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Pantano to make IRL debut, then Champ CarUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' See announcement by Target Chip Ganassi team on Hot News page. 08/17/05 Giorgio Pantano will make his IRL IndyCar debut at Sears Point next month with Chip Ganassi Racing, according to an exclusive report in this week's Autosport. The Italian is being drafted in for the Sears Point and Watkins Glen road course events following the team's decision to dismiss Darren Manning. Current stand-in Jaques Lazier is regarded as an oval specialist and is not prepared to take part in the road course events.
Pantano's manager David Sears told Autosport: "I'm renting out Giorgio to my old mate Chip for the Sonoma and Watkins Glen races. He's going to follow in the footsteps of (Juan Pablo) Montoya, (Nicolas) Minassian and (Bruno) Junqueira. We'll see where it might lead for next year.
"Giorgio is also looking at opportunities in F1 and Champ Cars next year. He's been unlucky this season in GP2 with a lot of mechanical problems, so this is a chance for him to prove himself again at the top level."
John Andretti to replace WallaceUPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' In an effort to get back into the top 35 in NASCAR Nextel Cup owner points, Morgan McClure Motorsports have hired veteran John Andretti to drive the #4 Lucas Oil Chevrolet in this weekend's GFS Marketplace 400. After road course specialist PJ Jones' outing at Watkins Glen ended in brake failure and a hard crash, team boss Larry McClure has entered Andretti, and not regular driver Mike Wallace, for Sunday's 200-lap event at the two-mile oval. NASCAR.com 08/16/05 Rumor has it that John Andretti could be replacing Mike Wallace in the No, 4 Chevy. The NASCAR.com entry list for the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway has John Andretti in the #4 Lucas Oil / Morgan McClure Chevy.
Champ Car teams to run AtlanticsUPDATE Just before the race in Denver, Champ Car's biggest supporter Paul Newman talked to his racing partner Carl Haas about Formula Atlantic. "We need to support the Atlantic series," Newman told Haas. "All the Champ Car teams should support the Atlantic series. We should have our own Atlantic teams or help support existing Atlantic teams.
"We need to build the interest in the new young stars," Newman went on. "We need to do it just like Hollywood has always done it in the movie industry. We need to promote the new young talent and build interest in them among the fans so that they know who these guys and gals are and already have a fan following by the time they arrive in Champ Cars." ChampCar.ws
08/14/05 We have it on good word that a move is afoot by some of the top Champ Car teams to not only join Team Australia and Mi-Jack Conquest Racing in also running a new Champ Car Atlantic team, but to convince all the other Champ Car team owners to do the same. If this happens, it will be another major boost to the series and we hear the number of orders is so large already that some people are worried Swift will need to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure all the teams have a car for the first race next year in Long Beach.
Will Champ Car return to Road America? Another matter that came up at Newman/Haas in Denver was the subject of Elkhart Lake. As Robin Miller said on our audio roundtable this week, if Milwaukee doesn't produce a much bigger crowd next year Champ Car should forsake the venerable old oval and put every effort into returning to Elkhart Lake.
It's a well-known fact that Road America is the USA's greatest road course, a rare road circuit where the drivers can pass and race and put on a great show. Unfortunately, events at Road America are very poorly promoted, resulting in the absence this year of the great track from the Champ Car schedule. Robin and I agree that a renewed effort to return to Elkhart Lake, complete with some vigorous promotion in the nearby Chicago market could make Road America a valuable round in the series. Racing in rural Wisconsin would also support the sport in all its many forms down to the grass roots of club racing including the track's Skip Barber school.
"I agree," Carl Haas commented. "It's a beautiful track and there are some great golf courses and hotels nearby. People say it's too far out in the boonies, but you know I sold the biggest sponsorship deal I ever made for Formula 1 and CART back in the eighties at Elkhart. Jim Dutt from Beatrice came to Elkhart and he just fell in love with the place and with racing there." ChampCar.ws
Ansan race management changeUPDATE "There is a lot of trepidation out in the public that the race isn't going to come off because obviously it didn't last year," said Joe Chrnelich, Champ Car's executive vice-president of development, governmental affairs and planning. "We've been working very closely with the promoter to make sure it does happen. But we can tell you candidly that working on a new venue all the way around the globe with language barriers and time zone barriers is a very challenging task. Obviously it's something we have to fine-tune because we're going to be doing a lot more of that. But we will not let the promoter fail and we are looking forward to getting there for the inaugural event and being there next year as well." 08/14/05 We have it on good word that all is well with Champ Car's upcoming South Korea race in Ansan. There was a rumor going around the paddock that the promoter had quit so we checked with Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. "There is no truth to that rumor," said Eidswick. "Yes the English speaking guy who was part of the promoter group is being replaced, but this in no way will affect our race."
Champ Car now in the black? Recall that Kevin Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com that Champ Car might be profitable by the end of its 2nd year. National Speed Sport News reports Kevin Kalkhoven said that 20 months into his ownership of Champ Car, the company is profitable. "The strategy we have here at Champ Car is growth and evolution," Kalkhoven said. "We could not just rely on the history of the series because we had seen in some markets that was not necessarily a winning formula.
Paul Page back? A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I was at the Denver GP and noticed a familiar voice over the P.A. system....it was Paul Page. It reminded me of the old CART days. My question to AutoRacing1.com is was this just a one time thing for Mr. Page or is he going to back on the air with Champ Car? Rick Benjamin is a good announcer, but Paul Page is THE VOICE of Champ Car despite his brief stint as the voice of the IRL. (likely due to his ABC contract). I really hope that he has been hired by Champ Car and should be back in the broadcast booth immediately. Peter M. Romero, Albuquerque New Mexico Dear Peter, We ran into Paul Page at the Edmonton GP and at the time he told us he was doing Champ Car play-by-play for Global TV in Canada, but we're not sure what his commitments are beyond that. You are correct, he did become an IRL announcer because of his contract with ABC and a lot of CART/Champ Car fans threw him under the bus because of that. He has since been released and is generally doing a decent job with Champ Car the couple of times we have heard him this year. Could we see Benjamin and Page in the booth for USA TV next year for Champ Car? Mark C.
How long will Eidswick stay un-retired?UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.' See story to appear on Hot News page. 08/15/05 Recall that when Dick Eidswick took the job as President of Champ Car it was to be for one year. He came out of retirement as a favor to Kevin Kalkhoven and ended up staying on past his original intended 12-month service. In that time the likeable Eidswick has been instrumental in fixing many of the management and operational issues that plagued CART (now Champ Car) and has guided the Atlantic Series through the process of defining its future with a new formula and increased interest.
Our sources tell us that OWRS, the owners of Champ Car, is trying to find Eidswick (pictured right) some help so he can spend more time with his ailing wife and enjoy some time for R&R. According to our sources, don't be surprised if OWRS splits the duties of Eidswick by hiring a new President but keeping Eidswick in the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of the Board. Our sources say OWRS has been interviewing some key leaders and an announcement could be forthcoming any day.
We have yet to find anyone who doesn't like Eidswick. He's very approachable, very down-to-earth, comes across as rather aloof at times, but under that always smiling warm face is one of Champ Car's unsung heroes in helping to take the company from the throes of bankruptcy onto the road to a healthy recovery. As we write this the hard working Eidswick is flying halfway around the world to meet with leaders in Beijing and then South Korea to firm up the Beijing deal and make last minute plans for Champ Car's first trip to South Korea in October. Mark C.
Roush won’t let Busch out of contract earlyUPDATE Amid reports that Roush Racing President Jack Roush will not let Nextel Cup driver Kurt Busch out of the final year of his contract in ’06, Roush said today, “We will consider releasing him, but it’s not presumed that we will. AP
08/12/05 Roush Racing owner Jack Roush said Friday reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch "had the obligation and I have the expectation" that Busch will remain with the No. 97 Ford in the 2006 season. Busch, 27, announced Tuesday he had signed with Penske Racing South to drive its No. 2 Dodges beginning in the 2007 season, but he also asked Roush to be released from his 2006 obligations.
At the time, Roush said it would mull over the decision. "Kurt certainly has every right, and I celebrate the right that he has to look on the horizon at opportunities better than us, but we also keep our commitments, and that's what I expect," Roush said.
"Kurt didn't say what motivated his decision, other than it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He didn't say what the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was. He didn't say it was money. He didn't say otherwise, and I didn't ask him."
France Jr. played George like a fiddle According to Robin Miller on Wind Tunnel Sunday night, Bill France Jr., former President of NASCAR urged Tony George to start the IRL to break up open-wheel racing and destroy Champ Car/CART back in the 1990's.
A lot of people have speculated this over the years and France's dislike of CART was evident in many statements he made. Was it because CART was getting too strong, or was it because they were increasingly becoming a road racing company?
Is it illegal to start, or have someone else start, a competing business to divide and conquer? Absolutely not. It happens all the time, one shrewd businessman (Bill France Jr.) plays another businessman (Tony George) like a fiddle to divide and conquer a competing business. If true, it probably all sounded good to Tony George back then, he would become the Bill France Jr. of Open Wheel Racing.....what's left of it.
In hindsight, perhaps it's good. Although successful back then, CART did have its problems, many of which have been fixed as CART, now Champ Car, rebounds under new leadership. Sometimes competition is good to force companies to become better. It's the essence of the free enterprise, capitalist, market theory. The only thing holding back Champ Car and the IRL is the fact they remain two competing entities. That would be OK if there was no NASCAR, with three strong divisions of racing. But there is, and as the IRL and Champ Car fight for survival and renewed growth, NASCAR is eating their lunch.
Dario to boycott IRL races On SPEED News Sunday, Dario Franchitti said the IRL "mandated" wheel bearings are not up to the job, and he will sit out until they do something about it. There have been many failures, and as they say, you get what you pay for.
Williams signs deal with CosworthUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See Hot News page for details. 08/02/05 Reliable inside sources tell AutoRacing1.com that the Williams F1 team today (Tuesday) signed the agreement with Cosworth to supply V8 engines in 2006. We are told an announcement will happen within two weeks.
Newman/Haas to expand Rumor in the Champ Car paddock in Denver, and also reported by Robin Miller on Wind Tunnel Sunday night is that the Newman/Haas team is looking to expand to three cars in 2006 as apparently additional sponsorship is close.
Jordan eyes Davidson Rumor has it that Jordan-Midland are talking to British driver Anthony Davidson to drive for 2006. Anthony may partner current driver Tiago Monteiro with strong speculation that Narain his teammate will sign with another team. Our guess would be Minardi or another team that needs his money.
Champ Car out to plug holes in schedule A number of people have inquired about the holes that remain in the 2006 Champ Car schedule, particularly the gap between Long Beach and Houston, and then later between Montreal and Las Vegas in September. Word is that the hole in the schedule early in the year will get plugged when the Japan race joins in 2007, where it may be paired with the China race in late April/early May. As for the gap in September, if Las Vegas becomes a street race and closes the season in early November, it is quite possible that the October races (South Korea, Australia and Mexico City) will be moved up a week or two and September will be plugged one of the summer races, perhaps Philadelphia, or the South America races if they ever materialize.
Button may have an out from Williams contract Jenson Button could remain at BAR Honda for 2006, despite seemingly having a watertight contract with Williams, and potentially without BAR Honda needing to spend a fortune buying the contract back. According to a QC consulted by Autosport, Jenson could extricate himself from the Williams contract, arguing that the team bears little relation to the team he signed with, and therefore rendering the contract null and void. Sportsnetwork.net
Timo Glock out of ride?UPDATE #2 We are downgrading this rumor to 'false' today. Paul Gentilozzi told AutoRacing1.com, "I don't know how these rumors get started, there is no truth to it. DHL was two days late wiring money over and somehow that got twisted into they were dropping their sponsorship." 08/12/05 DHL is still on Glock's car here in Denver so it's possible there's no truth to this rumor. Mark C.08/12/05 A report in the Globe and Mail says - "Across the ocean in North America, former F1 driver Timo Glock remains close to losing his Champ Car drive as sponsor DHL is thought to be reconsidering its involvement. The German secured his place with the team by using the promise of $4-million in sponsorship support from DHL. It is possible that the 23-year-old may not finish the season with the team."
Can Artam lands F1 ride? Can Artam is making noises about being a Grand Prix driver next year, despite the fact that he has yet to prove to be even vaguely competitive in GP2 this year. Artam says that he has landed himself an F1 seat for next year. This is hard to believe as the major teams are not going to look twice at Artam and the teams needing money are not going to be "very competitive team". Money will buy you only so much in F1. There is a possibility that Artam might be taken on as a third driver by one of the teams but this will only be because of finance. Grandprix.com
2006 Champ Car rule book We have it on good word that Champ Car will have their 2006 rule book done and released by the end of the year, which is a very good thing and much earlier than in recent years.
2006 Atlantic Schedule Word here in Denver is that the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic schedule will be out in 1 or 2 weeks, perhaps during the Montreal race weekend. That will be followed by the Champ Car TV annoiuncement in about 4 weeks.
Bill Lester still seeking Cup ride Bill Lester, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver of the #22 Toyota Tundra sponsored by Office Depot at Nashville Superspeedway, confirmed on Friday, he has had NO contact will Tim Brown, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame and nine-time Pro Bowl honoree from the Oakland Raiders. Brown announced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past weekend he was starting a new diversity NASCAR Nextel team and looking for a veteran driver from another NASCAR series to be his main driver. Lester also insisted that he has had NO conversation with Bill Davis on a project that will see Lester behind the wheel of the #23 NASCAR Nextel Dodge for at least one race before the end of the 2005 season. According to Lester, "It's just talk!" Insiderracing.com
Big NASCAR lawsuit coming says Childress Team owner Richard Childress said he expects legal action will eventually remedy the trend of drivers signing contracts with another team with a year or more remaining with their current team. "What it will take is one person to burn one of them's ass for doing it, and it will stop that trend," Childress said. "I'm surprised at some of the car owners for what they've done, especially when it involves drivers holding contracts.
"You better be real careful, especially when a guy has a contract, talking to him about a contract he is already under."
Childress said he was surprised owner Roger Penske signed reigning Cup champion Kurt Busch to a 2007 deal this week, but he was "not surprised at all" that Jack Roush would make such a move, when he signed Jamie McMurray to a 2007 deal.
"What is going to be next? Who knows where this is going now," Childress said. "It has to end." ThatsRacin.com
Busch gets big $$$ from Penske According to sources, Penske is giving Kurt Busch a five-year contract for anywhere between $6 million and $12 million a year. It is unclear what Busch is making with Roush, but the average Cup driver makes $3 million-plus a year, plus whatever he can generate in souvenir sales and through personal-services contracts. At the top end, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon are reported to be making about $20 million a year each. Winston Salem Journal
Crocker to run races in Evernham No. 91 in '06? Evernham also would not rule out Crocker as someone to one day drive the No.91 car that will be the third Nextel Cup team in the Evernham Dodge stable in 2006. If anything, having Crocker around the shop is helping her boss be more politically correct. "I don't want to put a date in the sand and say we've got to have a driver (for the 91 car)," Evernham said. "You notice I didn't say 'guy', because with Erin now I've got to make sure I say 'driver' or she gets mad." As for which Busch races Crocker will drive toward the end of this season, an announcement is still forthcoming. The original plan was to have Crocker debut last Saturday at Indianapolis Raceway Park, but Evernham held off on that. The Republican
Aikman's HOF racing close to sponsorship Hall of Fame Racing, the new NASCAR team owned by former Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, is close to reaching a sponsorship agreement to compete in Nextel Cup next season. Bill Saunders, general manager of the team, would not reveal any details but said things are close to being finalized. "Let me put it in a football analogy," Saunders said. "We're on the one-inch line and it's first-[and]-goal, so we're feeling fairly good about this. We hope to announce something next week." Dallas Morning News
19 yr. old Reed Sorensen to NEXTEL Cup, and more Reed Sorenson, a 19-year-old NASCAR Busch Series driver, will run a full Nextel Cup schedule next season in a fourth team for Chip Ganassi Racing, two people with the team told The Associated Press on Thursday. A formal announcement was scheduled for today at Watkins Glen International, and the two sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Sorenson would be introduced as driver of the No. 41 Dodge. They did not want to be identified before Sorenson's official introduction. Sorenson has two Busch victories and is third in the standings, 104 points behind leader and defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. Casey Mears, meanwhile, will remain with Ganassi in a different car, the sources said. The car number has not yet been determined, but the sponsor will be mortgage lender Home123. Mears had an option in his contract for 2006 that the team picked up, removing him from the free-agent market. Ganassi's planned 2006 lineup -- Jamie McMurray, Mears, Sorenson and David Stremme -- will have two rookies, and all four drivers are under 30 years old with just one Nextel Cup win among them (McMurray in 2002). McMurray has signed to drive the No. 6 Ford for Roush Racing in 2007 and, by announcing it so early, had hoped to get Ganassi to let him leave early. The car owner has been heavily scrutinized for refusing to do so. Review Journal
Gordon to Toyota? Lot of Toyota cars built From Inside the Pit Box - ...... this gentleman was at Bill Davis Racing [BDR] on another matter and while there, saw several Toyota Camry Cup cars either completed or close to being so. It is commonly believed that Toyota will probably not enter Cup before the 2007 Daytona 500. So why would BDR have so many cars with bodies already hung? Too many things can happen in a year and a half. It doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows that BDR heavily involved with Toyota and that the team is doing the majority of R&D for their Cup program. But the gentleman I spoke to said he saw something else at BDR. It was another Toyota painted in the familiar scheme of Robby Gordon with one of the sponsors already in place on the rear quarter panels. There has been no mention of Gordon going to Toyota so this is a brand new one. If Gordon is going to Toyota, which sponsor, Fruit of the Loom or Jim Beam will go with him? Both are extremely proud American companies so how will their customer base react to such a move? Inside the Pit Box
Why silence from BAR Honda? There is a reason why BAR Honda hasn't yet announced Rubens Barrichello. It is because of Jenson Button's issues with Williams. If Button stays, Barrichello will replace Sato. If Button goes to Williams Barrichello will replace Button and Sato still has a chance for a drive.
Will Tracy replace Harvick? According to this ThatsRacin article, Nextel Cup driver Kevin Harvick said Friday he has "put on hold" any further negotiations with Richard Childress Racing over an extension of his contract which concludes at the end of next season. "We want to see how things are going to go and evaluate the performance side," said Harvick, who has driven RCR's No. 29 Chevrolets since the second race of the 2001 season.
"I strictly want to see what the improvements are going to be in a lot of different areas, and I'm going to take my time and evaluate it. I want to take care of things early, but I don't want to be at the point where I don't want to be somewhere or (Childress) doesn't want me here."
Harvick, 29, said the top issue that needs to be addressed before he feels comfortable signing a contract extension is performance. "We need to be a top-10 team week-in and week-out," Harvick said. "Richard is doing a lot of things and making changes on the race teams, and I just want to see where all of that is going. I don't want to run a race team. I want to be the driver. I don't want to have to work five days a week in the shop, but I will if I have to." [Editor's Note: One has to wonder if Paul Tracy would replace Harvick if he decides to leave the team. Perhaps Childress is hedging his bets by running Tracy this year to see how he stacks up. Maybe in Tracy he will find a better driver than Harvick.]
Japanese team possible for Champ Car AutoRacing1.com has learned that an effort is being made in Japan to put together a Japanese Champ Car team, possibly as an off-shoot from an existing Formula Nippon team. Organizers of the Otaru street race want as a minimum, a Japanese driver in Champ Car, and preferably an entire team.
2006 Champ Car scheduleUPDATE #3 This Robin Miller SPEED TV article says that the Champ Car schedule could grow to 17 races. He is correct, it may grow to 17 and his schedule shown in this article is close (two dates wrong and one race that will probably move later), but what will be released this weekend will only be 15 races, with room for a possible two more later. 08/12/05 This TSN.ca article talks about what to expect on the 2006 Champ Car schedule. However, readers will be disappointed if they expect everything that is in this article to be on the schedule. As we told you, the schedule to be released this weekend is preliminary and will NOT include all the races this article predicts, only those races that have signed agreements. The final schedule is still a work in progress and there is a good chance one or two more events will be added when it is all said and done. 08/09/05 The schedule to be released in Denver, which we have (but can't release until the embargo is lifted), will only show the definite races (i.e. contracts all signed). Any race without all the contracts done will not yet be shown. If additional race deals are completed, they will be added. Hence, we think you are smart enough to figure out what rumored races might not make this first release. It's far better to add races later, than have egg on one's face and have to cancel races later because the deals fell through. Champ Car has been down that path before. The new management is too smart for that. We know forum discussions are rift with speculation as to what the 2006 schedule will be. Call it a work in progress for now.
We are hoping to hear what the TV deal will be that will coincide with the 2006 schedule in the not too distant future, perhaps as early as the Montreal race, though that may be pushing it. Don't expect to hear any TV announcements in Denver.
The good news for the Champ Car teams is that they can use the new schedule to begin planning for 2006 and pitch next year earlier than in recent years in the hope of landing a sponsor. Knowing the domestic and international TV package, which we hear is much improved, would help them. Mark C.
08/07/05 According to quotes from Champ Car's head of PR Steve Shunck in this morning's Indy Star, the 2006 Champ Car schedule, due to be released next weekend in Denver, could include a return to Houston, a night race on July 4th weekend in Philadelphia and a possible season-ending street race in Las Vegas. We have heard similar reports and have reported such on these pages recently. Given how hot and humid it could be in Philadelphia in July we are glad to hear they are planning a night race, most likely to be followed by a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display out over the Schuylkill River.
We did hear that the Beijing contracts had not yet received all the government approval signatures as of last weekend, but we are told they will come. Will be interesting to see if that race is listed with an asterisk when the schedule comes out.
Hall of Fame Racing close to a sponsor deal Hall of Fame Racing, the new NASCAR team owned by former Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, is close to reaching a sponsorship agreement to compete in Nextel Cup next season. Bill Saunders, general manager of the team, would not reveal any details but said things are close to being finalized. "Let me put it in a football analogy," Saunders said. "We're on the one-inch line and it's first-and-goal, so we're feeling fairly good about this. We hope to announce something next week." Saunders has worked diligently on the project since January of 2003, when Aikman first announced he wanted to start a NASCAR team. Dallas Morning News
Ganassi to expand to 4 cars, re-signs MearsUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See story on Hot News page. 08/11/05 Chip Ganassi Racing has exercised an option to retain driver Casey Mears, and in addition, will field four Nextel Cup teams in the 2006 season, ThatsRacin.com has learned. A formal announcement of Ganassi's retention of Mears, as well as plans to add an additional Cup team, is expected Friday at Watkins Glen International. [Editor's Note: Another indication Ganassi is moving heavier into NASCAR and may very well abandon his IRL program. With Penske and Foyt embarrassing Toyota by dumping the manufacturer before contracts expired, it remains to be seen whether Toyota stays in the IRL past 2005. If they drop out, we wonder where that will leave the Ganassi team, certainly it won't be a 3-car team in 2006 if Toyota is out and Chip may decide to just throw in the towel. His heart does not appear to be in the IRL anymore, especially after the last two dismal years.]
Chevy not returning to the IRLUPDATE #4 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If it turns out to be true that GM might stay in the IRL but with the Pontiac brand rather than the Chevy brand, does Honda view Pontiac as a brand they want to compete against given they expressed reservations about competing against Hyundai? Brad Givens, Minneapolis, MN Dear Brad, We found it rather curious that Honda did not want to compete against Hyundai given the market share they are gaining in the USA and given that JD Powers rated Hyundai over Honda in a recent quality review. The top of the line Hyundai cars are getting a lot of attention and you would be surprised just how good they are now. In fact Hyundai is gaining market share worldwide while Pontiac is losing it. If Honda did not want to beat Hyundai on the race track it will be curious to hear what they think they might gain beating up on Pontiac. And rest assured they will give Pontiac a beating. Penske had Toyota power these past two years and Honda smoked them. We can't see Pontiac doing any better than Toyota against Honda, and perhaps even worse. If Cosworth does the Pontiac engine, they might have a chance, but if Ilmor does it we have to wonder. Of course Ilmor helped Honda with their engines up until this year, so they have knowledge of the Honda engine, but they won't have the latest trick pieces if and when Pontiac badges the Ilmor. Mark C.
08/11/05 As we reported, Chevy will not be returning to the IRL, despite others saying they would. Now AutoWeek reports that at NASCAR's Brickyard 400 in Indy last weekend, GM Racing director Mark Kent reiterated Chevy intends to end the IRL season and withdraw. AutoWeek goes on to say don't be surprised if in a few weeks news comes that GM will stay in the IRL but switch engines to Pontiac badging. The article also says Toyota will leave the IRL at year's end. That would not surprise us even though they have a contract through next year. It would be cheaper for them to break the contract than honor it. It might explain why Foyt dropped Toyota before this year was over. 08/10/05 Chris Economaki writes in NSSN that "Panther Racing, the only IRL team currently using Chevy engines, will switch to Honda power next season — ONLY —if Chevy calls it quits as recently announced. Should the Bow Tie brigade change its mind and stick around, it is likely to be biz as usual in ’06 for Panther. A group of Chevy dealers is reportedly pitching GM to continue its IRL Chevy engine program." And who owns a bunch of Chevy dealerships? None other than Roger Penske! 07/31/05 Roger Penske confirmed he met with General Motors officials this week regarding a possible partnership in the IRL. He declined to reveal specifics of the meeting, except to say he has not signed a contract to switch from Toyota, which he has a contract with through the 2006 season. "Absolutely not," Penske said of a deal with the manufacturer. "I'm not in a position to sign anything." Indy Star [Editor's Note: As we have said, Roger Penske is the only one that can save IRL at this point by getting someone to badge the Ilmor engine. However, our sources maintain Chevy will not return. Could another GM brand badge the Ilmor engine?] 07/30/05 Despite Chevy's Joe Negri leaving the door slightly open for a possible return to the IRL under the right circumstances, AutoRacing1.com is hearing through sources connected to higher-ups in the organization that a return is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Chevy and GM have decided to move on to other things.
Stewart eyeing IRL return? Tony Stewart also must realize that he’s leaving himself too short a window to win Indy if he stays with Gibbs for the duration of the contract. That’s why it seems likely he’ll be compelled to buy his way out and return to the IRL and the Indy 500 no later than 2007. The Journal Review [Editor's Note: We'll believe it when we see it. This author is dreaming. Stewart loves NASCAR and it is getting so popular there is no way he will quit NASCAR to run the IRL fulltime. We do expect he will do the Indy 500 again.]
End of F1-war in sight? Much of F1's political war could be called off as early as August 31. It's then, a Wednesday, when formula one teams and the carmakers' group - 'GPMA' - are set to next meet with FIA president Max Mosley to mull over a possible 'compromise' over regulations for the future.
Peace in that arena, it is believed, might pave a road to a similar, commercial resolution, averting the 'breakaway' menace and settling the dispute over '08 -- the start of a new contract.
At present, an eerie silence looms over the political combat-zone -- it's a go at diplomacy. ''Nobody wants two series. Nobody,'' said Minardi's Paul Stoddart. ''We have to find a solution. It may not work, but we've got to try.''
Heidfeld in demandUPDATE Speculation is rife that Nick Heidfeld, a revelation of 2005, will soon set a course for Brackley to sign a provisional 2006 contract for BAR. Williams' current star, easily a match - if not Grove team leader - for highly rated teammate Mark Webber, will reportedly switch to take the seat alongside the also-unconfirmed Rubens Barrichello, despite equally strong gossip of a BMW-Sauber move.
Williams-contracted Jenson Button's move, although he doesn't want to go, makes room, to the detriment of '05 BAR teammate, Japan's Takuma Sato.
The little German's switch, though - like Button - could be scuppered by Sir Frank Williams, who is believed to own a watertight 'option' on Heidfeld's service for next year.
'Quick Nick', however, can probably rest easy. It appears that disappointing Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella is en route to Grove, in a swap that could see Webber fill his blue boots. Williams' Heidfeld option reportedly runs out next month.
08/11/05 Nick Heidfeld is a wanted man. No less than three F1 teams want him. Williams wants to keep him, BMW wants him at their new Sauber team and BAR Honda wants him to replace Takuma Sato. BAR Honda has signed a letter of intent for $5 million with Nick Heidfeld in case he is free for 2006. Williams has an option on Nick through September 11th.
F1 to get Indian team? Narain Karthikeyan did not deny a rumor that his F1 sponsor, Tata, is considering setting up an Indian formula one team.
The $14 billion Tata Group, one of the biggest business conglomerates in the hugely populous country, has been a staunch backer of Indian rookie Karthikeyan's maiden year in the sport with Jordan.
Asked about the reports, the 28-year-old said in India: ''This is just a rumor. If it comes true, it will be good. That's quite a while away.''
Further strengthening the notion of Tata's support for Narain, the slight-looking driver continued to muse about a switch to a different team for 2006. ''I haven't ruled out turning up for a new team,'' he told a news conference.
Karthikeyan also rekindled talk about an Indian grand prix, revealing that he would soon meet with government minister J. Jayalalithaa to discuss support for the concept.
''Without help from the government,'' the Jordan ace mused, ''it's mission impossible. If China can have one, why not India?''
Herta had development engineUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The people at Honda Performance Development provided Bryan Herta with what they call the latest iteration of the current engine specification for the Indy Racing League event at Michigan International Speedway. That's engineering-speak for, they gave Herta's team an updated version of their Honda engine. That wouldn't be such a big deal, except only two other drivers had the latest version of the Honda engine for the Michigan race.
The brain trust at Honda Performance Development are not willing to divulge who the other two drivers were, but to say the least, they were pleased with Herta's performance at Michigan. Herta, driver of the No. 7 Honda-powered entry for Andretti Green Racing, won his first race of the year and his first race in nearly three years. He also won the pole and led 159 of the 200 laps in the Michigan race two weeks ago. It was a dominating performance, one that was not lost on Robert Clarke, president of the Valencia-based Honda Performance Development. "This was our latest specification of development and will be introduced to all cars as quickly as possible," Clarke said. Whittier News
08/02/05 Rumor has it that Herta was using a Honda development unit in his Andretti Green Racing entry at Michigan last weekend and TOYOTA are a little worried about race wins for the rest of the year. If true this would explain why no one could pass him.
BAR paying Barrichello good money Reports suggest that BAR is paying Rubens Barrichello $7.5 million per year to drive for them the next two years. He may be worth far more than that just in the Ferrari secrets he brings with him.
Champ Car eyes SebringUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' A proposal to bring a Champ Car Series race to Sebring International Raceway during the 12 Hours of Sebring weekend has been turned down, according to S.I.R. president Tres Stephenson. “After a lot of debate, we’ve decided to go along with things as if nothing will change,” Stephenson said Tuesday. “You never know what’s going to happen in the future, but for now there will be no [additional race].” Highlands Today
07/12/05 Champ Car will regain the early season toehold in Florida it lost with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg if negotiations can be completed to hold its season opener in conjunction with the 12 Hours of Sebring sports car race in March.
The open-wheel series raced through the streets of St. Petersburg in February 2003, but abandoned the venue because of a litany of financial and logistical issues and the city's interest in the rival Indy Racing League. The IRL held its first grand prix in St. Petersburg on April 3.
Sebring International Raceway president Tres Stephenson said the deal is "not officially done" and he had not been privy to discussions.
Champ Car would have to race either Friday, the day before the American Le Mans Series opener, or Sunday, which would not be conducive considering the differences in tires between the two series. Champ Car and ALMS are discussing running several doubleheader weekends involving different promoters.
Tim Mayer , chief operating officer of International Motor Sports Association, which sanctions ALMS races, called reports on SpeedTV.com that Champ Car had a tentative March19 date in Sebring "somewhat speculative." He did, however, see value in adding Champ Car to the weekend: "I think that any time that you can bring more value to your fans, it's good for motorsports. And obviously Sebring is a race with a lot of tradition and a lot of fans, but as an organization, we're always trying to find ways to improve that for our fans."
League spokesman Steve Shunck said several steps would be involved in coming to Sebring, including a review by vice president of operations Tony Cotman . "It takes a lot to go into a new venue and see potential track layouts, etc.," he said. "Just because we've talked to Sebring doesn't mean it's going to happen." St. Pete Times [Editor's Note: This idea was proposed by AutoRacing1.com many times over the years. Perhaps now it will finally happen. We are still hoping our campaign for standing starts eventually gets implemented. All indications are that will happen with the new cars in 2007, but not at every track because some are too narrow. If a race promoter wants an exciting standing start for their event they will have to widen their S/F straight, which is not always possible in a city street.]
When in doubt, follow the money..... When in doubt, follow the money......According to sources close to Kurt Busch, one reason for his decision to leave Roush and go to Penske could be related to the souvenir-sales part of the business. Roush controls most of his drivers' souvenir sales, and personal-services deals must also be funneled through him. Drivers can make as much as $2 million a year off souvenir sales. Winston Salem Journal
Alonso eyes Ferrari future Renault's title leader Fernando Alonso says he will consider moving to Ferrari after his current contract runs out at the end of next year. The Spaniard, 24, admitted to wanting to slide into the best formula one car -- whether it is painted blue or red.
Asked if Ferrari would factor into his reckoning, Alonso told Autosprint: ''Today I say yes, because for the last five seasons they have always produced the most competitive car.''
Fernando, whose career is overseen by Renault boss Flavio Briatore, was quoted by the Italian magazine as saying that 'every driver' wants to hold the quickest car's wheel. He commented: ''But it's just a matter of time –- now, every driver would like to race in a Renault or a McLaren, because they are winning. I will analyze all available options.''
Alonso, though, recoiled at the prospect of Ferrari's 'number one' and 'number two' policy, expressing a preference for teammate equality.
He said: ''It gives good competition inside the team and increases each driver's motivation. I don't expect any gifts from my teammate, and it's fine this way.''
Bernie eyes own ’breakaway’ Bernie Ecclestone, it seems, may be organizing his own 'breakaway' series. The F1 supremo, it has been revealed, has filed a trademark application for the 'GP1' logo, UK publication 'This Is Money' said Wednesday. 'GP1' is a handy asset, as it would slot in nicely beside the newly renamed F3000 support category, known as GP2.
This Is Money said GP1 is a 'contingency plan' for Ecclestone, who recently lost some of his grip on formula one to three equity-owning banks.
Bernie's fully owned 'Formula One Promotions and Administration' has applied for the GP1 trademark to cover sports events, broadcasting, sportswear and timing. Formula One Promotions and Administration has applied for the pan-European trademark rights to the name GP1 covering 16 categories including organizing and staging sports events, broadcasting, sportswear and timing equipment.
The little Englishman clearly regrets selling three quarters of F1's commercial rights, as he said keeping control would have averted the 'nonsense' of a threatened carmaker-led breakaway. ''For years I'd controlled things without any problem,'' he added.
[Editor's Note: GP1 as in Grand Prix 1 series. We always said the Champ Car series should have been called Something Grand Prix Series. Bernie was going to buy CART at one point but recall we told you he had a non-compete clause in the current Concorde Agreement that prevented that from happening. Has the time come for Bernie and Champ Car to merge, or will Bernie, at his ripe old age, go it alone with a new series? Could this be why Kevin Kalkhoven has no desire to merge with the IRL (especially with Tony George in full control) because Bernie waits in the wings? This certainly can make for good Silly Season fodder, both in F1 and Champ Car.]
Foyt team to switch to ChevyUPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' see Hot News item announcing Foyt's switch to Chevy from Toyota. 08/07/05 This rumor is increased to 'strong' based on this report in the Indy Star - A.J. Foyt IV confirmed his family's team is working on a switch to Chevrolet power for next week's race at Kentucky Speedway. The team has used Toyotas since the beginning of the 2003 season. 08/06/05 A reader adds, The reason Foyt is switching to a Chevy is easy to see. They will be gone at the end of the season (as will Foyt). Since Anthony is going to Busch along with Larry, and their engine supply will have dried up, it will then be the easiest time for AJ to walk away from the IRL. He can retire and come to Indy in May as a 4 time winner and bask in the accolades rather than struggle at the back of the pack. Chuck Obendorf, Stow, OH Dear Chuck, If this rumor is true, it could have more to do with Foyt IV running a Chevy in Busch and wanting to develop a working relationship now. However, the rumors are Foyt IV is talking to Ray Evernham, who runs Dodges. Mark C.08/06/05 Word in the Michigan garage last weekend was that the AJ Foyt team is trying to get a release from Toyota and run Chevy engines the rest of the year, even though they have a contract through 2006. The marriage between Foyt and Toyota is not a good one and Foyt is always complaining that his Toyota engines make less HP than the rest. Toyota in turn looks bad running at the back with Foyt IV, so a divorce might be amicable. Since next year is Toyota's last they would save money not providing Foyt engines.
But why would Foyt switch to Chevy power now when it is supposedly their last year in the IRL?....Unless Foyt thinks Chevy will stay around longer.
Overheard in Edmonton - I (New team owner)UPDATE #4 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Ford has delivered on their promise and all the Champ Car drivers have received a 2005 Mustang GT, so that part of this rumor below is now 'fact.' Mark C.07/28/05 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Cedric is not available to make the team owner announcement this weekend in San Jose. The announcement of him becoming a co-owner will now be made at the Denver race in two weeks. To reinforce this rumor, Cedric the Entertainer was on the Bob and Tom national radio show discussing starting or working with a team in Champ Car. 07/25/05 We were sworn to secrecy on this one, but since someone else let the cat out of the bag......The July issue of PRN (Performance Racing News).has an article written by Cathy Haag in her Caution Period column: It says, and we quote, "Cedric Kyles announced his intentions to start a Champ Car team in 2006. Kyles, better known as "Cedric The Entertainer", starred in the recent Honeymooners remake and is a regular on the "Tonight Show" with car guy Jay Leno. Kyles met with Paul Newman to get the ins and outs of running a team. There's been no speculation on who might be the driver." AutoRacing1.com will tell you part of the story, but not all. Cedric won't start a new team, but will buy into an existing team, a team that is good, but just needs a co-owner with resources (i.e. money) and a name to attract sponsors. We won't tell you what team it is, but we were told by a source to expect an announcement this weekend in San Jose. Mark C.07/16/05 We hear both the new team sponsor as well as the team that is getting a new co-owner should both be announced at San Jose. These are two separate deals. 07/15/05 We hear one team has landed a very big new sponsor for next year and another team is close to signing a deal that will see a famous name come in as a co-owner of the team, and bring sponsorship with them......We hear that Cosworth can design starters for the 2007 Champ Car, but the starter motor and battery will add weight to the car......We hear that Champ Car has some new electronics that they hope to implement for 2007......All the Champ Car drivers are getting new Mustang GT's courtesy of Ford.......The new Champ Car will be an all-new car, contrary to our previous rumor......More later.....Mark C.
Bernie on the ropes Bernie Ecclestone, the man who has run F1 with an iron fist in recent years, seems to have converted to democracy in recent days, saying that "I want the teams to own the sport". One must presume that what he means is that he wants the teams and the Ecclestone Family to own the sport in the future. This is an interesting turn of events as the teams are thinking along different lines as, although they acknowledge what Ecclestone has done for them, they want to maximize the profits in the years ahead and are looking at ways of running the business without Bernie. Their aim, it seems, is to buy out the banks and get on with it. Grandprix.com
Penske approaches Roush about Kenseth, Ganassi has offer Meanwhile, car owner Chip Ganassi raised a few eyebrows when he tossed out a rumor he said he’d heard about Penske making an offer to Roush for $12 million to buy out Kenseth’s contract in order to put Kenseth in Wallace’s ride next season. “And I heard Jack was going to keep $2 million and turn around and give me $10 million to buy Jamie McMurray’s contract,” Ganassi said with a laugh. “If so, I want to make sure Jack has my phone number.” Geoff Smith, the head of Roush Racing, didn’t find Ganassi amusing. “That is Chip pulling everyone’s legs. That is 100 percent fabricated,” Smith said. “What that does tell you is his decision (to keep McMurray in 2006, despite McMurray’s new 2007 contract with Roush) might not be being made by what is right for Jamie or for the sponsor or for racing, but ‘Hey, maybe I can make a buck.’ That’s what it feels like.” Nevertheless, there were reports that Penske had indeed approached Roush with an offer of some sort for Kenseth, but that Roush had dismissed it out of hand. FortWayne.com
NASCAR track gets some support in NY City International Speedway Corp. got an unexpected lift last week for its proposed 85,000-seat NASCAR speedway in Staten Island, one of New York City’s five boroughs. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer — a potential gubernatorial candidate — revealed he is a NASCAR fan of 20 years standing and is “absolutely open” to supporting a raceway in the borough. NSSN
Indy to sign new F1 deal? Far from waving goodbye to the US grand prix, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone reckons he is shaping up to sign a new contract for five more races at the irked Indianapolis track.
Even after the six-car fiasco, and the fact that the current contract runs out next year, the 74-year-old expressed confidence that Indy will appear on the '06 calendar, and also that Tony George will sign the new deal.
Bernie defended seven teams' decision to boycott the 2005 race on dangerous Michelin tires.
He said: ''If somebody would have been killed it would have been more or less murder.
''Unless something comes up drastic which is going to preclude Tony from putting the event on, I don't see any problems.''
Speedway spokesman Ron Green, though, isn't quite as optimistic. He said the fabled 'Brickyard' venue was moving on after the farcical formula one race 'very cautiously.'
He added that many Indy fans thought F1 had 'tarnished' the Motor Speedway's reputation.
But Ecclestone said: ''We have a contract (and) Tony and I are discussing another five years after that. ''I hope everybody understands ... why it all happened.''
His comments coincided with the publication of claim forms entitling Sunday spectators to a full, Michelin-funded US grand prix refund.
I smell a rat A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read with great interest this Robin Miller article on ChampCar.ws that talks about Paul Tracy's rumored move to NASCAR. I have watched the IRL and NASCAR (i.e. the oval track cartel) pluck the biggest names (and sponsors, teams, etc.) out of CART/Champ Car in an effort to destroy it. However, it keeps ticking like the Energizer Bunny, and in fact is getting stronger. It must infuriate the cartel. I see this attempt by NASCAR to lure Champ Car's biggest remaining star as yet another attempt by the cartel to stick it to Champ Car. I small a rat and I hope doesn't bend over and take it up the you know what once again. Mordichai Rosen, LA, California
Dear Mordichai, Recall our report two years ago in Cleveland that Kyle Petty flew in to Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland on Wednesday before the race, walked into the office and asked where he could find Paul Tracy. They pointed him in the direction of Paul's motorhome. NASCAR has been trying to get Tracy for quite awhile it would seem, and the quest continues. Can we blame Tracy for wanting to make as much money as he can? No, but we do caution that as Miller's article pointed out, the NASCAR regulars are not going to cut Tracy any slack - a little bump here, a little nudge there....and off he goes into the wall. Just ask those that have gone before him. NASCAR controls (some say manipulates) everything, so don't think for one minute that RCR's efforts to get Tracy don't have the support of Mother NASCAR. Mark C.
Karthikeyan could lose his ride at Jordan Jordan driver Narain Karthikeyan on Monday indicated that he might drive for other teams in the coming year. “I have impressed a lot of people. What happens I will have to see. Whether I will get a full seat or what is also a question. It will take time to crystallize. I will speak to Jordan also to continue next year,” Narain said.
“I do not want to speculate on the issue (of driving for others).” Emphasizing that Formula One was a complex business, the 28-year-old said the courses could test the drivers hard. “If one was new, a lot of time was taken on learning about the advantages and disadvantages with the track. If we know the track, we will spend 30 to 45 minutes on the track on Fridays. If it is new, we will have to spend nearly two hours to know the bumpy areas, curves and areas that could prove advantageous. We spend a lot of time, fuel and energy on them.” Deccan Herald
Leffler ReleasedUPDATE #2 Joe Gibbs Racing has released driver Jason Leffler from his driving duties in the no. 11 FedEx Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
Former Nextel Cup Champion Terry Labonte will step in behind the wheel of the no. 11 car for this weekend's race at Watkins Glen, joining his brother Bobby Labonte, who drives the no. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevy for JGR.
JGR Busch Series drivers J.J. Yeley and Denny Hamlin will split the driving duties in the remaining Nextel Cup races where Terry Labonte is not available to drive. Joe Gibbs Racing Press Release
05/27/05 Jason Leffler's future behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing-owned #11 FedEx Chevrolet seems very much in doubt after Leffler failed to qualify for this Sunday's Coca Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. One source AR1 spoke to after Thursday's qualifying session said such a high profile sponsor such as FedEx "won't put up with (not making the field) for long" and that Leffler was "in serious trouble" if he missed the cut. It is rumored he could be out of the car as early as next week, with JGR Busch Series driver J.J. Yeley taking over on an interim basis. Pete McCole05/15/05 Joe Gibbs may have given more questions than he gave answers when he was asked about struggling driver #11-Jason Leffler's future Saturday at Richmond International Raceway. "Obviously, you get concerned," he said. "You have a huge sponsor there and we're in it for the long haul. We signed Jason for the long haul and we are certainly going to go after it with Jason and try to get everything done we can there." Still, Gibbs said failure is not an option. "It always boils down to performance," Gibbs said. "It's gotta be a performance thing. We've got to be successful there." NASCAR.com
NASCAR looking to expand globallyUPDATE #2 This related article talks about NASCAR's acceptance into mainstream America and its readiness to make a big impact globally. If open wheel racing does not get its act together, it will soon find NASCAR eroding their market share further. Right now NASCAR is an "American" thing. It remains to be seen how well they are accepted in other countries. People in many countries already have an anti-American sentiment. 02/18/05 This SPEEDTV.com article [excerpts] reinforces the notion that NASCAR has its sights set on conquering the world - Having successfully hastened the demise of open-wheel racing in the United States — call it a case of assisted suicide, given the numerous self-inflicted CART/IRL blunders in recent years — NASCAR has set its sights on the rest of North America. And that’s just for starters.........In addition to the heavily promoted inaugural Busch Series event, NASCAR has hired former Cup driver Chad Little to develop a feeder racing series in Mexico in attempt to drive Hispanic interest in heavily Hispanic U.S. markets, including Dallas, Chicago, Miami and New York. NASCAR hopes to race in New York by the end of the decade. 02/18/05 It is undoubtedly just a coincidence but just a couple of weeks after Ray Evernham announced that he would be setting up an engine operation in Northampton, to be called Evernham Advanced Engine Technology to assist him in his efforts to win in the NASCAR Nextel Cup there comes news that Dodge, which Evernham represents in NASCAR is planning a global expansion in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: Recall our article in 2003 War of the Worlds where we warned that the oval track cartel would eventually try to put a dent in F1's world dominance.]
New Chevy needs some design changesUPDATE #2 GM Racing needs to get its house in order. NASCAR didn't appreciate Joe Gibbs Racing bringing a 2006 Monte Carlo to Atlanta last week that was unprepared to get through the on-track portion of NASCAR's approval process. The car didn't make a target speed. How bad was the car? The team had to borrow springs from rival Ford, which had the Wood Brothers auditioning the new Fusion. "We dropped the ball," JGR team manager Jimmy Makar says. "There's really no excuse." NASCAR agreed to allow JGR and Bobby Labonte to return to Atlanta on Tuesday in an attempt to get the Monte Carlo up to speed. Sporting News08/07/05 Chevrolet officials were scrambling this week after the 2006 version of the Monte Carlo did not perform as expected in its first on-track test. Joe Gibbs Racing took the car to Atlanta Motor Speedway this week and everyone was surprised when it struggled during the test. So GM Racing director Pat Suhy spent much of his time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend, meeting with NASCAR officials to discuss what they should do. Suhy said GM will test the car again. NASCAR officials have not yet approved the car for competition. "I think everyone was a little overconfident and got a little complacent and didn't pay attention to the details when building this car," Suhy said. ESPN.com RPM08/05/05 General Motors Racing officials unveiled the 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo race car on Thursday, but it appears the car will require some additional testing – and possibly some design changes – before the new model will be approved by NASCAR, according to RhatsRacin.com. Joe Gibbs Racing officials took the 2006 model to Atlanta Motor Speedway early this week for a NASCAR test, but the car did not perform as expected, manufacturer officials said. NASCAR officials may require the car to go through another track test and wind tunnel testing before it will be approved for competition.
Pat Suhy, GM Racing NASCAR program director, was not overly concerned. "The fundamental design of the 2006 Monte Carlo SS race car is sound," he said Friday. "GM Racing is continuing to work with NASCAR through the submission process."
Who will replace Wallace and Martin?UPDATE #2 Rumors persist that Roush Racing's Matt Kenseth is the top choice to replace Rusty Wallace, who's retiring, in the #2 Penske Racing car. Sources say Kenseth is sponsor Miller Brewing Co.'s first choice. Plus, Kenseth and his wife, Katie, are good friends of Penske driver Ryan Newman. Sporting News
BUT: ....there were reports yesterday that Roger Penske had indeed approached Jack Roush with an offer of some sort for Kenseth, but that Roush had dismissed it out of hand. Penske continues to decline comment on his driver search. Is Kenseth's contract for sale? "Absolutely not," Roush Racing's Geoff Smith said. However, Smith said he hasn't had an opportunity yet to talk with Kenseth about the Penske report. "I've been traveling around on sponsorship business, and I've been trying to track him down to ask him," Smith said. Smith says he's confident that Kenseth will remain with Roush: "Matt is very happy about being at Roush Racing, and we've had some discussions about going forward." Kenseth's contract with Roush runs through the end of 2006, and Smith says he is working on a long-term renewal. Penske is down to two men in his search for a driver to replace Rusty Wallace next season. Penske will make his announcement by Sept. 1. Winston Salem Journal
08/07/05 Penske Racing South is down to two drivers in its search for a replacement for Rusty Wallace in the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, but the team isn't saying who those drivers are. The team has been successful in keeping its opening out of the middle of most speculation so far. It may be early next month before a decision comes. ThatsRacin.com/David Poole06/27/05 There hasn't been a serious candidate to replace Rusty Wallace in the #2, but team owner Roger Penske pow-wowed with the Mears clan--including Casey Mears, driver of the #41 for Chip Ganassi Racing--at Michigan. Obviously, Rick Mears, a Penske consultant and four-time Indy 500 winner, could put in a good word for his nephew, and in the bigger (sponsorship) picture, Casey is exactly the type of young driver Miller Brewing is looking for to combat legions of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Bud fans. Penske also is developing Billy Wiese, a youngster who is racing midgets in the Midwest. Sporting News
Two of the sport's top car owners, Roger Penske and Jack Roush, are trying to find new drivers to replace retiring Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin. Penske says he probably won't make a decision until September. Winston Salem Journal
Leffler's job is on the line Cary Agajanian, Jason Leffler's attorney, would not confirm reports that car owner Joe Gibbs has offered to buy out the remaining 18 months of Leffler's contract for $5 million, but Agajanian would not deny that such an offer could be on the table. "I can't comment on that ... but I'm not denying it either," Agajanian said. "There could be talks. We're not in the middle of everything that goes on. There could be talks. A car owner has the right to speak to his driver, and we encourage that. Honestly there could be discussions between them. But we're not involved in them. That's a very personal thing between Jason and the Gibbs folks." If Leffler were free, Agajanian said he would be negotiating any contract with a new team. Terry Labonte substituted for Leffler at Sonoma in June, and Labonte could apparently be called upon again. Winston Salem Journal
Milwaukee Mile to land new promoterUPDATE Don't be surprised if you see the Giuffre brothers once again promoting the Milwaukee Mile races. Our sources tell us they are working on it. 08/08/05 Per the Milwaukee Journal, the Milwaukee Mile will announce a new partner that will purchase the promoting rights to the mile. The article says the negotiations have been very secretive but the word is the promoter will have strong ties to Wisconsin.
Elan/Force 10 to bid on '07 Champ Car AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Force 10 and Elan Motorsports, who announced the formation of a joint relationship today (see Hot News press release) will be one of the companies submitting a proposal to build the new 2007 Champ Car. It is expected that a number of companies will bid, including Lola of course. Lola builds the current Champ Car.
Elan Motorsports is owned by Billionaire Don Panoz of ALMS fame and, among other endeavors, they currently build cars for the IRL and compete against Dallara.
Penske might dump Toyota for Honda or ChevyUPDATE #3 According to SPEED's Robin Miller, he says this rumor is true that Penske will dump Toyota one year early and switch to Chevy in 2006 to keep Chevy from leaving the IRL. If true, where does that leave Toyota without their best team? And SPEED News insinuated that Penske's Ilmor company would provide the Chevy engines, not Cosworth.
But Penske always does his own engines. Just as he had the best Toyota engines, and others before that, what customer is going to now buy a Chevy Ilmor from Penske knowing full well Penske's version of that same engine will always be better?
Will Foyt? He's already been there. Will Ganassi? He saw how much more HP Penske's Toyotas had over his Toyotas this year. Will John Barnes buy a Chevy from Penske? Will Barnes leave the IRL because of this?
Where does that leave Toyota for 2006? Without Penske will they just quit the IRL early?
07/25/05 Upon further analysis on this topic, we still fail to see how this will change the dynamic. To us it's more of the same and will not save the IRL from an untenable position. 1. Wherever Penske is in control of the engine situation, (As in the "potential" Ilmor Chevy deal here) he has always had the "unfair advantage". Look at his present TOYOTA engine. Also, remember his Chevy "A" and "B" situation.
2. Other teams are unlikely to want to get into an engine situation when Penske "CONTROLS" it as he will in Ilmor-Chevy. They know that there will be two "classes" of engines. Roger's and then the other "buyers".
3. HONDA will outspend Chevy 5 to 1, and, other than Penske, will have the best teams. Chevrolet has been through this and we cannot understand why they would do it again...even with Penske. Yes, they will have Penske, but no one else, of any consequence, unless Panther and Scheckter remain at Chevy. Ganassi is unlikely to remain in a situation like they are today at Toyota, with Penske having his own TOYOTA "program." Also, do you think GM will pay Ganassi the $20+ million necessary to field his 3-car team in 2006? They certainly will have to give Penske $20+ million and Panther, say, $15 million. That is over $50 million. That is exactly the reason they have already decided to leave IRL. 07/24/05 Another thought here is that Chevy badges Penske's Ilmor product. Honda stays for a bit. Cosworth then needs to get a manufacturer to badge their IRL engine unless TG changes that rule. If the IRL doesn't change the rule, then Cosworth has to find a manufacturer who will badge it and pay the bundle that the IRL requires for promotion etc.
This could be a move to knock Kalkhoven/Forsythe/Cosworth out of the IRL engine business, rather than let Honda leave and then the IRL finds it has to deal with Kalkhoven and company to get an engine. Then Honda leaves the IRL the year after and Penske/Chevy is the sole supplier of engines to the IRL and we are back to where the IRL started.
If Penske "DUMPS" Toyota in the IRL, this could damage his rumored $70 Million future relationship with them in NASCAR, even if he owns Toyota's biggest dealership.
07/24/05 In order to save the IRL from being engine manufacture less Team owner Roger Penske said Saturday he's had conversations with officials from Honda and Chevrolet regarding engines for 2006. He emphasized he has a contract with Toyota for next year, the final season the manufacturer will participate in the IRL. But he would consider a switch.
"We want to look at our options," Penske said. "We're open to what's the smartest thing to do."
Chevy, which is only powering Panther Racing this season, has stated its intention to leave the IRL at the end of the season, although there have been signs of a softening in recent months.
IRL president Brian Barnhart said Saturday that Chevy officials have stressed consistency with engine rules might convince them to stay. Barnhart plans to deliver that when he announces the rules package for 2007 and beyond.
"They also told me they need more teams and stronger teams," Barnhart said of Chevy. "(Penske) would certainly fit that."
A Penske move to Chevy would be seen as a boost to the IRL, which needs a manufacturer to keep Honda interested and on its toes. Honda does not want to be the IRL's sole engine supplier.
Ganassi Racing could follow Team Penske out of Toyota's camp, but team managing director Mike Hull doesn't expect to. He said Toyota has shown, through strong runs with Penske, that it isn't as far behind Honda and Chevy as some believe. "They've shown that they're able to produce a like product," Hull said of Toyota. "And they've given us every assurance that they will work toward (a strong 2006)."
Penske said his team was at a "15 to 20 horsepower" disadvantage using Toyotas. More at Indy Star [Editor's Note: If Penske breaks his contract with Toyota, we suspect Toyota won't be too happy. Who will Toyota have to contest for wins in 2006 without Penske? Certainly not Ganassi the way that team is running lately. We predicted that the only thing that can save the IRL was if Penske came up with a manufacturer to compete with Honda. If he jumps to the Chevy camp perhaps they will stay in the IRL at least one more year. But Penske always does his own engines, which means either Cosworth won't do Penske's rebuilds, or Chevy will switch their IRL contract to Ilmor and Cosworth will be left holding the bag.]
Bill Lester to make Cup start? NASCAR's top series could soon have its first African-American driver in nearly 20 years, as Bill Lester and team owner Bill Davis have discussed the possibility of putting Lester in a Nextel Cup car later this season. "We've kicked it around, definitely," Lester said Saturday. Lester, 44, has been a regular in NASCAR's Craftsman Trucks Series — stock car racing's equivalent to Class AA baseball — since 2002. If he qualified for a Cup race, he would become the first African-American driver to race in NASCAR's top series since Willy T. Ribbs, who ran three races in 1986. Lester said he has made it clear to Davis that his goal is to race in the Nextel Cup, and Davis has been receptive. "It's just a matter of all the planets lining up," Lester said. A graduate of the University of California-Berkley with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, Lester quit a high-paying job at Hewlett-Packard in the late 1990s to pursue his hobby, sports-car racing, full time. He ran his first NASCAR race in 1999, a Busch Series race on the road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Bobby Hamilton hired him to drive in the trucks series in 2002 and he moved to Davis' team last season. So far, Lester has shown speed but hasn't achieved consistent good finishes. He ranks 18th in the trucks series points standings this season, qualifying on the pole for two races but finishing in the top five only once. USA Today
Hakkinen won't return to F1 Former world champion Mika Hakkinen has distanced himself from speculation about a possible return to Formula One. Reports in the German press have linked the Finn with a move to the new BMW works team after the manufacturing giant bought Sauber recently. But Hakkinen, who retired from the sport in 2001 and now races for Mercedes in the DTM series, dismissed the rumors.
"I don't fully understand where this story comes from," he told Autosport. "I'm extremely comfortable in the Mercedes family. They look after me and support me, and I'm having a great time in the DTM." Sporting Life
IRL to open 2006 in St. Pete Next year's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg could open the Indy Racing League season, Indianapolis Motor Speedway vice president of communications Fred Nation confirmed Saturday. St. Petersburg's race was held April 3 this year and is expected to occupy a similar date in 2006. But because the IRL wants to condense its schedule, St. Pete could be first rather than third on the schedule. Nation said nothing has been decided because the IRL is negotiating with one or two new venues and working out TV schedules. He said the league hopes to announce its schedule in early September. This year, the IRL season began March 6 at Homestead and ends Oct. 16 at California. The IRL favors a more compact schedule so momentum can be carried from race to race. Ideally, Nation said, the season will begin in late March or early April, and end around Labor Day weekend. Tampa Bay Tribune
[Editor's Note: Interesting that Homestead is another ISC track and has been the season opener for many years. If St. Pete becomes the season opener, what happens to Homestead? Is this ISC race also in jeopardy or is it moving to April? Will Champ Car open in Sebring, FL. on March 19th in conjunction with the 12 Hours of Sebring, and if so, what affect if any does that have on the IRL's schedule changes? It's interesting that the "oval" based IRL series might want to open their season on a "street circuit" as the IRL business plan changes by the hour. Hmm......]
McMurray wants Truce with KensethUPDATE After qualifying Saturday afternoon, Kenseth was more conciliatory, saying he was not unhappy that McMurray is joining the Roush organization, apparently in 2007, and apparently as driver of Martin's No. 6.
"I was unhappy that nobody told us who the driver was," Kenseth said. "It wasn’t his [Roush’s] choice. I think his choice was fine. I think Jamie’s a great driver, and he’ll do fine over there," Kenseth said. "It just caught me by surprise more than anything.
"I probably overreacted on the deal a little bit. Part of it is from frustration that we aren’t running as good as I hoped we would be at this time of year. Sometimes you get frustrated and say things you shouldn’t." SPEEDTV.com
08/07/05 Jamie McMurray is ready to put an end to his three-week feud with #17-Matt Kenseth. McMurray was livid at Kenseth after being knocked out of a race three weeks ago at Loudon, N.H., and refused to return Kenseth's phone calls. They are due to become teammates when McMurray replaces Mark Martin at Roush Racing in 2007. Perhaps sitting in the rain all day Friday finally cooled McMurray off. "I need to find Matt this weekend and get it all worked out. It doesn't do any good to let it go on," he said. "It's probably somewhat my fault. I didn't call him back (because) I didn't really know what to say at the time. I'm over it." Indianapolis Star
Waltrip to No. 11 this year Michael Waltrip denied one of this weekend's hottest rumors that he will replace Jason Leffler in the Joe Gibbs Racing #11 Chevrolet starting at Watkins Glen. When asked directly by Yahoo! Sports, Waltrip emphatically said that he intends to honor the remainder of his contract – unless he's fired. Yahoo! Sports
Another Wallace headed to NASCAR Chrissy Wallace plays basketball and softball, a sport in which she fielded college scholarship offers. But, she said, "I realized last year that racing was my true dream." Her dad has never pushed her toward racing. "I don't care what she decides to do — doctor, lawyer, driver, whatever," Mike Wallace said. "Just as long as she's happy." Later this year, she plans to move into a late model stock car, racking at tracks in Hickory and Concord. When she turns 18 in May, she intends to seek sponsorship for a ride in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. "I'd like to race with her," Mike Wallace said. "A father-daughter race would be pretty cool." If she's successful there, that could lead to the Busch Series and perhaps eventually to the top-level Nextel Cup. Wallace said she loves softball, but "my heart is set on NASCAR and to be the first successful female driver (in the series)." WCNC
Riggs to Evernham and Valvoline? Riggs reportedly is under consideration to join Valvoline at Ray Evernham's new third team in '06. Evernham said yesterday the team has been meeting with available drivers but has nothing locked in yet. "This is more about building the company and growing our partnership with Valvoline and to rush out and make a decision on a driver is not in our best interests," Evernham said. "We're trying to review that. Do you want a veteran? Do you want someone who has potential to produce and hasn't yet? We're going through the same things that probably the 6 car and the 2 car are. Finding the right fit nowadays is a lot harder." Times-Dispatch
DEI lines up replacement for WaltripUPDATE #2 Matt Kenseth and Casey Mears on Saturday denied recent speculation that they would leave their respective teams in favor of driving the #15 Chevrolet at Dale Earnhardt Inc. "Am I going to DEI? No," Kenseth said following Nextel Cup Series practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "I'm happy at Roush Racing."
"I'll say right now I'm 99.9 percent sure I'm going to be with Ganassi next year," Mears said. "We had a meeting a few days ago and everything looks real positive to do something for next year, and right now we're 100 percent effort to try to make something happen for here, next year, for Ganassi. Without making any announcements, we're trying to put things together for here at Ganassi." NASCAR.com
Richie Gilmore, vice president of DEI, refused to name the driver, but dropped several hints saying he was currently in the Nextel Cup series, was younger than 30, marketable, and fast in Saturday's practice sessions. NAPA, the sponsor of that car, could choose to leave DEI and go with Waltrip to his next team. But Gilmore indicated the team would stay if DEI could sign the driver they are eyeing. Should they fail to get him, then DEI will essentially fold the team. Gilmore said Busch Series driver Paul Menard would drive seven Cup events next season, then move up full-time in 2007. ESPN.com RPM
08/05/05 Word in the Indy garage between raindrops is that Matt Kenseth is one of the drivers being considered for the No. 15 DEI car to replace Waltrip. 08/05/05 If Dale Earnhardt Inc. [DEI] can keep NAPA as a sponsor for a third car next season, an already topsy-turvy "Silly Season" could get even wilder. DEI Director of Motorsports Richie Gilmore said yesterday the team is negotiating with the auto-parts supplier about staying with the #15 being vacated by Michael Waltrip after 2005. Gilmore said DEI already has lined up a driver to team with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. for the 2006 Nextel Cup season. Gilmore wouldn't disclose a name but said it was someone prominent on another race team "that's been on our wish list for some time."
"[NAPA] has some options with us, Michael and some other race teams," Gilmore said. "We've put about a two-week window on it where they've got to make the decision and we've got to make a decision and go forward. But we have a driver kind of laid out, and everything laid out." Gilmore also pooh-poohed the idea of reuniting Earnhardt Jr. with Tony Eury Jr. if the #8 Chevrolet were to qualify for the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Earnhardt won a career-high six races last year with Eury as car chief. An off-season shake-up moved Eury to Waltrip's team as crew chief this year. "I would say that scenario would take away from both teams, so we wouldn't even look at that," Gilmore said. "That would affect both teams in a negative way." Gilmore said the possibility of naming Eury as Earnhardt's crew chief for next season hadn't been discussed much. "It's still too early," he said. "There's been a lot of talk outside of DEI but not at our company." Richmond Times Dispatch
IRL delays 2006 scheduleUPDATE It is becoming apparent that the delay in the IRL schedule is because not all the race contracts are signed. According to the Forth Worth Press Telegram, Texas Motor Speedway just signed their one-year renewal, but Eddie Gossage has not received a countersigned copy back yet. Meanwhile the Dallas Morning News reports that Michigan and Fontana, both ISC tracks, are still up in the air for next year.
Could the delay be caused by what we have speculated would eventually happen - ISC and the France family will pull back from ties with the IRL once they did not need them anymore - i.e. the split and near destruction of Indy Car Racing nearing completion? With the France family moving in on USAC they are looking to complete their takeover of the entire oval track market - short track and speedway, open wheel and stock car....everything. From the major leagues right down through the grassroots level.
Looking over the entry list for this weekends Busch Series race at IRP the field is peppered with some of the best short track open wheel drivers in the country. These drivers may as well don their "Road to Daytona" hats now because they have long since burned their 'Road to Indy" hats.
Of course by taking over the entire oval track grassroots market the France family is cutting the legs right out from under Tony George and his open wheel oval track series, the IRL. If this theory is true, and all indications are that it is, why would ISC need the IRL at places like Fontana and Michigan, two tracks that could easily replace their IRL races with Busch Series races as the headline events and draw a far larger crowd than the IRL can. And the drivers in the Busch Series races would be none other than all the best short track open wheel drivers wearing Road to Daytona hats. It's becoming clearer by the day that the France family has used Tony George as a pawn in their drive to monopolize oval track auto racing in the USA.
Luckily for Champ Car, they are focused on road racing both domestically and internationally, and are not terribly affected by NASCAR's oval track moves. However, if road racing makes a resurgence in the USA under Champ Car's new leadership, look for NASCAR to make a move into that market as well. With that said, Kevin Kalkhoven is as shrewd as they come, and looks very far forward. We doubt that NASCAR's moves have gone unnoticed with him.
08/05/05 The Indy Racing League has delayed the announcement of its 2006 schedule until early September. The league originally planned to release the schedule, expected to be condensed to 16 races from 17 and run over a shorter time period, this week. Some think the delay is to add a new race the last minute. Quebec City has been rumored.
DEI third team if NAPA stays?UPDATE DEI's bid to hold sponsor NAPA to field a third team next season hinges on DEI's signing one particular, unnamed driver, which DEI executives yesterday said they didn't expect to happen. Earnhardt said he hopes to have a third team running next season, "But we don't know quite what we're going to do with that team." NAPA could stay with Michael Waltrip, who is finishing his DEI contract, and that could mean Waltrip would be able to field his own Cup team next season. Earnhardt said his own team is facing a post-season shakeup, with crew chief Steve Hmiel expected to return to technical director and with a new boss coming in. But Earnhardt said he's trying not to upset his own team right now: "For example, if we said Tony Eury Jr. was coming back to run our team, then our team right now might implode the rest of the year. "We definitely have to make some changes at the end of the season. But I don't have an answer to what we're going to do. I do want to work with Tony Jr. again. But personally I think we're both immature for our age... and the more mature we get, the easier it will be for us to work together." Winston Salem Journal
08/06/05 DEI Director of Motorsports Richie Gilmore said yesterday the team is negotiating with the auto-parts supplier about staying with the No. 15 being vacated by Michael Waltrip after 2005. Gilmore said DEI already has lined up a driver to team with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. for the 2006 Nextel Cup season. Gilmore wouldn't disclose a name but said it was someone prominent on another race team "that's been on our wish list for some time." "[NAPA] has some options with us, Michael and some other race teams," Gilmore said. "We've put about a two-week window on it where they've got to make the decision and we've got to make a decision and go forward. But we have a driver kind of laid out, and everything laid out." Times-Dispatch
No Testing Limit? NASCAR may be reconsidering its proposed testing-limit and tire-lease concepts, garage sources said. NASCAR had offered the ideas as ways of reducing cost and travel for the teams. Apparently, however, the recent suit against NASCAR/ISC by Kentucky Speedway has caused NASCAR to back away. Kentucky is a popular testing site for Cup teams. Speed Channel
Toyota to test Camry in AtlantaUPDATE On-again, off-again reports of Toyota's future plans continue to pop up here and there. Toyota officials continue to leave their NASCAR plans open-ended, saying they are committed to running well in Craftsman Trucks before proceeding to stock cars, either in Busch or Cup. One report said Toyota plans to test a car at Atlanta next week, but Toyota associates said Friday that was news to them. "Next week?" scoffed car owner Bill Davis, who has supervised Toyota's NASCAR developments. Toyota should announce its possible Cup and Busch plans in the "near future", according to partner Bill Davis. "I will tell you that Toyota will have an announcement in the near future. Asked when and where, Davis repeated, "In the near future." Speed Channel08/05/05 Now just one unveiling remains [after Ford and Chevy unveiled their new cars this past week] – Toyota, which has scheduled its mandatory on-track NASCAR test of its Camry for sometime next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Yahoo Sports
Foyt to leave IRL for NASCARUPDATE #2 IRL driver A.J. Foyt IV said he plans to meet with NASCAR team owner Ray Evernham this week with hopes of finalizing a deal to run in the Busch Series next season.
"I'll really pumped about it," said Foyt, who finished 12th in the Firestone Indy 400 on Sunday. "I'm trying to stay patient and wait for it to come together. If it gets worked out where I could run a full Busch schedule next year, I probably would just run over there. Ray still would let me run the Indy 500."
The 21-year-old Foyt, who goes by Anthony, has raced in the IRL the last three years for his legendary grandfather, A.J. Foyt Jr. Foyt Jr. didn't want to discuss Anthony's possible deal with Evernham Motorsports. "A.J.'s really not a part of this," Anthony said. "It's my deal, and he gave me the OK to pursue it."
Anthony said he hopes to drive a few Busch events this season, including the O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 5. Anthony may be racing against his uncle next season. Anthony said Larry Foyt, a TCU grad, is close to working out a full-time Busch sponsorship for 2006. Dallas Morning News
07/10/05 We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong.' Indy Racing League driver A.J. Foyt IV watched Saturday's Busch Series in Chicago race with Ray Evernham from the top of the No. 19 Nextel Cup hauler. Foyt, A.J.'s grandson, is testing for Evernham and will run the team's #6 Dodge in a couple of Busch Series races this year. Tampa Tribune07/01/05 A.J. Foyt IV to NASCAR for Evernham? IndyCar Series [IRL] regular A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of A.J. Foyt, recently tested an ARCA car for Evernham Motorsports and might be in the team's plans for the future. "A.J. was very fast in the car, and we were very impressed with him," team owner Ray Evernham said. "He's probably going to run some Busch races for us later this year, and we'll do some further testing." The 21-year-old Foyt is in his third IndyCar season, but hasn't finished higher than ninth. "The kid's been struggling a little bit in the IRL," Evernham said. "He has a lot of people who believe in him. Who knows what's going to happen in the IRL shuffle? But he could be a guy who ends up in my driver-development program." ESPN.com/AP [Editor's Note: Clearly Foyt is way over his head in the IRL so perhaps he can have better results in NASCAR.]
Craven then McMurray to drive 6 carUPDATE #4 Brandon Mudd of 590 the Fan, KFNS, (www.kfns.com), spoke to #41-Casey Mears, who was in the St. Louis area yesterday for a Victory Junction Gang Camp function at Kenny Schrader's dirt track in Pevely, MO. When asked about the situation between his car owner, Chip Ganassi and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, #42-Jamie McMurray, Mears said, "I guess I would be lying if I said it didn't (affect my focus) a little bit, not so much my focus as a driver, but maybe it just distracts the organization a little bit. I think it's very clear now what Jamie's going to be doing for next year, he'll be running with us, the year after that, he's not." When asked where he (Mears) will be next year and if a certain blue deuce car is in his future, he said he believes he will still be with Ganassi. "As of right now, I'm going to be with Ganassi (next year). We haven't gotten any solid answers or solid information on exactly what it's going to be or where at, but every indication I get from Chip is that he wants me next year. We're hoping to get that all settled soon." Brandon W. Mudd/590 The Fan, KFNS
07/10/05 McMurray, who drives for Chip Ganassi [#42 Dodge], has just signed a multiyear contact to drive for Jack Roush beginning in 2007 [in the #6 Ford]. That surprising move is so legally ticklish that McMurray yesterday dodged reporters and refused to answer questions, issuing a brief statement only after it was cleared by his attorneys. McMurray's move has sparked numerous questions, including the thorny legal issue of whether it's OK to sign a contract to drive for somebody else while still under a contract. The sticky issue of "interfering" with a driver under contract has been debated, on and off, for more than 10 years, since driver contracts became the norm in NASCAR. Two NASCAR team owners, who asked not to be named, both said they felt that there was a significant potential for legal action over the move. But Roush quickly dismissed any such legal questions, saying that the issues had been thoroughly scrutinized: "We have had discussions, being fully aware of what his contract is. We don't intend to interfere with his contract in any way. We don't intend to talk about our sponsors or his sponsors, which would be one of the things to be concerned about. We only have interest in him getting in our car when he has fulfilled his commitments to Chip, whatever they are. We won't stand in the way of anything. And we're not interesting in any discussions of a buyout or anything else that might be an inducement for Chip to release him." Roush said that it's possible McMurray might even join Roush Racing for the 2006 season, though Ganassi, in a news release, said he wants to keep McMurray through the end of 2006. "He is not under contract for 2006 until Chip elects or chooses not to take his option going forward in September," Roush said. "This 2005 year for Jamie is the first year of two one-year extensions which were at Chip's option. Chip is obliged to let him know if he wants him to drive in 2006. And lacking an indication of that, he is released. It isn't clear what Chip will do. I haven't had any conversations with him. I don't think he's indicated to Jamie what he's going to do." Winston Salem Journal Actually Roush has more - conversations with Sterling Marlin, possibly to take Martin's ride for 2006. "Jack and I have talked a little, but I don't know anything," Marlin said. "I need to know something pretty quick, and I've got some meetings next week. We'll see how it shakes out." So would Marlin be willing to take just a one-year deal? "Yeah, if you look at what those guys are doing - it would be hard to give up the opportunity to win a championship," Marlin said. Winston Salem Journal07/08/05 Roush Racing truck series driver Ricky Craven is expected to take over the No. 6 car from retiring Mark Martin for next year before McMurray steps in for 2007. 07/07/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see announcement from Roush Racing on Hot News page. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that it will part ways with driver Jamie McMurray following the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. "Jamie's made a decision to go in another direction after we've both fulfilled the commitment that we made to each other in 2002," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "We didn't do a good job of conveying to Jamie where this team is headed, but we expect a lot of success with Jamie the rest of this year and next year, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors beyond that.” Team owner Felix Sabates added, “This is a total team sport and the Texaco/Havoline team will continue to stay focused on making the Chase and running for the Championship this season, next season and well into the future." Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR07/06/05 Jayski reports hearing that Jamie McMurray, current driver of the #42 Texaco Dodge for Chip Ganassi, has signed a multi-year agreement with Roush Racing to drive the #6 Ford beginning in 2007. Hmm...so who drives the #6 in 2006?
'F1 on road to India' Narain Karthikeyan reckons Formula One is on a fast road to India. Jordan's rookie, and the first Indian to ever tackle grands prix, told The Pioneer in Delhi that a race could hit the sub-continent within 'the next two to three years.'
''In fact, I am trying to sell the idea to the government. But (we have to) realize that it is a high-profile event and we will have to build the infrastructure first.''
Karthikeyan, 28, ruled out the so-called 'easy' route to the calendar of simply using city streets to emulate Monaco. He insisted: ''(Monaco) has been there for 70 - 80 years. You can't have that in India.''
The Indian also backtracked on earlier claims that the 'b' Jordan car could be ready as early as Turkey this month. ''It will be raced at some point this year,'' Karthikeyan mused. ''I hope it will allow us to challenge a few more teams.''
When will Champ Car race be run in Philly?UPDATE Another reader agrees, Philadelphia would be a great place for a mid to late May race. Maybe the week before Indy (while no cars are being bumped). Spring weather has not gotten humid yet. Fills hole in the schedule. The Phillies are usually out of the playoffs already by then (ha ha), the Eagles have not started and the 76ers, many NCAA hoops teams and Flyers are either done or close to done. Looks very promising. John Costello 08/04/05 A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read with interest about the proposed Philadelphia Champ Car race. When would it run? I live in Philadelphia and it is so hot and humid in July and August I doubt anyone would show up for the race. As I type this if you walk outside you can hardly breathe. And in August half the people are at the Jersey Shore on vacation. Jon Costella, Philadelphia, PA. Dear Jon, We have advised Champ Car to have the race in the month of May, even Memorial Day weekend, but we keep hearing July 4th weekend and more recently August. The date will be driven by what the city prefers, but without question, the comfort of the paying customer will ultimately drive the success of the race. Cleveland attendance is bad because it's so hot and humid every year the fans can't stand it and don't return. Children are particularly affected. If we had our druthers, the Philly race would definitely be during the month of May, unless they do it under the lights in July and August - that could work. Let's hope common sense ultimately prevails. Mark C.
Was Manning a scapegoat for Ganassi? Obviously, Darren Manning is the scapegoat for the freefall and disaster that has become Target/Chip Ganassi Racing in the IRL. With nearly $3 million worth of wrecked equipment, Ganassi sacked Manning and replaced him with Jaques Lazier, who promptly wiped out another car in a big crash that wasn't his fault.
"Drivers get all the glory and, unfortunately, our heads are on the chopping block," said Manning, who spent last weekend at the Champ Car race in San Jose. "Obviously, the whole team's performance is suffering and we haven't had the results.
"But Scott (Dixon), Ryan (Briscoe) and myself were always battling for the same spot on the grid so it's not like there was much difference between us." More at SPEEDTV.com [Editors Note: We hear Manning may have had some issues that Ganassi was not happy with. Hard to say what the real truth is.]
Andretti prepares for IRL debut Marco Andretti ran his first laps in an Indy car on Tuesday at Michigan. He is expected to move up to the Indy Cars in 2006. He will make his 2nd IPS start on an oval in Kentucky next week. Marco is slated to be the IRL's next poster boy and it will be interesting to see if they create a rivalry between their poster boy (Marco) and poster girl (Danica Patrick).
Night grands prix? The carmakers' breakaway alliance has not ruled out taking a radical approach to boosting the appeal of F1-style racing. Ron Dennis, recently appointed as a sort of teams' spokesman for the 'GPMA' cause, floated the concept of 'night grands prix' as a possible element of post-'08 F1.
''In five years' time,'' the McLaren boss told the Independent newspaper, ''I'd like to see (F1) one and a half times greater in audience, with much more global reach. I'd also like to see much better promotion, a better spectacle in the type of racing we have, and more teams.''
Improving global reach, he says, will be achieved first by ensuring 'prime time' TV slots, and turning on the fans. Dennis revealed: ''We have not discounted such extremes ... as moving the timing of grands prix as we go round the world. That has even seen us consider racing at night, under floodlights.''
A1GP blowing smoke As the A1 Grand Prix racks up international teams and sets the course for what's considered the world cup of motor sport, the circuit's announcement of a race through the streets of San Antonio in March is, well, a little short-circuited.
A news release Monday announcing the entrance of a U.S. team in the competition names San Antonio and Monterey, Calif., as the two American events on the 12-race circuit. That was a surprise to City Manager Rolando Bono.
"I would never say it can't be done," Bono said Tuesday. "But I am a little concerned that we keep hearing about these dates. We have no active negotiation going on. We have no piece of paper to even look at."
It's the second time Bono has learned about a proposed date for a race in San Antonio from the media.
The first questionable announcement made by the auto racing circuit, funded by Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum, nephew of the crown prince of Dubai, was in late May, and it scheduled the event for mid-February.
Bono said at the time that race organizers brought a proposal to city officials, who expressed interest in having such an event downtown, but nothing was completed and that was the last time it was discussed.
"These things involve a lot of coordination with logistics, street closures and property owners that have to be involved," he said. "We would have to answer many, many questions." More at MySA.com
Possible 2nd team for Wood BrothersUPDATE Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Wood Brothers team, says that the team is looking to expand to a two-car team. "We're exploring that right now, but I don't see it happening for '06,'' Wood said in a statement from the team. "We're more concerned for the 21 car for '06 right now. But maybe by '07 we'll have a couple. I wouldn't want more than two. Two, I think, is enough to do what you want to do as far as having somebody to compare off of. When it gets down to it, each car goes to the race track, teammates or not. You hear a lot about teammates working together and you hear a lot about teammates not working together. It's all through the garage -- both sides of it. But, we would be looking in the next couple of years doing that.'' The Wood Brothers have primarily been a single-car team for more than 30 years. Ricky Rudd is the team's current driver. Rudd's three-year contract expires after this season and he's said he planned to decide if he wants to continue racing by late summer. Roanoke Times07/29/05 According to NASCAR Scene Magazine, Jon Wood appears headed to the Nextel Cup series. Wood could drive either the #21 Ford or a 2nd team car. Eddie Wood, co-owner of the Wood Brothers team, said he is trying to put together a sponsor program to move Jon, his son, into Cup in 2006. It is possible the team could field two cars if Rudd decides to run next year. If Rudd were to retire, Wood could drive the #21 and a 2nd car would not be needed.
Simo in for Wallace at The Glen Rumor has it that Brian Simo will drive the #4 Lucas Oil / Morgan McClure Chevy at Watkins Glen in place of regular driver Mike Wallace, who is driving Darrell Waltrip's #12 Truck this week at IRP. Wallace is looking at other options for that weekend, including possibly driving a truck in the Truck Series at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday August 13th. Motorsports Lounge
NBC likely to retain NASCAR According to this ThatsRacin article, NASCAR is likely to renew its agreement with NBC for 2007 and beyond. Right now, Glover said, it appears that the structure of the new deal for Nextel Cup would look a lot like the current one. "While you never say never in negotiations, what we are looking at and what we believe is the preferred structure is what we have now," he said. "We believe it was pretty much right five years ago to go with two partners, and it seems that the idea of two packages is the way to go." Glover said he sees no reason Cup races and NFL broadcasts could not co-exist on NBC in the season's second half. NBC will be back in the pro football business beginning in 2006.
"That could be a powerful professional platform that could be helpful for NASCAR." Glover said. "Is there potential for some conflicts? Yes, but we think the overall benefits would outweigh that."
Glover said the idea of giving Fox the Daytona 500 every year, since NBC/TNT have the Chase for the Nextel Cup races, has been discussed.
"But the other side of coin is that NBC in the Olympics business for at least several more years," Glover said. "During Olympic years that's a great lead-in and lead-out for us. There's something to be said for that, and all of those things have to be weighed out."
Herbert eyes NASCAR A BBC story has a quote by former F-1 driver, Johnny Herbert which says: The 41-year-old has returned to Formula One to become Jordan's new sporting relations manager and is charged with improving the team's public perception. But although he will resist any attempt to test the struggling car, Herbert says he will not retire just yet. "I am at Jordan for the long term but I am still wanting to race and I've got something coming on," he said. "I've always had an interest in NASCAR and it's something I have been working on for a year and I don't know where that's going to end up. "If it does happen that will restrict a little bit what I do but I am still going to be involved with it whatever happens. The racing is still a part of my life it is something I can still do." BBC.com
Kanaan, da Matta eye move to A1 GPUPDATE The new A1GP series could land its first star signing if Team Brazil is able to confirm reigning Indy Racing League champion Tony Kanaan as its driver. The Andretti Green man is set to test Brazil’s Lola-Zytek later this month at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. According to team manager Emerson Fittipaldi, the only thing stopping TK from securing the ride is whether AGR can release him.
"I'm looking for Tony to be the standard driver for the team. He wants to do it [and] is already committed, but we need a release from Michael [Andretti]," Emmo told Autosport-Atlas. Another issue is the fact A1’s season debut, at Brands Hatch on September 12, coincides with the IRL’s Chicagoland race. More at SPEEDTV.com
07/30/05 We hear from Brazil that some of the biggest names in the sport are fighting over who will be Brazil's driver in the new A1 Grand Prix series. The word is that Champ Car driver Cristiano da Matta is one of those involved, along with Indy Racing League champion Tony Kanaan and F1 test driver Antonio Pizzonia. Moving to A1 Grand Prix would mean that each of the three would have to give up their current roles. This is most interesting in the case of Kanaan who apparently has had enough of racing on ovals and wants to do more road courses. Grandprix.com
Williams and Red Bull to switch to Bridgestone According to the German publication "Autor Motor & Sport", Williams and Red Bull are about to join the Bridgestone camp next year, with Toyota positively looking to this direction. At present Bridgestone provides tires to Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi, while Michelin has all the other teams. So the rate is 7:3 for Michelin and this could be changed to 6:4 for Bridgestone next year. This is very good news for Ferrari since one of the reasons Bridgestone was uncompetitive this season, was that they had data from only one top team. Tag Heuer
Portland to retain Champ Car race Portland has moved a step closer to cementing its place on the 2006 Champ Car schedule. Joe Chrnelich, the series' executive vice president for development, met Tuesday with new Parks Commissioner Dan Saltzman and city commissioners Erik Sten and Sam Adams. Rochelle Lessner, the economic development adviser on Mayor Tom Potter's staff, also was in attendance.
"I wanted to make sure the city really believed in the event, and that was the message I walked away with today," Chrnelich said. "It was a very positive meeting. There's no mistaking the level of support from the mayor and the commissioners' standpoint. They want the race to come back, and they're willing to partner with us. . . . I was pleasantly surprised at how energetic everyone was (about Champ Car)."
Chrnelich said in June that it would take increased sponsorship support and a firm message from the mayor's office to ensure Portland's place in the series.
"The message we got (today) was very encouraging," he said.
Although the 2006 Portland race probably will be June 18, Chrnelich said there won't be an official announcement at this time, "but things are shaping up nicely." Champ Car intends to release its 2006 schedule during the Denver race weekend Aug. 12-14. Portland Oregonian
Tracy being set up?UPDATE Indy-car star Paul Tracy, after years of skepticism about cars with fenders, is finally going to put his foot down in a NASCAR stocker. Tracy and car owner Richard Childress have talked on-and-off for about two years about doing a deal, and the numerous problems plaguing Indy-car racing may be prodding Tracy to make a move.
Tracy, who set the Michigan International Speedway record of 234.949 mph five years ago in a Champ Car, will test one of Childress' Chevrolets at that two-mile track with an eye toward driving in the Nextel Cup race there Aug. 21. Tracy has 30 Champ-Car wins, including victories this summer at Milwaukee and Cleveland, and he just finished second at San Jose.
"Paul and I have talked about an opportunity like this for the past couple of years, and it has finally come together," Childress said. "This will be Paul's first shot in a stock car, but he obviously has a great deal of talent and knows how to win races and championships. We'll take a look at how things go, and, if all goes according to plan, we'll get him ready for the Cup race the next week."
Tracy says he's "very excited," but he concedes that "driving a Cup car will be totally new to me." The Tracy-Childress move comes as Childress is revamping his engine department and fueling speculation about his putting together a fourth Cup team next year. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: Might that 4th team be for Paul Tracy? Related article]
08/02/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, How do we know that this whole test for Paul Tracy isn't a setup? I don't trust anything NASCAR does. Look how they sandbagged Martin Brundle in IROC when he was winning at MIS and Rusty Wallace deliberately took him out. Look how they treated Scott Pruett, by forcing him to be the last trailer into the paddock with half the practice time elapsed. Or when Steve Park or Jr. took him out in Las Vegas.
You might ask why would Childress do something like this? Why, because he's told to do it to show that Champ Car drivers are no good, i.e. not as good as the "greatest drivers in the world"? Nascrappers!
You might ask what happened to Christian Fittipaldi, John Andretti and Michel Jourdain Jr., all taken from Champ Car for various reason and then embarrassed - Fittipaldi (big name, Brazilian interest), Jourdain (Mexican market), and Andretti (the Andretti name).
NASCAR only pushes the drivers they want to push for commercial/geographical reasons.. They got Matt Kenseth (Wisconsin (upper Midwest) the title. They pushed Kasey Kahne. Where is Kahne this year, after being pushed to the top last year and securing the fans of the Great Northwest?
I don't buy they need Tracy for Canada. It's only a Busch Series race if they go anyway. And besides, I thought NASCAR was so popular they were bigger than any one driver? I smell a rat - a setup to embarrass Champ Car and Paul Tracy. I'll be reminding everyone when it happens as history will once again repeat itself. Mordichai Rosen, LA, California.
San Jose would have destroyed a F1 car Sebastien Bourdais talks about the Champ Cars flying through the air over the railroad tracks in San Jose Sunday, and says a F1 car would have made one pass and been destroyed.
"Saturday I was really worried because the engine started to go through the underwing," Bourdais noted. "That's never a good sign when you are starting to wear out the engine block. In fact, it's kind of scary. But we measured a 4,000-pound hit when the car landed on the rails. The fact is, the cars are not designed to do that. In a Formula 1 car, the first time you would have driven across the tracks it would have ripped the four wheels off," he continued. "The whole suspension would fall apart and there would be carbon fiber all over the place. The truth is, we have a bit more flexibility with these cars. Obviously, there are limits, but it was still raceable and we had a good premiere. It's easy to underestimate what is needed, but there were lessons learned here and they will make the track better for next year." Sebastien Bourdais/NSSN
ISC lawsuit could bankrupt Kentucky Speedway The cost of defending the anti-trust and restraint of trade suit filed last month by Kentucky Speedway against privately held NASCAR and publicly held International Speedway Corp. over the granting of Nextel Cup race dates apparently looms large. As a result, ISC, for the first time in memory, issued a Form 8-K. This form, required when a material event occurs, alerts shareholders to — among other things — bad news that could adversely affect its bottom line. Despite this forewarning, ISC stock has risen since the filing of the lawsuit. The Kentucky track is asking $400 million for never having been granted a Nextel Cup date. Many feel ISC will prevail in this litigation, however at steep cost. Indications are the law firm chosen by Kentucky is noted for winning big awards. .........The biggest box-office events at the young Kentucky oval are its annual Craftsman Truck and Busch Grand National Series races, both NASCAR sanctioned. Will these be taken away now over the suit’s filing (resulting in the Speedway going belly up)? Chris Economaki/NSSN
Denver ticket sales up, way up According to Jim Freudenberg, GM of the Denver event, advance ticket sales are triple last year’s event, which announced a three-day attendance of 112,000. Reports say that some of Cleveland's Mickey Mouse high school bleacher seats are being used by Denver. Pathetic
Why is it that the Canadians (Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton) and Mexicans (Monterrey and Mexico City) can build decent temporary seats that are high off the ground and steeply raked, while USA races use substandard bleacher seats? USA tracks should hire the Canadian contractors and send the Americans and their pathetic grandstands packing.
Although they lacked seat backs, the grandstands in Edmonton at least are high and steeply raked.
Was Manning another oval track victim? Banging those concrete walls in an Indy Car, regardless of the SAFER Barrier is bad for ones health, both physical and mental. There are a litany of IRL drivers that can attest to that. Curt Cavin insinuates in this Q and A that Darren Manning has some lasting effects from his Indy accident.
Question: After seeing Sunday's interview with Chip Ganassi about Darren Manning I thought I would ask. Chip made comments such as, "he wasn't right," and "he needs to get out and rest." I'm wondering if there is more to the story. I hope he's healthy. (Bill from Sheboygan, Wis.)
Answer: Ganassi would not talk on the record about Darren's release. But I'm led to believe there is concern among team officials that Manning hasn't been the same driver since his crash at Indy in May.
More at Indy Star, including the prediction the IRL will dump Phoenix but keep Michigan in 2006. The IRL will announce their 2006 schedule the same weekend Champ Car announces theirs - August 13-14..
Ford and Chevy submit 2006 models, Toyota....?UPDATE #2 The Ford Fusion has been unveiled and the new 2006 Chevy Monte Carlo will be unveiled this Thursday at the Indy Motor Speedway. This rumor is now 'fact.' 06/28/05 Ford will unveil its new Cup car in Charlotte on the Thursday before the first New Hampshire race. Chevrolet will do the same with its new Monte Carlo right before the Allstate 400 in Indy. Yahoo Sports06/27/05 Ford and Chevrolet have submitted prototypes to NASCAR for the 2006 season. Ford's car is expected to be named the Fusion, and Chevrolet will retain the Monte Carlo brand. The big question surrounds Toyota. The NASCAR rulebook says "any new car model to be considered for approval for competition in the 2006 season must be submitted by the manufacturers to NASCAR for initial consideration not later than July 1." NASCAR officials will not confirm Toyota's intention to offer a stock car. There has been talk that Toyota will pull out of the Indy Racing League at the end of this season, which frightens the big three American automakers currently competing in NASCAR because of the generous budgets the Japanese company devotes to racing. An announcement regarding Toyota's intention could come as early as this weekend at Daytona--perfect timing for the July 1 deadline. Sporting News [Editor's Note: This coincides with the rumor that Toyota will announce their withdrawal from the IRL this week ahead of their NASCAR announcement/submission]
Sato's ride in jeopardy Excerpts from a Q and A with BAR Honda's Nick Fry. Q: BAT sells a lot of cigarettes in Brazil…
“Yes, and he’s also a friend of Gil’s, so no doubt we’re hiring him because of the friendship!”
Q: Clearly there’s no room for Takuma in your ideal lineup, so where does that leave him?
“For Taku the position is very clear. He will be expected to earn points every race, and he’s done a really good job today. We’re all grown-up people. If the team is going to win the constructors’ championship, which it will, it’s got to have two drivers who contribute points at every race, and that’s the challenge for Takuma.”
Q: Has he generally been disappointing this year?
“I think that would be unfair to say that in that we’ve had lots of ups and downs this year, and that’s affected both Jenson and Takuma. He’s demonstrated as he has before that he’s got the outright speed, but it’s got to be every race, and he’s got to turn in points every race. I’m not being disloyal to Takuma by saying that, it’s a statement of fact. At the end of the day this is F1, it’s the pinnacle of the sport, and if a team is going to win the championship it’s got to have two drivers who can deliver.” More at SPEEDTV.com
Tracy to run MichiganUPDATE #5 Open wheel star Paul Tracy will test August 8-9 at Michigan International Speedway in Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) No. 33 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Chevrolet in preparation for the Aug. 21 GFS Marketplace 400.
The Ontario, Canada native is the 2003 Champ Car World Series champion and has 30 victories, ranking him first among the series’ active drivers and third all-time. Tracy is currently second in the 2005 point standings with two victories (Milwaukee, June 4; Cleveland, June 26), six top-five finishes and two pole positions after eight of 14 races. He finished second in the July 31 Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose (Calif.).
“Paul and I have talked about an opportunity like this for the past couple years and it has finally come together for Michigan,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of RCR. “I’d like to thank Gerry Forsythe and Forsythe Championship Racing for allowing us the chance to give this a try. This will be Paul’s first shot in a stock car but he obviously has a great deal of talent and knows how to win races and championships. We’ll take a look at how things go after the test and, if all goes according to plan, get him ready for the Cup race the next week.”
Tracy is looking forward to testing his driving skills again at the MIS oval. He competed in Champ Cars there 10 times (1992-2001), earning four top-five and seven top-10 finishes and a pole position (2000). The 2000 pole speed set the track qualifying record at 234.949 mph (30.645 seconds).
“I’m very excited about this opportunity especially at Michigan where I have a lot of experience,” said Tracy. “Driving a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup car will be totally new to me but my focus is to develop a package that will help Kevin (Harvick), Jeff (Burton) and Dave (Blaney) and their teams for the race weekend. I want to do whatever I can to help.”
08/01/05 After nearly two decades as an open wheel racer, Canadian Paul Tracy figures it's time to sit in a race car with fenders. The 2003 Champ Car World Series champion has struck a deal with NASCAR team owner Richard Childress to test a stock car over the next two weeks with the eventual goal of competing in the Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 21. Tracy will get behind the wheel of a stock car for the first time in his career on Tuesday at Concord (N.C.) Speedway in an ARCA car prepared by former stock car driver and now driving instructor Andy Hillenburg. Tracy then will head to MIS the day after the Brickyard to test the #33 Chevrolet for Childress. If everything falls into place, Tracy will make an attempt to qualify for the race at MIS, which he'll have to do based on speed. Regardless of the outcome of the next three weeks isn't ready to say he's moving to NASCAR. Tracy's interest in NASCAR dates back to 1999 when a friend showed him an article in a NASCAR publication that quoted Childress as saying he'd like to see Tracy in a stock car. Tracy isn't the first open wheel driver in recent years to dabble in the world of stock cars. Several have unsuccessfully attempted the transition into NASCAR, including past Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser, Scott Pruett, Christian Fittipaldi and most recently Mexican driver Michel Jourdain Jr., who ran in the Busch Series this year. Vasser drove two Busch races for Braun Racing in 2003, a year during which he raced in NASCAR, the Indy 500 and in his regular Champ Car ride. Tracy isn't ready to make any official announcements. "Check back with me in a couple of weeks," he said. "I'm going to drive a car a couple of times. I want to go do the race and then, think about what I want to do." Yahoo!Sports07/31/05 Tracy will get his first test with Childress Racing on Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. He will then test at Michigan and his first NASCAR race will be in Michigan in August. Mark C.
Should SJ track be moved?UPDATE Another reader writes, Should the SJ track be moved? I say no, the railroad tracks were the coolest part of the race. "Holy shit" is an understatement for what the cars were doing over the tracks and I definitely would want my seats right in front of that action. It also made for one hell of a sound effect at full speed. Tim Fregeau, Plainfield, IL 08/02/05 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I have read your comments before this past weekend calling the San Jose track Mickey Mouse. Boy were you right. I have since read articles suggesting the track should be relocated elsewhere in the city. Now that you have been there, what is your opinion, what is needed to fix it? Doug Bartlett, San Francisco, CA
Dear Doug, We believe that the track is in the best part of the city, i.e. right in the heart of downtown. The railroad track issue is quite fixable, something any Civil Engineer can regrade to smooth out the bumps, but I must tell you the fans there got quite a thrill watching the cars fly over those bumps. We heard many a "wow" and "holy shit." In some ways it brought memories of the glory days of racing when drivers flew through the air at places like the great 14-mile Nurburgring. On the no-passing-allowed San Jose track, it was something for the fans to get excited about and we would NOT relocate the track for that reason. Dumb idea. Also, having it in the Central Business District gets the corporate community involved, an important element.
What needs to be done is to keep the track where it is but make it longer by using more of the surrounding streets and eliminating the narrow ones. Either the backstraight, or frontstraight, needs to be lengthened to create passing opportunities. There must be a heavy braking zone at the end of the straight, not a fast chicane. More people are going to be inconvenienced by the longer track. They are going to have to be compensated fairly. But the city has to bite the bullet and do this. Additional revenues will be collected by the additional grandstands that can be built.
Of course they need more bridges, and another issue are the grandstands themselves. They can sell more tickets and give the fans better sight lines by having steep grandstands. Steep grandstands seat more people in the same footprint. And the seats need to have backrests and a contoured seat bottom. Do educated white collar employees in Silicon Valley deserve to sit on a hard wooded plank with their knees jammed into the back of the person in front of them under the hot sun? We think not.
Despite the criticism, Bob Singleton, his staff, the City of San Jose, and Champ Car officials should be congratulated on a spectacular first-time event given the circumstances they were presented with. Next year will be even better. Mark C.
Massa to replace Barrichello at FerrariUPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. See story on Hot News page. 07/31/05 Felipe Massa admitted this Sunday, in an interview with Radio Globo, that his chances of becoming a Ferrari driver in 2006, in the spot vacated by Rubens Barrichello who will drive for BAR, are very big. "With Rubinho out, with out a doubt I can say there is a big possibility that I will race for Ferrari. But that doesn't mean that's where I will race. My work has been good of late and there are lots of teams, not just Ferrari, that are watching my progress. I've already driven a Ferrari and lived a great year", said Massa. Massa & his manager, Frenchman Nicolas Todt, son of Sporting Director for Ferrari, Jean Todt, made Ferrari happy when Massa was a test driver for them in 2003. In an interview with Rede Globo, Nicolas Todt didn't confirm the transfer of Massa to Ferrari, but Guaranteed the Brazilian will be at the wheel of "A very good car" in 2006.
07/31/05 Felipe Massa's rumored move to Ferrari in 2006 has been all but confirmed by Peter Sauber. "I would have liked to keep Felipe with my team for one more year, but it's too late now," Sauber told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Ferrari is my dream and it would be a fascinating experience, as long as you have a competitive car, which I would demand from Ferrari or others," said Massa. "Being teammate with Schumacher? It wouldn't be a problem: he's my reference point. If I beat him, then it would mean I'm on my way to become a champion myself."
Wallace to take NASCAR consultant role? In 22 years of full-time racing in NASCAR's premier division, Rusty Wallace has seen and experienced plenty, and he feels that's given him plenty of ideas. And he thinks, potentially, plenty of solutions.
With only 17 Nextel Cup races left before he leaves the racecar driver's role that's been his livelihood for more than 30 years, Wallace is considering where his future time is going to be spent. And he's decided he would like to give back to the sport.
At Pocono Raceway two weekends ago, Wallace said that if he were asked, he would serve as a special consultant to NASCAR to solve problems and fix racetracks.
"I haven't had any conversations with [NASCAR]," Wallace said. "But I would definitely be interested in doing it. I want to help this sport grow [and] I see a lot of negative things that I can help on, so we'll see what happens."
Wallace acknowledged that NASCAR has a history of listening to everyone in its garage areas. The sanctioning body has taken Wallace's unofficial "proposal" under advisement.
"It's important for everybody to understand that we take in all the input that's out there already, from as many sources as we can," NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham said. "We'll always consider other options to make the racing better and safer for all of the competitors."
Wallace was adamant that an individual -- not a group of drivers -- was needed to find solutions. He cited NASCAR's success over the last 57 years as the reason for his philosophy.
"I think they need a driver that they can trust, not a committee," Wallace said. "The drivers disagree and they get too many things going on and it screws everything up."
Since William H.G. France formed NASCAR in the late 1940s, the final decision on NASCAR policy has rested with him, his son William C. France and now his grandson, Brian France.
That's fine with Wallace. "I do like the dictatorship the way it is," Wallace said. "That's the reason NASCAR has worked the way it has -- they make the decisions [they have to] and it's not a committee decision [because] if you had a committee decision you'd never make the progress they have." More at NASCAR.com
ALMS to replace Trans-Am at Long Beach? AutoRacing1.com heard this past weekend in San Jose that there may be just two races that Champ Car and ALMS run together in 2006, Long Beach and Sebring. Whether there is more as originally thought remains to be seen. If ALMS is added to the Long Beach card, is there enough hours in the day to also run Trans-Am?
This Long Beach Press Telegram article says, The 32nd running of the LBGP on April 9 won't look too much different from this year's race. Expect the race to include:
* The Champ Car World Series. The organization formerly known as CART will be back, although questions remain whether four-time race winner Paul Tracy will return. He told the media at the San Jose race that he's testing a Nextel Cup car in hopes to getting into NASCAR.
* Atlantics. Kalkhoven said there's been orders for 20 new Atlantic cars within hours of Saturday's announcement of a $2 million purse for the series champ and a guaranteed Champ Car ride for the winner of the development series. It was also announced that Cosworth will supply the engines for the Atlantic cars, which had been powered and sponsored by Toyota.
* Formula D. The drifting series impressed crowds again in San Jose just like it did for the first time on a street course in Long Beach.
The two remaining question marks are whether Toyota will return as a title sponsor and what sports car series will make its way to Long Beach.
It's expected that Toyota which has been the title sponsor since 1980 will re-up. Les Unger, Toyota's national sports manager, said recently that he expects an announcement to be made within the next several weeks.
Trans-Am may not be so lucky. The series fielded only 11 cars with the rest of 22-car field at the LBGP made up of fillers. The LBGP may be looking for a series that has more of a following and auto manufacturer support, like the American Le Mans Series or the Speed World Challenge.
But those are relatively minor issues compared to a time when Unger uttered the following 11-word sentence with regularity a couple years back to reassure fans. "There will always be a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach."
Hornish to replace Rusty WallaceUPDATE #3 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Hornish told the Dallas Morning News that, "No, I'm not going. Well, I'm not going to run NASCAR full-time next year," indicating he could run on a part-time basis in 2006. Once Marlboro is out of the IRL after 2006, what Hornish does is anyone's guess. Full time in NASCAR is always a possibility. 05/29/05 This NY Times article talks about Sam Hornish's possible move to NASCAR. 05/12/05 Tonight on NASCAR Nation on SPEED Channel one topic of discussion was the fact that the rumors are growing stronger that Sam Hornish Jr. will be driving the #2 car next year in Nextel Cup. 02/10/05 Mike Massaro on ESPN Chat was asked "Who's Going to Drive the #2? Massaro has a couple of hunches....I think it's going to be Sam Hornish, but that's just my instinct speaking. I don't think Roger Penske even knows for sure. I will tell you this though, they will be thorough in their search. They'll also be considering Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and even consider moving Ryan Newman over to the 2.
Turkish GP to sell out Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) President Murat Yalcintas and ITO council members have examined Istanbul Park Track where the Turkey Formula 1 Grand Prix will be held. Most of the tickets have already been sold Yalcintas said. The track cost about 300 million new Turkish liras including all infrastructure work to construct. According to Yalcintas, "The contribution of this track to Turkey’s promotion of it's country is tremendous. It is one of the biggest investments for Turkey." Zaman.com
F1 to implement a knockout system Formula One bosses will introduce a revolutionary knockout qualifying session in their latest bid to make the sport more exciting. Team chiefs have agreed on the big revamp and it should be in place for next year’s championship.
It is hardly the first time that qualifying has been tinkered with and the current system of one flying lap has proved unpopular. More importantly, F1 teams believe this ground-breaking way of qualifying will be a big hit with the fans — so extra TV viewers around the world will please the sport’s sponsors.
Drivers will have a maximum of four laps depending on how quick they are around the track. All 20 cars will have one lap over a 15-minute period and the five slowest will immediately be given the boot.
They will be between 16th and 20th place on the Sunday starting grid. The 15 remaining drivers and their machines will race in another lap and, once again, the slowest five will be knocked out and placed between 11th and 15th on the grid. This continues again and there will be the fourth and final qualifying shootout where the five remaining cars fight it out for pole position. The Sun
Jordan and Williams to announce their ’06 enginesUPDATE We are hearing that the Cosworth for Williams deal is almost definitely going to happen with an announcement in less than two weeks. 07/29/05 With the July 31 deadline drawing ever closer, we hear that Jordan F1 has finally got serious and come up with the money necessary to secure for the team a supply of Toyota V8 engines for 2006. After that there will be no deal because in 2007 we believe the engines will move to Williams.
It is expected that the Jordan-Toyota deal will finally be confirmed this weekend and that inevitably that will lead to the signing of a Williams deal with Cosworth for the next 12 months. The big question at the moment is not who will have which engine in 2006 but rather which will be the best engine to have. Grandprix.com
Behind the scenes at the Hungarian GP Far be it from us to comment on what the other teams get up to. But, given that Christian Klien’s first lap flight in the Hungarian Grand Prix was caused by Jacques Villeneuve getting his left front wheel stuck ahead of Christian’s right rear, the F1 press corps found it pretty funny that his team’s press release made absolutely no mention of the incident.
With the three week break coming up – one could hardly call it a holiday as work intensifies to deal with the last six races – the Silly Season was in full swing in Budapest and there have been a huge number of suggested driver changes for next year. The biggest squabble seems to centre on BAR, Williams and Button. If we assume Jenson will have to move to Williams, then the latest theory as to next year’s BAR line-up is Takuma Sato and Rubens Barrichello.
The Brazilian is rumored to have finally had enough of being Michael Schumacher’s whipping boy at Ferrari and will be heading off to BAR, now run by his old mate and fellow countryman, Gil de Ferran. Who would replace “Rubinho?” Why, none other than Felipe Massa, currently with Sauber, but actually still under contract to the Italians since his year as a test driver for them a couple of years ago. Button would find himself alongside Webber at Williams, while Heidfeld would stay with his German masters in the new BMW team created by them buying Sauber.
The season gets silly August is a good month in Formula One if you enjoy the often whimsically wild and speculative annual 'silly season.' Every year, drivers' contracts run out and their reported direction is often the work of a carefully contrived plot, but where truth can also be as strange as fiction.
Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Felipe Massa and Nick Heidfeld are among the sharp end of the action this time.
24-year-old Massa, managed by a very well connected Frenchman, is en route to Ferrari to fill Rubens Barrichello's shoes, a solid whisper insists, although the Brazilian also sees himself linked with BMW's new incarnation.
''Don't ask me to comment on speculation,'' boss Jean Todt, who said there is 'no plan' for to test Massa, replied.
Barrichello is solidly linked to BAR, to the point that a contract may even have been signed. ''I think he is a very good driver,'' said mate and 'sporting director' Gil de Ferran. ''Our drivers are also very good.''
The Brackley based F1 team also vowed to stay out of Jenson Button's contractual wrangle with Sir Frank Williams.
Nick Fry said: ''The two contractees need to sort it out. We've made it clear that we'd love to have him stay.'' By far the wildest rumor so far is that Massa may have a rival for Rubens' scarlet seat -- a 34-year-old from Scotland. ''David (Coulthard) will be driving a Ferrari in 2006,'' team principal Christian Horner smilingly retorted, ''but it will be a Red Bull Ferrari.''
Adam Carroll sponsorship problems BAR Honda Young Driver Adam Carroll is facing a sponsorship crisis that may see the Northern Irishman forced out of the GP2 race series. Super Nova team boss David Sears said "Adam faces a sponsorship crisis in his quest to finish the season."
"It's always been the same for me," said Carroll himself. "I've always gone race by race, and not known what will happen at the next one. At the start of the year it was okay because I had a little bit of money coming in, but that soon dried up."
Barrichello signs with BAR HondaUPDATE #4 These reports gathered strength over the weekend when Peter Sauber confirmed that Massa will be leaving the team at the end of the season. "I would have liked to keep Felipe with my team for one more year, but it's too late now," Sauber told Gazzetta dello Sport.
However, according to Massa, that doesn’t mean he’s joining Ferrari – in fact he doesn’t where he’ll be in 2006. "I don’t know and to be honest (the speculation) is not true," he said. "At the moment we don’t know where I am going to race next year. Maybe I can even stay at Sauber, maybe I can leave."
"At the moment it is too early to say. I am a bit surprised to hear that Peter said that. I don’t think he said it because it is not the right thing to say as I am still talking with BMW."
08/01/05 According to a report in The Guardian, the Brazilian 'has been released from the balance of his contract with Ferrari and is poised to sign to drive for BAR-Honda for the next two seasons.' 'Formal confirmation of the deal, which will see Barrichello's fellow Brazilian Felipe Massa inherit his position in the Ferrari team, is expected this week,' the paper adds. 07/31/05 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Barrichello is going to leave Ferrari at the end of the 2005 F-1 season. The driver confirmed the transfer from Ferrari to BAR Honda, to Rede Globo in Brazil. The contract is for two years, with possibilities of an extension for another year.
At BAR Honda, where he will be replacing Englishman Jenson Button, who has a contractual agreement with Williams, Barrichello believes he will be in a position where he can fight for the F-1 Championship which he dreams of one day claiming.
With 13 years of experience in Formula 1, Barrichello has raced for Ferrari since 2000. In five and a half years, he has driven 97 races and won 9 for the Ferrari. But he has always been considered, though not officially, Ferrari's second driver behind Michael Schumacher.
After years of a relationship of ups and downs with the German, the Brazilian became very irritated this season with the attitude of his teammate and has now made the decision to leave the team.
The transfer to BAR was made possible by BAR's Sports Director, ex-race car driver Gil de Ferran, who is Barrichello's childhood friend.
Now Ferrari will have to move fast to confirm a second driver for next season. Two names being mentioned are Felipe Massa and David Coulthard.
07/30/05 Rubens Barrichello has been tipped for a move to BAR Honda after compatriot and former World Champion Nelson Piquet claimed the Ferrari driver has already inked a deal for next season.
Barrichello is contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2006 but rumors here in the Hungaroring paddock suggest he has been granted a release from his current deal and negotiated a move to last year's championship runners-up.
A breakdown earlier this year in relations between Barrichello and team-mate Michael Schumacher, to whom he has taken second best since he joined in 2000, started rumors that the 32-year-old was seeking an exit from the team. But only two days ago Barrichello denied that he is planning a move when, asked if he would be racing for Ferrari in 2006, he said: "Yeah, I have a contract for 2006 and I have nothing else to say."
BAR are unsure of their line-up for next season having seen Williams lay claim to lead driver Jenson Button after the Honda-powered team failed to meet the performance clause required to keep him. They are hoping to retain him for next season but Williams are determined to fight for him because they claim that sponsorship contracts have been agreed based on his racing for them in 2006.
If Barrichello has agreed a move it will open the door for a driver merry-go-round with Felipe Massa, long courted by Ferrari and a former test driver for them, tipped to leave Sauber and move to the Italian team. Source AFP
07/30/05 With Button forced to move to Williams in 2006 due to a prior contract commitment, rumors in Hungary suggest that Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello has signed to drive for BAR Honda in 2006. If true it will be interesting to see if Massa fills the open seat at Ferrari as rumored.
Legge may wait one year before moving up Although Katherine Legge has already won three Toyota Atlantic races in her rookie year, she appears in no hurry to move up to the Champ Cars too soon. She has indicated she is not sure she is ready yet, and when we spoke to Kevin Kalkhoven Sunday after her win in San Jose, he said "We will have to see how she does when we test her. We don't know if she is strong enough because these Champ Cars are so physically demanding, they really beat you up."
We ran into her father Derek waiting for a flight back to Newark, NJ and then to England Sunday night. He told AutoRacing1.com that "We are in no hurry to move her up too soon. This year has been like a dream year and it is the first time she has been in a car where she can really show her ability." He acknowledged that they will have to get her a physical trainer to work with her in preparation for Champ Car. Derek Legge is a home builder and he has been commuting back and forth from England on weekends to see his daughter race. "Luckily it is my business and I can sneak away on Thursday and return to work on Tuesday. Next year I'll have to take a long summer holiday," he said. Mark C.
Enge to return next race, decent crowd Sunday's crowd was estimated at 35,000 in Michigan. . . . Enge, who fractured bones in his back in an accident two weeks ago in Nashville, Tenn., is expected to be examined Wednesday to see if he can return to the Panther Racing car in time for the next IRL race, Aug. 14 at Kentucky Speedway. Indy Star
Williams to lose sponsors? If you listen to the F1 rumor mill, then a lot of cash could walk out of Frank Williams' office door ahead of the 2006 season. 'FedEx' and 'Petrobras', according to speculation, could both switch - with BMW - to Sauber next year. Title sponsor HP may quit F1 altogether.
BMW's Mario Theissen denied, at least, that the new works team will depend on those dollars. ''It was clear that BMW (is) prepared to put up the team with its own financial resources,'' he told formula1.com.
''But I am telling no secret that sponsors are warmly welcomed.''
The 'motor sport director' also scotched talk that he will definitely be team principal. ''This is not the time to speculate about positions,'' Dr Theissen added. The German even passed on whether the Sauber-BMW alliance will be known simply as 'BMW'.
He said: ''We have some ideas ... but so far these are only ideas.'' One thing, at least, is pretty certain. The alliance with Williams is, simply, over. Theissen said: ''Success is the best way when it comes to goodbye. We want to finish the partnership on a high, not a low.''
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