team confirmed that it "worked as expected".

"We've seen encouraging signs from our latest prototype concept and although we won't race it here, it's likely to make another appearance during practice in Budapest," trackside boss Alan Permane said.

AS correspondent Manuel Franco at Hockenheim reported paddock rumors that Red Bull Racing, who share an engine partner with Lotus, could be the next team with a version of the so-called double-DRS.

Mercedes, FIA, yet to agree new Concorde?  
Mercedes balking at staying in F1?  Ecclestone says no, newspaper says yes
(GMM)  A major German daily has cast doubt on Bernie Ecclestone's claim that every team has now signed up for the 2013 Concorde Agreement.

The F1 chief executive said earlier this month that there is now "total agreement" with regards to the way forward in light of the sport's expiring commercial deal with the competing teams and the governing FIA.

"We are just talking to the lawyers ... 'why have you used this word, that word'.  Typical lawyers but everything's fine," said Ecclestone.

"Commercially it's done," he told the Daily Mail on July 6. More ...

Coca-Cola Could Replace Vodafone As Sponsor Of F1 McLaren Team  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh fired a blank on Wednesday when asked about rumors Coca-Cola could replace McLaren's title sponsor Vodafone.

With Vodafone reportedly reviewing its sponsorship of the famous British team, media sources have said the iconic drinks brand Coke is looking into entering the sport.

McLaren principal Whitmarsh was asked about the Vodafone and Coca-Cola speculation during a media teleconference on Wednesday.

"As you can imagine we don't talk about commercial discussions," he said. More ...

Ecclestone willing to forego sanction fee to save Nurburgring  F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has "reportedly offered to waive F1's usual race sanctioning fee" in '13 amid the Nurburgring's deepening financial crisis. The Rhein Zeitung reported that Ecclestone will get the racetrack grounds for free for 14 days. The Nurburgring Automotive GmbH, which is the track's operating company, said it had made clear in a "constructive meeting" with the state government that there is only "a small time window for the state's approval" of this proposal. Rhein Zeitung
IndyCar may go to green-white-checkered finishes  Green-white-checkered finishes will be given lengthy consideration during the off-season by Izod IndyCar Series officials.

IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield said Wednesday that the two-lap overtime format used in NASCAR will be a topic of conversation among series officials. However, he stopped short of saying the rule will be added in 2013.

"I know there will be a lot of time spent on this in the offseason," Barfield told USA TODAY Sports. "At this state, I don't know or have a feel for how that will turn out. I think it's become a more prevalent issue based on how close our races have been this year." More ...

Kovalainen, Alguersuari eye 2013 Sauber seat  
Kovalainen looking to move to better team?
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen and Jaime Alguersuari have emerged as possible candidates to move to Sauber next year.

Rumors indicate that one of the duo could replace Japanese Kamui Kobayashi in 2013.

Finland's Turun Sanomat claims that Peter Sauber regards Kovalainen, who is on the market after three seasons with the 2010 startup Caterham, as a potential Sauber driver. More ...

Michelin back to F1?  (GMM)  A German magazine is reporting that FIA president Jean Todt wants Michelin to consider returning to formula one.

Pirelli's three-year contract as the sport's official sole supplier ends next season, with boss Paul Hembery indicating that an extension is not guaranteed.

Replying to a direct question on Twitter about Pirelli's plans for F1 beyond 2013, Hembery said recently: "If they (F1) want us and if the economy stays sane, yes (we will stay)."

Michelin, however, has said previously that it would only consider coming back to F1 - where it competed with Bridgestone between 2001 and 2006 - if the sport ends its current single-supplier rule.

Liuzzi back to F1?  
Vitantonio Liuzzi
(GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi has warned the F1 world to watch closely the next moves in his career.

Despite having a contract, the 30-year-old Italian was dropped by Force India at the end of 2010, and forced to rescue his grand prix career at HRT.

But, again for 2012, he was replaced despite having a valid contract, and has since been racing in the new International Superstars series. More ...

Senna accepts trophy amid F1 exit rumors  
Senna gone after 2012
(GMM)  Standing out in formula one has rarely been more difficult than now, Bruno Senna has insisted.

The past winners of the prestigious Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini are a roll-call of long and successful grand prix careers.

Dating back to the mid-90s, Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton have been among the famous winners. More ...

Lewis Hamilton Hints at Marriage Plans  Lewis Hamilton hinted Sunday that he has plans to marry long-term girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger, but that the wedding bells are unlikely to sound soon.

Scherzinger denied that the pair were engaged in July 2011 following reported claims by her biological father that the pair were to marry.

When asked when they would finally tie the knot, the McLaren ace answered cryptically. More ...

Did An Energy Drink Cause Allmendinger's Woes?  Could something that millions of men and women drink every day -- be behind AJ Allmendinger’s positive drug test of last week?

Right now it appears that an energy drink *may*be the cause of the positive drug test that landed AJ out of his car and on the sidelines for a second week running.

Earlier this week AJ's long-time business manager Tara Reagan said that the driver's initial drug screen results might have been above the threshold for a stimulant, and speculation is that that stimulant might have been the result of ingesting an energy beverage before the race at Kentucky two weeks ago. More ...

Ducati forcing Hayden to switch to World Superbike?  Nicky Hayden has denied being in discussions over a switch to the Superbike World Championship with Ducati, and says he is determined to remain in the Italian firm's MotoGP line-up.
Ducati is known to be talking to Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow about a 2013 MotoGP deal, and with Valentino Rossi now looking more likely to stay on at Ducati, Hayden's future with the team is in doubt.

There had been rumors that Ducati was set to place the 30-year-old American in its Superbike program but Hayden dismissed this.

"I haven't thought about that. Everybody says I've spoken to Ducati about World Superbikes. It's never even been mentioned," he said. "It's a rumor people say like they know something, which makes me laugh, because it shows how much journalists really don't know." Autosport

F1 stepped nose to stay  (GMM)  F1 fans might need to get used to the unseemly sight of this year's 'stepped noses'.

Earlier this week, we reported FIA race director Charlie Whiting's quote that he is "aware of the dissatisfaction of the fans" about the questionable physical appearance of the field of 2012.

With the exception of McLaren and Marussia, every car on the grid this year features an odd 'step' in the nose profile; the result of a safety regulation compromise. More ...

Are Clint Bowyer and Dale Jr. Next on NASCAR's hit list?  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Since Amp Energy Drink sponsors NASCAR poster boy Dale Jr., I wonder if he tested  positive for a stimulant from his sponsor's drink before a race if they would handle it the same or would they sweep it under the rug to protect their #1 poster child?  Dale Murphy

Fuel in a Bottle
07/12/12 See, now this is why I wasn't that concerned over the AJ Allmendinger deal. Now we know (from his PR person, not from NASCAR) that the test results showed he was over the tolerance for a stimulant. Given that he has a sponsor who is -- surprise! -- a stimulant. Fuel in a Bottle lists the following ingredients at their website:

Taurine - an amino acid found naturally in meat, fish, and breast milk (just passing along what I found out from Mayo Clinic). It's thought to improve athletic performance. Up to 3,000 mg per day is considered safe, but the FIAB website doesn't say how much is in the bottle.

Malic Acid - found in sour or tart-tasting foods, when used as a supplement, it reduces muscle fatigue. It also plays a central role in the energy production rates of all cells in the body. More ...

Allmendinger's NASCAR career all but over?  Since news broke on Twitter before Saturday night’s race that A.J. Allmendinger was being replaced by Sam Hornish, the Dinger’s world has come apart. NASCAR announced he had failed a drug test, and Allmendinger has since requested the B sample be tested and admitted he tested positive for a stimulant. Penske has tabbed Hornish to again pilot the #22 Dodge this weekend at Loudon, but beyond that we don’ t know. If Allmendinger isn’t able to work this out with NASCAR, and is indeed out for an extended period of time, it is very likely that his career in NASCAR is all but over.

Before this season Allmendinger sought, and was granted his release from Richard Petty Motorsports to pursue the Penske opening. He was signed to replace Kurt Busch, but only to a one year deal. Dinger would serve as a stop gap for Penske until they could either find another driver, or Allmendinger flourished. More ...

FIA to reform driver penalty system  (GMM)  F1's governing body is looking to reform its current system of driver penalties, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

The report said the FIA has acknowledged that, for example, minor infractions on the track could often be penalized more appropriately.

One example is a driver infraction leading to a drive-through penalty, where perhaps a less-harsh five-second lap time delay might be a better option for the stewards to impose.

Hamilton considering Lotus  
Lewis Hamilton won't leave McLaren but the British F1 media like to start rumors in the hope of getting McLaren to re-sign him
Lotus have reportedly joined the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes on the list of teams which Lewis Hamilton could join next season.

The 27-year-old's contract with McLaren runs out at the end of the current campaign and it remains to be seen if he will stay with the team where his Formula One career started as they have struggled to supply him with a Championship-winning car in recent years.

Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull (that was before Mark Webber signed a new deal) have often been mentioned as possible destinations should he decide to quit Woking, but the Daily Mail has now thrown Lotus into the equation as well. More ...

Hinchcliffe to replace Danica on GoDaddy website  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Whether it was a groundswell of fan support or just clever marketing, IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe has replaced Danica Patrick on a key sponsor’s website.

Hinchcliffe is the athlete featured on the homepage of GoDaddy .com, the primary sponsor of both drivers.

Patrick has been with GoDaddy since joining Andretti Autosport in 2007. Hinchcliffe took Patrick’s place on the Indianapolis-based Izod IndyCar Series team during the offseason when Patrick moved to NASCAR.

Patrick played along Tuesday when asked about Go Daddy’s decision during an appearance at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of her Nationwide Series race July 28.

“Hey, if you like him up there, go ahead,” she said sarcastically of Hinchcliffe. “If you want me up there, you know, say so.”

If Patrick is the queen of auto racing. Hinchcliffe, 25, is the king of its social media. He and his marketing team have built a fan-friendly campaign tied to proclaiming the Toronto-area native “the Mayor of Hinchtown.” The push to get Hinchcliffe to take Patrick’s prominent spot on the website was known as “Hinch for Homepage.”

Hinchcliffe is having a breakout sophomore IndyCar season. He is fifth in the points standings through 10 of 15 races.

Patrick, 30, is ninth in the Nationwide standings, which counts only NASCAR drivers committed to that series. She has a pole and one top-10 finish in 16 races this season. IndyStar

05/18/12 After seven years of dominating the GoDaddy .com home page, spokeswoman and race car driver Danica Patrick has some competition. IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe (who is driving the Go Daddy car this year) is campaigning to be the new face of the home page.

He started by launching his own Hinch for Homepage Web campaign. Now, GoDaddy.com has opened up the campaign to the public in an online vote.

Hinchcliffe, who earned Rookie of the Year honors at last year's 500, is running in the top five of this season's IndyCar competition. Patrick has switched to NASCAR.

To cast your vote for the new face of the Web page, go to GoDaddy.com/Vote. Indy Star

Hornish angling for Allmendinger’s ride?  
Hornish angling for Allmendinger's ride
Sam Hornish, Jr. angling heavily to drive the No. 22 Dodge he rest of the season? The ink hasn’t even dried on the paperwork to test AJ Allmendinger’s “B” sample but Hornish is acting like the man’s been put on the street. While adamantly claiming “no disrespect to AJ,” in the next breath he’s pushing to saddle up in the No. 22 straight through November.

“This is definitely not the way that I would like to do it,” said the Indiana native to ESPN’s David Newton on the subject. “But at the end of the day, I feel like with the way things have been in racing lately, I feel like you take what you can get at this point and time.” More ...
Patrick Dempsey may race V8 Supercars  
Patrick Dempsey may race 'Down Under'
Heart-throb TV doctor Patrick Dempsey is set to arrive in Australia later this year to compete as one of the 28 internationals in the V8 Supercars Armor All Gold Coast 600 in October.

The Grey's Anatomy star known worldwide as "McDreamy", Dempsey is also a serious racing car driver having previously competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race and the Baja 1000 off-road race.

He is also a co-owner of the Vision Racing IndyCar Series team and current owner of Dempsey Racing.

Organizers of the Gold Coast event confirmed yesterday they are in talks with the actor and would welcome him to compete in the October race provided he meets the qualification requirements. More ...
Expanded Canadian schedule possible, just not Vancouver  UPDATE IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard favors another race in Canada in addition to current events in Toronto and Edmonton. The open-wheel series wants to build on the growing popularity of Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe and expand its calendar from 15 to 19 stops, but Bernard stopped short of naming Vancouver as a suitable site for good reason.

Logistics far outweigh the longing to lure the circuit back to the Lower Mainland and cities with either permanent or temporary race facilities — like Montreal and Trois-Rivieres, Que., respectively — make more immediate sense.

“I’m never going to rule an extra race out in Canada because I know some people would like to see that Triple Crown again,” said Bernard. “Those are things we’re taking into consideration.”

As much as the Vancouver race had a successful 15-year run on the Concord Pacific grounds, massive residential housing expansion surrounding the temporary street course coupled with a failing Canadian dollar and wavering corporate support ended the event in 2004 and an annual influx of $26 million into the local economy. More ...

NASCAR Military sponsorships could go away  UPDATE This rumor is updated to 'fact' with today's announcement.  Don't be surprised if they all go away.

05/18/12 The sponsorships of #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. [National Guard] and #39-Ryan Newman [U.S. Army] (as well as the Air Force deal with #43-Aric Almirola) could be in jeopardy as military sponsorships of motorsports have come into question in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment Thursday to the 2013 defense appropriations bill that would prohibit funding of sponsorships of professional sports or sporting events. The amendment, passed by a voice vote and sponsored by Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), states that: "None of the funds made available in this act may be used to sponsor professional or semiprofessional motorsports, fishing, wrestling or other sports." The bill still needs to be passed by the House and then the provision would have to make it through any negotiations with leaders from the Senate and its defense appropriations bill. Last year, McCollum introduced an amendment banning motorsports sponsorships on the House floor and it was voted down 281-148. Sporting News
Webber back on Ferrari's radar  UPDATE #8 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with today's announcement by Red Bull that Webber has been re-signed by them.

07/07/12 (GMM)  Having apparently opened the door to a Ferrari deal only 24 hours earlier, Mark Webber has now issued the strongest sign yet he is set to stay at Red Bull.

Bosses Christian Horner and Dr Helmut Marko have hinted they want to keep Webber, who is out of contract at the end of the year, alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2013.

But Australian Webber, 35, had admitted to having some "light" talks with rival teams, with the biggest rumor indicating a move alongside his friend Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.

On Saturday at Silverstone, however, the Monaco winner suggested that if Red Bull wants to keep him, he might not be wise to abandon a winning team. More ...

Overheard in Toronto - Sunday  Had some time with Randy Bernard on Sunday morning in Toronto and he updated us on a number of issues. 

On the issue of IndyCar possibly signing a new TV deal with SportsNet in Canada - Yes they are talking to Rogers.  It's not that they don't like TSN but they want more races on Terrestrial TV and all races live.  "We have had some great meetings with Rogers."

On the issue of the 2013 Schedule - Goal is for 19 races and for it to be done by September 1st.  He would not commit to the number of ovals - "We want ovals that can be financially successful.  We do not want to walk away from an oval with a black eye.  I think Gillian (Fontana Promoter) is doing some good things out in Fontana - we won't see 100,000 but I think it will be good"

On the issue of a third Canada race next year - I will never rule out a third race in Canada if it makes sense.  We would consider Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa or any city that it makes sense. More ...

Overheard in Toronto - Saturday  We heard that one of Dallara's new redesigned suspension wishbones failed after three laps on Tony Kanaan's KV Racing machine but further investigation showed that the wheel bearing failed and that led to the wishbone failing.  Question is why did the wheel bearing fail?

We spent a lot of time talking to team owners today to find why they REALLY do not want the new body kits.  Bottom line is money.  So we polled them, Suppose Chevy and Honda gave you the first set for free, would you be for or against them? More ...

Is NASCAR considering Sprint Cup for Montreal?  The NASCAR CEO Brian France was at the Montreal Formula 1 race a few weeks ago, rather than at Pocono, where his own sport was racing on new 215 mph asphalt. Why Montreal? Is there anything NASCAR-related in the works beyond the Nationwide race, or was here there sign a new Nationwide deal?
Pagenaud to re-sign with Sam Schmidt  IndyCar newcomer Simon Pagenaud is the hottest prospect for the upcoming free agent market, but a senior Honda official said Friday he's sure the Frenchman will remain with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports.

"Multiyear contract," said Roger Griffiths, technical director of Honda Performance Development. "Besides, he bleeds Hs (Hondas)."

Pagenaud's loyalty to Honda is believed to be similar to that of Dan Wheldon, who won two Indianapolis 500s and IndyCar's 2005 season title with the engine manufacturer.

Pagenaud said he leaves all contract talk to his manager, Derrick Walker, but he said his preference is to remain with Honda.

"I'm real close with those guys," the 2010 American Le Mans Series champion said. Indy Star

Overheard in Toronto - Friday  A decent turnout on Make-A-Wish Foundation Free Friday, but still pale in comparison to the CART days.......Spotted Italian Giorgio Pantano hanging out in the E.J. Viso pits again.  He's helping EJ Viso coach some young drivers and he is still hoping to someday land an IndyCar drive.

Still hearing good things about the Ft. Lauderdale race for next year.  We are expecting it to happen and we hear next year's Brazil race will happen around the same week as this year.

Justin Wilson had a day he would like to soon forget.  In the morning session his throttle stuck coming into the pits and he mowed down of few of his Dale Coyne Racing and Dragon Racing crew members.  He drove the car into the pit wall to try and stop it, but it bounced off and collected bodies.  Then later in the first practice he spun the car to avoid making contact with Alex Tagliani's car that had crashed.  In the afternoon session he was 2nd quick until late in the session when he tried too hard and crashed.  "It was totally my fault," said Wilson.  "I was trying to go too hard too soon and I overcooked the corner.  This is a day I would prefer to forget.  I will try to get a good night sleep and forget about it for tomorrow.  We also need a gear change for the morning," that Wilson thinks will make him faster.

All injured crew members have been released from the hospital.

Hearing that Newman/Haas Racing is still largely intact and hoping to put together a deal to return to racing.

Dario Franchitti appears fairly confident and stepped out of his car 10-min early in the 2nd practice and dared anyone to beat him.  They couldn't.

Road to Indy: Look for Star Mazda to introduce a new car in 2014 - the same year as Indy Lights.  We hear Mazda would like the two cars to have a 'similar' look.  The Indy Lights field is diminished to just 11 cars now and needs something to get it out of neutral.

Look for Beccy Gordon, sister of NASCAR team owner Robbie Gordon, and wife of IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, to race in this year's Pikes Peak Hillclimb driving an all-electric Mitsubishi i.

Body Kits: Probably won't happen for next year because the average fan can't tell the difference and at speed.  As was pointed out, run all the F1 cars unpainted and you can't tell one car from another, so why would it be any different for IndyCar.  Eventually the body kit makers would copy each other and they would all look alike.

Tagliani: "The last street course we went to was Detroit, it was our first race with Honda power and we qualified third, so I have good memories on what the car should feel like and we should not be too far off. Hopefully we can have a good car like we had in Detroit and have another great weekend.

"I think this year’s race is going to be just as exciting as last year's.  The composition of this track is what it is, so yeah there’s the push-to-pass that’s been added, I think you’ll see more passing, it will be tough to defend because we’ve been used to 12 horsepower, we expect a lot more than that. I don’t know the exact number, but I’ve been told it’s a minimum of 50 horsepower when you go from 1.5 to 1.6 boost, the rest is just track related. You have places to pass in Turn 8, you have places in Turn 3, and Turn 1 has always been more difficult other than on restarts, because you’re coming out of Turn 11 and it’s a pretty quick corner so it’s tough to stick your nose very close behind another car because of the loss of aero. But with the new aero package and the new chassis, the racing has been better everywhere. We’re not missing any passes, the action has been pretty amazing, so I think push-to-pass will just make it more, but the track is what it is."

To date, we have three grid penalties for Sunday’s race:

The No. 98 Team Barracuda-BHA car driven by Alex Tagliani also will incur a 10-grid spot penalty at Toronto as the team has chosen to install its fourth fresh engine instead of refitting its Indianapolis 500 practice/qualifying engine after meeting the mileage limit of its Indianapolis 500 race engine (Rule 15.5.4.b violation).

The No. 27 Andretti Autosport car driven by James Hinchcliffe will incur a 10-grid spot penalty at Toronto for an unapproved engine change (15.5.1)

The No. 78 Lotus-HVM car driven by Simona de Silvestro will receive a 10-grid spot penalty for changing out the engine before it reached its mileage limit defined in Rule 15.5.1.  Because the team fitted its sixth engine of the season for the Toronto race (the engine service agreement is five), in violation of Rule 15.1.4, it will receive a 10-grid spot penalty at the Edmonton Indy in two weeks.

Sections of the 1.75-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit for the Honda Indy Toronto have been repaved (short straight between Turns 2 and 3, and the apex of Turns 3, 7, 8 and 9).

"Instead of doing patch work, we took out larger sections of track for a more consistent surface," event vice president and general manager Charlie Johnstone said.

Helio Castroneves said the changes, especially transition areas of concrete to asphalt -- combined with the re-instituted push to pass -- will alter the car set-up and gearing.

Lotus debuted the first of its engine upgrades Friday. While it was difficult to judge the level of success, Simona De Silvestro was 20th among the 24 drivers.

Mark C. reporting from Toronto

Schumacher has 'unilateral option' to extend contract  
Michael Schumacher
(GMM) The extension of Michael Schumacher's contract at Mercedes is the seven time world champion's decision alone.

That is the claim of the German newspaper Die Welt.

"In (F1) industry circles it is said that Schumacher sets the direction," read the report.

"Apparently only he has the unilateral option to renew his contract. So the veteran is unlikely to be rushed into making a hasty decision." More ...

IZOD looking to get out of their IndyCar contract?  UPDATE #4 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today.  The Indianapolis Business Journal tweeted this morning that Randy Bernard expects IZOD to stay as the IndyCar title sponsor through 2015.

06/13/12 Izod expanded to China last year, and PVH executive Mike Kelly pushed Randy Bernard to take IndyCar there as a way to raise the brand’s awareness. IndyCar signed an agreement with a race promoter in Qingdao. Now that race, set for Aug. 19, has been cancelled, much like the future of IZOD’s sponsorship of IndyCar.  So the loss of the China race may cost IndyCar it's title sponsor.  Recall Roger Penske never wanted to go to China and spoke negatively about it.  Perhaps the mayor in China got wind of Penske's comments and told them to take a hike.

06/11/12 A reader asks, why is Izod looking to get out of their IndyCar contract early? Morgan Smith

Dear Morgan, The race in China isn’t Randy Bernard’s only problem. Izod, has slowed its promotion of the series this year and appears to be looking to get out of the six-year deal three years before it expires. Why? Well no one is talking on the record but recall we said when Anton George signed the 10 year TV deal with Versus that it was as of he wanted a death wish for IndyCar and that it would remain a noose around their neck. Izod are not stupid. They see those rating numbers and ask, what value are we getting for our money with those minuscule ratings? Anton George's destruction of the sport occurred at many levels. With their higher TV ratings maybe NASCAR has made Izod a deal they cannot refuse. Or maybe it was the small attention to China that has caused the race to be cancelled (soon) that was the final straw. Heck, there is not even a Chinese driver in IndyCar. What were they selling to the fans there? Chinese fans have no clue what IndyCar is. Did we also mention that the government might have felt as if they were being ripped off given the high sanctioning fee they were quoted compared to other IndyCar races. When in doubt, follow the money........ More ...
Mercedes could quit F1 over bribery scandal  UPDATE
Mercedes will be forced to quit F1 if Bernie is found guilty in bribery scandal
The Mercedes F1 team's owners have reportedly demanded a 'full investigation' into the F1 sale bribery case, which could result in the company leaving the sport.

Having been found guilty of taking nearly $44 million in bribes and failing to pay tax on the money, former banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was on Wednesday jailed for eight and a half years by a Munich court.

The charges related to his part in the sale of Formula One rights from German bank BayernLB to CVC, in which he allegedly received cash bribes from Bernie Ecclestone.

And although Ecclestone faces no charges and denies having bribed Gribkowsky, the Daimler Group have reportedly demand an investigation into the events. More ...

Kovalainen could leave Caterham, opening door for Rossi  
Heikki Kovalainen - As we rumored previously, neither Caterham driver has a signed contract for next year, which could open the door for American Alexander Rossi.
Heikki Kovalainen has refused to rule out leaving Caterham at the end of the season if a seat in a quicker car becomes available.

The Finn has previous experience of a front-running car, having driven for Renault in 2007 when Fernando Alonso moved to McLaren before replacing the Spaniard once again at McLaren the following season.

He secured his only F1 victory to date in 2008 at the Hungarian Grand Prix with the Woking-based team, but was replaced by Jenson Button ahead of the 2010 season and joined the newly formed Lotus Racing team (now Caterham).

His performances for the F1 new boys have won Kovalainen many admirers with some now tipping him for a move back to a leading contender. More ...

McLaren to lose Vodafone backing?  
Will Vodafone drop its McLaren sponsorship?
Vodafone is reviewing its global sports and events sponsorships including its longstanding association with teams at the Formula One racing championship according to the Financial Times. The title sponsorship of the McLaren Formula One team is the only major global sporting right held by Vodafone.

The telecoms company is one of the most high-profile brands at the races since the forced departure of tobacco companies, but the review will probably raise questions about its continued involvement.

Vodafone renewed its sponsorship deal with McLaren in 2010 but this expires at the end of the 2013 racing season, which means that the telecoms group needs to take a decision about whether to extend it again.

One person familiar with the process said that Vodafone’s sponsorship cost “tens of millions of pounds” every year, and that such high costs needed to be evaluated in the more difficult financial climate that has hit mobile phone businesses in many markets in Europe. More at FT.com

IndyCar/SMI relationship going down the tubes?  From Bruton Smith on twitter - The relationship with IndyCar is strained because the leaders listen to the drivers and owners too much, which is probably true. He also goes onto say that he doesn't care if IndyCar comes back to Texas (or Sonoma?) and says Gossage probably doesn't care either. Not only that but he says IndyCar needs new leadership and cars (didn't they just get new cars?).
NASCAR to throw more fake caution flags  
Bruton Smith advocates lots of fake cautions
Losing fans at an alarming rate, rumor has it that NASCAR is considering throwing fake caution flags in races to artificially make their boring races more exciting. Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith wants more caution flags thrown during Sprint Cup races and advocated Saturday for cautions specifically thrown to bunch up the field.

Smith’s company owns five 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte, Kentucky, Las Vegas, Texas) as well as the half-mile Bristol, 1-mile New Hampshire and the Sonoma road course. It is at the intermediate tracks where NASCAR has faced its biggest challenge to produce exciting racing, with the sanctioning body having changed the rules already twice this year to increase competition.  There were many empty seats at Kentucky Saturday night for the Cup race after so much interest the year before (inaugural race). Bruton is losing money, correction, Bruton is making less millions than he otherwise could, and he doesn't like that. More ...
What's with Dodge winning?  A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I am a firm believer that everything happens in NASCAR for a reason.  What's with Dodge winning poles and races rather frequently now?  Is NASCAR trying to give Dodge some PR so they don't leave the series?  Are they turning their head in the inspection line?  I remember when Dodge first came into NASCAR - first race of year and both Dodges were on the front row for the Daytona 500 as a thank you for coming into the series (must have been done with their computer generating grid computer used by Timing & Scoring that awarded them the pole).  When the green flag dropped both cars made a bee-line to the back of the field.  What happened to all that speed?  Oh but by locking up the front row they got a lot of great PR for coming into the series.  Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles

Dear Mordichai, By the grace of God things happen for the good of the sport in NASCAR.  Logano needed a win recently to keep his job, he got it.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed a win after going winless for four years and he got it.  The Dodges need wins now, they are getting them. Jimmie Johnson hadn't won a pole since 2010, he got one.  Danica Patrick needed some positive PR and she got it (won a pole). They pray to God before every race in NASCAR and week-in and week-out things just work out for the best of the sport or a team or manufacturer that needs help.  They truly are God's chosen series.  Mark C.

IndyCar in Chicago? Why not?  UPDATE A proposal for an IndyCar race through the streets of Chicago has hit the marbles at City Hall, crashing before it could get started. Whether it has any hope of getting back on track is unclear.

The ambitious plan to stage a Chicago Grand Prix around Grant Park next summer was put forth by Deerfield-based Specialized Marketing Group (TSMGI), an event management firm that has been awarded race ownership and promotional rights for a Chicago race by IndyCar.

The 20-page prospectus obtained by the Tribune broadly outlined TSMGI's plans for a "Festival of Speed" culminating with an IndyCar race on July 7, 2013, a Sunday. A highlight of the 2.4-mile course — which would run along parts of Columbus Drive and Michigan Avenue, among other streets — is a long straight-away along southbound Lake Shore Drive past Buckingham Fountain. More ...

IndyCar teams tired of being fleeced by Dallara  According to this speedtv.com article, IndyCar team owners are tired of being overcharged for replacement parts by Dallara and they are not going to take it anymore. And after months of little to no progress being made, a more solution-minded dialogue has slowly started to build.

But with patience in the paddock beginning to wear thin, and according to multiple sources, owners are willing to solve the problem on their own if the series fails to bring costs down in a timely manner.

After detailing the cost overages for the series at Long Beach in April, owners met with the series at Iowa for their latest round of discussions and held firm to their call for a 40 percent reduction. More ...

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