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DATE News (chronologically)

CVC to sell F1, replace Ecclestone?
(GMM) CVC Capital Partners, the majority owner of formula one's commercial rights, has denied it plans to sell up or replace Bernie Ecclestone as chief executive.

The rumours have been swilling in F1 circles for some time, but they gained new momentum when FIA president Max Mosley said recently CVC would be "tempted" if a sovereign wealth fund made a "huge" offer.

"I suspect it would be getting to the stage where Bernie is replaced," the Briton added. "If someone wanted to buy it, the whole business depends on a man who is 78 years old."

In a short statement issued to the media at the Hungaroring on Saturday, CVC played down the speculation.

"We have no plans to sell our stake in formula one," it reads. "We see our investment as long term and we are pleased with its performance to date.

CVC also said it has "no plans" to replace Ecclestone because "we are delighted with the results of the business under his management".


Rosberg to BMW or McLaren, Kubica to Ferrari, Heikki to Renault UPDATE #5 See this Hot News item where Nico Rosberg has clarified that he will stay with the Williams team in 2009.

07/17/08 (GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday played down reports that his McLaren tenure could end at the conclusion of the 2008 season.

This year is only the 26-year-old's first season with the Mercedes-powered team.

But speculation this week, spurred on by comments made by Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg's manager Willi Weber, suggested he may be part of a seat reshuffle for 2009, involving Nico Rosberg moving up to McLaren.

Weber suggested Kovalainen would in 2009 return to Renault, with whom he made his grand prix debut last year.

"Willi Weber has nothing to do with my management," Kovalainen made clear on Thursday, on the eve of the German grand prix.

"I don't think he knows anything about my contract situation.  All I can say is I am happy with my situation and would like to remain (at McLaren) for a long time," he added.

07/16/08 (GMM)  Willi Weber, most famous for being Michael Schumacher's long time formula one manager, has made a bold prediction about the next move for another highly rated German driver.

The 66-year-old, who currently handles the career of Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg, reckons Nico Rosberg - who races for the Oxfordshire based British team - will be bound for McLaren at the end of 2008.

Rosberg, 23, is under contract to Williams for 2009, but currently he is refusing to say he will definitely still be driving for the Toyota-powered outfit this time next year.

Weber told Sport Bild: "He has a clause in his contract that Williams can surely not fulfill."

Weber claims that Rosberg will be free to leave Williams if the team fails to finish fourth or better in the 2008 constructors' championship.  The team currently lies sixth, nine points behind fourth placed Toyota.

Willi Weber continued: "Rosberg will replace Heikki Kovalainen, who will change back to Renault."

07/16/08 (GMM)  Nico Rosberg says he wants to win a world championship with Williams, but also does not rule out switching to another team to achieve his ultimate F1 goal.

The German driver, who turned 23 recently, is set to remain at the British team in 2009, but interestingly points out that contracts are no guarantee about the future.

Asked by Germany's Sport Bild if he is 100 per cent sure he will be driving the FW31 next year, Rosberg replied: "I have a contract."

Pressed further, he explained: "It's like in football; take (German player Lukas) Podolski.

"He signed a contract for next season at FC Bayern -- but will he be there?"

Nico Rosberg
Rosberg was strongly linked with Fernando Alonso's vacated McLaren seat for 2008, but ultimately signed a lucrative extension to remain at Williams through to the end of 2009.

Sport Bild asked the driver about the possibility that other teams will again enquire about buying out his contract.

"The first thing would be Frank Williams," Rosberg explained.  "I would only begin to think about it if Frank agreed to release me."

He said his "100 per cent" objective is to become world champion.

"If I can't do it with Williams, I just have to go to a team where it is possible."

Rosberg admits he has been disappointed by Grove based Williams' trajectory in the opening half of this season.

"At the start we were looking really good, but we were not able to have the development progress of the top teams," he said.

"I know that next year I will not win the title with Williams, but I do hope for a big step forward.

"With the new regulations, particularly the cutting back of the aerodynamics, it means everyone starts from scratch basically.  Without that, I would have my doubts," he said.

Sport Bild said it sounded as if Rosberg sees 2009 as a final chance for Williams to turn around its form.

"You could say that," the German admitted.

07/07/08 (GMM)  Robert Kubica is still giving nothing away about the identity of the team he will race for in the future.

The 23-year-old Pole, who has been among 2008's outstanding performers and is just two points shy of the championship lead, currently drives for BMW-Sauber.

It is believed the Swiss based German team has a contract option on Kubica for 2009, but boss Mario Theissen does not intend to talk about next year's lineup until an announcement in August.

Read more & Comment...

Unfair NASCAR rule change will motivate Toyota to destroy Chevy, Ford and Dodge UPDATE #2 Just minutes before the start of Sunday's Allstate 400, Lee White was standing at the vast bay window overlooking pit road from four stories up, the warm summer sunshine bathing what would soon become a scene of chaos.  But was White, Toyota's racing boss, worried about the looming tire fiasco in one of NASCAR's biggest races?  Nope. That was out of his hands.

What he was jawing about was something quite different -- NASCAR's newest rules change (in a season that has seen almost none) that is aimed at slowing the Toyota charge on the Nationwide series. Toyota is dominating that racing.

Toyota has won 15 of the year's 22 Nationwide races, in an awesome display. "Hard work," White would describe it. "More horsepower," his beleaguered rivals would complain.

"I'm not complaining, I'm upset," White said. "They penalized us from best to worst.  There is zero reason now for Chevrolet to want to run the R07 (their Cup engine) on the Nationwide tour. We were mandated to bring this engine (Cup engine) into Nationwide. We were told ‘This is the menu you have to meet,' not a plus or minus. And our engine is exactly to their specs."

[Editor's Note: Welcome to NASCAR Lee White, oh and be prepared for more cuts in the future.]

07/27/08 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  With Toyota pissed off at NASCAR for the rule change Kyle Busch went out Saturday night and led 197 of 200 laps in his Toyota for a dominating Nationwide Series race win, destroying Chevy, Ford and Dodge in the process.

07/26/08 Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Dave Rogers said Saturday that “somebody has kicked a sleeping dog” with NASCAR’s rule change restricting Toyota’s horsepower in the Nationwide Series.

NASCAR adjusted the size of the four openings in the tapered spacer of Nationwide Camry engines earlier this week, a rule change that many believe is aimed at Rogers’ No. 20 team.

Toyota has won 14 of the 21 races in the Nationwide Series this year, with JGR’s No. 20 winning nine among four drivers.

The change took 15 to 20 horsepower out of Toyota’s engines, sources said, and Rogers said there will be an adjustment period with his cars.

“We’ve got a lot to learn,” Rogers said. “But that’s our goal. Somebody has kicked a sleeping dog. If you look at it, our Cup guys are doing pretty good on Sunday. That’s our big brother. And any time in life you pick on little brother, big brother gets mad.

“Big brother is mad right now. And that’s usually good for us. We’ve just got to be smart and use that anger in a positive way. If we can do that, we can win more races.” 

Read more & Comment...

V8 Supercars will step in if Gold Coast Indy collapses
V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane said the championship would willingly step in if asked to salvage the Gold Coast's big annual motorsport weekend.

But Cochrane said he interpreted the omission yesterday of the Gold Coast from a provisional 2009 calendar of the Indy Racing League as nothing more than "argy bargy" between the IRL and the Queensland organizers of the Gold Coast Indy 300.

Gold Coast Indy 300 general manager Greg Hooten said talks with the IRL about including a Surfers Paradise event in the 2009 calendar were ongoing and would certainly continue at this year's event from October 23-26.

"We knew the calendar was going to be released and I was aware that we were not going to be on it for 2009," Hooten said.

"The intention has always been that we will start negotiations about 2009 dates when the IRL come out here in October."

Considered one of the blockbuster events of the series since Surfers Paradise first held a race in 1991, the IRL Wednesday released a draft of its calendar that will conclude at the Homestead oval circuit in Florida on October 11.

The Queensland Government has always said that it would not give up its October date because it fitted in well with a lull in Gold Coast tourism. 

Read more & Comment...

McLaren to keep Kovalainen as Hamilton's #2 UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen is likely to spend many years at McLaren if he stays willing to be the team's number two driver.

That is the opinion of double world champion Fernando Alonso, who fled the British team after just one season alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

His replacement this year was Kovalainen, the 26-year-old Finn who is 30 points behind championship leader Hamilton in the drivers' standings.

On Thursday in Budapest, McLaren confirmed that Kovalainen will remain Hamilton's teammate in 2009.

"If Kovalainen continues to do what McLaren wants him to do, surely they will keep him for many more years as well," Alonso told the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco.

Alonso, 27, said he believes Kovalainen is playing a supporting role to lead driver Hamilton.

"I cannot think of a race in which Heikki had the better race strategy compared with Hamilton.  We saw in Hockenheim that he had to let his teammate past.

"I wouldn't want to be playing that role.  I would rather be fifth or sixth with Renault than fourth of fifth with McLaren," he added.

Kovalainen on Thursday denied his role is to support Hamilton.

"I am trying to do the maximum for myself and I am not helping any other drivers, that's for sure," he said.

"I have no instructions from the team.  I have the same car, the same opportunity and I am just working towards improving the pace and the results," the Finn added.

07/31/08 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - see Hot News article.

07/29/08 (GMM)  Norbert Haug, the racing boss of Mercedes-Benz, has hinted once again that formula one partner McLaren is not looking to replace Heikki Kovalainen ahead of the 2009 season.

Despite the Finnish newcomer's difficult start to his career at the team this year, Haug said a couple of weeks ago that Kovalainen is a "star in the making".

But Willi Weber, the manager of Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg, recently stirred up speculation about the future of McLaren's lineup by suggesting that Nico Rosberg might soon be making his way to the Woking based team.

"It can be assumed that Kovalainen is staying with us," Haug is quoted as saying by the German press agency dpa.

However, the Mercedes chief stopped short of saying McLaren's 2009 driver lineup is already set in stone.

The German said the outfit does not feel under "pressure" to confirm its plans.  "There is no deadline," Haug added.


Hendrick to sack Mears for Martin in '09 UPDATE #2 Casey Mears who will be leaving the No. 5 Hendrick Chevy at the end of 2008 may be looking at the IndyCar Series according to rumors.  Appearing at a media event at California Speedway Wednesday Mears opened the door to a possible move to an open wheel series.

"I'm not glued to this type of car," Mears said. "Racing is really important to me."

Mears ran three IRL events at the start of the 2001 season before eventually finishing up the season by filling in for injured ChampCar driver Alex Zanardi, posting one top-10 finish in four starts.

Mears has 5 CART starts, with one top-5 finish. He has 3 IRL starts, with no top-5 finishes.

As for his future, Mears seemed to say Wednesday that things are on the right track no matter where he ends up.

"There's lots of interest," said Mears about his future status. "I'm pretty happy with the way things are going. I think we'll get to something soon."

06/31/08 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with the official announcement weeks ago.

06/23/08 Casey Mears and Mark Martin look to be on the move, and their futures might be linked. Mears' future with Hendrick Motorsports appears in jeopardy, ESPN.com has learned. Although Mears has one year left on his contract, team owner Rick Hendrick would not commit to the driver of the No. 5 car beyond this season.

"I'm committed to him right now," Hendrick said on Sunday at Infineon Raceway. "I'm committed to him making that car run better right now."

Earlier on Sunday, sources told ESPN.com that Martin would leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. Later, ESPN.com learned that he would replace Mears, making one last full-time run at a championship.

John Story, the vice president of motorsports at DEI, said there are plans to put Aric Almirola into a full-time ride next season. Almirola currently is splitting the No. 8 with the 49-year-old Martin. He indicated the full-time ride would be in the No. 8.

"Aric is ready for a full-time ride," Story said. "There's a lot of interest in sponsorship for Aric. He's a bright young guy and a hell of a race car driver.

Mears has been confident in his return to HMS over the past couple of months. There was doubt in his voice on Sunday, before he went out and finished fifth at Infineon, his best showing this season.

"I don't know yet," he said when asked if he would return in 2009. "Obviously, we haven't had a good season. I think anything could happen. Right now, I don't really have anything good to talk about." ESPN.com


Rumors about Paul Newman's health won't go away UPDATE #9 Once tall in the saddle, Paul Newman now needs a wheelchair after months of grueling treatment to allegedly combat cancer.  Looking increasingly frail, the film actor, who starred as Butch Cassidy alongside Robert Redford’s Sundance Kid, is a shadow of his former self.  He looked pale and thin, his clothes almost hanging off him.  More (including photos) at dailymail.co.uk

07/15/08 If you have not reached out to Paul Newman with well wishes, now might be a good time to do so.

06/11/08 A longtime neighbor and business partner of Paul Newman has told The Associated Press the 83-year-old actor is battling cancer.

Writer A.E. Hotchner, who partnered with Newman to start Newman's Own salad dressing company in the 1980s, says Newman told him about the disease about 18 months ago. He doesn't say what kind of cancer.

Concerns about Newman's health have been circulating for months. Last month, officials at Connecticut's Westport Country Playhouse cited unspecified health issues when they announced that Newman wouldn't direct "Of Mice and Men" this fall.

In response to reports of Newman's illness, the actor's spokesman issued a statement Tuesday saying that Newman is "doing nicely." The statement doesn't specifically address cancer.

06/09/08 Film legend Paul Newman is suffering from lung cancer, according to U.S. magazine reports.

The Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid actor, 83, has been suffering from ill health for many months and in May was forced to pull out of directing a production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men.

Two U.S. publications quote friends of the actor saying the former chain-smoker (looks like those cancer sticks, err....cigarettes got him too!) has been diagnosed with lung cancer at the New York’s Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a few hours drive from his Connecticut home, where he lives his wife Joanne Woodward, a friend of the actor told the National Enquirer: 'We have known he is seriously ill for several weeks but his loved ones are being very protective and saying very little.'

Newman has denied previous cancer reports in March after he missed a fundraising event for his Hole in The Wall Gang children's charity.

The same month, he cancelled an appearance on U.S. talk show The Late Show With David Letterman.

His spokesperson played down his hospitalization, insisting Newman was 'being treated for athlete’s foot and hair loss'.

A cancer patient was quoted in the New York Post newspaper in March that he had seen Newman at the oncologists regularly.

He said: 'He's been there a lot, he's even worked out in the waiting room, doing the squat thrusts. Last time, he was in there he had a long beard. (His wife) Joanne Woodward is there waiting for him and being very sweet with the assistants.'

Newman retired from acting last year, blaming his failing memory. DailyMail.co.uk

05/24/08 Citing unspecified health issues, Paul Newman will not direct the fall production of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" at Connecticut's Westport Country Playhouse, the theater's artistic directors announced Friday.  Newman, 83, will be replaced by Mark Lamos, a former artistic director of Hartford Stage, who has directed extensively across the country and in New York.

05/11/08 Well it appears those rumors about Newman's health are still questionable.  Paul Newman, a longtime critic of Tony George and the Indy Racing League, returned to the Indy 500 on Saturday for the first time since 1995. The co-owner of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing said the unification of open-wheel racing was long overdue and he is looking forward to renewing old rivalries.

"It's tragic it didn't happen sooner, but it's good that at least it happened when it did," he said in a news release from the team. "It's wonderful to be running against Roger (Penske) and (Bobby) Rahal and Michael (Andretti) and all those guys. It's comfortable."

George took a big step toward getting back on Newman's good side Saturday by announcing a charitable partnership with the Hole in the Wall camps founded by the legendary actor in 1988. Indy Star

03/30/08 Reports of movie legend PAUL NEWMAN's cancer battle are refusing to go away, even after his spokesperson recently insisted that hospital visits were nothing serious. The 83-year-old star missed a fundraising event for his Hole in The Wall Gang children's charity at the beginning of March (08), fuelling speculation he's undergoing cancer surgery. Newman has insisted he was simply being treated for "athlete's foot and hairloss," but a patient of an unnamed New York state oncologist told the New York Post newspaper that the actor had been a regular visitor to their mutual doctor. And now, U.S. tabloid the Globe claims Newman has just months to live in a new world exclusive expose. The publication reports friends and neighbors haven't seen Newman for months and some fear he'll be dead before the end of 2008. And a report on local news website WestportNow.com, which covers the Connecticut area where the actor and his wife Joanne Woodward live, claims Newman was recently rushed to hospital by ambulance. Those close to the Color of Money star insist his most recent hospital stay was prompted by "back troubles". The Globe reports Newman's visits to his oncologist are kept top secret because the medic's clinic is located on the first floor of a residential high-rise building, and only those with appointments can get past door security. One cancer patient, who has seen Newman at the top secret clinic, tells the publication, "Paul doesn't openly talk much when he's in the doctor's waiting room. He just stares down at his hands."  ContactMusic.com

02/06/08 More proof that Paul Newman is just fine comes from this Playbill article saying he will be directing a play.

01/26/08 Extra is reporting that silver screen legend Paul Newman has not undergone a secret surgery to save him from cancer.

The actor's rep, Warren Cowan, tells Extra that he spoke with Newman, who said "I'm being treated for athlete's foot and hair loss... maybe the doctors know something that I don't."

The tabloid, The Enquirer, recently published a report stating the 83-year old actor was undergoing a secret operation to save his life after being diagnosed with cancer.

We're happy to clear this matter up for you Paul!

Paul Newman
01/24/08 Legendary actor and Champ Car owner Paul Newman has undergone surgery to save his life - after being diagnosed with cancer.  The screen star reportedly entered a New York hospital for the secret operation.  Everything went well but Newman, 83, is showing no signs of slowing down and remains very involved in his passion for car racing.

He is fit enough to go out and has been seen outside his home in Westport, Connecticut, where his neighbors say he looks well.  However, an insider close to the star said that he recently checked into a New York hospital for serious surgery "related to cancer" which left him convalescing for three weeks.

"He initially was having trouble breathing and a hard time walking.  After Thanksgiving, his family became concerned and took him to see a New York specialist. He was admitted right away into the hospital where he underwent surgery.  He's bounced back now but he's not a well man and people in his company are trying to keep this very quiet." He added.

An observer at Newman's restaurant added: "Paul does look frail and his thinning hair has gone nearly white. But he does seem feisty for a man of his advanced years.  After exchanging small talk with some employees he and Joanne got into matching steel-grey SUV's to follow one another home.  Before Paul left he played speed racer and gunned it for a couple of laps around the parking lot." Daily Mail


If no Australia race Kalkhoven to pull team from IRL UPDATE Dear AutoRacing1.com, Is the Australia race really in jeopardy going forward?  It has always been such a huge success.  Betty Forde

Dear Betty, We fully expect a new deal between IndyCar and the Surfers race will be announced before or during the race weekend in October.  At issue is money and an acceptable date.  Bottom line, the IRL would never have moved the Motegi date from the Spring to September if it had no intention of adding Surfers the week after.  Should the IRL drop Surfers, the A1GP will move right in and IndyCar will never return to Australia.  Mark C.

07/30/08 Australia, a cornerstone of CART/Champ Car since 1991 which draws upwards of 225,000 for three days, is not in the lineup at this time and the ramifications could cost IndyCar one of its teams.

“I told Tony (George) several times that Australia was critical for our sponsorship and, without that sponsorship, we had problems,” said Kevin Kalkhoven, the former co-owner of Champ Car who fields a two-car IndyCar effort with Jimmy Vasser and is supported by Aussie Craig Gore.

“Without Surfers Paradise, we are going to have a problem.”

A couple hours before the schedule announcement, the IRL issued a release stating that it would be going to Surfers Paradise Oct. 23-26 this year for a non-points exhibition race.

According to Angstadt, Australia was offered two dates for 2009 (early and late) with the goal of running Motegi, Japan on the same trip. Japan has moved from April to Sept. 19 next season, but evidently there is a national rugby championship clashing with the proposed fall date for Surfers. Still, it hasn’t totally been ruled out for 2009.

“We are keeping slots open for them and we are still in active conversations,” said Angstadt. “We’re hopeful it can be announced, but the ball is in their court.” More at SPEEDTV.com


Why did the IRL not pick up Atlantic Series?
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Why didn't the IRL pick up the Atlantic Series from Champ Car?  it would make a lot more sense that being sanctioned by IMSA where it will die a slow death.  David Hauser

Dear David, We hear it was an ownership issue between the IRL and Atlantic Series owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe.  We hear Tony wanted to own the Atlantic series and not pay anything for it.

Atlantic is not that much in the spotlight since the demise of Champ Car, nevertheless, it is interesting to check the competitiveness of the series, cars and particularly competitors. At Edmonton, 7 Atlantic drivers were faster than Marty Roth's IndyCar during the race.  At Putnam Park, a 1.76 mile test track near Indianapolis, the Indy Lights cars were 4 to 5 seconds slower than the Atlantics.  Perhaps the Atlantic cars are too fast for the IRL, where would they fit into their ladder system?

Atlantic is still the best racing ground to form young talented professional drivers looking to get hired at the top of the motorsports rank and IRL team principals will still have to seriously look at these drivers as their next hire.  Mark C.


Chrysler in trouble? UPDATE More evidence Chrysler is in trouble - Chrysler LLC is suspending its tuition-assistance program that has helped salaried workers pay for higher education, the Free Press has learned.  "Considering current economic conditions, and consistent with our continuous actions to improve our business and return to profitability, we have had to make the difficult decision to indefinitely suspend the tuition-assistance programs for all salary" non-bargaining-unit employees, a message to white-collar workers said.  Max Gates, a Chrysler spokesman, confirmed the announcement was made late Tuesday.  Workers already in classes or already approved for classes will get their reimbursements, Gates said. 

But workers who are midway through a degree program will have to figure out another way to pay if they want to complete the program.

"There will be no new course work approved," Gates said.

Gates said the company hopes the program will be reinstated, but "if and when, of course, is still to be determined."

Chrysler isn't the first company to cut its tuition program. Ford Motor Co. has done the same. Detroit Free Press

07/21/08 The owners of Chrysler, that also own money bleeding GMAC, also own a large chunk of Mervyn's department stores. In today’s Wall Street Journal it says that Mervyn's is about to go Chapter 11.  Cerberus appears to have a great deal of losers that will hurt their ability to fund the revival of Chrysler.


A Team Canada in the works?
One of the Platinum sponsors of the Edmonton race mentioned that if Toronto is back on the schedule next year, they are planning on upping their involvement substantially.  The rep coined the phrase "Team Canada"  He said it might be based on a smaller version of Players involvement with CART.  Maybe a 2 Canadian driver team?


Potential IRL TV partners want Indy only UPDATE The IRL is negotiating for a new television package, and it’s not going well, according to sources with knowledge of the dealings. IRL’s current deal with ABC/ESPN runs through 2009.

Officials for ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports have told IRL officials they are interested in the Indianapolis 500, but little else concerning the open-wheel series. ABC/ESPN and Fox officials have told IRL officials they will not pay a rights fee anywhere near the $10 million annually ABC/ESPN currently pays, according to motorsports insiders.

Despite unification with Champ Car, IRL race telecasts have seen no bump in advertising revenue, and ABC/ESPN officials said they continue to lose money on the deal. ESPN has suggested a revenue-sharing model, but the IRL has shown little interest in that.

IRL officials are still trying to put together a package with ABC/ESPN or Fox that includes the Indianapolis 500 and at least four or five other races. That could force IRL officials to buy time for their other 12 or 13 races, or let them go untelevised, which would be a marketing disaster.  IBJ.com

07/28/08 Conventional wisdom was that a unified open-wheel racing series would result in a more valuable media property. But five months after the IRL and Champ Car joined together, the series is seeing what has been its biggest asset — media rights — struggling to maintain value.

Both incumbent partner ABC/ESPN and suitor Fox Sports have told the circuit that they are interested in broadcasting only the Indianapolis 500. But the IRL is trying to sell a package that includes at least four other races for broadcast as well.

ESPN and Fox also have told the IRL that they would not pay the same rights fee that the IRL now gets from the Disney companies, about $10 million a year.

ESPN holds the rights for next year, but has given the IRL the green light to shop them. ESPN executives say they lose money on the deal, which has ABC broadcasting six races in addition to the Indianapolis 500, with the rest of the 17-race series going to ESPN or ESPN2.

ESPN has been pitching the IRL on a different model, possibly based on revenue sharing. So far, the IRL is not interested in such an arrangement.

While Fox has had some discussions with the series, Versus has shown the most interest in obtaining a package, which would not include the marquee races, according to several sources. Sports Business Journal


Rome, Italy team to enter Superleague UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement.

07/30/08 Rumor has it that the club of the AS Rome soccer will officially enter the Superleague. The driver is rumored to be Giancarlo Fisichella.


Overheard at Mid-Ohio - 4 (2009 IndyCar Schedule) UPDATE #2 See Hot News page for official schedule to be announced today.

07/29/08 The 2009 schedule to be announced tomorrow is now rumored to look like:

Apr 05 St. Petersburg 1.78 Mile Street
Apr 12 Long Beach 1.97 Mile Street
Apr 19 <--Sonoma could move here or be dropped--|
Apr 26 Kansas City  1.5 M Oval..................|
May 24 Indianapolis, IN 2.5 mile Oval.......... |
May 31 West Allis, WI  1.032 Mile Oval......... |
Jun 6  Ft Worth, TX (Sat. Nite)................ |
Jun 14 Newton, IA 0.875 Mile Oval.............. |
Jun 27 Richmond, VA (Sat. Night)............... |
Jul 5  Watkins Glen 3.37 Mile RC............... |
TBD    Lexington, OH 2.258 Mile RC............. |
TBD    Toronto, CN 1.721 Mile Street........... |
TBD    Edmonton CN 1.96 Mi Airport............. |
TBD    Sparta, KY (Sat Nite) 1.5 Mile Oval......|
TBD    Sonoma, CA RC  --------------------------
Sep 06 Detroit, MI 2.096 Mi. RC
Sep 13 Joliet, Ill. 1.5 Mile Oval
Sep 27 Motegi, Japan Sat 1.549 Oval
Oct 04 Queensland, Au 2.795 Mi Street 
Oct 11 Homestead-Miami 1.5 Mile oval

07/19/08 Look for the ALMS to expand their schedule in 2009 by one race to 12............IMSA's Tim Mayer has visited the NJ Motorsports Park several times, but we bet ALMS is probably holding out to see how Grand-Am does there this year on Labor Day weekend first.......We hear that IZOD has two people working full bore to design new IRL apparel for 2009.  They plan significant activation around Ryan Hunter-Reay and the series.......Subway is in pole position to become the series title sponsor starting in 2009 with the series renamed to the Subway IndyCar World Series.  Did you know that Subway is now the largest fast-food restaurant chain in the world with 29,000 stores, bigger than even McDonald's.......Now hearing that rather than move the Australia race to the spring, the Motegi race may move to September, two weeks after Chicago, but Bernie Ecclestone wants the race at least 3 weeks prior to his Fuji F1 race on October 11, 2009.  That would mean that Motegi would have to be run on Saturday September 19th and would force the Chicago race onto Labor Day weekend.  That in turn would push Detroit to the week before and require Sonoma to move to the spring, which quite honestly, is a better time of the year in California to hold the race.  In order to avoid 6 races in a row again next year, another summer race will need to move to before Indy.

The 2009 schedule to be announced is 3 weeks is now rumored to look like:

  1. St. Petersburg 1.78 Mile Street
  2. Long Beach 1.97 Mile Street
  3. Kansas City  1.5 M Oval
        <--Sonoma could move here---------
        <--Kentucky could move here-----  |
  4. Indianapolis, IN 2.5 mile Oval......| |
  5. West Allis, WI  1.032 Mile Oval.....| |
  6. Ft Worth, TX (Sat. Nite)............| |
  7. Newton, IA 0.875 Mile Oval..........| |
  8. Richmond, VA (Sat. Night)...........| |
  9. Watkins Glen 3.37 Mile RC...........| |
  10. Lexington, OH 2.258 Mile RC.........| |
  11. Toronto, CN 1.721 Mile Street.......| |
  12. Edmonton CN 1.96 Mi Airport.........| |
  13. Sparta, KY (Sat Nite) 1.5 Mile Oval.| |
  14. Sonoma, CA RC  -----------------------
  15. Detroit, MI 2.096 Mi. RC
  16. Joliet, Ill. 1.5 Mile Oval
  17. Motegi, Japan Sat 1.549 Oval
  18. Queensland, Au 2.795 Mi Street 
  19. Las Vegas 1.5 Mile oval

Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio.


Sunoco a target of a Russian takeover?
A private-equity company's new stake in NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco could well herald an impending acquisition of the oil refiner and marketer – perhaps to one of Russia's big energy companies.

Late Friday, Harbinger Capital Partners revealed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it had taken a 6.6% stake in Sunoco, which has been struggling with unfavorable market conditions. Refiners in general have been squeezed by rising crude oil prices, which shot up so quickly this year that gasoline and other petroleum products could not be marked up quite as fast.

Sunoco suffers from a second problem: its refineries are optimized for light, sweet crude, which is increasingly a smaller part of the overall mix of what is available in the market.

Philadelphia-based Sunoco saw its shares rise 6.1% after the Harbinger filing on Monday, and it added 1.0%, or 36 cents, on Tuesday, closing at $37.15. That's still down 52.9% from a 12-month high of $78.80 hit in October.  More at Forbes.com


IRL to announce 2009 schedule
Word is that the IRL will announce their 2009 IndyCar race schedule tomorrow (Wednesday) where it is expected at least one new race will be announced - Toronto will replace Nashville.  Of course Long Beach and Surfers Paradise will also become points paying races.  Also look for more spreading out of the races so there is not a race on 6-consecutive weekends like in 2008.  Also look for Motegi to move to late September.


Toronto to replace Nashville on IndyCar schedule UPDATE #10 It was confirmed on Monday that after eight years the IRL will not return to Nashville for next season, and it's expected Toronto will be given the nod when the new schedule is released as early as this week.

"Regrettably, the IRL has chosen to structure their sanction fees at such a level that we had no choice but to re-evaluate whether they fit into our plan," Cliff Hawks, vice-president and general manager of Nashville Superspeedway said in a statement. "Regardless, we believe the IRL had no further interest in the Middle Tennessee market."

07/28/08 The Indy Racing League and Nashville Superspeedway have failed to negotiate an agreement for a 2009 race. Track officials announced today that the IRL won’t be coming back to the track. The IndyCar Series had raced here the past eight years, including July 12 when Scott Dixon won a rain-shortened race.

07/27/08 Toronto will be back in IndyCar racing next year.  Sun Media has learned that Toronto will be the only former Champ Car Series race to be added to the merged series schedule joining Edmonton, Long Beach and Surfers Paradise in Australia in the 2009 season series.

It is expected the Toronto race will replace the IRL oval race in Nashville in early July.

Michael Andretti, who won the Toronto race a staggering seven times in his career, previously won the rights with Andretti-Green Racing to promote the event.

The series, Sun Media has learned, will feature 10 ovals and eight road race events with 12 Indy Racing League tracks and four Champ Car tracks.

The Long Beach race ran as the last Champ Car race earlier this year, featuring the old cars and teams.  Toronto Sun

05/03/08 AutoRacing1.com was able to obtain a copy of the proposed agreement between Champ Car and the City of Toronto for the Toronto Champ Car race to continue for another 3 years.  This should give you some insight into what is on the table between Andretti Green and the city for the race to become an Indy Car race.

05/01/08 The deadline for Andretti-Green Racing to pick up its option to buy the Toronto Grand Prix passed yesterday without a deal in place.

That's the bad news. The good news is that talks are continuing. It is now in the hands of politicians whether the Toronto Indy/GPT will roar around the temporary street course at Exhibition Place in 2009. The federal, provincial and municipal governments have all given "vocal" support of the race that was the model for similar races in Canada -- Edmonton Grand Prix and the late Molson Indy Vancouver -- and around the world.

It can't be lost on Ontario politics that while they dither over finding about $2 million in concessions for Michael Andretti and his partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, Alberta already has pledged its support for the Edmonton race that will be the lone Canadian stop this year for the united Indy Racing League. No one is disputing the economic footprint the race leaves in southern Ontario. Two studies -- one by the provincial government, the other by Tourism Toronto -- show that the benefits of holding the race exceed $50 million a year.

Even the most math-challenged folks among those in charge of our tax dollars have to sit up and pay attention when the return on a $2 million investment is $50 million. At a time when too many politicians are crying crocodile tears about joblessness and dismal economic growth, here is an opportunity for them to trumpet an industry that actually creates jobs -- 550 of them in Toronto 2007 and as many or more in Edmonton in the same period.

According to the pair of studies on the impact the Toronto race has on the community, the benefits go far beyond the immediate influx of cash for area restaurants, hotels and other service industries.

With a television contract from ESPN/ABC in its pocket, the IRL can bring a worldwide audience to the door for both Toronto and Edmonton. That kind of exposure doesn't show up on the balance sheets, but as sure as Warren Buffet makes money it shows up in dividends down the road when those in that audience are making up their minds for a summer, or winter vacation. The message to AGR from the city, the province and the feds must be that support of the race is unwavering. It's time to answer the bell. Source

04/30/08 You might find this document and its amendment interesting.  The city of Toronto has never lost money on the race deal - in fact they've made out pretty well as you can see here.  We also seem to recall there has been another cost for closing half of Lakeshore Blvd and that the cost related to that aspect was another $250,000 or so.  Bottom line - they can help the race promoter, at least for a few years.

04/30/08 The city of Toronto has agreed to do its share in bringing Indy car racing back to Toronto.

Now it's up to the other stakeholders involved to ensure that the wail of race car engines is heard again at Exhibition Place in the summer of 2009.

A partnership including retired driver Michael Andretti is seeking to purchase the rights to the Toronto race.

However, the group is said to be concerned about a $2 million loss the event is said to have suffered in each of the past three or four years.

At the crux of the negotiations is ways for the other stakeholders in the race to provide means to eliminate or at least substantially reduce this deficit.

The city has offered cash and services.

Toronto Councilor Joe Pantalone, who chairs the board of governors of Exhibition Place, said that the Andretti group has been told what the city is willing to offer.

"A letter from Exhibition Place has gone out to them indicating what we can do reasonably,'' Pantalone told Star city hall reporter John Spears.

Read more & Comment...

200K for Allstate 400 UPDATE There are only 250,000 permanent seats and two sources at IMS said there were between 50,000 and 60,000 unsold tickets.  The aerial shots do not lie, there were at least 40,000-50,000 empty seats, putting attendance closer to 200,000.  The scalpers were selling $100 tickets for $20 and they were moaning all week.

07/28/08 An estimated crowd of 225,000 attended the NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, down for the third straight year according to the Indy Star newspaper.


160K estimated for Edmonton race
While the track promoter did not announce attendance figures, Saturday's race probably drew 60,000, with 50,000 fans on Thursday and 50,000 on Friday for a three-day total over 160,000. The "Festival City" looked like the host city of an NCAA Final Four, replete with race souvenir booths set up throughout the airport and the city.

"When I first went out I couldn't believe how many people were here for a practice on a Thursday," said Dixon. "I haven't seen anything quite like that before. It was fantastic to see that support and the fans were quite knowledgeable, too. They are great fans."

"I love Canada," said Tony Kanaan. "On Thursday it looks like a Sunday for us. We could barely walk through the paddock. This is the kind of event that we need. It's amazing." SI.com


Will Indy fans get refunds from NASCAR, Goodyear?
Remember a few years ago when Formula One had a tire fiasco at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that resulted with, what, a couple F1 cars, a dirt bike and a Silver Crown car racing on Sunday?

What a joke, many of us in the NASCAR world said. The fans deserve refunds, we said from our high and mighty position. That would NEVER happen over here, we snickered under our breath.

I’m now reminded what Toyota Racing Development boss Lee White said when he was crafting Toyota’s response to NASCAR’s engine rule change in the Nationwide Series. He said his wife always tells him, make sure your words are sweet, because you might have to eat them.

Guess who is eating their words now?

Sunday’s “race” at the Brickyard was perhaps a bigger fiasco than the F1 event there a few years ago. The only thing that would have made it worse would have been – well, wait, nothing would have made it worse.

Maybe Goodyear should have pulled all its tires from Indy like Michelin did three years ago. Michelin discovered not long after getting to Indy that its tires wouldn’t last more than 10 laps around the road course, so with safety in mind, the tire company pulled out, leaving six cars to run the race.

Ten laps. Hmmm. Sound familiar? That’s about how long Goodyear’s tires lasted Sunday, but instead of pulling out of the race – which truly wasn’t an alternative since there is no other tire company in the sport – NASCAR came to the “rescue,” throwing yellow flags every – wait for it – 10 laps or so. More at Scenedaily.com


Berger hints Vettel RBR deal for two years
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel could be ready to move on again after two years of racing with Red Bull beginning in 2009, according to his current team boss.

Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger, who is set to lose the highly rated 21-year-old German to the senior team at the end of this year, has suggested to the tabloid newspaper 'tz' that Vettel has penned a two-year deal with the outfit run by Christian Horner.

Horner confirmed on Monday that Vettel is in a "long term" contract with the popular energy drink company, but it is also well-known that BMW has some sort of option to bring the team's former test driver back to Hinwil in the future.

And Berger says: "In 2011 Sebastian Vettel will be interesting not only for BMW, but also for Mercedes and Ferrari."


New circuit for MotoGP?
The organizers of MotoGP are likely add a new circuit in to the championship calendar in 2009.  MotoGP rights holders, Dorna Sports, have said that the new circuit at Lake Balaton in Hungary should be ready in time for the 2009 season. The new circuit is expected to stage round 14 of the series in September next year.

Magyar Turizmus Zrt. has formed a subsidiary to promote any possible MotoGP races in the new Hungarian circuit. The racetrack itself will be operated by a company, named Balatonring Zrt., 30 per cent of which is controlled by Magyar Turizmus Zrt. and the remaining 70 per cent by Worldwide Circuit Management S.L. (WCM) of Spain. The track will be built by Sedesa.

The provisional calendar for the 2009 championship will see the 2009 series staged over 18 rounds, starting in Qatar in April and concluding in Spain in November.


Petty to retire in 2009?
Kyle Petty is expected to skip his second straight race next week at Pocono since his deal with TNT ended, team officials said. "We're still working through a few things," said Robbie Loomis, the vice president of racing operations at Petty Enterprises. The most likely candidate is Chad McCumbee, who attempted to qualify the car at Texas earlier this year. Terry Labonte, who replaced Petty on Sunday to guarantee the car got into the field, already has agreed to drive for Gillett Evernham Motorsports next week in place of #10-Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier is racing in the Nationwide Series in Montreal on Saturday and won't pull double duty. Loomis declined to speculate on whether Petty will drive the #45 car next season. ESPN.com


Newman to replace Stewart at JGR?
Strike Joe Gibbs Racing from the list of potential employers for Ryan Newman. Newman's name has been most prominently mentioned to land with Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Sources close to the situation said he also has had discussions with JGR, Richard Childress Racing and Gillett Evernham Motorsports. An RCR official said on Friday that he expected Newman to go to Stewart, and JGR president J.D. Gibbs said on Sunday it was unlikely the driver of Penske Racing's #12 could join his Toyota team. "It would be hard," Gibbs said before the Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "Another time, another day, maybe. He's a great individual. You would love to have him on your team. It's just all those ducks aren't in a row." Gibbs did say he was getting closer to naming a driver to replace Tony Stewart in the #20 next season. Joey Logano, the 18-year-old sensation in the Nationwide Series, remains the front-runner for that spot. Gibbs also said speculation JGR would expand to four teams in 2009 was unlikely. "Next year would be hard," Gibbs said. ESPN.com


Turmoil at AGR? UPDATE Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel Sunday night that everyone at AGR loves Tony Kanaan, but can’t stand Danica or Marco.  Robin says that Kanaan is the team leader and the disrespect by Danica and Marco at Edmonton for not letting an obviously faster Kanaan who, according to Miller, still does set-up work for both drivers, because he is better at it. Furthermore, Miller says that Kanaan is completely miserable there and wants out but doesn't know where to go.  In the team meeting after the race on Sunday people on the outside could hear pounding of someone's fist on the walls or a table, thought to be Michael Andretti.

Miller also reports that co-owners, Michael Andretti, Kevin Savoree, and Kim Green, aren't on the same page. Savoree and Green don't get along, supposedly. He went on to say he hears that Wheldon may not be signed for '09 and speculated that Kanaan could wind up at Ganassi, or even Vision Racing alongside Paul Tracy.

07/27/08 This season, Andretti Green Racing has become "Team Turmoil."  Rather than storm down and put the finger of blame on Marco Andretti, as Danica Patrick has been prone to do with rival drivers Ryan Briscoe is this year's Indianapolis 500 and Milka Duno last weekend at Mid-Ohio, Patrick let her teammate off the hook.

"Marco is my teammate, and I know he wouldn't do things on purpose, so it's all good," Patrick said.

Marco Andretti left the meeting without comment. The team issued an innocuous quote from the driver following the race that did not bring up the incident.

"It was a difficult race and not the finish we were looking for," the statement said. "There was tremendous fan support and this was a great event weekend, so hopefully we'll have a better result next year."

However, his father, Michael Andretti thought enough was enough after the team's female star was taken out of the race by "The Golden Child" -- who happens to be his son.

"We just didn't perform as a team, and we want to make sure everybody is working together," Michael Andretti said. "I'm most upset about our results. We weren't good all weekend and we have to work together more. We have to get it back on track again.

"It's a refresher meeting. I told them we have to do a better job."

Kanaan was the highest finishing driver for AGR and he finished ninth. After Marco clipped Patrick on lap 78 when the right front of Andretti's car hit the left rear of Patrick's car entering the 10th turn in a battle for ninth place, it sent both cars into the pits for repairs.

Patrick's IndyCar suffered a flat left rear and Andretti's car suffered front wing damage. Patrick's car had to be restarted by the Delphi IndyCar safety team but it dealt a critical blow to both drivers' chances in the race.

Andretti would finish 17th and Patrick 18th, and both were summoned into the back of one of the AGR transporters for a closed-door meeting;

When asked if it were a "give-and-take" meeting, Andretti snickered, hopped on his scooter and drove off. More at SI.com


NASCAR to deep-six Mexico City UPDATE #4 This rumor, from over a year ago, is upgraded to 'fact' today.  NASCAR officials confirmed what most of us had already suspected – that the Nationwide Series won't return to the road course in Mexico City in 2009. Attendance over the four years at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez had been on the decline, but that wasn't the reason given for the change. The date may shift to the recently opened Iowa Speedway, which already hosts the IRL, ARCA and lower-level NASCAR events. Yahoo Sports [Editor's Note: Will that now make Mexico City more willing to have the IndyCars back?]

03/06/07 The rumor going around in the sports arena in Monterrey, Mexico and the two biggest newspapers is that NASCAR wanted to move the Busch race from Mexico City to Monterrey, but that the promoter, OCESA, would have nothing of it. OCESA said it was either Mexico City for 2008 or no race at all.  Remember that OCESA did a horrible marketing job in 2006 for Champ Car in Monterrey.  J. J. Arrambide Gonzalez reporting from Mexico

03/04/07 The Busch Series will return to Mexico City in 2008 (but what about 2009?), according to Federico Alaman, the director of sports events for race promoter OCESA. Speaking after the drivers meeting for the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 today, Alaman said NASCAR and OCESA have agreed to stage a race in 2008 for a fourth consecutive year at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

"We're definitely going to have the event in '08," Alaman said.

NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O'Donnell said there is no contract signed. He also wouldn't commit to the same weekend in the schedule.

"We evaluate our sanctions every year," he said. "We expect to be back. We're happy about it. We plan to be back here. I don't see any reason why we wouldn't."

Alaman said that ticket sales were on pace with last year and he expected a possibly slightly bigger crowd than last year, which Alaman said was about 57,000.

"We're going to have a great weekend and a great race," he said.

He dismissed a rumor that the race would be moved to Monterrey next year, but he did say there is a chance for the Busch Series to go there.

"Monterrey is definitely a future possibility," Alaman said. "It has a lot of racing foundation, especially in the north of the country. We have not talked about that. Scenedaily.com

03/02/07 Felix Sabates, who played a key role in NASCAR's sanctioning of a Busch Series race in Mexico City, said Friday afternoon that he believes the series will return for a fourth consecutive year in 2008.  While various teams have questioned whether NASCAR will return to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Sabates said that was more wishful thinking of teams that don't want to race there or are frustrated over the logistics.

Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, said he had heard of no discussions of moving the race to another Mexican city or not coming to Mexico at all.

"The [sanctioning] contracts are one year, and anything can happen, but if something was going to happen, I would have heard by now," Sabates said. "They're very happy. The sponsors are happy. You watch this race Sunday, the ratings are going to be huge." 

Read more & Comment...

NASCAR to approve new Chevy engine? UPDATE Shane Martin, Chevrolet’s program manager for the NASCAR Nationwide Series, said at O’Reilly Raceway Park that Chevy plans to submit its next-generation R07 engine next month for approval to run in the Nationwide Series in 2009.

Martin said Chevrolet will submit the engine the second week in August, two weeks before the deadline to have it approved for next season. The R07, which is currently used in the Sprint Cup Series, would have similar internal design as the Toyota engine, which last week was hit with a ruling designed to limit horsepower.

“What we’ve been lobbying for all along was to get our R07, so we’d be on the same architecture of the engine components as what our competition is,” Martin said. “All of our current architecture is based on a 1955 Chevrolet. We’re inside of a box that we really cannot get out of to be on the same level as some of other competitors.”  Scenedaily.com

07/06/08 Chevrolet has been pushing for NASCAR to OK its Cup-side R07 engine for Nationwide competition; NASCAR has been pushing Ford to design a new Nationwide engine, but Ford men say they can't afford to make obsolete what engine parts they're currently using.

"If they want to kill that series, go right ahead," Roush said.

In NASCAR's three national touring series this season, Toyota teams have won 24 of the 48 races, including Friday night's victory. The majority of those wins have been by Gibbs' teams, which have won six Cup races going into last night's race.  Winston Salem Journal


Mosley to help others sue scandal newspapers
(GMM)  FIA president Max Mosley is considering setting up a legal fund to enable less wealthy people to sue newspapers for breaches of privacy.

The 68-year-old Briton last week won his high-profile pursuit of the scandal publication News of the World following its expose earlier this year about his unconventional sex life.

Speaking for the first time since the High Court victory, Mosley told the Sunday Telegraph that he also intends to take action against media outlets across Europe, particularly in France, Germany and Italy.

He also wants less wealthy people to have access to money with which to pursue newspapers for similar exposes.

"I feel very strongly that some newspapers literally ruin people's lives and more has to be done to stop this," Mosley said.

Also in the interview, Mosley settled speculation that events triggered by the News of the World expose had led to estrangement from his two sons and wife.

"My wife and I have been together for 50 years and we are staying together," he said.

Meanwhile, Mosley said he is "keeping an open mind" about whether his enemies in F1 are connected with the attempt to destroy his reputation, image and career.


Conspiracy theory continues
A reader writes, Isn't it amazing that Mark Martin has not been competitive all year, but it is announced that the Army sponsorship is going to be leaving DEI and suddenly he qualifies on the front row?  Is the starting grid in NASCAR computer generated as many suspect because the cars have no transponders and data telemetry so who could ever prove otherwise?  Tim DeCesaro


More evidence Motegi race moving to autumn?
If you noticed, the 2009 MotoGP calendar we published yesterday has the MotoGP race moved to April. Is this more evidence the Motegi, Japan IndyCar race will move to the Autumn and run the weekend before Surfers Paradise next year as we rumored from Watkins Glen?


NASCAR  Running on empty?
Rising fuel prices and plunging stock prices are alarming trends for a sport whose very existence depends on cars, the willingness of Fortune 500 companies to spend millions to make those cars go fast, and the ability of fans to travel long distances to see those cars driven around a racetrack.

As NASCAR makes its annual pilgrimage to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, the nation's most popular racing series faces major challenges in an economic environment that seems to worsen by the day.

Last week, General Motors -- which has contracts with 12 of the 22 tracks on the Sprint Cup schedule and markets its Impala brand as one of four manufacturers in the series -- announced a $10 billion cost-cutting program that company officials confirmed will have an impact on GM's commitment to racing.

Just how great that impact will be remains to be seen, but with Ford and Chrysler in similar dire straits, the estimated $500 million the Detroit automakers spend annually on NASCAR is bound to shrink and conceivably could go away entirely if their bottom lines don't improve.

With the price tag on team sponsorships at $20 million or more to fully fund one car for one season, owners are scrambling to make ends meet. And promoters, whose customers are faced with paying $4 a gallon for gasoline and equally exorbitant rates for food and lodging, are finding an increasing number of empty seats at their racetracks.

NASCAR officials bristle at any suggestion the sport is in crisis but admit to a growing concern.

"Obviously, the economy is affecting everybody and every facet of our business and personal lives," NASCAR President Mike Helton said. "But we're still getting good involvement from Fortune 500 companies and all of our stakeholders. Not every seat is filled every weekend, but we're still averaging pretty good-sized crowds.

"It's not ever as bad as it seems. We've had downturns in the past. It's something we have to be mindful of, and we're always looking for ways to do things more efficiently," Helton said. "But the sport still has a lot of huge positives, enough to weather these moments." More at Indy Star


Wallace says Newman was fired UPDATE Newman said Friday at Indy that it wasn't the case, that Roger and he decided mutually not continue. PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show

07/25/08 It appears the bad blood that existed between Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman as teammates at Penske Racing isn't gone. Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Wallace said the perception that Newman and team owner Roger Penske mutually agreed to part ways next season was inaccurate. Instead, Wallace claims Newman was let go by Penske because of criticism toward the team for its performance this season.

Told of Wallace’s claims, Newman stood by his statements and questioned Wallace’s motives for saying what he did.

"He didn’t leave [Penske],” Wallace said Friday. “… Roger Penske called Ryan Newman up to his office and said, ‘I don’t need your services next year.’ Ryan Newman didn’t come to him and say, 'I’m leaving.’ That’s exactly how it went down.”

Newman disputed that version of events.

“I don’t know what Rusty’s grounds are, or what he’s trying to prove by saying that,” Newman said. “That wasn’t the case - point blank. Roger and I decided mutually to not continue and it was more my decision than it was his, I would say. I’ve said our goals didn’t align and for that reason and for that reason alone we decided not to continue after 2008.” Scenedaily.com


NASCAR race keeps IRL alive
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George’s open-wheel racing enterprise has gotten a boost from its fendered brethren that few outside racing circles are aware of.

So powerful is the connection between NASCAR and the Indy Racing League that a growing number of motorsports insiders believe the 12-year-old open-wheel series that toppled Champ Car/CART could not have survived without the good old boys of the stock car circuit.

With the 15th annual Brickyard 400 approaching Sunday, the IMS should get another nice bump in its revenue stream. Annual revenue from the NASCAR event is estimated by various industry sources to be more than $35 million. With far less overhead than hosting either the Indianapolis 500 or a Formula One event, much of that money goes straight to the bottom line.

Motorsports business experts estimate the NASCAR race has netted more than $300 million in profit for the Speedway over the event’s first 14 years.

“The Brickyard 400 is the epitome of utilizing a fixed-cost asset ,” said Tim Frost , president of Chicago-based Frost Motorsports, a consulting firm specializing in motorsports business operations. “For the single-day event, it has to be very near in terms of revenue generation to the Indianapolis 500.”

George’s decision to host the Brickyard 400 might not have been spurred by the thought that revenue from the event could be used to launch an new open-wheel circuit, but it certainly emboldened him to do so, said sources close to George.

Speedway officials acknowledge that funds from the highly profitable NASCAR race have been funneled to the IRL, which for much of its first decade struggled to stay out of the red. IBJ.com


McLaren to lose primary sponsor?
The departing CEO of Vodafone, the largest mobile phone company in the world, has denied rumors the British firm might withdraw its major sports sponsorships such as the title backing of the McLaren Formula One team.

The company suffered a major plunge in its share price earlier this week, moving Chief Executive Arun Sarin - who hands over to his successor early next week - to launch a number of cost-saving measures. 

"But he insisted this was unlikely to lead to either big redundancies or an end to sport sponsorship," the British newspaper The Sun reports.


NASCAR's restriction on Toyota smells of foul play
NASCAR's new Nationwide Series rule change is as follows: "At all Events, unless otherwise specified, all engines with a cylinder bore spacing less than 4.470 inches must compete using a tapered spacer with four (4) 1.125-inch diameter holes. At all Events, unless otherwise specified, all engines with a cylinder bore spacing of 4.470 inches or more must compete using a tapered spacer with four (4) 1.100-inch diameter holes. Unless otherwise authorized, the carburetor restrictor will be issued by NASCAR."

It all sounds a bit like technical gobbledygook for engine geeks.  Basically, a "tapered spacer" is a different word for "restrictor plate."  These "tapered spacers" were installed to slow down the Nationwide cars so they wouldn't be faster than NASCAR's premier series, the Sprint Cup, when the latter started driving made the "Car of Tomorrow" the "Car of Today."  So engines with a cylinder bore spacing of more than 4.470" competes with a restrictor plate with holes smaller than the rest of the engines by 0.025", which restricts airflow into the engines.  What does cylinder bore spacing have to do with horsepower (such that a smaller bore spacing would require a more restrictive plate to equalize any advantage gained)?  Well, almost nothing.  So why regulate it?  Because NASCAR needed a way to single out Toyota for more restrictive restrictor plates to bring their horsepower down to where the other manufacturers are without saying the word "Toyota" in their rule.

What this means is, Toyota made a better engine and did it within the rules.  Finding no fault with Toyota's engine, NASCAR just made up new rules to placate the complainers.

But NASCAR's numbers are on shaky ground here.  Let's look at the numbers:

Of Toyota's 14 Nationwide Series wins this season, nine of them came in the number 20 car, with different drivers.  That engine came in FIFTH in the engine horsepower test behind two Fords and a Toyota that hasn't won anything this season.  If horsepower were the reason for the wins, wouldn't the #20 car have scored higher and the #99 car scored worse?  And why weren't the Fords included in the today's "change"?

Of the 14 Toyota wins in the Nationwide Series this year, 13 were in Joe Gibbs Racing cars and 1 was in a Braun Racing car driven by a Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Kyle Busch.  Kyle could probably win a short track race in my son's Cozy Coupe, so don't start thinking that Toyota's advantage helped little Braun Racing win in NASCAR's second-tier series.  Back to the numbers, particularly the number of wins for Michael Waltrip and Germain's Toyotas this year: 0  So why were ALL of the Toyota teams affected?

This year, with 2/3 of the races won by Toyotas, the Camry was on pace to win 24 races by the end of the season, should the pace of winning hold up (which it most likely will not now).  Last year Chevrolets won 22 races.  What was done to restrict Chevrolet engines after the 2007 season (that wasn't done to everyone's engines)?  Carsandracingstuff.com

[Editor's Note: This sort of prejudice against its company does not sit well with the top brass of Toyota in Japan. Don't think they would just get up and leave NASCAR?  Think again.  They did just that in CART over the engine plenum controversy.]


NASCAR grind has Jeff Gordon eyeing retirement
Retire? Jeff Gordon? Sure, it will happen eventually. Gordon will give up his Hall of Fame-caliber NASCAR driving career, but here's the twist — it might happen sooner than you think.

In fact, the 36-year-old Gordon insists 40 might be his point of no return.

"I don't see myself driving past 40 very much," he says.
"In some way I'll always want to drive a race car, but to do it full-time in the Sprint Cup Series, I don't see myself doing it more than four to five more years."

What does he see himself doing after that?

"I would love to do the Rolex 24-hour race again," he says. "I'd love to do LeMans. I'd like to drive cars I used to drive or don't get a chance to drive. Heck, even the dirt track late models we do at Tony's has been a blast."

That's a reference to fellow NASCAR driver Tony Stewart's dirt track at Eldora Speedway in Ohio where NASCAR drivers gather each summer for a night of grass-roots camaraderie and racing.

Gordon also figures to get more involved in managing the Hendrick MotorSports team where he's already a part owner.

"If they think I can add something to that," he says, "I'd like to try it."

That Gordon is even considering retiring in his mid-30s reflects the strain of racing combined with a season of poor-handling cars and juggling fatherhood (he and wife Ingrid Vandebosch have a 1-year-old daughter, Ella).

"I've worked harder this year as a driver than I ever have before," he says. "There's the testing. The sport is getting more expensive so we're asking more of our sponsors so, in return, we have to give back more. It doesn't come for nothing. Then the car. Being a dad. All of those things have been overwhelming. You want to find ways to taper back because it wears you down."  More at Captain Thunder Racing


Gillett Evernham interested in free agent drivers
Tuesday Gillett Evernham Motorsports owner Ray Evernham spoke to Sirius Speedway host Dave Moody about the possibility of bringing Ryan Newman or any other free agent drivers to his race team for next year.
Host, Dave Moody: "Are you now, have you ever, or do you anticipate active negotiations with Ryan Newman for a spot in your stable next year?"
Ray Evernham: "We have not negotiated with Ryan but we have put out the feeler that we would be very interested, certainly, in talking to Ryan about the future as would probably all the other car owners but we've not spoken with Ryan or negotiated with him. But, yes, we are interested in talking to him."
Moody: "So if your phone rings and he does [call] you back are we talking about a fourth car?"
Evernham: "Mr. Gillett and I would love to expand to four cars. So if that's going to happen it has to happen quickly but there are opportunities to grow Gillett Evernham Motorsports. But, again, that depends on drivers and sponsors and there are sponsors available with the proper drivers."
Moody: "Would it be safe to assume then that Ryan Newman might not be the only top notch driver in the final year of his contract that you might have reached out [to] at this point?"
Evernham: "Yeah, absolutely, but there's no sense in doing a fourth team unless it can add to what we're already building and to start a fourth team without the proper sponsorship or a driver that can add to the program just doesn't make sense. There are a couple of drivers available and there are some sponsors out there that are talking to other teams, too, besides us to put packages together. But if we were to be able to put that package together to strengthen Gillett Evernham we'd certainly do it. The guys that are out there that have been talking to people, certainly that we have spoken to or are interested in speaking [to], are the same guys everybody else has talked to: Ryan Newman, Casey Mears and Martin Truex are the guys that are in the hot rumors right now." Sirius NASCAR Radio


Lots of unsold seats for Allstate 400
Robin Miller writes in his latest mailbag that he hears 50,000 seats are unsold for this year's Allstate 400, which means almost 1/5th of the seats might be empty unless they dump tickets on the street at $5 a pop the last minute.


Bourdais to stay in 2009
(GMM) Without giving too much away, Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has suggested Sebastien Bourdais' race seat is safe for 2009.

Bourdais, the 29-year-old multiple Champ Car champion, has struggled during his rookie formula one season this year, particularly since the new STR3 car arrived.

However, he told the French news agency AFP this week that the fact his on-form teammate Sebastian Vettel is moving up to Red Bull Racing next year is "mostly a good thing for me".

"The team will probably not want to change both its drivers at once," the French explained.

It has been suggested that Faenza based Toro Rosso could use the Vettel departure to install an all-new driver lineup in 2009 -- perhaps rookies Bruno Senna and Sebastien Buemi.

"I would rather have a mixture of a young driver with an experienced one," Berger is quoted as countering to sportnet.


Bernie hints Valencia race to be World GP?
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone this week may have dropped a hint about the official title for Valencia's new formula one street race.

The inaugural event next month will be officially called the European grand prix, because fellow Spanish venue Barcelona annually hosts the Spanish grand prix.

But in previous years, the European GP title belonged to the Nurburgring race, given a rival German sanctioning body's ownership of the German grand prix moniker for Hockenheim.

But with the Nurburgring set to return to the calendar next year, it is clear that either the German venue or Valencia will have to adopt a different official title in 2009.

The Spanish press this week said Ecclestone, F1 chief executive, visited the Valencia site and was impressed with what he saw.

He is quoted as saying by newspapers that it was perhaps a mistake to call the race the European grand prix.

"It should have been the Gran Premio Mundial (World Grand Prix)," the 77-year-old said.

"This is not only the best street circuit in the world, it is one of the best circuits in the world," Ecclestone explained.


Stewart's car number, sponsors decided UPDATE Haas CNC Racing general manager Joe Custer has applied for his team to trademark the No. 14, which is expected to be the number next season for Tony Stewart, who will co-own and drive for Stewart-Haas Racing beginning in 2009.

A Stewart spokesman said that the "details" of Stewart's car will be announced Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The trademark application covers a variety of products – everything from paper goods to luggage, knives, air fresheners, video featuring racing themes and several other items. The application was filed July 2, according in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database (which can be accessed through its Web site).

Stewart would like the No. 14 presumably because that is the number that A.J. Foyt made famous in open-wheel racing. Scenedaily.com

07/21/08 Tony Stewart will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in his debut next season with his own Sprint Cup Series team, Stewart-Haas Racing, and will share sponsorship from Office Depot and Old Spice, the Observer has learned.

A formal announcement of Stewart's car number and sponsorship plans will be made this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, multiple sources said Monday.

There has been a lot of speculation Stewart could announce his new teammate for next season this weekend but sources said Stewart-Haas Racing would have no announcement about teammates at Indianapolis.

The leading candidate for the second SHR ride is Ryan Newman, who announced last week he was leaving Penske Racing at the end of this season.  ThatsRacin.com


Oilers to sponsor Rahal in Edmonton UPDATE #2 Clearly the Edmonton Sun had this rumor only partially correct.  Per this press release, Rexall will be the primary sponsor for Rahal with a portion of the space dedicated to the Edmonton Oilers.

07/22/08 Graham Rahal's 'Hole In The Wall Camps' car was magically transformed Sunday night at the team's race shop into an Edmonton Oilers and/or Rexall logo car for a photo-op to announce what Sun Media revealed last week - a deal with the new Oilers owner and race sponsor as a result of a $500,000 donation to Paul Newman's 'Hole In The Wall Camps' charity.  Edmonton Sun

07/12/08 Will Daryl Katz sponsor an Oilers car in the Rexall Edmonton Indy?  Has the new Oilers owner made a $500,000 donation to Paul Newman's Hole In The Wall Camps or a straight sponsorship deal with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing at the same numbers to be able to run Oilers and/or Rexall logos on Graham Rahal's race car for the race?

Will Rahal and teammate Justin Wilson be promoted as "the home team" for the July 24-25 IndyCar Series race in Edmonton?

Sun Media is rumoring that Katz is putting together a one-race deal to sponsor Graham Rahal's No. 06 Hole In The Wall Camps car for the July 26 event.  Both NHLR drivers have no knowledge of the deal and the team's PR person, Kathi Lauterbach, had her usual "nothing to report" reply so we'll just have to wait and see if it materializes.


McLaren skirting F1 rules (cheating) UPDATE No wonder Lewis Hamilton has had an easy time of it as of late.  It has nothing to do with his driving ability and everything to do with the fact he has a car with traction control.  Sure his McLaren team has come up with a system of traction control that falls within the rules, but the intent of the traction control ban was to eliminate traction control.  Kudos to the McLaren engineers who found a loophole in the rules, but the fact that it defeats the intent of the rule makes it no less a "cheater" car, giving Hamilton an unfair advantage over his rivals.

MP4-23 Steering Wheel -you can see the lower two paddles through the lower openings in the wheel
07/21/08 McLaren's steering wheel features four paddle levers rather than the usual two. The upper two are conventional gear-change paddles, one for upshifting, one for down. The lower two allow different engine torque settings to be chosen. Using two fingers at the same time allows the car always to have the most favorable engine torque setting for each gear, thus giving the driver a tool for limiting wheelspin out of slow corners without then suffering a reduction in power in the higher gears, where wheelspin is not an issue. The rules stipulate that any change in torque settings cannot be triggered by the same driver input as a gear change. Having two separate levers gets around that rule, while still allowing the change of gear and torque setting to take place simultaneously. This is part of McLaren's current performance superiority over Ferrari.  Telegraph.co.uk


Hamilton almost blew it again
Hamilton, who is driving a "cheater" McLaren that has a traction control system that skirts the rules, still almost threw away a guaranteed victory in Germany.
Lewis Hamilton came within inches of crashing out of the German GP behind the Safety Car, it has been revealed.

While the deployment of the Safety Car nearly wrecked Hamilton's hopes of victory, causing a procession to become a dramatic charge to regain the lead of the race, it also nearly made a literal wreck of his McLaren.

The Independent claims that, in an incident missed by the television cameras, Hamilton 'almost came a cropper behind the Safety Car on the 41st lap, just before the race was restarted.

'He was following safety car driver Bernd Maylander through the stadium section of the track. At the exit of the Sachskurve Hamilton backed off a little to create some space between his car and the Safety Car as the latter was naturally unable to negotiate the kink before the final two corners at the same speed as the F1 machinery,' the newspaper reports.

'Hamilton then put his foot down again and accelerated just as Maylander slowed down - and eyewitnesses report that Lewis just managed to avoid impact with the rear end of the Mercedes-Benz. It was very close indeed, and those same witnesses report that there were literally only inches to spare.'  PlanetF1.com


Tagliani to replace Bernoldi? UPDATE #4 There's a very real possibility that Paul Tracy won't be the only "new" Canadian in the field when they throw the green flag at Saturday's Indy IRL race in Edmonton.

Alex Tagliani is ready, willing and able to take over the second seat at Conquest Racing from ex-F1 pilot Enrique Bernoldi. All he needs is the nod from Conquest owner Eric Bachelart.

"You have not been hearing rumors," Tagliani said in a telephone interview from his Las Vegas home last Thursday.

"There have been inquiries" about his availability and what's really interesting is that Tagliani could wind up doing double duty in Edmonton: as well as an Indy car assignment, he would still take his regular turn as a driver for the Dave Jacombs team in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race that will precede the main event.

Tagliani is one of several Champ Car drivers who weren't able to land a ride when the unification deal with the Indy Racing League went down last winter.

"I don't know if it will be the next race, or the one after that," Tagliani said of his chances at Conquest. "I've had some calls and I would definitely love to get back in an open-wheel car. But it's up to Bachelart."

Tagliani said the merger came together so quickly that some teams had deals with drivers who weren't able to adapt to the IRL.

"There are a lot of ovals as well as road courses," he said, "and teams need drivers who can do both. A lot of them can't, but I can. I've proved that many times in the past. When I was in Long Beach, I thought: `Hey, I'm quick — I belong here.'

"I've paid my dues. I helped all the teams I was with. I was on the podium 14 times, I had four poles and I won a race. I have a good record. I have the intensity and the passion to continue and I just have to get the chance."

Meantime, Tagliani says he's having a ball in NASCAR.

"I'm quite surprised that I'm having as good a time as I'm having," he said. "It's very different but very challenging. The biggest difference is the weight of the car and that means you have longer braking distances. And you have to apply yourself 100 per cent. You always have to be alert."

"I can tell you this: this is not like going from the NHL to some minor league somewhere," Tagliani said. "NASCAR is totally different from open wheel and the challenge is every bit as great.

"In fact, if I got back in open wheel and there was no conflict in the schedule, I would still like to continue to do the big races in NASCAR — at Montreal and Trois Rivières and Mosport. I would still like to keep a foot in the door (in NASCAR).  Toronto Star

07/18/08 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today.  There has been talk of Alex Tagliani replacing Enrique Bernoldi on Conquest Racing's Indy Car team, but team owner Eric Bachelart said talk is all it has been.

"I have a contract with my drivers," said Bachelart, who will field Bernoldi and rookie Jaime Camara this weekend. "Alex has obviously been speaking to the press (about driving for the team) because I haven't spoken with him. All he's done is leave me a voice mail."

Bachelart acknowledged this season has been difficult for the Indianapolis-based organization blindsided by unification. Before the Feb. 22 announcement, the team had purchased new cars and was prepping for the Champ Car season.

The transition has been made more difficult by an Australian sponsor that has financial problems and two drivers new to the series. Camara was in the Firestone Indy Lights the past three seasons.

"We're a new team to start with and we have two drivers who right now aren't able to give us the feedback we need," Bachelart said. Indy Star 

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Penske to get out of Cleveland area
According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Roger Penske is going to sell his dealerships and get out of the Cleveland area.  Word is that Penske is not making out in the Cleveland area like he thought he would.  If true, and if it's true that Roger Penske really runs the IRL and Tony George won't make a major decision without Roger's OK, then what does this say about Cleveland ever getting its IndyCar race back again?


Logano to replace Stewart? UPDATE #3 Joey Logano says he isn't campaigning to drive the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup car next season. Even so, the 18-year-old JGR Nationwide Series driver contends that he is interested in the ride, which will be vacated at season's end by Tony Stewart. "Nothing has really changed," said Logano at Gateway International Raceway. "It's pretty much the same deal. If they offer it to me, I'd take it. It's something that has been talked about but I'm not in a position to say anything. I don't really know what I'm going to do yet. ... I'm focused on the # 20 Nationwide car right now and from there that is team owner Joe Gibbs and team president J.D.'s Gibbs deal." SceneDaily.com

07/13/08 Top management of Joe Gibbs Racing wouldn't come out and say on Saturday that Joey Logano will replace Tony Stewart in the Sprint Cup series next season, but they didn't say anything to indicate otherwise. Team owner Joe Gibbs and president J.D. Gibbs both agreed Logano will play a huge part in the organization going forward. They oozed with compliments for the 18-year-old phenom, who won his third Nationwide Series start and has three top 10s in four events. They talked about his maturity. They reminded that Stewart, who announced on Thursday he will leave the organization after this season to become the driver/owner at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, didn't have a win when he partnered with Home Depot in 1999. "We're going to look at everything out there before we make a decision," J.D. Gibbs said before the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway. "Generally, guys that are really gifted and real good show it right away. We've had a lot of drivers at JGR. All the good ones have popped right away. He has that." ESPN.com

06/26/08 See related rumor of why Logano is being pushed along in NASCAR so quickly.

Joey Logano
06/16/08 Joe Gibb's Racing's Joey Logano's Nationwide victory on Saturday night has revived speculation about whether the 18-year-old phenom could replace Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing entry.

Logano, who won in only his third start in the developmental series, could step in for the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, who is considering leaving the team for another ride, possibly one with an ownership position attached.

"I don't think we've gone in that direction," team owner Joe Gibbs said Sunday at Michigan International Speedway before the start of the LifeLock 400. "We're still hoping we get things worked out (with Stewart). You're never quite sure and certainly where we are right now with Tony it's kind of hard to predict the future."

Asked how negotiations with Stewart are going, Gibbs said, "No updates. We're still working on things. I don't think there's anything to report there."

But Gibbs did say Logano could be racing on Sundays later this year, regardless of what Stewart decides.

"We would like to get him into some Cup stuff toward the end of the year," Gibbs said. "Now, whether we'll be able to do it or not, we want to make sure he's in good stuff in the right way."

The advanced billing was there for the kid from Connecticut who has won races at every level at which he's driven. But Gibbs said he was just hoping the expectations don't overwhelm Logano.

"I was so concerned the first part of the year with Joey, even though we knew all of the talent and everything that he had," Gibbs said. "I was so worried about all the pressure and everything that had been put on him.

"Our biggest concern with Joey is we knew the talent and we're committed for the long haul." ThatsRacin.com


Forsythe Racing eyes IndyCar entry UPDATE This story was first reported by AutoRacing1.com earlier this week.  Today Autosport.com confirmed this rumor by reporting that according to team manager Kenny Siwieck, who is much in evidence at this weekend's Mid-Ohio event in the IndyCar, ALMS paddocks, "We've got a Formula Atlantic deal this year and we're planning on going ahead with that, we announced the Indy Lights program last week and we're looking at both ALMS and the IndyCar Series."

"I'd say the ALMS and IndyCar programs are about 95 percent done."

Siwieck confirmed that Forsythe intended to contest both series rather than choosing one or the other.

"Our plan is to treat this like a business, and that means diversifying our efforts to take advantage over all the opportunities that come our way," he said.

07/15/08 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Gerald Forsythe is looking to enter two cars in the 2009 IndyCar Series assuming adequate sponsorship is found.  We hear this will be in addition to their LMP2 ALMS, and Indy Lights programs.  They will remain in the Atlantic Series this year, but another rumor on these pages has Forsythe wanting to sell his share of the Atlantic program and move his efforts clearly under the Tony George IRL banner.  We hear he may even consider bringing back Paul Tracy as one of his drivers in  2009.


German GP to lose its name?
(GMM)  Despite the Nurburgring's contract to host a formula one race in 2009, the 'German grand prix' moniker is likely to be absent from the calendar next year.

The name is owned and controlled by the AvD (the Automobilclub von Deutschland), which plays host to the sport at Hockenheim in even-numbered years.

The Nurburgring, also located in Germany, last year staged the European grand prix, because the AvD refused to let organizers ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club) - a separate and rival club - use the German GP name.

On the recently-published provisional 2009 calendar, the FIA reserved a July 12 race date for 'Germany', with the 'European' descriptor now being used by Spanish port city Valencia's new street race.

However, AvD sports president Volker Strycek has suggested that the club is not keen to release the 'German grand prix' name for next year's sole F1 race in the country at the Nurburgring.

"The title is the silverware of the AvD," he told the German newspaper Cologne Stadt-Anzeiger.


Overheard at Mid-Ohio - 3
The new title sponsor the IRL is trying to land for the IndyCar series is down to a quick-serve restaurant (Subway), a financial institution and a technology-oriented company.  The deal is said to be worth $10M per year and will, as we previously reported back in March, see the name integrated into the series title.  For example, if Subway gets the deal - the Subway IndyCar World Series......Still hearing that Homestead and Nashville will be going away in 2009 and they will spread out the schedule more.  This year's 6-consecutive race weekends has been a killer for teams.  No more than 4 consecutive races in 2009.  Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio.


Overheard at Mid-Ohio - 1 UPDATE #2 Sources have told FOXSports.com that the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway will likely play host to the IRL IndyCar Series season finale and their championship banquet beginning next season.  When reached for comment, the IRL denied that a final decision had been made.  "The IRL is in discussions with Speedway Motorsports Inc. (owner of LVMS) and we are exploring all of our options regarding a finale date," said IRL Vice President of Public Relations John Griffin. "No final decision has been made." FOXSports

As we said below in this original rumor, sure Las Vegas would be a nice venue to close out the IndyCar season and host the season ending banquet.  However, Las Vegas is a NASCAR town.  The IRL failed miserably on the Vegas oval as did Champ Car.  The latest example was the Truck/Champ Car doubleheader.  There was a good crowd for the truck race.  When it ended, the Champ Car race started and was putting on a better show, but the fans kept leaving until at the end of the race there was perhaps 1/3 to 50% of people in the grandstands as for the truck race.  The fans just have no interest in open wheel racing.  And except for Danica Patrick, what would keep them there next time?  The last point is simple - Vegas has massive grandstands to support their Sprint Cup race. The IndyCars will draw a fraction of the people and the empty grandstands will make IndyCar look like a loser to anyone watching on TV.

With all that said, part of us hopes they give Vegas a try again as we love the city.

The 2009 schedule to be announced on July 31st is rumored to look like:

  1. St. Petersburg 1.78 Mile Street
  2. Long Beach 1.97 Mile Street
  3. Motegi, Japan Sat 1.549 Oval
  4. Queensland, Au 2.795 Mi Street 
  5. Kansas City  1.5 M Oval
  6. Indianapolis, IN 2.5 mile Oval
  7. West Allis, WI  1.032 Mile Oval
  8. Ft Worth, TX (Sat. Nite) 
  9. Newton, IA 0.875 Mile Oval
  10. Richmond, VA (Sat. Night)
  11. Watkins Glen 3.37 Mile RC
  12. Lexington, OH 2.258 Mile RC
  13. Toronto, CN 1.721 Mile Street
  14. Edmonton CN 1.96 Mi Airport
  15. Sparta, KY (Sat Nite) 1.5 Mile Oval
  16. Sonoma, CA RC 
  17. Detroit, MI 2.096 Mi. RC
  18. Joliet, Ill. 1.5 Mile Oval
  19. Las Vegas 1.5 Mile oval

Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio.

07/18/08 Subway restaurants won’t be the last NASCAR sponsor racing to the Indy Racing League, according to motorsports marketing experts.

An idea that seemed laughable a year or two ago is now reality. Subway, a big-time NASCAR sponsor, this week announced it would sponsor an IRL car driven by Paul Tracy. The deal, league insiders said, was brokered by IRL boss Tony George to let Subway take a test drive in the IRL. League sources said Subway is thinking hard about becoming a bigger sponsor in IRL next year. They added that Subway is one of five finalists to become the league’s title sponsor. For more on that, come back to this blog on Monday.

Sure, the Subway-Paul Tracy agreement is a one-off deal. And Subway isn’t paying more than a couple lunch meat sandwiches to put its name and logo on the car for the upcoming race in Edmonton. But it’s a sign of things to come.

“There are a lot of NASCAR sponsors who are suddenly taking a hard look at the numbers,” said Larry DeGaris, a sports marketing professor at the University of Indianapolis. “It’s no joke. Sponsorship in NASCAR has gotten so expensive, it has a lot of sponsors there crunching the numbers and looking at alternative ways to get their messages out. And they realize the cost per million in the IRL is looking much better.”

Zak Brown, president of locally based Just Marketing International, has also heard from NASCAR sponsors looking at the IRL. He should know. Brown, who counts Subway as one of his clients, got rich in the last decade matching corporate entities with NASCAR teams. A little more than a year ago, he was hired by the IRL to help sell its title sponsorship.

Brown claims it’s not necessarily an either/or proposition.

“The demographics of the two series are different,” Brown said. “For many companies, they’re complimentary. But one thing’s for certain. The momentum of the IndyCar series has sponsors’ attention.” IBJ.com

07/18/08 Talk in the Mid-Ohio paddock is that a Mexico City race probably will not make it on the 2009 calendar but there is still interest in future years.  We still hear 18 or 19 races for 2009 with the most likely ones being:
  1. St. Petersburg 1.78 Mile Street
  2. Long Beach 1.97 Mile Street
  3. Motegi, Japan Sat 1.549 Oval
  4. Queensland, Au 2.795 Mi Street 
  5. Kansas City  1.5 M Oval
  6. Indianapolis, IN 2.5 mile Oval
  7. West Allis, WI  1.032 Mile Oval
  8. Ft Worth, TX (Sat. Nite) 
  9. Newton, IA 0.875 Mile Oval
  10. Richmond, VA (Sat. Night)
  11. Watkins Glen 3.37 Mile RC
  12. Lexington, OH 2.258 Mile RC
  13. Toronto, CN 1.721 Mile Street
  14. Edmonton CN 1.96 Mi Airport
  15. Sparta, KY (Sat Nite) 1.5 Mile Oval
  16. Sonoma, CA RC 
  17. Detroit, MI 2.096 Mi. RC
  18. Joliet, Ill. 1.5 Mile Oval
  19. TBA - If Las Vegas, Phoenix or New Hampshire they will absolutely fail....again.

We hear that the PCM is working on adding a 2nd car for 2009.  They realize you need at least two drivers to help hone in on the right car setup on race weekends........And who might drive that 2nd car?  Ryan Dalziel is definitely one driver under consideration.......We hear that Keith Wiggins is looking to add a 2nd car to his HVM stable and we hear the driver is not American........We hear that some NASCAR sponsors are now taking a long hard look at Indy Car.  The thinking being once you have been in front of the same fans for umpteen years you no longer get the return on investment from your sponsorship.  The IRL races in some different markets than NASCAR, which is why adding an IRL race in Las Vegas, New Hampshire or Phoenix makes absolutely no sense whatsoever because those markets have already seen those products via NASCAR........We also hear some teams may be dropping out of NASCAR because it has become too expensive to compete, and may take a look at IndyCar.  Half the races and a lot less money needed to field a competitive team........We are still hearing that the next IndyCar engine will indeed be turbocharged.......Did you know that Tony Stewart gets paid $1 million per race to get beaten by his superior teammate Kyle Busch week in and week out?  Talk about an overpaid, overweight, obnoxious athlete.  Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio


Overheard at Mid-Ohio - 2 We hear that the Atlantic Sierra Sierra team will be moving over to the Firestone Indy Lights league in 2009.  Don't be surprised to see other teams follow suit.  That series should have been sold to Tony George and become and official step below Indy Lights on the USA open wheel ladder......Former Atlantics turned AGR Indy Lights driver Rafael Matos is a major talent  but unless one of the four drivers on the AGR IndyCar side of the house leave, there is no room for Matos on the team next year, which means he may drive alongside Franck Montagny for the AGR ALMS effort, like they are doing this weekend.....We hear that Honda is also in favor of the next IRL engine being turbocharged.......A race in Portland may still be in the running because it is not a market NASCAR has penetrated.  However, the facility needs work and the money does not appear to be there.  Mark C. reporting from Mid-Ohio


Team bosses laugh at Hamilton-Ferrari rumor UPDATE (GMM)  Bosses for Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes on Friday rubbished and laughed at reports the Italian team is making a swoop for the services of British driver Lewis Hamilton.

The newspaper The Times published a photograph of a 'secret' conversation between Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali and Anthony Hamilton, 23-year-old Hamilton's father and manager, outside a Mercedes-Benz party at Hockenheim.

"I think that's a great place to start negotiations with our driver -- behind the Mercedes grandstand," Norbert Haug, in charge of the German carmaker's racing activities, joked in the presence of Domenicali, Ferrari F1 boss.

Domenicali said the meeting with Anthony Hamilton was harmless.

"He just came up behind me and said hello and that's it, very easy," the Italian said.

Domenicali suggested Ferrari will field an unchanged driver lineup at least for the foreseeable future.

"We still have long-term relationships with our drivers, so really there is no rush," he said.

07/18/08 (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's father and manager was spotted in 'secret' conversation with Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali at Hockenheim, a newspaper reports.

The Times also captured the moment with a photograph after Anthony Hamilton approached Domenicali as the Ferrari boss left a party in the paddock of the German circuit.

Hamilton and Domenicali walked "some distance" from their meeting point before stopping to chat, The Times added.

The meeting follows speculation - denied by McLaren boss Ron Dennis two weeks ago - of a rift between the British team's management and the Hamilton camp.

2008 is the first of 23-year-old Lewis Hamilton's new five-year McLaren contract.


Budweiser to reduce NASCAR sponsorship UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  The sale of Anheuser-Busch Inc. to Belgian brewer InBev will not affect its NASCAR marketing program. And in fact, the Budweiser motorsports program is expanding in 2009, according to the company's senior marketing team.

Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch vice president of sports marketing, told ESPN.com on Thursday that A-B has signed a multi-year extension to continue its longstanding tradition as sponsor of the season-opening Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. The length of the new deal was not disclosed.

A formal announcement should come next week, Ponturo said. There had been speculation that the 30-year relationship would end following the 2008 edition of the race, which was originally run in 1979 and dubbed the Busch Clash. It was renamed the Bud Shootout in 1998 before earning its current distinction, the Budweiser Shootout.

"We were there when it wasn't fashionable to be there," Ponturo said. "Why walk away from what works?"

Budweiser will also upgrade its sponsorship of Kasey Kahne's World of Outlaws team from secondary to primary, Ponturo said.

"It's another way to enforce that this is not a company that's backing off, it's staying aggressive and will continue to support Kasey, the No. 9 team and some of the things that surround his association [with Budweiser]," Ponturo said. "We're going to be the primary sponsor.

"Not only do we think [World of Outlaws] has a lot of merit for us in the marketplaces it goes, and really is associated fully with Budweiser, but it's also a way for us to say [to Kahne], 'Hey, let's deepen the relationship.'

"We'll lean on him to do a few more appearances and help out with some things. That's how a true partnership works. We're still very bullish. The one thing we're hearing loud and clear from this new organization is that things that are working will continue to be a big part of our plan, and clearly NASCAR is working." ESPN.com

07/15/08 InBev is run by Brazilians who have been aggressive in cost cutting," said Tom Pirko, president of Bevmark, a consulting firm in Buellton, Calif. "They will install the kind of discipline that will change the profile" of Anheuser-Busch.

InBev President Carlos Brito, who is based in Brazil, is "a tough guy," Pirko said, and may cut back on Anheuser-Busch's historically prolific advertising, curb its generous sponsorships and put the squeeze on distributors to reduce their profits.

Brito, however, said Monday that InBev had no plans to trim advertising in the United States.

"What we see in Anheuser-Busch is its marketing expertise, and that's one of the pillars of why they built such great brands," Brito said.

InBev said Monday that all of Anheuser-Busch's U.S. breweries would remain open. LA Times

07/08/08 Shootout to get new name? There's a chance the annual running of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway could play the name game. The non-points race has been the season starter for NASCAR's premiere series since 1979 when it was known as the Busch Clash. Sources tell News 13 that routine negotiations are underway for naming rights to the 2009 race, and it's not yet certain that Budweiser will return as title sponsor. News 13


Scott Speed aiming for Sprint Cup debut
Scott Speed is confident that he can make his Sprint Cup debut before the end of this season. The Red Bull-backed American will test a Cup car for the first time later this month, and has been racing in the ARCA and Craftsman Truck series this season after losing his Formula One drive with Toro Rosso 12 months ago. He hopes to continue full time in Craftsman Trucks next season but also wants to include several Sprint Cup outings. "I'm about to start testing, proper testing, in a Cup car with (Red Bull's lead driver) Brian Vickers," Speed told this week's Autosport magazine. "The car is quite a bit different from the Truck, but if it goes well, and I think I should be able to adapt, then we can go racing." autosport.com


Another F1 race to take financial bloodbath
(GMM)  Organizers of the German grand prix at Hockenheim expect this weekend's event to lose about 3 million euros.

"The actual figures depend on the ticket sales," Hockenheim mayor and circuit chairman Dieter Gummer said.

Given the expected loss, and the fact that this year's visiting F1 circus features no less than five German race drivers and two German teams, Gummer told Auto Motor und Sport there can be no long-term guarantee of the formula one race at the track.


Villeneuve to race in Montreal event UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Braun Racing is pleased to announce that former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve will drive its No. 32 Toyota Camry in the second annual NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on August 1-2, 2008.  The addition of Villeneuve to the field at the world renowned road course named after his father, Gilles Villeneuve, a legendary Formula 1 driver, adds a special hometown feeling to the event that already includes an array of Canadian drivers.

Though this event will mark his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start at the track which carries his namesake, the road course phenomenon has a tremendous amount of experience on the 2.709-mile (4.361 km) road course.  In a career that has spanned for more than two decades, Villeneuve has experienced tremendous success that can be rivaled by very few. He has captured world championships in both the CART Series and Formula 1 and is logged in the record books as winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500.  To win championships in both CART and Formula 1 on top of a win in the famed Indy 500 is a feat that has only been accomplished by two other drivers.

"We're excited for the race fans in Montreal that Jacques Villeneuve will participate in this event," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's Vice President of Racing Operations. "His addition increases the competitiveness of the field and brings another Canadian driver to the mix."

For Villeneuve's part, he looks forward to aligning himself with a team as competitive as Braun Racing.

''It's always fun to have the opportunity to race for such a competitive team as Braun Racing with great people that show confidence in you.  It also adds to my pleasure to be in a car that hosted great pilots such as Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin."

Braun Racing team owner, Todd Braun, feels that the addition of Villeneuve to his team's efforts in Montreal will give them an extra advantage from a competitive standpoint.

"Jacques has had an incredible career," said Braun.  "The type of experience he can bring to our entire organization and road course program is invaluable.  We look forward to working with him and to taking advantage of the experience and knowledge he brings with him."

07/16/08 Jacques Villeneuve is expected to announce a one-off ride with the Braun Racing team for August's NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Montreal in a press conference Thursday.

The 1997 Formula One world champion will drive the No. 32 Toyota Camry that NASCAR star Kyle Busch piloted to victory in Charlotte earlier this season. Villeneuve will be one of three drivers for Braun at the Circuit-Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

The former F1 star has plenty of experience on the 13-turn, 4.361-kilometre circuit named after his father, racing there 10 times in the Canadian Grand Prix. His best result was a second in 1996 while driving for Williams.

The announcement comes five months after Villeneuve lost his top-tier NASCAR Sprint Cup ride with Bill Davis Racing after failing to qualify for the season opening Daytona 500. The 37-year-old raced in the Craftsman Truck series last year before making his Cup debut in the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in October. He finished 21st.


Davis: NASCAR thinks it does not need manufacturers
by Bill Fleischman
As I sat down recently with Dan Davis, Ford's director of racing technology, my first question was: Does Ford have to be in NASCAR?

"I don't think we have to be in it," Davis replied. "You look at all the options for marketing money and decide where do you get the most leverage out of the money that you spend.

"I view NASCAR as being primarily motorsports entertainment. There are 75 million NASCAR fans who buy a lot of American products. They're pretty loyal to brands and drivers they root for, so [NASCAR] is a huge opportunity to reach that fan who buys our product.

"We're going to spend our marketing money on what we think is the best. Right now, that's motorsports."

Ford's position takes on more pertinence with General Motors' financial troubles. On Tuesday, GM chairman Rick Wagoner said the company will sell assets worth up to $4 billion (including the Hummer brand), borrow $2 billion to $3 billion and lay off an unspecified number of salaried employees. Wagoner said GM will ensure liquidity by raising up to $15 billion by the end of next year.

With GM facing bankruptcy rumors, observers wonder whether the company will reduce or eliminate its commitments to racing. According to Auto Week magazine, GM spends about $80 million annually in NASCAR.

Andrew Giangola, NASCAR's New York-based director of business communications, said yesterday: "[GM's] relationship with us is unchanged. GM remains an important and valued NASCAR partner. Each of the vehicle manufacturers participating in the sport are very important to NASCAR's success.

"With Chevy, no other manufacturer has won more races in NASCAR. We think they agree that the sport is a very strong platform to raise awareness of their vehicles. Our research shows that NASCAR fans are three times more likely to purchase a vehicle from one of the manufacturers competing in NASCAR vs. manufacturers that aren't in the sport."

Davis believes that NASCAR thinks it could run the series without the manufacturers' support.

"I think there is a view that the sport could do just fine without manufacturers," he said. "I'm not agreeing with them, but they might be right."

Referring to the Car of Tomorrow now in use in the Sprint Cup Series, Davis said: "A lot of the distinguishing things that a manufacturer can do have been taken away from us. [The cars] have become a lot more common."

NASCAR could stage races without manufacturer support, but it's questionable whether the top teams could continue spending big bucks on engineering and research and development. Sponsors also might trim their financial support.

Davis said there's no guarantee Ford will stay in NASCAR forever.

"If conditions got to the point where we felt the expense to be here and be competent, [if] more money was being spent than returned - especially if there's a competing marketing initiative that would give you a better return - we'd be hard pressed to keep spending money [in NASCAR]," he said.

"We review the budgets every year in NASCAR [and other series]. We look at the leverage we're getting and decide: Is this something we want to keep doing, or is there a better way to spend our money?"

For decades, a theme among manufacturers in racing was "win on Sunday, sell on Monday." Davis thinks such loyalty is waning.

"But it's still pretty strong," he said.

Davis is retiring Aug. 1 after 32 years with Ford. His successor is Brian Wolfe, a 26-year Ford veteran. In part from Philadelphia Daily News


Liuzzi to return to F1 grid in 2009
Vitantonio Liuzzi
(GMM)  Vitantonio Liuzzi is holding out hope he can return to the formula one grid in 2009.

The 26-year-old Italian was dropped by the Toro Rosso team at the end of last year, and he now regularly tests for Force India, attending all the grands prix as the Ferrari-powered outfit's reserve driver.

Now halfway through a season on the sidelines, Liuzzi - known in the paddock as simply Tonio - admitted that watching his former rivals take to the grid on Sundays is "tough".

He told the Italian magazine Autosprint that he is hoping to graduate to a race seat in 2009.

"Based on the agreement we have, anything can happen and I have a good chance of becoming a regular race driver," Liuzzi said.

Force India's current race lineup is the veteran Giancarlo Fisichella alongside Adrian Sutil.  Fisichella said in recent days that he signed a two-year deal at the beginning of 2008.

Liuzzi, who said Force India would also allow him to leave if another race opportunity arises for next year, insists: "At the moment the situation is totally open and nothing has been decided for 2009, so nobody can claim to be confirmed."

Indeed, the team's technical boss Mike Gascoyne said earlier this season that Liuzzi's presence will put pressure on Fisichella and Sutil.

"The message is very clear for Fisi, for both the race drivers.  If they want to be driving in 2009, they have got to deliver.

"If not, there is a guy who will be driving in 2009," he added.


Vettel to replace retiring Coulthard UPDATE #8 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

07/17/08 (GMM) The big rumor in the Hockenheim paddock on Thursday is that Sebastian Vettel will shortly be announced as Mark Webber's teammate at Red Bull Racing for 2009.

The news will apparently be revealed during a press conference at the German circuit.

RBR team principal Christian Horner recently said the rumors about Vettel, 21, moving from Toro Rosso to the energy drink's senior team is a "possibility".

"We always try to have the best possible driver pairing," he added.

Vettel, who has been endorsed for the seat by the retiring David Coulthard, is already under contract to Dietrich Mateschitz's popular drinks brand.

07/03/08 See Hot News article on Coulthard announcing his retirement.

07/03/08 David Coulthard will reportedly announcement his retirement from Formula One at this weekend's British Grand Prix. The BBC says that the Scot has opted to call it quits on his F1 career at the end of this season and will announce his decision later this weekend if not later today at the FIA press conference, which he is scheduled to attend.

At age 37 Coulthard is the oldest driver on the current F1 grid and has spent the past few years fielding questions about when he will retire.

The Red Bull driver, though, has always said that he hopes to continue racing but recently conceded that perhaps time has run out for him.

"I have had a great career," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying. "It is better to be a has-been than a never-been."

However, the Scot later added that he saw no reason why Red Bull would want to replace him or why he should start thinking of his future.

"I just get on with the driving. If I deliver value and have the motivation, why would Red Bull go for someone 16-year-old just because they are an energy drinks company?" he said.

"I have always maintained that if you start making too many plans, then mentally you are preparing to retire. There must be an element of lifting slightly or backing off."  PlanetF1

07/01/08 (GMM)  The strong rumor in the days before the British grand prix is that David Coulthard will announce his retirement from formula one this weekend at Silverstone.

The veteran of approaching 250 grands prix, 15 consecutive seasons and 13 wins - and at 37 the oldest active race driver - is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of 2008.

With German youngster Sebastian Vettel expected to claim his seat for next year, it is now strongly speculated that Coulthard, a Scot, will take the opportunity of perhaps his last home race to signal the impending end of his F1 career.

He said recently about the prospect of retirement as a race driver: "When that moment comes, there you go.  That's the journey of life.  You move on to the next thing.

"There are a lot worse things that can happen to you and you move on to the next challenge," Coulthard added.

06/30/08 (GMM)  F1 veteran David Coulthard has admitted that this weekend's Silverstone race could be his last home British grand prix.

The Red Bull driver, who at 37 is the oldest and second most experienced racer on the grid, may currently be on his fifteenth and last tour of the annual formula one calendar, as he is yet to extend his contract to include 2009.

David Coulthard sees the handwriting on the wall
The Scot told reporters he is not feeling nostalgic about the possible end of his career.

"When that moment comes, there you go.  That's the journey of life.  You move on to the next thing," he said.

November's Brazilian grand prix will be his 247th race weekend, and among his options for 2009 and beyond could be a punditry role for British television's F1 coverage.

"I am currently a grand prix driver, I have been for many seasons, and I am still sitting here as a grand prix driver because I enjoy it and I get a buzz from it," Coulthard said.

"There will be a point naturally where that is not going to continue, and boo-hoo.  There are a lot worse things that can happen to you and you move on to the next challenge."

06/29/08 (GMM)  F1 veteran David Coulthard is not ruling anything in or out about his future -- including speculation this weekend that he might use some upcoming spare cash to buy Toro Rosso.

The Red Bull driver, who at 37 is the oldest active competitor on the grid, admitted recently that his fifteen consecutive seasons of formula one is currently giving him cause to reflect on the course of the years ahead.

Rumors suggest that a punditry role for Britain's coverage of the sport on the BBC next year is an option.

But wilder speculation hints that, with the sale of his five-star Columbus hotel in Monaco pending - and half of Red Bull's junior squad Toro Rosso on the market - he might join the action as a team owner next year.

"I'm in the middle of a GP season and I have some clear plans but that's not one of them at the moment -- you can't go straight from primary school to university, and to presume I could go straight from driving an F1 car would be arrogant," Coulthard said in interview with The Times.

"Buying it wouldn't be the scary thing but finding $200m a year to run it definitely would," he added.

06/23/08 (GMM)  A recurring rumor on the verge of the French grand prix at the weekend was that Sebastian Vettel's deal to move to Red Bull Racing in 2009 is now all but guaranteed.

Even the Milton-Keynes based team's boss, Christian Horner, is warming to the media's regular attempts for signs of confirmation.

German magazine Auto Motor und Sport quotes the Briton as saying switching Vettel, 20, from junior team Toro Rosso to the 'A' squad is a "possibility".

Horner added that Vettel is doing "a very good job" this season, amid suggestions that veteran David Coulthard would be the current Red Bull driver displaced by the young German's graduation.

"We always try to have the best possible driver pairing," Horner said.

He also ruled out suggestions that Vettel might tire of the Red Bull stable if he is not given the nod to move to the premier team in 2009.

"He would not be in the position (to do that)," Horner said.  "He has a long term relationship with Red Bull."

Vettel looks set to replace veteran Coulthard
06/22/08 (GMM)  Gerhard Berger admits he is likely to look within Red Bull's own stable of young drivers should Toro Rosso need to replace Sebastian Vettel at the end of 2008.

Intense speculation in the Magny-Cours paddock suggests that the energy drink outfit's A-team, Red Bull Racing, has already decided to replace David Coulthard with Vettel for next season.

Berger, Toro Rosso's co-owner, played down the Vettel rumors.

"I know his contractual situation of course but there is no hurry," the Austrian told sportnet.at.  "More, I cannot say right now."

Should Vettel graduate to Red Bull, Berger was asked where he might start looking for his replacement.

"At first we would always look within Red Bull to see if anyone is there," he said, but he denied that he has someone already in mind.

"No.  Currently there is no-one ready for formula one," Berger said.


Clubs may still split with FIA over Mosley
(GMM)  A possible split between disgruntled automobile clubs and the FIA is "moving forward", American club (AAA) president Robert Darbelnet insists.

Several clubs, including Germany's large ADAC organization, were furious last month when scandal-gripped FIA president Max Mosley survived office despite his sadomasochistic romp with five prostitutes.

With his escapades now being reported in explicit detail in court and therefore the mainstream media, it emerges that some clubs are still very unhappy about the situation.

Although no formal splits have been announced as yet, Darbelnet says talks with six of the world's leading car clubs are about setting up an alternate governing body.

"From those discussions, we could come up with an alternate form or structure, which is what it would take," he told the Associated Press.

"We need to define the best type of structure.  I don't see people getting off the boat and on another one without some kind of assurances," he added.

Darbelnet confirmed that the intense media attention of Mosley's privacy case against the British tabloid News of the World is another impediment to moving on in the wake of the sex scandal.

Kage Schildt, president of the Swedish national body, added: "Of course this debate is not good for the FIA.  But it's up to (Mosley), it's up to him all the time."


Big crowd at Mid-Ohio this weekend
Mid-Ohio is expecting a HUGE crowd this weekend for the ALMS/IRL doubleheader. RV camping has been sold out for a couple weeks along with other tickets like infield parking and some of the grandstand tickets.


NASCAR may be forced to rename its Cup series yet again UPDATE #2 SK Telecom, the largest provider of wireless phone service in South Korea, is in talks to acquire Sprint Nextel, the troubled U.S. wireless carrier, according to people familiar with the talks.  SK Telecom, which is smaller than Sprint, would be joined in any deal by private equity firms that would contribute cash towards the purchase, sources told CNBC.

A deal is not imminent and while the talks are on-going, participants caution that any agreement would at best be weeks away. The board of Sprint, which has been struggling with significant subscriber losses, is divided about whether to sell the company as some of them hold a belief that a turnaround for the company may not be far off, according to people briefed on its position.  A spokesman at Sprint declined to comment on what he called rumors and speculation.

05/12/08 How much longer before Sprint and Nextel with its proprietary networks go belly up?  Sprint has tried to stay competitive through a variety of methods.  It released new smartphones and sought to expand its wireless offerings.  However, despite its best efforts, the nation's third largest carrier lost more ground to it larger competitors, AT&T and Verizon, in Q1 2008.

The traditional Sprint network and the Nextel division of Sprint -- the mobile phone network which it acquired for $35 billion in 2005 -- currently have 52.8 million subscribers after losing over 1.1 million customers during the quarter.  The lost customers are "post-paid" customers, meaning customers who usually pay a monthly bill.  The loss indicates growing trouble.  In all of 2007, Sprint only lost 1.2 million customers, but steep losses began in Q4 2007, with the departure of 1.07 million customers.

These losses are particularly notable as Sprint has various severance penalties to try to dissuade customers from leaving.  The large customer exodus indicates that customers are willing to pay the price to ditch Sprint, a very bad sign for the carrier. 

As a result of the losses, Sprint saw its revenue fall 7.5 percent to $9.33B USD.  In all the company lost $505M USD over the quarter, up from a $202M USD loss the year prior.

The losses have Sprint reeling.  CEO Dan Hesse refused to comment on rumors that Sprint may dump Nextel to focus on its own cell phone network.  He did say that such a move would involve "significant complexities".

Did Sprint and Nextel really think NASCAR fans were stupid enough to switch to phones that don't work around the world?  The sponsorship of NASCAR is not helping the company one iota so look for them to work on an early exit strategy.  This dog doesn't hunt.

05/05/08 Deutsche Telekom AG is considering a bid for Sprint Nextel Corp., according to a media report Monday.

Bonn-based Deutsche Telekom did not immediately comment on the report in The Wall Street Journal. Were it to make such a deal, it would catapult its T-Mobile wireless unit to the top spot in the U.S. market. In its report, The Wall Street Journal said deliberations were at "a preliminary stage and management may very well turn away," according to the people it quoted.

Any bid, the paper's sources said, "could still be weeks, or even months away."

Sprint Nextel is the third-biggest provider of cell phone services in the U.S. and has a market capitalization of approximately $22 billion. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless are the top two U.S. providers.

If this happens NASCAR will be forced to rename its top series yet again.  It went from Winston Cup to Nextel Cup and then to Sprint Cup.  Since Sprint now has the contract for naming rights to the Cup series, The next move might be to the T-Mobile Cup. AP Article

Better news however, would be for consumers.  Since T-Mobile uses GSM wireless technology, perhaps they will convert all their users over to GSM, who like AT&T users, have phones and data devices that work worldwide.  Almost the entire world uses GSM to allow consumers seamless access anywhere in the world, unlike the technologies used by companies like Verizon and Sprint Nextel that have limited use outside the USA.  Getting Sprint and Nextel users on GSM will leave the poor Verizon users as the last ones stuck buying devices from Verizon (at an extra cost to them) that have a dual chip that also uses GSM.  However, right now it is not quad-band so a Verizon World Phone still is not really a 'world' phone.


Kobalt Tools to be new Series sponsor? UPDATE Kobalt Tools, a Lowe’s brand, has emerged as the leading candidate to sponsor the truck series, industry sources say. Craftsman has been the title sponsor since the series was launched in 1995, but the Sears brand will not renew after its deal with NASCAR runs out this year.  NASCAR is believed to be selling the truck title rights in the mid- to high seven-figure range annually, with an advertising commitment on Speed, the broadcast home of the series, at close to seven figures. Stanley Tools and NAPA also have been involved in discussions with NASCAR. Scenedaily.com

06/30/08 Ray Dunlap reported on the SPEED Report that Kobalt Tools sounds like they are the leading contender to replace Craftsman as the sponsor of the NASCAR Truck Series. Craftsman announced last season that they would leave as Series sponsor after the 2008 season.


Braun to make first Cup start at Watkins Glen UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Roush Fenway Racing folks denied that Colin Braun will be running the Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen and say Braun will be racing in the Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway. Roush Fenway Racing

Colin Braun
On this weekend's SPEED Report, Bob Dillner reported that Colin Braun is scheduled to make his first start in the Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen.

Braun will be driving a car from the Yates Racing stable and not Roush Fenway, who he drives in the truck series for.


Forsythe to Indy Lights may spell doom for Atlantic Series
The bumpy ride for the Atlantic Championship may get a bit rougher as series co-owner Jerry Forsythe is expected to announce today that he's setting up shop in the arch-rival Indy Lights Series.

While positioned by the team as a way to bolster its stable of race programs in the open-wheel ladder system, Forsythe's move to Indy Lights only increases speculation that Atlantic co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Forsythe want to sell the series by the end of the 2008 season.

But Neil Micklewright, Forsythe vice-president of operations, said the team is not abandoning Atlantic and will run cars in both series.

"This is an extremely exciting time for Forsythe Racing as we're once again in the thick of a title battle in the Atlantic Championship, while we're also looking to further bolster our race programs, starting with our Indy Lights announcement," he said.

"We believe the Firestone Indy Lights Series offers Forsythe Racing an additional platform to showcase our commitment to on-track excellence and our desire to win."

Read more & Comment...

Paul Tracy to drive in Edmonton UPDATE #11 Paul Tracy is joining the IndyCar Series -- at least for one race. The former Champ Car World Series champion will drive a Vision Racing car owned by Tony George in the July 26 race in Edmonton, Alberta. Vision will continue to field cars for Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV.  Walker Racing, which confirmed the deal, will provide the manpower for Tracy's car.  Indy Star

07/14/08 Tracy confirmed to Crash.net that he will indeed be driving in Edmonton for Walker Racing.

07/11/08 According to this SPEEDtv.com article, the details have been worked out between Tony George and Derrick Walker for Tracy to drive a third Vision Racing entry at the IndyCar race at Edmonton.  This deal is contingent on Paul Tracy's acceptance of the terms of the offer.

07/10/08 As we have stated, and now as his advisors are telling him in this article, by running just one race in a car made up of a hodgepodge of used parts, Tracy is setting himself to fail in Edmonton should he accept the ride.  It is, however, an opportunity to get his foot in the door with the IRL and Tony George.

07/08/08 It appears Paul Tracy has secured a car and is close to signing a deal and securing a sponsor to compete in Edmonton's inaugural IndyCar open-wheel race on July 26.

"We're just down to the wire here and getting things locked down," Derrick Walker, owner of Walker Racing, said Tuesday in an interview from Indianapolis.

"We're through the worst. Now it's just getting all the details down and everybody agreeing, and off we go."

Walker, who has been brokering the deal with Vision Racing owner Tony George, said he expects a decision within days and pegged the chances of a deal at "80 per cent."

"I don't foresee any major issues and it's never done 'til it's done, but I think the likelihood is very, very strong," he said.

Walker said the deal would see the team borrow a car from Vision Racing, which already has Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV driving for it. Vision would add a third car for Tracy that would run under the Vision umbrella but be maintained by Walker crews.

Carpenter and Foyt are primarily oval racers, and Walker said Tracy's team would bring a lot of road experience. Edmonton's 1.96-mile road circuit is at the downtown City Centre Airport.

Tracy and Walker Racing competed in the now-defunct Champ Car series. Tracy was the career Champ Car leader in wins at 31 and raced at all three Edmonton events.

Walker said Vision would help them master the Dallara car and Honda engine while they would deliver the engineering data and experience on the Edmonton course.

"They saw the benefit of Champ Car involvement," he said.

Edmonton organizers are also looking for a publicity boost.

Organizers were not able to advertise in earnest until late spring as legal difficulties arising from the merger kept the Edmonton race from being formally announced. Early forecasts had the race projected to run about $1 million in the red.

After Nashville, four of the next five IndyCar races are on street/road courses, but that doesn't mean Tracy will be on board.

Walker said it would be a one-race deal for now, but the door is open for more.

"We want to get back in the IRL and if Tony has the sponsorship interest and all of those things come together, I see no reason why it wouldn't go more races," he said.

"But right now it's not planned for that." Canadian Press

07/03/08 In this original rumor below we mentioned that Tracy was rumored to be doing Goodwood this year.  That is confirmed in this Hot News article.

06/30/08 Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel that Paul Tracy and Vision Racing will most likely run the last four non oval events with Walker Racing prepping and running the cars. Tony George is negotiating with Paul Tracy and has some sponsorship lined up for him. The last four non oval events would be Edmonton, Sonoma, Detroit and Surfers Paradise.

06/23/08 Paul Tracy might soon be an IndyCar Series driver, at least for one race. Tony George, who owns Vision Racing, said team officials might put the former Champ Car World Series champion in a third entry for the series' July 26 street course race in Edmonton, Alberta.

Tracy is one of Canada's most popular athletes and widely regarded as the best open-wheel driver -- certainly the most experienced -- left out of the unification process.

George said the ideal program would be to field the car through Vision but use Derrick Walker's Indianapolis-based organization to run it. Walker, who has owned teams in Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, has not been able to assemble a program to participate in the series this season but has been soliciting companies to sponsor a return.

Walker said Sunday that he has been in active discussions with Canadian companies over the past three weeks to field either Tracy or former Champ Car veteran Alex Tagliani, another Canadian.

"Alex is very passionate about it and Paul is like, 'Yeah, I'm interested and I need this and that and I'm driving a pickup truck (in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series race in Joliet, Ill., next month),' " Walker said. "Nevertheless, Paul said he'd do it, too, so now I just have to get with Tony and get this (sponsorship) signed."

Walker said George has not given him the green light to proceed, but George told The Star that it makes sense given the start-up equipment costs Walker would have to pay just for one race.

Tracy and Tagliani could not be reached for comment Sunday. Vision fields two cars in the series on a regular basis, for drivers Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV. Indy Star

06/19/08 Paul Tracy is set to make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck debut later this year.

His agent, Doug Barnette, confirmed that Tracy is scheduled to compete for Germain Racing at the September 20th race in Las Vegas.

The former Champ Car champion has been on the sidelines following the merger earlier this year between the Indy Racing League and the Champ Car World Series. He was under contract to Gerald Forsythe, who elected not to field a team in the IRL this year, however, its believed he was granted his release following the Long Beach Grand Prix.

The 39 year old Tracy tested a truck for Germain Racing last month in Chicago. Germain Racing is one of the premier teams in the Craftsman Truck Series, fielding entries for Todd Bodine, Justin Marks and Chrissy Wallace. Bodine currently sits second in the championship.

Tracy, however, could be back racing even sooner if plans to field a car for him for next month's IndyCar race in Edmonton get finalized.

Derrick Walker, who attempted to filed an entry for Tracy at the Indianapolis 500, is working on finalizing a sponsorship package within the next week or so to get the Canadian back on track.  TSN.ca

06/19/08 See related SPEEDTV.com article.  Sounds like Tracy may do a one race deal for Edmonton.  How dumb is that?.....Putting Canada's favorite son in an unfamiliar car for just one race so he can fail in front of his fans.  Dumb and dumber.  He should be in a full-time ride, but that would take common sense that Indy Car management often lacks, hence why TV ratings are below 1.0.

06/19/08 Paul Tracy will be a guest on NASCAR Now on Thursday night, June 19, to discuss his future plans.  See related article.

06/18/08 With IndyCar set to visit Canada once this year (Edmonton) and twice in 2009 (Edmonton and Toronto), there is a real need to have Canada's most popular driver on the starting grid.  However, according to AutoRacing1.com sources, there has been no interest from Tony George to get Tracy in an IndyCar.  From what we hear, Tracy got tired of waiting and we hear he will be announcing a deal tomorrow that has been given to him for NASCAR, which will help NASCAR expand in Canada. 

Talk about helping you #1 enemy defeat you.

The only way that Tracy can get into an IndyCar is if he pays for the ride and we know Paul will never do that.

From our European sources we also hear that Tracy has been invited to drive a 96 Penske, a 66 Graham Hill Lola and Sebastian Bourdais' Newman/Haas Lola Champ Car in the Goodwood Festival.


Candidates emerge for Toro Rosso vacancy
(GMM)  Should Toro Rosso have a vacant cockpit at the end of the season, team co-owner Gerhard Berger would like to fill it for 2009 with a rookie driver.

"But at the moment I cannot see anybody (suitable)," the Austrian, a ten-time grand prix winner himself, told sportnet.

Current STR racer Sebastian Vettel will almost certainly be scooped up by the senior Red Bull team in 2009, while his rookie teammate Sebastien Bourdais is yet to have his contract extended beyond November's Brazilian grand prix.

Bruno Senna appears to be the top candidate to replace Sebastian Vettel at Toro Rosso
Bruno Senna, whose links with Berger are well known, is an obvious candidate for Toro Rosso, but another GP2 competitor - 19-year-old Red Bull test and reserve driver Sebastien Buemi - has also been mentioned.

Berger, however, said that while the young Swiss is "quick now and then, he is inconsistent and therefore not yet ready" for formula one.

The latest name to be thrown into the hat is Salvador Duran, a little-known Mexican driver who currently contests the World Series by Renault.

What is interesting about the Duran speculation is the 23-year-old's links with Carlos Slim, a wealthy Mexican businessman who may be looking to bring his brand Telmex into F1.

"It is true that I looked at Duran last year," Berger said.  "This year there has been no contact," he added.


Teresa Earnhardt Looking to sell DEI UPDATE #3 Max Siegel vehemently denied that Teresa Earnhardt is looking to sell Dale Earnhardt Inc. and added that he has no interest in pursuing purchase of the NASCAR team.  “We are absolutely not for sale,” the DEI president said Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway. “Every team in this sport has had to look at change in the business model to generate new revenue streams and grow the business to finance racing operations.

“Racing is a core business. If the sponsorship market is up and down and cyclical [and] if you’re going to compete on the racing operation on a weekly basis, you’ve got to fund it. We’ve been approached like every other team by many people trying to get involved in the sport. We would be foolish to not sit down and listen to any strategic partner that would add value to our organization.” Scenedaily.com

07/08/08 DEI President of Global Operations Max Siegel today denied a report that DEI CEO Teresa Earnhardt "had commissioned investment banking firm Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc. to locate a buyer or financial investment partner." Siegel: "We are not for sale right now. Nothing is imminent." Siegel also was "forced to approach his driving corps with assurance that the team is currently not for sale" ESPN.com

07/08/08 Max Siegel, President of Global Operations at DEI is currently in negotiations with major investors to buy Teresa Earnhardt out of DEI, a source close to the negotiations said Monday. It appears now that Teresa is finally willing to sell, and Siegel is working diligently with a number of potential investors to take the company over. Sources said Siegel would not just be buying a portion of DEI or a controlling interest, rather, he would be buying the entire company. Sources said, Teresa has agreed to walk away from the company entirely for the right price. That price is supposedly somewhere between $115-$130 million dollars. With one exception...Teresa would retain the rights to all "Dale Earnhardt' and 'Intimidator' rights and merchandise sales. Siegel would only be buying the DEI race teams, and real estate including all race shops and the DEI headquarters in Mooresville, NC. Sources said Siegel is very serious about the purchase and appears to have investors salivating over the opportunity to own the legendary team. In addition, Teresa has grown more frustrated with NASCAR nation following her fall-out with the sports most popular driver, and wants nothing more than to be out of the public eye for good. Captain Thunder Racing

Teresa Earnhardt
07/07/08 Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway is reporting today that Teresa Earnhardt has enlisted the services of Bear, Stearns and Company to find a buyer -- or at least a major financial investor -- for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Bear Stearns is an investment bank, securities trading and brokerage firm based in New York City, and has been charged with finding a buyer for the entire operation. Barring that, Earnhardt is said to be interested in selling at least a minority interest in the team. DEI President of Global Operations Max Siegel declined to comment on the story when contacted earlier today. Sirius NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway


IRL may drop Homestead and Nashville races UPDATE #2 There will be a flurry of off-track activity in the next two weeks as the Indy Racing League finalizes its 2009 schedule. Series officials are expected to sit down with several track operators in the next few days to discuss their future with the IRL.

The IRL is trying to incorporate some of the former Champ Car’s most promising markets along with a handful of potential new markets while trying to determine which of its current venues it should retain. The 2009 schedule is expected to have 18 or 19 races.

“We’re not going to please everyone, so at the end of the day we do have to make a decision we’re charged with making, and that’s balancing all considerations and making the best call for our business,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL’s commercial division.

Nashville, where the IRL raced last weekend, could be on the outside looking in. Team officials complained that the track is not conducive to good racing, and spectators complained that there was far too little passing and side-by-side racing. IRL officials were upset by what they perceived as a lack of promotion by track and city officials for the event.

But Nashville does have some things going for it. It has hosted an IRL race going back to 2001 and it is the headquarter for the series’ tire manufacturer, Firestone.

Firestone routinely brings 2,000 to 4,000 people out for the race weekend for corporate entertaining. The tire company also helps promote the event. Officials for Nashville Superspeedway said they intend to fight to keep the event on the IRL calendar.

As part of the reunification earlier this year, Long Beach, Calif., Edmonton and Surfers Paradise in Australia were added to the mix. Another race in Toronto appears very likely to be on the 2009 schedule.

The merger also has produced interest from track owners from Mexico to Oregon and New Hampshire. Las Vegas is also said to be another strong candidate to host an IRL race in 2009. Miami, meanwhile, appears to be another current IRL market that will likely be cut from the 2009 schedule, league sources said. IBJ.com

06/25/08 This Nashville Post article also says that the Nashville IndyCar race could be in jeopardy.  Clearly this one groove concrete track where the slightest move offline and you are up in the concrete dust and into the wall, is no place for IndyCars.  And let's not forget - There may be a reason why there were rumors this past off-season about Bridgestone wanting Champ Car to run a street race in Nashville.

06/08/08 SPEED's Robin Miller is reporting that Tony George will be in Mexico City to discuss a race in Mexico while dropping Homestead and Nashville.  With three or four Champ Car races being added to the schedule (Long Beach, Mexico, Toronto and Edmonton) and rumors of possibly one or two more, some of the deadwood races may have to go.  Homestead never draws that big of a crowd and Nashville's grandstand is so small the attendance just isn't enough to support a race.


Ryan Newman to leave Penske? UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

07/13/08 Ryan Newman was "Mummy" on whether he will leave Penske Racing after this season. Newman, promoting the soon-to-be-released movie "Mummy" on his car in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, is considered the leading candidate to join Tony Stewart next season at newly-formed Stewart-Haas Racing. Sources have told ESPN.com that deal to join the Indiana natives is close to done and could be announced in two weeks at Indianapolis. Newman said he has three serious options outside of Penske and that ownership is part of at least one of the options. He also said re-signing with Penske is an option. Asked if ownership could be an option at Stewart-Haas, where Stewart was given 50 percent of the company, Newman said, "I won't answer that." Newman said last month he would not re-sign with Penske unless the performance of his team improved significantly. He said the team has made some strides to improve, but not enough to convince him it is ready to challenge for a championship.  ESPN.com

06/18/08 Ryan Newman has an agreement to revisit his latest contract offer with team owner Roger Penske after an undisclosed deadline, but said he will not return to his current NASCAR Sprint Cup team unless his No. 12 Dodge program shows significant improvement soon.

Newman’s season has been mostly a disappointment after he opened with a victory in the 50th Daytona 500. He’s 17th in points with five top-10s but four finishes of 30th or worse, two because of engine failures.

Ryan Newman
“It’s a performance issue,” Newman, 30, said at a pre-Coke Zero 400 media event at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. “There’s no excuse. The other guys aren’t doing it. We shouldn’t either. We strive to be the best at everything, and we’re failing at that.”

Newman’s latest engine disaster led to a 42nd-place finish last week at Michigan. That second incident, he said, will impact his decision on whether to return to the team that gave him his start in NASCAR in 2000.

“Heck yeah,” said Newman, who has won 13 Cup races, eight in 2003 when he finished his career-best of sixth in for the second of three times. “Without a doubt. My goal is to be the best driver I can be and get the best results, wherever that is, whether it’s Penske Racing or any other place. I have to be fair to myself and my long-term goals and everything else, and Roger knows that. We’ve talked about that. It’s no secret. Sunday was obviously a step in a bad direction when it came to that.” St. Pete Times

04/25/08 Ryan Newman’s contract with Penske South expires at the end of this year and he is definitely considering his options.

“I haven’t signed my contract yet, and we haven’t even really talked about it yet,” he said at Talladega Superspeedway. “There’s some options out there, obviously. … I’m sitting happy in my seat right now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy someplace else.”

“I know that there’s other things out there,” he said. “I know that there’s other things besides retaining my position at Penske Racing.”


F1 teams eye Pantano
Giorgio Pantano
GP2 leader Giorgio Pantano is attracting interest from several Formula 1 teams, according to his current team boss Alfonso de Orleans Borbon.  The Italian has had a previous and disappointing spell in the sport, failing to impress and eventually being replaced by Timo Glock at the Jordan team in 2004.  However, he has been in great form in the F1 feeder series in 2008 and collected another win at Silverstone earlier this month.

"There's absolutely no reason not to have him in F1," de Orleans told GPWeek.  "And from what I've heard from some F1 teams asking me questions, they wouldn't be asking... if they weren't interested.”

Pantano remains keen to prove himself in the highest level of single seater racing, saying: "I'm just me and I just have to find the right people to go back to Formula 1.  I'm trying to talk to see if there is any chance and then we'll see," he added to GPWeek. "The dream is very real and I am hungry."


Last Nashville race for IRL UPDATE #5 Negotiations will continue later this week between Indy Racing League officials and Nashville Superspeedway’s Cliff Hawks in the track’s attempt to remain part of the 2009 IndyCar schedule.  “We met Friday morning and we’re planning on talking again in one week,” said Hawks, the track’s vice president and general manager.

Scott Dixon won the eighth IRL race at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday. There have been Internet reports that the race is not on the 2009 schedule, which hasn’t been released.

Terry Angstadt, president of the IRL’s commercial division, said the league would hold either 18 or 19 races next season. He said the league is attempting to have a 50-50 split between oval and street/road courses because of the merger this season with the Champ Car Series, which is known for road-course racing.

Nashville is one of 11 ovals on this year’s 18-race schedule.

“We have a lot of different options,” Angstadt said. “We do think that road-course racing is exciting. We have lots of fans that support that and lots of fans that say we should be all ovals.” The Tennessean

07/13/08 This Tennessean article  makes a case for the IRL keeping Nashville on the schedule in 2009.  We just cannot see it.  Because of the bumpy concrete surface the racing is horrible and it only draws 25,000 spectators at best.

07/11/08 After rookie practice Thursday night the drivers underscored why Nashville is a horrible track for IndyCars.  They have no business being there.  "It's bumpy," Justin Wilson said. "It's really bumpy."

Added teammate Graham Rahal, "You can see the concrete slabs all through the circuit. It's difficult. The first couple of laps you make out there are tricky.  "I was talking with (Penske Racing driver Dan) Wheldon and he said this is probably the most difficult oval that we go to as far the superspeedways. That definitely came true."

07/10/08 The AP story goes further into the possible loss of Nashville.  Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League's commercial division, said Thursday that league officials hope to have the 2009 schedule completed by the end of July or soon after. Picking and choosing which tracks to keep from the IndyCar Series and which to add from the Champ Car World Series isn't easy for what likely will be an 18 or 19-race schedule.

"We're not going to please everyone, so at the end of the day we do have to make a decision we're charged with making, and that's balancing all considerations and making the best call for our business and total," Angstadt said. "It does kind of come down to that. We sure seek a lot of input."

Cliff Hawks, president of the superspeedway, has heard the talk that the 1.33-mile, D-shaped oval might slip off the IRL schedule. But he said he has not heard anything from Indy Racing League officials to indicate that Nashville won't host a ninth straight race in 2009 although they are expected to talk within the next few days.

"I certainly don't take the rumors lightly. ... If it looks like there is some feeling on their part that they might move away from this marketplace, I'm going to do everything within my power within reason to keep the race here," Hawks said.

07/10/08 This Indy Star article also speculates that Nashville may be off the 2009 IRL schedule.  Our opinion - IndyCars don't belong on the dangerous single groove concrete track.

07/10/08 A  video report saying this could be the last race at Nashville for the IRL. Video from The Tennessean


Coulthard to DTM with Audi and Red Bull?
(GMM)  David Coulthard next year could become the latest formula one driver to switch into Germany's premier touring car category.

Mere days ago at the Hockenheim test, the 37-year-old Scot insisted that, following his decision to retire from formula one, he has no plans to keep racing elsewhere in 2009 or beyond.

But he has repeatedly also made clear he is not hanging up his helmet.

"I have had no conversations with anyone about racing anything next year.

"The only reason I said I haven't hung up my helmet is because in six months or one year, if there is an opportunity to race something that I think could be interesting, then everybody will say he is coming out of retirement," Coulthard told reporters.

According to the German portal Focus, however, the DTM competitor Audi may be interested in occupying Coulthard in 2009, with Red Bull providing a sponsorship link.

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