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DATE News (chronologically)
Things that make you go hmmm......  Dale Jensen's Arizona Diamondback business partners Jeff Moorad and Tom Garfinkel have bought the Hall of Fame NASCAR Nextel Cup team from Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman it was announced yesterday.  This on the heels of Jensen cancelling the Phoenix Champ Car race.  NASCAR did not want Champ Car in Phoenix.  Any connection between Jensen's recent actions and this?   Hmmm..............
Doornbos to F1  UPDATE According to Super Aguri team sources, this rumor is false unless Doornbos brings a big check because the team needs the money. Because of the ridiculous 7-week gap in the Champ Car schedule, he could drive in 4 F1 races before he has to get back to his Champ Car duties.

09/04/07 In the last few hours there has been some confusion about Robert Doornbos in the Dutch media. He appears to be gone from Champ Cars unfortunately, and has been approached by Super Aguri for Monza next week, or so the rumor goes.
IRL to implement power steering to help Danica win  UPDATE #2 See this related SPEEDTv.com article by Robin Miller on this topic. 

09/04/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, You have a rumor listed as strong that indicates Danica Patrick was given power steering in two races when her opponents did not have such an advantage? Are you speculating, or is this confirmed? If it is true the IRL needs to be exposed as an amateur series that predetermines its outcomes and put its drivers in danger all for the sake of "the show." People criticize Champ Car (and rightfully so at times) but at least the racing is real and the results aren't fixed. Brian Carroccio, Rockville, MD

Dear Brian, Indeed, the IRL is calling it power assist, and they let her test it in a race. Imagine that! Instead of telling all the competitors what they were doing, they even made her sign a Confidentiality Agreement so she would not tell anyone else. The proper thing would have been to test it side-by-side with the existing steering at a non-race test. But, no, the IRL is so desperate for Danica to get a win they'll try to give her any advantage they can so they can get the big PR splash about what a great driver she is. Mark C.

09/03/07 Despite have a 50 pound weight advantage due to a loophole in the IRL rules, Danica Patrick still cannot win a race, but she will soon have another band-aid to help her win. Normally on a road course when driver talent is required, Patrick qualifies mid-field at best. When she was testing the new power-assist steering at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, Patrick qualified near the front of the grid. In fact she was on the front-row at Sonoma, much to our amazement. The other drivers did not know she was running this band-aid in races and were pissed off when they found out about it this weekend in Detroit. In fact the IRL kept it so secret they had her sign a Confidentiality letter that she would not say anything.

Why was the power assist not tested during the off-season or at a separate test instead of a race? Because the IRL is trying to give their poster girl every advantage to win a race. When it was removed from her car in Detroit she was right back qualified at mid-pack and 2 full seconds off the pace. If you are 2 seconds off the pace you are considered a wanker.
Another IRL favorite, AJ Foyt Racing, was allowed to secretly run the power assist in a race as well. Usually a backmarker, lightweight Darren Manning all of a sudden came to life.

This band-aid for IRL drivers, who rarely use their talent on 100% throttle ovals where they turn the wheel perhaps 5 degrees in the corners, is expected to be allowed starting in 2008.

Essentially the IRL will then have a double standard. Larger drivers like Ryan Hunter-Reay, who are strong enough to manhandle the car on road courses, will lose that advantage they might have over the lightweight weaker drivers like Danica, yet still have a 50 pound weight disadvantage because the IRL does not weigh the drivers and cars together and use ballast to make everyone equal weight, which is another advantage Danica has.

Ganassi team to dump Dodge for Toyota  With the addition of Joe Gibbs Racing to the Toyota stable finalized, reports are surfacing that Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates could be next. Joe Gibbs Racing will announce Wednesday that they will switch to Toyota in 2008.

Felix Sabates who entered NASCAR in 1989 with driver Kyle Petty has raced General Motors products including Pontiac’s and Chevy’s. When Chip Ganassi purchased a majority interest in the team in 2001, they switched to Dodges; the brand they currently campaign. Cup Scene 

[Editor's Note: We predicted this two years ago.  We also predicted that Penske Racing South will eventually switch to Toyota as well, despite the team confirming their commitment to Dodge.  It remains to be seen whether Dodge will remain in NASCAR given 1) Chrysler was recently sold, 2) their performance in NASCAR has been marginal, 3) they will eventually be the 4th best manufacturer in NASCAR behind Chevy, Ford, and Toyota]

IRL to add Southern, CA race  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The IRL says (See Hot News Item) that they will be adding a new blockbuster race in a new market to their schedule in 2008. Any idea where it is? Joe Gonzo

Dear Joe, The IRL has been looking at a Palm Springs, California and a LA, California street race around Dodger Stadium for awhile now. The Grand-Am is rumored to not be returning to Laguna Seca, but that might be too close to their Infineon Raceway event. San Diego used to host a sports car street race (the Del Mar GP), and the weather there is beautiful, so that one would have my vote. Mark C.

’Team India’ could be lifeline for Ralf  UPDATE (GMM)  A team insider has rubbished reports that Ralf Schumacher might rescue his embattled formula one career next year at Spyker.

It was reported on Monday that, given the buyout of the Dutch outfit by Indian billionaire and Schumacher friend Vijay Mallya, the 32-year-old could wind up at 'Team India' - or whatever the team will be called in 2008 - as a race driver and advisor.

An unnamed 'insider', however, told the German specialist publication Sport Bild that the speculation is wide of the mark.

"Ralf Schumacher is not a topic for us," the insider said.

"Adrian Sutil is set, the second driver is still to be decided -- but it will not be Ralf Schumacher."

Sport Bild did not name its source, but it should be pointed out that, in the Spyker takeover by the Mol family and Mallya consortium, the team management including boss Colin Kolles is expected to be kept in place.

09/03/07 (GMM) The buyout of the Spyker team by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya could save Ralf Schumacher's endangered formula one career, according to reports.

German daily newspaper Bild-Zeitung reports that the pair are close friends and business associates, and could be set to link up with an eight-digit retainer for 32-year-old Schumacher as a race driver and advisor in 2008.

Ralf, whose current Toyota contract expires at the end of the year, traveled with team sponsor Mallya to India earlier this year, and has also spent time on his 95-metre super-yacht 'Indian Empress'.

In May, Schumacher referred to Dr Mallya as "a friend of mine".

TMS could axe the IRL  The IRL has a conflict brewing that might be difficult to resolve. The president of Texas Motor Speedway, which has been the league's biggest track supporter outside Indiana, has said he wants to be the event immediately following the Indianapolis 500 by 2010 or he will stop staging Indy-car races. The problem is, Eddie Gossage, who signed a two-year contract with the IRL last week, doesn't want that race to be the weekend immediately after Indy because NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series can't move, too. But IRL officials don't want to be idle that weekend, which is why they went to Watkins Glen, N.Y., before Texas last year and to Milwaukee this year.  Neither seems willing to budge.  Terry Angstadt, the president of the IRL's commercial side, said there is no chance the league will forgo racing that week just to appease Texas.  "It's not good for our business," he said.  Indy Star
Mountain Dew and Amp to sponsor Earnhardt Jr?  UPDATE #5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports are expected to announce later this month PepsiCo Inc. products Mountain Dew and Amp energy drink are his primary sponsors for next season, sources confirmed Sunday.

Earnhardt said Friday that he has a number and sponsors in place for next season but that everyone will have to wait to find out what those are.

"When we're ready to announce it, it won't be on pit road after a qualifying lap," Earnhardt said after his qualifying run at California Speedway. "We'll do it in a press conference."

Earnhardt said that the announcement would come within a couple of weeks and that he's happy with the decisions that were made.

When asked whether crew chief Tony Eury Jr. would be following him to Hendrick Motorsports, Earnhardt said: "We don't have an announcement, but Tony Jr. is working in that direction." ESPN.com

07/05/07 Pepsi's decision to pull its sponsorships of International Speedway Corp. racetracks was the first step in the company's plans to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr. when he drives at Hendrick Motorsports next year.

According to industry sources, Pepsi's Mountain Dew soft drink now is the leader to sponsor Earnhardt Jr. next year.

ISC, which includes the Daytona International Speedway and half of the tracks on the Nextel Cup Series schedule, will have its deal with Pepsi phased out as contracts expire. Pepsi's deal with Daytona includes Saturday night's Pepsi 400, but that contract expires after the race.

Pepsi plans to re-direct the money it spends with racetracks to Earnhardt Jr.

Hendrick Motorsports is talking with several companies to sponsor Earnhardt Jr., the most popular driver in racing. Budweiser, Earnhardt Jr.'s current sponsor, is working to remain with him, but Pepsi's Mountain Dew brand has become the clear front-runner.

DuPont currently has the most-expensive sponsorship deal in the sport at $20 million with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports. Mountain Dew is expected to challenge, if not beat, that standard.  SavannahNow More ...

Karthikeyan could return ahead of Indian GP  (GMM)  Arguably the happiest driver on F1's sidelines at present is Narain Karthikeyan.

As the only Indian with a current formula one superlicense, the 31-year-old is perfectly poised to take advantage of the newfangled team ownership of his billionaire countryman Dr Vijay Mallya.

31-year-old Karthikeyan, who lost his Jordan race seat after a single season in 2005, could be set to return to the Silverstone based team in 2008 when it is probably renamed 'Team India'.

"It is fantastic to have an Indian controlling a team in formula one," he said.

"Mallya's brand Kingfisher has also consistently supported me during my career."

Karthikeyan also told The Asian Age that a new opportunity at Williams, where he is currently an occasional test driver, could crop up next year.

"I am in talks to find out the nature of my job for the next season," he said, referring to the Grove based team that is run by Sir Frank Williams.

"The chances are bright at the team since one of the drivers is struggling to rope in necessary sponsors.  But I have kept my options open and am looking for a better choice."

23-year-old GP2 driver Karun Chandhok was the other prominent Indian mentioned by Mallya since Spyker sold the team.

He said: "I would like to carry (on) my plan of doing one more year of GP2, but it goes without saying that I will be delighted with any formula one testing opportunity that might present itself."

Childress could fold No. 31 Team  Richard Childress said on Sunday at California Speedway, that he could be in danger of losing sponsorship for the No. 31 car if the lawsuit between AT&T and NASCAR/Sprint goes the wrong way. "If they would go away, we definitely could, they couldn't afford to stay in (the sport) to run a blank car. It's all up to Sprint to make the decision. It's in Sprint's hands. NASCAR is being controlled by what Sprint is going to let them do. The sad part of it is, the money AT&T spends with Richard Childress Racing, they will spend three times as much in media, FOX, ESPN, newspapers, magazines, and everything else they do -- they'll spend millions of dollars promoting their products and in that product, they are helping to promote our sport. It's just sad to see it where it is. If they (AT&T) get beat and end up having to leave, naturally we're going to lose them. Not only will RCR have a loss -- but the sport will lose. Again, it's in Sprint's hands.
Spyker Cars in legal trouble?  Spyker Cars NV, the parent company of the Spyker F1 team, is going to have to answer questions about its activities from the Autoriteit Financiele Markten (AFM), the Dutch stockmarket regulator, which has indicated that it has doubts about Spyker's 2006 financial statements and whether these comply with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) rules. AFM says it has embarked on a judicial action to force Spyker to restate the accounts. AFM says there are several questions that need to be answered, some of them involving the F1 team.  Grandprix.com
Overheard at Assen - Sunday  The one thing that makes NASCAR pitstops exciting is that the tire changes are not always done before the fuel is finished going in. Because NASCAR only allows two tire changers during a pit stop, they must change the tires on one side of the car and then run around to the other side. If they trip and fall on the way, the driver loses time. But it mixes things up a bit and makes teamwork that much more important. As it stands today, Champ Car pitstops are rather mundane. The tire change is always done way before the fuel is done so the four tire changers can pretty much sit there and twiddle their thumbs.

The fuel usually takes about 12 seconds and it takes 5 or 6 seconds to change tires on one side of the car. So if the team elects to change all four tires on a stop, the two changers will have to hustle to get around to the other side of the car and complete those two tires. This means that getting the tires done fast will be the critical element of a stop.

We discussed the concept of only allowing two tire changers over the wall with Champ Car competition boss Tony Cotman, and he said, "I like that idea a lot and it is one of many enhancements we will be evaluating for 2008."

On another note, we hear some Champ Car teams will be testing at Sebring later in September since there is now such a huge gap in the schedule to the Lexmark Indy 300, October 19-21, on the temporary street circuit in Surfers Paradise, Australia.

Future partners?  Pictured right, Conquest team owner Eric Bachelart talks to Trust boss Michel Perridon on the grid before the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix of Assen Sunday.  Perridon is rumored to be possibly buying into the Conquest team, thereby making it a 2-car Belgian/Dutch effort.  The rumored Dutch driver is said to be either ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen or A1GP driver Jeroen Bleekemolen. Mark C. reporting from Assen
Indy Pro Series to switch to alternative fuel  "Ethanol has worked so well for us in the IndyCar Series," said IRL President Brian Barnhart, " and we see where automotive companies are going with research and development of fuels that we are seriously looking at alternative fuel options for the Indy Pro Series."

He said the Indy Pro Series' 2008 season looks even brighter than this year, when an average field of 23 cars participated in the 15 events. The season finale is Sept. 9 at Chicagoland Speedway.

"Interest from potential drivers, teams and sponsors is at level even higher than last year," Barnhart said. "In fact, last weekend at Infineon Raceway, executive director Roger Bailey met with two new potential drivers, two new potential team owners and one potential sponsor for next season."

Wallace to drive No. 88?  Kenny Wallace, who recently lost his ride at Furniture Row Racing, told a St. Louis newspaper Friday that he may be back in full time in Nextel Cup competition in 2008 in the No. 88 Ford for Robert Yates Racing. Current driver Ricky Rudd, who will make his 900th career start Sunday in California has announced that he will step out of the car at the end of 2007.

Wallace, who is racing the Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway International Raceway outside St. Louis Saturday, said he is scheduled to meet with Yates Sunday in California.

"He called me up and said that his brother-in-law told him that the driver he needed to hire was right under his nose — me," Wallace said. "I told him that the manufacturer wanted me to drive his car last (time) but M&Ms wanted Ricky Rudd.”

Plans for overtaking in F1  F1's Overtaking Working Group (OWG) has agreed on its first recommendations to improve the spectacle of grand prix racing. Following the mostly processional Turkish grand prix, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports that the group - headed by team technical boffins Paddy Lowe (McLaren), Pat Symonds (Renault) and Rory Byrne (Ferrari) - is now ready to push ahead with its concepts for improving overtaking through more conducive FIA design rules. After extensive tests with a 25 per cent model in the Fondmetal wind tunnel in Italy, funded by all the teams except Spyker, it emerges that the OWG will propose a range of changes to be phased-in between around 2009-2010. Among them are: a wider front wing, a narrower and higher rear wing, a steeper diffuser, and the banning of winglets and bargeboards. Slick tires may also be reintroduced in 2009. F1i.com
Spyker team sold  UPDATE #2 This story, first broke by AutoRacing1.com, will soon go to 'fact.'  The Mol Family and Vijay Mallya have formed a consortium that has made an offer to the Board of Spyker Cars N.V. to acquire 100% of the Spyker Formula One Team they confirmed.

This offer has been accepted by the Board of Spyker Cars N.V. and exclusivity has been granted to the consortium Orange India Holdings Sarl to proceed with due diligence, binding agreements and such other formalities that are necessary to achieve completion within 30 days.

Michiel Mol stated: "I have been a keen investor in Spyker and fully supported the acquisition of the Formula One Team from the Midland Group. I am very happy to partner Vijay Mallya in this exciting new venture. India has a booming economy and is a country with great opportunity. With this step we continue the involvement of The Netherlands in Formula One. I am looking forward to make this a competitive Indian Dutch combination. With the resources Vijay Mallya brings together with his Indian counterparts, I am confident that the Formula One Team has a very bright future".

Commenting upon the transaction, Vijay Mallya said "I am delighted to partner the Mol Family in the acquisition of the Spyker Formula One Team. India is a country with great opportunity and I hope to see a Formula One race being staged in India in the next 2 years. Quite apart from research and development resources available in India, Indian companies are going global and would leverage the Formula One platform to gain international exposure. It will be my endeavor to work closely with the Spyker Team management to improve the performance of the cars going forward".

08/31/07 We hear the buyer is Dr. Vijay Mallya, Chairman of the UB Group stated that owns Kingfisher Airlines.

08/31/07 According to our sources, the Spyker F1 team has indeed been sold. No word yet on who the final buyer was.
Nakajima joins Toyota’s 2008 shortlist  (GMM) A 22-year-old Japanese has reportedly soared to the top of the favorites list to replace Ralf Schumacher at Toyota next year.

The German weekly Sport Bild claims that Kazuki Nakajima, currently placed by the Japanese giant at Toyota-powered Williams as a test and Friday driver, is being positioned as the best alternative to Schumacher for 2008.

Kazuki, the son of former F1 driver Satoru Nakajima, would be a cheaper option than $19m per-year Schumacher for Cologne based Toyota, but a team insider also explained that executives in Tokyo are keen to follow the example of McLaren/Lewis Hamilton by bringing on a young protégé.

He has also been doing a credible job in GP2 this season.

"With the successes of Hamilton with McLaren, the youth principle has now drawn the attention of Japan," the insider, referring to Nakajima, said.

"And Kazuki is young and Japanese."

Sport Bild added that Kazuki's biggest competitor for the race seat is not 32-year-old Ralf Schumacher, but BMW-Sauber tester and GP2 championship leader Timo Glock.

De Ferran eyeing role with Penske in IRL  Gil de Ferran, who resigned as BAR Honda Formula One sports director in July, will be in town through the weekend to watch the inaugural Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone.

"The track and the whole facility is at a whole new level from what we used to run," de Ferran said. "I think Roger (Penske) has done a great job. The paddock looks beautiful and the track looks great. The line of sights are much-improved."

De Ferran said he has been "vacationing" with his family most of the summer at their Florida home.

"Basically, I've been just looking after my affairs," he said. "This is the perfect weekend for me to come here to see my friends and how Team Penske does."

Do his future plans include the IndyCar Series in some fashion?

"I've learned you never say never," he said without elaborating.

Telefonica may back Alonso’s Renault return  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has made it clear to team boss Flavio Briatore that he is not willing to spend a fortune on re-signing Fernando Alonso.

Briatore told reporters earlier this week that he would "love to have him (Alonso) in the team, I think everyone would want Fernando because he is exceptional."

"But," he added, "he has a contract with someone."

This led to speculation that Briatore could make a bid to and buy Alonso out of his McLaren contract and bring him back to Renault, with whom he won the 2005 and 2006 drivers' championship titles.

However, Ghosn has put an end to such rumors, saying that Renault can achieve success next season without the Spaniard at the helm.

"Success in F1 is always the product of team work," Ghosn said, when asked if Renault would make a bid for Alonso.

"It needs a perfect car, chassis, engine, tires, team effort, and driver of course. The best driver cannot succeed without a perfect team and vice versa.

"I demand from the team to compete at the highest level. If we cannot come first we have to be at least runner-up. But I do not interfere with the daily operations, for this we have Flavio (Briatore) and (team president) Alain (Dassas).

"The team know what it takes to win. This year, we started late because the title fight of 2006 took our full efforts until the very last race. The final laps.

"We had to pay for this and we had to get used to new tires, a new driver. But I am absolutely confident we will be successful in 2008.

"But this is not depending on one person." SkySports

08/14/07 (GMM)  Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica has reportedly backed Flavio Briatore's campaign to reunite Renault with Fernando Alonso.

Coinciding with reigning world champion and Spaniard Alonso's switch to McLaren, the Madrid based company - previously pledging $30m per year to Renault as a major sponsor - left the French team at the end of 2006.

But subsequent to reports that the Enstone based outfit's team principal Briatore is planning a meeting with Alonso in Turkey later this month, the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport says Telefonica might be willing to return to Renault if the disgruntled 26-year-old also comes back.

Triple world champion and commentator Niki Lauda told Bild newspaper that he doubts Briatore would fork out the necessary money to re-hire Alonso -- unless a big backer like Telefonica can help.

In addition to Alonso's current (US) $27m per year salary, Briatore might also have to foot a multi-million bill to buy out Alonso's McLaren contract.

"Briatore has never been willing to pay bills of that size," Austrian legend Lauda noted.

Overheard at Assen - Friday  Apparently as much as the drivers all love the Assen track, they all say it will be near impossible to pass because it is too 'flowing.'  It has been suggested by at least one driver that the first turn be reconfigured into a hard right-left series of 90-degree bends so that drivers can out-brake an opponent going into T1. Another suggested adding a 2nd such turn........We hear there are a number of European promoters in Assen this weekend eyeing Champ Car for a possible race. One of them will surprise you.....We also hear there is interest from the Middle East.....With the Assen race turning out to be a huge success, in no small part due to the success of Dutchman Robert Doornbos (whereas for Zolder there is no Belgian driver contending for wins), there has become a realization in the Champ Car paddock that the series will fail miserably in China unless they have a Chinese driver driving fulltime in Champ Car at the start of 2008. As one wag put it, without that Champ Car may as well stay home. That goes for any country Champ Car decides to race at in the future. Without a local driver in a decent ride, forget about it. Champ Car isn't F1, which can get by regardless......Rumor has it that Champ Car president Steve Johnson has arrived in town after missing the Zolder race. Rumor has it he stayed behind to deal with the cancelled Phoenix and China race fiasco. Fiasco because cancelling races mid-season is severely damaging to the series' reputation. What Champ Car can do to counter this damage remains to be seen. Perhaps they will deliver one of those new sponsors we have been promised for months....Speaking of sponsors, we are told Red Bull will not be back to sponsor Forsythe Racing's two Atlantic cars, but the team will still run both cars next year. Meanwhile rumors persist Red Bull may drop PKV Racing's Champ Car (Neel Jani) too. We hear there was a meeting with Red Bull today to try and salvage that sponsorship.......Still hearing that high-definition TV is still being looked at for next year. We also hear that internet TV is being looked at. The problem with that idea of course is the resulting lack of value to the team sponsors because on most PCs the lettering on the car would be unreadable.
Earnhardt Jr. to run No. 38  UPDATE #3 Doug Yates confirmed his team has been approached by a representative of Hendrick Motorsports about securing the #38 for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next year, but if Yates gets his way, there will be no such transfer. Earnhardt recently was denied the opportunity to take the #8 from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick and now is considering other number options. The #38 currently is being used by David Gilliland. "Dale Jr., since he can't have what he wants, he might want the 38," said Yates, president Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. "They're asking for the 38, and the 38 and 88 are our numbers. It's almost a little strange. It's like somebody asking if they can take your girlfriend or your wife out. We feel we're going to have the 38 and 88 [next year]." While Yates said he is not interested in parting with the number, doesn't everything in the sport have a price tag? "That's my dad's side of it," Yates said, referring to his father, Robert Yates. "But for me, these are our numbers, and we're set with them." ESPN.com

08/28/07 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  A source at Robert Yates Racing said Tuesday that reports that they were considering giving the No. 38 to Hendrick Motorsports for use on the car to be raced by Dale Earnhardt Junior were false and the subject was never raised.

The published report said that Hendrick asked Yates for the number that would combine the No.’s 3 and 8 for Earnhardt Junior. The No. 3 was the number raced by his legendary father and the No. 8 was the number that Earnhardt Junior currently competes under at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated. DEI said recently that they would not allow the No. 8 to follow Earnhardt Junior to Hendrick.

According to the report, Yates would send the No. 38 to Hendrick and switch to the No. 28 for the Ford currently being campaigned by David Gilliland.

It was pointed out however; that the numbers could not be switched due to sponsor contracts already in place and renumbering a car could result in a breach of contract. CupScene.com

08/28/07 Marty Smith said on ESPN2's NASCAR Now yesterday that it is unlikely the #38 will be transferred from Yates to Hendrick.

08/27/07 Newman/Haas/Lanigan/Yates Racing has said it is willing to give up the No. 38 to Hendrick Motorsports to use. The #3 from his father plus the #8 that he ran for DEI - put them side-by-side and you get #38. So although Dale Jr. had said he might like to try the #81, #38 appears to be what he will use.
industry news
Toyota to break GM sales record  Toyota said today it plans to sell 10.4 million vehicles globally in 2009, a sales target that would put the Japanese automaker ahead of a record set by world leader General Motors 30 years ago.

Analysts say Toyota Motor Corp. is likely on track to beat General Motors Corp. as the world's biggest automaker in global vehicle sales and production this year -- a title Detroit-based GM has held for 76 years.

Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe gave the ambitious sales plan in an outline of the company's growth strategy, which includes working on product quality and introducing technological innovations such as luxury Lexus hybrids. The company plans to boost sales not only in North America and Europe, but also in emerging markets such as Brazil, India, China and Russia. Sales in Japan, though, were expected to stay relatively flat.

"We will win in every opportunity, reduce risks, and even turn risks into opportunities," he said at a Tokyo hotel. More ...

MIS might return to expanded IRL schedule  While Champ Car might be downsizing next year to 14 races, The Indy Racing League could be expanding its season by 2009, and if that's the case, Michigan International Speedway might be back on the schedule.

The IndyCar series will not race at the fast two-mile oval in Brooklyn next year because of a scheduling conflict between the series and the track, marking the first time in 40 years there won't be an open-wheel race at MIS.

There currently are 17 races on the IndyCar schedule, which begins in March and ends in early September. Terry Angstadt and Brian Barnhart, top officials from the IRL, will address several issues Saturday at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, and it is anticipated they will discuss expanding the schedule.

"If we want to add races beyond that, we have to look at ways to start earlier and end later, and then there's probably an opportunity to pick up the phone and call (MIS president) Roger (Curtis) and his crew and see if there's an opportunity (to return to Michigan)," the IRL's John Griffin said Thursday.

"But long-term, we're going to expand our schedule, and to do that, we're going to have to start earlier and end later by moving some things around, so I certainly think the opportunity is there. We may have more to say about that by Saturday."

Another Dutchman eyes Champ Car  We hear that it is quite possible that Trust will sponsor Dutch A1GP youngster Jeroen Bleekemolen in Champ Car next year rather than Jos Verstappen.  Negotiations are going hot and heavy from both camps.
Track News
Drag Strip to be added to Lowe's Speedway  Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith confirmed Thursday that he is considering adding a drag-racing facility to the motorsports complex at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"We are looking at that very hard, yes sir," Smith said.

Smith pointed to success in hosting events sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association, whose PowerAde Series is the premiere drag racing series in the country, at drag strips that are part of SMI complexes at Bristol Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

"We have had a lot of success and we like what we see in drag racing," Smith said.

Concord and Cabarrus County officials already have begun preliminary discussions about the drag strip. More at ThatsRacin.com

Possible car numbers for Dale Jr.  Hendrick Motorsports has applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for potential use of five numbers next season for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. The numbers under consideration are #38, #51, #81, #82 and #58. Filing with Patent and Trademark Office does not guarantee NASCAR approval to use any of those numbers, but does prevent an outside party from trademarking the specific font and graphic package used by Hendrick on its racecars, diecast collectibles and souvenirs. Hendrick filed for the #81 on July 25th, with the most recent filing being for the #38 on August 9th. There have been reports that Hendrick is attempting to strike a deal with Robert Yates Racing for the #38 next season, but my sources tell me that the deal is not likely to happen. Motorsports Soapbox
IROC to be deep-sixed for good  Jayski reports that Jay Signori is selling the entire fleet of IROC cars, engines and transmissions included.  After not running last year, it appears the IROC concept is now dead until such time as someone decides to resurrect it the proper way instead of favoring NASCAR drivers so much.

It seems there is no longer a need for the IROC series, since that is what the Nextel Cup Series has morphed in to.  With the COT being a virtually spec car, and with drivers like Robby Gordon, Ambrose, Montoya, Villeneuve, and Hornish joining the NASCAR regulars, there isn’t much difference between a current COT race and the old IROC series.

DEI to hire Smith for the 01 car  Dale Earnhardt Inc. has reached a verbal agreement with Regan Smith to drive the No. 01 in the Nextel Cup series next season, a NASCAR source told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Smith will fill the car driven this season by Mark Martin and Aric Almirola, who will split the 2008 season in the No. 8 currently being driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He will have a one-year deal with an option for a second year.

An official announcement of the entire DEI lineup with sponsor plans is expected next weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Smith, splitting time with Martin, drove the No. 01 in six Cup races this season for Ginn Racing before its merger with DEI. His best start was 10th at Watkins Glenn and best finish was 24th at Talladega.

He was replaced by Almirola after the merger. ESPN.com

industry news
Jaguar and Land Rover to become India brands  India's Tata Group is interested in acquiring Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover brands, the Indian comglomerate's chairman Ratan Tata has said.

"We certainly have some interest in it," he told the CNBC TV18 TV channel in an interview yet to be aired in full.

In excerpts of the interview, shown by the channel, Tata said the acquisition would make Tata Motors less dependent on one market.

"It will give us more of a global presence," he said, but would not be drawn further on the group's interest.

The full interview will be aired in two parts on Sunday and Monday.  (See related rumor)

tv news
Castroneves on "Dancing with the Stars"  UPDATE #2
Q: With you being on Dancing with the Stars, the different dancing there, what will be your forte? What are you strong in now?:
HELIO CASTRONEVES: "I don't think I'm strong on anything on dancing right now. I thought Samba would be something that I might get away with it. But after three days of rehearsing, I can see that I need a lot of practice.

"But I have to say that it's extremely hard. You people that think you can dance, oh, boy, I mean, it is very difficult. Especially me, my sport is I'm sitting, and now you have to use a lot of balance. You have to use a lot of legs, especially like kind of a squat. We don't do that in racing.

"It is quite a big challenge for me. But, hey, I'm taking everything I can. I know I'm going to try to listen as much as I can to try. The problem is sometimes I do understand, but the problem is getting my body to do what I understand.

"It's been fun. I have to say I broke some laughs the last few days. Today was fun, as well. I just learned Mambo. If you see on TV how I'm dancing Mambo, you're going to be, 'Wow, I never saw Helio doing something like that.'"

08/29/07 This rumor is now 'fact' as two time Indy 500 winner, Helio Castroneves, was named one of the twelve new competitors for this season's "Dancing with the Stars" on Good Morning America today.  Castroneves is a native of Brazil, home of the Samba and Lambada ballroom dances.

08/27/07 While the official ABC announcement won't be made until Wednesday on "Good Morning America," AutoRacing1.com hears that IRL driver Helio Castroneves will be one of the all-star cast on "Dancing with the Stars" this season.
NASCAR to bring truck series to Canada  NASCAR could announce prior to the end of the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series season that the NCTS will follow their Busch Series brethren north of the border into Canada as early as 2008.

After what many consider a wildly successful debut for the NASCAR Busch Series in Montreal earlier this year, NASCAR will take the Truck series to Canada near the end of May 2008 for a companion race to the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Mosport International Raceway. The track is near Toronto.

The 2008 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule will be released within weeks. Cupscene.com

Las Vegas race in jeopardy too  The news release for the Phoenix Champ Car race said the cancellation will not affect the Las Vegas event, which is scheduled to open the 2008 Champ Car season on April 6-8.  The races in Las Vegas and Phoenix are part of DDB Ventures, which is owned by Phoenix businessmen Bradley Yonover and Dale Jensen.

Jim Freudenberg, the Vegas Grand Prix president and chief executive, was in Las Vegas on Tuesday to meet with city and business leaders to discuss the prospects of the three-day event returning next year.

"This will not reflect anything at all on (the Las Vegas race)," Freudenberg told the Review-Journal in a voice mail. "I've had a great day (in Las Vegas today). Things are going very, very well for next year here."

But a person involved in recent meetings with Vegas Grand Prix officials said many downtown hotels and businesses do not want the event back because it inconvenienced their regular customers.

One alternative location proposed, according to the source, who requested anonymity, would be a circuit centered around the Thomas & Mack Center that would utilize part of Tropicana Avenue and Swenson Street.

The current agreement with the Grand Prix is with the City of Las Vegas, though, and the Thomas & Mack area is under Clark County jurisdiction. Las Vegas Review Journal

Alonso secrecy led to Hamilton tire failure - report  (GMM) Despite McLaren's affirmations of total driver equality this year, a break in this principle could have contributed to championship leader Lewis Hamilton's tire failure in Turkey last Sunday.

After his disgruntled teammate Fernando Alonso issued a reported 'Hamilton or me' ultimatum following their falling out in Hungary, the German magazine Sport Bild reports that McLaren granted the Spaniard some protection of his car's setup for the rest of the 2007 season.

In June, reigning world champion Alonso admitted that one of things that is making him "uncomfortable" at McLaren this year is "the sharing of telemetry".

So with Hamilton's side of the garage no longer able to simply emulate his teammate's settings in Istanbul, Sport Bild contends that it could have led to the mistreatment of his right-front tire in the race.

Alonso reportedly set up his car to go particularly easy on the right-front Bridgestone in Turkey, where there is an unusual abundance of left hand bends -- including the severely punishing turn-8.

Sport Bild said Bridgestone's examinations of Hamilton's delaminated tire in Tokyo this week ruled out a puncture by a foreign object, with development boss Hirohide Hamashima quoted as saying an "extra force" - perhaps a too-aggressive car set-up - applied to a section of chunking on the tire, caused the failure.

Subway balking at Busch sponsor deal  UPDATE #3 NASCAR's once-promising negotiations with Subway to title sponsor its No. 2 series have hit the skids, sources say, and the sanctioning body has spent the past few weeks revisiting many of the brands that initially turned down the sponsorship.

KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and Allstate, each of which had been contenders for the sponsorship earlier in the process, are among the companies NASCAR has approached in the past several weeks as it tries to replace Anheuser-Busch. A-B sponsored the Busch Series for 25 years before deciding to make this its final season.

Subway, which was considered the front-runner 30 to 60 days ago, remains in talks with NASCAR, but industry insiders no longer characterize Subway as the favorite.

As NASCAR seeks a new title sponsor, industry insiders say the price is dropping.

NASCAR was asking $30 million a year when it began the sales process in the first quarter of the year, but that figure has dropped by nearly half. As part of the new price, NASCAR and ESPN, working jointly to sell the title sponsorship, have relaxed the required media spend on ESPN, sources say. At first, about a third of that $30 million was a required spend on ESPN's platforms. More ...

Villeneuve to start in Trucks, replace Mayfield  UPDATE #2 In order to compete in any of NASCAR’s three touring series however, Villeneuve  must complete a validation process from NASCAR.

"His resume is certainly good enough," Nextel Cup director John Darby said. "We know he has the talent and the car control, but we still want to see him. We probably won't have any issues with him."

Contrary to published reports, Toyota officials denied that they had anything to do with brokering the deal that brought Villeneuve to NASCAR.

Bill Davis Racing uses Toyota equipment.

"This is not something Toyota has brought about, precipitated or really even had anything to do with other than reading the same press release," Lee White, senior vice-president of Toyota Racing Development said. "But it's great for NASCAR. It's great for Toyota. It's great for Bill Davis."

08/25/07 Rumor has it that Jacques Villeneuve will replace Jeremy Mayfield next year in a Bill Davis Racing NASCAR Nextel Cup Toyota Camry.

“That’s what we hope to do, that’s what he feels like he’d like to do,” Brown said when asked if Villeneuve would drive a BDR Cup car next season. “Obviously, the whole NASCAR program is new to him, so we’re going to put together an aggressive test program for him. The truck … is much like the COT car we’ll be racing next year. Obviously, he’s got to go through the validation process with NASCAR, so we’re looking at places we can go run him in trucks, maybe in the ARCA series … an aggressive test program, not only with the trucks, but with the COT cars … Kentucky (Speedway), all the different places we can go to.”

08/24/07 Bill Davis Racing is expected to announce a partnership with former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve, general manager Mike Brown said Thursday.

Brown said the team was "working on some stuff" with Villeneuve and hoped to issue a news release detailing the situation by Friday morning.

Brown would not get into specific details of the arrangement, but sources close to Bill Davis Racing said Villeneuve was fitted for a racing seat Thursday morning at the team shop, with the intention of competing in several Craftsman Truck Series events later this season.

Those same sources also said Villeneuve will extensively test Bill Davis Racing's Car of Tomorrow program.

Villeneuve, a Canadian citizen, won the CART championship and Indianapolis 500 in 1995. He then moved to Formula One and won the 1997 world driving championship. Only two other drivers, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi, have achieved the feat.  ESPN.com

[Editor's Note:  Interesting pattern developing, or is it a mere coincidence that Toyota in NASCAR has or is picking up AJ Allmendinger, Scott Speed and now Jacques Villeneuve - three open wheel drivers that belong in Champ Car, all three of which would help Champ Car build its brand.  We once were told everything happens in NASCAR for a reason.]

Red Bull to put Speed in NASCAR  UPDATE #6  It still appears to be 'fact' that Speed is going to NASCAR, but we will downgrade this rumor to 'strong' until such time as it is announced which level of NASCAR Speed will start at. 

Another possible Formula 1 NASCAR crossover, Scott Speed, won’t be heading to Cup in 2008.

The Californian who was released from his Formula 1 Toro-Rosso Team in July was widely believed to be heading to NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Series in 2008. Red Bull sponsors the Toro-Rosso Team.

Red Bull’s Helmut Marko recently said the sponsor is interested in putting Speed, who was chosen to drive as part of a company sponsored driver search, into a NASCAR ride. Red Bull sponsors the Nextel Cup teams driven by AJ Allmendinger and Brain Vickers.

Speculation from some said that Speed would attempt a Nextel Cup debut later this year r early in 2008.

Team Red Bull's director of competition, Elton Sawyer nixed all that speculation however.

"I don't think you'll see him over here in a Cup car with our team next year." Sawyer said.

The possibility exists however for the team to develop Speed along the lines of a similar program completed by Juan Pablo Montoya prior to his Cup debut and Jacques Villeneuve is currently undergoing. The program would have Speed competing in either the NASCAR Busch or Craftsman Truck series then making the jump the Cup series. CupScene.com

08/23/07 We are upgrading this rumor to 'fact' today - fact Speed is going to NASCAR and fact that his career is over.......Unless Toyota becomes the dominant player in NASCAR Nextel Cup and the Red Bull NASCAR team makes great improvements, Speed's career will end up much like AJ Allmendinger's.  $3 million per year and Sunday's off.

“We are still trying to co-operate with him, but in a different area,” Helmet Marko told SPEEDtv.com. “NASCAR is a very special form of racing, and even a guy like Montoya, with all his F1 experience and his Champ Car racing on ovals, can’t just jump in and be competitive. So, they will look maybe at some Busch races and if that is going well, put him up to the Nextel Cup.”

08/20/07 His career over before it really began, there is speculation that Speed will make his NASCAR debut in the Busch series in a Toyota sponsored by Red Bull in 2008.  The place Speed should be is in the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing seat replacing Sebastien Bourdais.  As we have said, Speed has driven rear engine open wheel cars all his life.  Like other open wheel drivers who have driven rear engined cars all their life, he will fail miserably in NASCAR and, except for collecting a big paycheck, Red Bull and Toyota are doing Speed a huge disservice.

08/17/07 Scott Speed is here at Michigan International Speedway today, in Team Red Bull's pits.  We guess that any questions have been answered as to where he will race next year.  Another open wheeler destined for failure - the guy never even drove a car with a roof over his head, or a front engine car.  He will fail miserably.  Tim Wohlford reporting from MIS

08/14/07 (GMM)  Axed Toro Rosso racer Scott Speed will almost certainly switch to the NASCAR series in 2008, it has emerged.

Although his relationships with STR chiefs Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger are over, the Californian remains strongly linked with Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz -- who also owns a new team in the premier American tin-top category Nextel Cup.

"Speed drove in formula one against the world's best drivers," the Austrian billionaire is quoted as saying by Motorsport Aktuell, "he is courageous, and his name is a marketer's dream -- and with a cowboy hat it is perhaps complete!"

Team Red Bull is a works Toyota-supported NASCAR team.

"He would be an asset for us in NASCAR," Mateschitz said of the 24-year-old.

08/14/07 "Over the past five years I have had the privilege of driving at the some of the most challenging and exciting racing circuits in the world," Scott Speed said on his website.

"It did not always go the way I wanted but Formula One racing has been a great experience for me and I really appreciate the support from all of my fans. It has made me stronger, smarter and a better racer.

"Unfortunately, Toro Rosso's decision to remove me from my racing seat prematurely has left me to consider many other new opportunities in my racing career. As I approach the question of 'what's next?,' I wanted to begin with those who have been the most supportive of my talents and potential.

"As such, Red Bull Austria was the natural choice. I have had a great meeting with Dietrich Mateschitz, who became very excited about the possibility of my racing back in the good ol' USA. We will see where it leads.

"I am coming back to America on a fact-finding, looking at the various racing series, and talking with some of the top American teams. Initial interest has been positive so I look forward to having some productive chats and finding the right fit for me."

08/12/07 (GMM)  Ousted Toro Rosso racer Scott Speed is not pursuing a new job in formula one. It is reported in the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten that the 24-year-old Californian, who fell out badly with his team bosses this year before losing his seat, is only pursuing a job for 2008 and beyond in his native North America.

Top of his list, according to whispers, is the front-running Champ Car team Newman/Haas/Lanigan, whose title winning driver Sebastien Bourdais is ironically on his way to Faenza based Toro Rosso next year to replace Speed's similarly job-seeking 2007 teammate, Tonio Liuzzi.

"In the next few weeks I will look around in the States for a new job," Speed is quoted as saying.  "I am convinced that in Champ Car and NASCAR possibilities for me exist. I am not trying to stay in formula one, because I know there is no chance for me to move forwards in the way that I want to," he added.

Speed clarified that although his relationships with STR chiefs Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger are beyond repair, his long-standing collaboration with the energy drink Red Bull remains "excellent".

Unlike Speed, meanwhile, Vitantonio Liuzzi still has "some possibilities" to continue his F1 career next year, the Italian's manager Peter Collins said.

Veteran Collins, who was formerly team manager at Lotus, Benetton and Williams, suggested that a move to America for 25-year-old Liuzzi is only plan-B.

"Through our contacts with other teams we have established that Tonio is estimated much more highly than was the case with Toro Rosso," he said, following speculation of possible talks with Williams, for whom Liuzzi tested in 2002.

Champ Car to cancel China race?  UPDATE #7 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - See Hot News page statement from Champ Car President Steve Johnson.

08/28/07 Champ Car officials will confirm any day now the worst-kept secret of their season: The race planned for China in October finally has been canned. The cancellation is a given among Champ Car teams. No one is planning for the event, and the title contenders spoke about only “four races left” after the race at Zolder in Belgium. AutoWeek 

[Editor's Note: AutoRacing1.com can also confirm this.  Champ Car was trying for an alternate date, of Thanksgiving weekend, but it made no sense this late in the game.  We await the official announcement.]

06/24/07 We hear there is a meeting with the FIA next week and Champ Car still hopes the FIA will be lenient with them and allow them to race in China in October. Honestly, Champ Car is no where near a threat so why should Bernie be worried about a race 750 miles away?  Makes no sense to us. If not October, the race will go in May next year.

06/05/07 This rumor is downgraded from 'fact' to 'speculation.' Kevin Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com that "the FIA's position on the China race is bizarre.  Our race in Zhuhai is three weeks after the F1 race in Shanghai and 750 miles apart.  It is a totally different market.  We won't take this lying down.  We have a meeting on this with ACCUS coming up." 

The Automobile Competition Committee of the United States (ACCUS) is the National Sporting Authority (ASN) of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for the United States.  ACCUS serves as the interface between the international FIA organization and its member clubs in the United States. For 2006, the member clubs are Grand-Am, IMSA, USAC, Champ Car, NASCAR, NHRA, SCCA, IRL, and WKA.

If the race does not run in October, it will definitely run next May we hear.

06/01/07 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news - see Hot News page.

05/31/07 Before things get out of control I will give you the facts as they stand today.

The FIA had approved a race date in China for the month of May. We were full speed ahead until the investor group for the promoter changed over the winter. The new investors did not have enough time to stage the race.

We have gone back to the FIA for a date change (Oct 28) but they have not approved the change. They feel with F1 running three weeks prior to the event nearly 800 miles away that it may take away from the F1 race.

Although the FIA has acted within their rights and by their bylaws, exceptions could be made. I do not believe that we will impact the F1 race, nor do I feel the F1 race, 800 miles away will impact our race.

We have not given up and are working to provide the support data to our argument to the FIA.

If we are not successful then we will have to postpone the race till the spring of next year. The difference between this and Korea was the Korea situation was very political and there was not a track completed to race on.

Everything in china is a go. The track and city are beautiful, the infrastructure is there we just need approval by the FIA.

To summarize, the FIA has done nothing wrong nor has BE. We are using our best efforts to convince them to make an exception for us. This has been done before. Steve Johnson, President of Champ Car

05/26/07 Another reader writes, Its never too late for Champ Car to get a Chinese driver into their series. Best bet still being Ho-Pin Tung, who now is competing in GP2, unfortunately without any pre-season testing whatsoever. Nevertheless he is beating his more experienced teammate this weekend in Monaco!

By the time the Zhuhai race is scheduled (October 28th), the GP2 series is long over (last race September 30), and the people behind Champ Car can prepare Ho-Pin for his debut in Champ Car in time. He will then be the first ever Chinese driver to start a top-level single seater series (and by doing so they will beat 'good old' Bernie in his attempt to have the first Chinese driver in his series)!

By giving Ho-Pin Tung, as a Chinese driver, his debut during the Zhuhai race in China, Champ Car can make themselves immensely popular in China! Somehow I'm not sure if the people behind Champ Car realize this .... One person does understand this though and he was spotted shaking Ho-Pin's hand on the Barcelona grid ... !

Of course this can only happen if a Champ Car race will be held at Zhuhai, which at this point appears iffy at best. Peter Joseph

05/26/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Who won the Champ Car race in Zhuhai, China scheduled for May 20th? I went to the Zhuhai website and there is no news on who won the race. Ditto for the Champ Car site and I never saw an announcement on the cancellation. In fact any mention of the race has been removed from Zhuhai's website. Looks like this race is going to be another Ansan, announce the race and then have to cancel it.  Kalkhoven and Forsythe should sell the series to a company that has deep pockets and can make the proper investments in the series to run it right.  As it is right now the only way they are running it is right into the ground. When it comes to running a race car series they haven't a clue.  Larry Becker

Dear Larry, Given Champ Car's history in Asia, and lack of announcements on Zhuhai, we would not purchase any tickets just yet.  The FIA has not approved the date change Champ Car wanted to October 28th because they claim it falls too close to the F1 race 750 miles away in Shanghai three weeks earlier.  We think that's nonsense since 750 miles is quite some distance as is three weeks.  We suspect there's more to this than meets the eye.  Let's start with Champ Car not having a Chinese driver in the series this year.......   Mark C. 

Champ Car Phoenix race to be cancelled  UPDATE #4 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' - see Hot News page.

08/28/07 We hear that the promoters are going to cite concerns with the date and the ongoing light rail construction both of which could negatively impact attendance as the reason for cancelling the 2007 race.  This is the perfect chance to move the event to late January of 2008 and start getting the Champ Car schedule straightened out per our proposed ideal schedule:

1. Phoenix: Late January
2. Mexico City: Early February
3. Australia: Late February (Could not be moved to this date for a couple of years) 
4. China: Early March
5. Houston: Late March
6. Las Vegas: Early April
7. Long Beach: Mid April
8. Europe 1: Early May
9. Europe 2: Mid May
10. Cleveland: Early June
11. Mont-Tremblant: Late June
12. Toronto: Early July
13. Edmonton: Mid-July:
14. San Jose: Late July
15. Road America: Early August
16. Europe 3: Late August
17. Europe 4: Early September
18. Orlando: Late September (Season finale - night race under lights)

08/28/07   KVBC, the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas tells AutoRacing1.com that their sources tell them that the promoter of the Phoenix will have a press conference tomorrow to cancel the Phoenix race (why would a Las Vegas station know this, and not a Phoenix TV station - though it's the same race promoter for both events).  There is still no official response from Champ Car, who one would assume is doing some last minute scrambling to save it.

08/28/07 Their website is now back online and a call to the Grand Prix offices resulted in "we have heard nothing about this."  So, stay tuned........

08/28/07 There have been unconfirmed reports (and a report by a local Phoenix TV station) that the Phoenix Champ Car race, slated for December 2nd, might be cancelled.  No one from Champ Car has confirmed or denied this as of yet, despite several attempts by AutoRacing1.com for an official response.  The silence might be deafening...............stay tuned as we try to track this one down.  Don't cancel any reservations just yet, but the website for the Grand Prix of Arizona has gone offline, if that tells you anything.

Report - Alonso to BMW in 2009  (GMM) Fernando Alonso could emerge in a BMW-Sauber cockpit in 2009, according to reports.

The German newspaper Express claims that, while the Hinwil based team's race lineup is already sealed for next year, Spaniard Alonso is in boss Mario Theissen's sights for the season after.

Alonso, 26, is clearly unhappy at McLaren, where he signed a three-year contract covering 2007-2009.

But 'Express' said Alonso's manager, Luis Garcia-Abad, had recently been negotiating with both BMW-Sauber and Renault after uncovering a loophole in the McLaren contract.

While McLaren escaped formal sanctions in the recent World Motor Sport Council meeting, the team was actually found in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code -- a scenario that arguably voids Alonso's deal.

The Alonso-to-BMW rumor also coincides with Theissen's refusal recently to confirm whether Nick Heidfeld's new contract with the team extends beyond 2008.
Indy champ Hornish NASCAR bound  UPDATE #5 Jacques Villeneuve is not the only big-name who might join NASCAR full-time next year: There is still no official word on whether or not Sam Hornish Jr. will return to Penske Racing's Indy-car team in 2008, but speculation at Infineon Raceway said he is headed to Nextel Cup, too. Hornish will run five or six Cup races for Penske this fall. AutoWeek

08/26/07 If it seems Sam Hornish Jr. has been edgy of late, he has been. He admits it. "I haven't been in a good mood since Watkins Glen," he said of the July 8 race in upstate New York. "I had a great race and everything was taken away from me."

Hornish was referring to the post-race car contact he took from fellow IndyCar Series driver Tony Kanaan, which led to Hornish's father, Sam, shoving Kanaan on pit road.

Hornish, who finished second in the race, said he knows he shouldn't have angrily approached Kanaan immediately after climbing from his car, but he didn't think he was so far out of line to receive the same $25,000 fine as Kanaan, who intentionally bumped him heading to the pits.

Add that to the fact Hornish said he doesn't believe the IRL knows how to market its top drivers and it seems he's not interested in staying in the league.

A chance to drive in NASCAR's Nextel Cup division is calling, although he hasn't answered, at least publicly.

"It seems like I'm the first guy (in the IRL) to get an example made of me," Hornish said Saturday at Infineon Raceway. "I like driving (these cars), and I like being competitive on the road courses, but . . . I don't know.

"I guess you're going to have to (come to) NASCAR races to find out if I'm in any better of a mood over there."

Hornish will get his first chance to race a Nextel Cup car when the Indy-car season ends. It's then the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner says he'll make a decision about next season. Indy Star

07/18/07 Whenever the driver Sam Hornish Jr. pondered switching from the IndyCar Series to NASCAR, he would put together a list of pros and cons to help make the decision. For years, the cons always won and Hornish stayed loyal to the open-wheel series.

But amid reports that he will go full-time in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series next season, after eight years and three championships in the IndyCar Series, Hornish said yesterday that he was still hesitating.

“Everybody thinks that the decision’s already made,” he said during a telephone interview while home in Defiance, Ohio.

Hornish said he continued to weigh the desire for a new challenge against the difficulty of the transition to a league with 36 races a year, where competition is heated among drivers just trying to make the field every week. The IndyCar Series is much less hectic, with 17 races and no concerns about failing to qualify for a race.

“It’s kind of like a whole new world type of thing,” he said. “It’s racing, but it’s a lot different. There’s a lot of things I have to learn yet.

“I’m that kind of guy that I don’t necessarily think I can do it until I’ve done it. I guess I’m not cocky in the fact that I automatically know that I’m going to go over there just because I’ve won IndyCar races, that I can go over and I can win.”

Hornish said he would not announce a decision anytime soon. More ...

track news
SMI may expand Bristol seating  Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith has more than 200,000 reasons to smile this morning.

That’s how many fans swarmed to Bristol Motor Speedway the past two days for the NASCAR Busch and Nextel Cup events.

BMS, which is only a half-mile oval, is the smallest yet most popular facility in the SMI empire of NASCAR tracks in terms of ticket demand and fan popularity polls.

When Smith purchased the half-mile speedway from Larry Carrier in 1996 for $26 million, BMS seated just 71,000.

From skyboxes and an infield tunnel to various fan amenities, little Bristol has continually grown.

And the growth may not be over.

On Thursday, Smith mentioned the possibility of yet another seating expansion during an interview on the Sirius NASCAR Radio show "The Morning Drive."

Smith said Speedway Motorsports officials have studied the idea of adding another 8,000 seats by renovating the area around the third and fourth turns. Smith said the expansion would take BMS up to 173,000 seats.

Smith discussed the topic again during a Friday interview at BMS.

"We can do that [add seats]," Smith said. "I didn’t say we were going to do it, I just said we can."

The Nextel Cup race at BMS has experienced 51 straight sellouts. Meanwhile, the Bristol Busch race has attracted crowds in excess of 100,000 for the past 18 events.

"We’ve done our engineering here, so we know what we can do," Smith said. "It’s going to take a lot of work. We have to tear one end down [in Turns 3 and 4], redo it and take it on up to add the 8,000 [seats].

"It’s going to be expensive, and we hate to tear down anything, but we know that it’s something we can do." Winston Salem Journal

Stewart helping NASCAR in Washington  [Editor's Note: Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason. Tony Stewart is going to race a Sprint car race in Washington state put on by Kasey Kahne just where NASCAR wants to build a track. You don't think that happened by accident do you?  You have to get the NASCAR name out there to build the brand.]

Two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is set to return to Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash., to compete in the second annual Kasey Kahne Foundation Sprint Car Challenge. Stewart will join Kahne, a fellow sprint car and Nextel Cup driver, for the Aug. 29 event which will feature the pair going head-to-head in winged 360 sprint car competition.

“I’m looking forward to heading back to Skagit Speedway with the Kasey Kahne Foundation,” Stewart said. “The race not only gives me a chance to get back in my 360 sprint car, but it benefits a great organization at the same time. Kasey has always supported my charity events at Eldora Speedway, and it means a lot that he’s invited me to participate in this race alongside him. Hopefully, we’ll be able to put on a great show for the fans and help out a lot of deserving kids.”

Scheckter to become free agent  Vision Racing owner Tony George said lead driver Tomas Scheckter is free to explore options for the 2008 season because the team hasn't organized funding to bring him back for a third season.

"We'll have to see where we're at this fall," George said. "I'd like to still run three (cars) and for sure we'll run one, but it all depends on the sponsorship we can put together.

"That's our standing deal."

Scheckter has been evasive regarding his future plans, but it's clear he's interested in what might happen with the possible departures of Franchitti at Andretti Green Racing and Sam Hornish Jr. at Penske Racing. A.J. Foyt IV also must consider his options as George's stepson, Ed Carpenter, is Vision's only guaranteed driver for 2008. Indy Star

Rahal team, Champ Car and Ethanol  UPDATE #2 As we said previously, despite reports elsewhere, we doubted this rumor was true.  This Indy Star article pretty much confirms that but we'll leave the rumor as 'speculation' for now.

Talk of Rahal Letterman Racing adding a Champ Car World Series program is just talk, the team's general manager said.  According to Scott Roembke, speculation is tied to the ethanol fuel Champ Car could use for its cars. Ethanol sponsors Rahal Letterman's No. 17 car driven by Ryan Hunter-Reay. "Champ Car is looking at ethanol and people are putting two plus two and coming up with six," Roembke said.

08/20/07 This translated Spanish to English article appears to say the same thing about the Rahal team  We remain skeptical.

08/19/07 Recall the rumors that Champ Car will switch to an E85 Ethanol fuel formula in 2008 at the urging of Gerald Forsythe. According to rumors making the rounds there have been talks between Rahal Letterman Racing and Champ Car about running an Ethanol sponsored car in Champ Car. While Bobby Rahal's son Graham drives in Champ Car, Bobby himself has remained loyal to the IRL despite struggling for a number of years. While we are skeptical of these rumors it makes sense in that E85 is a more acceptable Ethanol/Gasoline formula than 98% ethanol, which the IRL uses. Also, because there is a drop in HP when switching to ethanol, Champ Car's turbo engine formula will show how you don't have to increase engine displacement in order to maintain the HP and torque you get with 100% methanol.
Brawn to be Ferrari boss in 2008  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today.  While talks between Ferrari and Ross Brawn have now begun, Jean Todt in Turkey played down speculation that the Briton could take over as team boss in 2008.

After Brawn took a sabbatical this season, he is now looking to return to formula one next year, but has previously ruled out resuming his role as a technical director.

And Frenchman Todt told reporters in the Istanbul paddock that, despite earlier contemplating retirement, he is now "not at all prepared" to walk away from the sport.

"I feel still very motivated," the 61-year-old explained, "so I hope I can be here a few more years.

"Bernie (Ecclestone), when you ask him, with 15 years (in age) difference, is still very motivated.  So for me I am not thinking at all about stopping working."

Todt confirmed that the first talks with Brawn kicked off at Maranello recently, but he explained that "no commitment from either side" has yet been made.

"We are just discussing about his options, and our options.  Maybe we will find some common point, maybe we will not."

08/24/07 Speculation over the future plans of Ross Brawn, the former Ferrari formula one technical director who has been enjoying a sabbatical this year in the aftermath of Michael Schumacher's retirement, has intensified after he met with Jean Todt, the company's executive director, to discuss the prospect of returning to the company. "The matter is still open on both sides," said the Ferrari team spokesman Luca Colajanni. "No deal has been concluded, but the fact that talks have taken place is positive." Brawn helped mastermind Ferrari's five world championships with Schumacher.

06/27/07 (GMM)  Ross Brawn will almost certainly take over from Jean Todt next year as boss of Ferrari's formula one team.

That is the information of the German newspaper Bild, which said the highly respected British engineer is sure to return to the Maranello based team from his one-year sabbatical in 2008 despite offers from rival outfits including Honda.

The 52-year-old's new post could also entice Michael Schumacher into a more prominent position at Ferrari, with Bild speculating that the retired seven time world champion is using his visits to races this year to learn the ropes before becoming a key strategic expert.

Schumacher, 38, is already scheduled to appear again at Magny Cours.

Bild quoted Brawn as confirming that he will not return to Ferrari to be technical director next year, "but there could be new possibilities on the race team."

Overheard in Zolder - 2  UPDATE #2 Further to the June 1st date for Zolder, as it turns out another European promoter may want the June 1st date, which means Zolder could slot in on June 8th, and we hear yet another European promoter wants Champ Car to race on May 18th, and if that were to happen, Zolder might move to May.  However, they prefer a June date.  We also hear that a good number of race promoters are coming to the Assen race next weekend to have a closer look at Champ Car and discuss a possible race.

08/26/07 Further to our speculation below about Trust, AutoRacing1.com has since heard that Trust founder Michael Perridon will buy into Eric Bachelart's Conquest Racing team and place Dutch driver Jos Verstappen in one car with Jan Heylen staying in the other car.  So one half the team will be Dutch and the other Belgium.  If true, this of course is good news for Bachelart since his team struggled to make the grid this year and with Trust's backing will solidify it into a strong 2-car team.  Mark C.

08/25/07 We hear that next year's Champ Car Zolder race will be moved up much earlier in the schedule to the June 1st, 2008 timeframe. There are two reasons for this change. 1) To create more separation between the Champ Car race in Belgium and the F1 race at Spa in September, and 2) To create more separation between Zolder and Assen. It's the same event contract owner (Bart Rietbergen) for both races and because of the close proximity to the two tracks (Zolder and Assen) they draw from the same fan base, and we hear there is a desire to separate the two, with Assen remaining on approximately the same date as this year.........If this rumor is true, then the question becomes, which other European races will they pair up with Zolder and then later with Assen? We have heard a number of possible European venues, with Greece, France, Germany and Italy still out there, among others. The Italian GP at Monza runs in September so you know a Monza or a Mugello is never going to happen in late August, or early September, and that's assuming Italy is even in the picture per our other rumor. Imola's traditional date is in late April when the weather is the best, but June 8th could work. Ditto for Mugello or another Italian venue.........We heard again today that there is still much interest in Trust buying into an existing Champ Car team and to essentially own 1-car of a 2-car effort. The most logical team is Paul Stoddart's Minardi Team USA. Stoddart has a previous relationship with Trust and with Jos Verstappen, who we hear might still be in the picture for a ride after fellow ex-F1 Spyker Dutch driver Christijan Albers split with his manager and is probably going to DTM. And if Doornbos were to stay with the team (we hear he is angling for the vacated Bourdais seat at Newman/Haas/Lanigan) the team would have two Dutch drivers and could be called Team Holland or Team Netherlands. This all makes too much sense although we did hear that Trust was talking to RSPORTS. The problem there is that Trust and CDW are in the same business so you would never see two competing companies on the same team, which might also explain why RuSPORT and Rocketsports had to split so that CDW could stay with Wilson at RuSPORT while Trust goes with Verstappen at Rocketsports. And if all that isn't enough to make your head spin, what of Wilson angling for the vacated Bourdais' seat?.....We hear the Trust car would look like the old Minardi F1 car - all Black with the Red Trust logos, this from someone who has seen the graphic layouts...........As for Verstappen, he won't be able to test a Champ Car, or any car for that matter, until January 1, 2008 because he punched out another driver after getting a brake check in a karting race recently and had his drivers license suspended until then............We ran into German Andreas Wirth who says he is bringing two important businessmen to the Assen race in the hope they will sponsor him in Champ Car next year......and today (August 25th) is the lovely Bronte Tagliani's birthday.  Happy Birthday Bronte.  We kidded with her today that she was a fellow Virgo while the beaming knockout was holding a huge beautiful bouquet of flowers from her husband Alex.  Mark C. reporting from Zolder
Detroit GP weekend success ensured?  The Sunday Detroit Free Press has a 16 page section of the paper today promoting the IRL and ALMS race. If this weekend isn't a success it wasn't because people didn't know that there was a race. Penske has his media machine running overtime to make this weekend a success.
Alonso staying at McLaren in 2008  Fernando Alonso accepts "there are not many options" should he choose to quit McLaren at the end of the year as his future has been the subject of recent great debate.

"I have my contract with McLaren.  Possibilities for the near future are around here, driving for McLaren. As far as I know that's my only possibility."

Team boss Ron Dennis certainly intends for Alonso to see out his current deal that has another two years to run after this season.

"He is a contracted driver, and that's the way things stand at the moment, as with Lewis (Hamilton), as with Pedro (de la Rosa) and Gary Paffett," said Dennis.  The fact is we've got contracts, and there's been no dialogue to vary any aspect of that."

"As long as I have a winning car I'm happy," stated Alonso.  "This year we have a winning car. We are first and second in the drivers' championship and leading the constructors' championship, so I'm happy."

Renault ready to announce 2008 lineup  (GMM) Renault has now settled on its 2008 driver lineup and will announce it at Monza in two weeks' time.

Spanish newspaper Diario As claims on Sunday that Giancarlo Fisichella will be dropped by the Enstone based team, making way for Nelson Piquet Jr to debut alongside Heikki Kovalainen.

The rumor is likely to quiet gossip that Fernando Alonso could return to the French team next year, and coincides with the Spaniard's declaration in Turkey that he is "happy" to stay at McLaren in 2008.

"There are not many options," Alonso, 26, told reporters in Istanbul on Saturday.

"I have a contract with McLaren so the possibility for the near future is around here and driving for them."

'As' added that Fisichella, 34, is likely to retire from formula one unless he agrees a deal with Williams; a team he nearly signed for in 2005.

NASCAR's plan to snuff out Open Wheel Racing?  A reader's conspiracy theory, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I see where Jacques Villeneuve is now going to race in Nextel Cup. One by one NASCAR is picking up some of the biggest names in open wheel racing, and with it their fans. Over time this will leave Open Wheel Racing largely devoid of what fan base it has left, at least in North America. First they picked off all their big sponsors and manufacturers, which in turn drew the biggest open wheel teams in North America and now they are working on the top drivers. It's been a slow, well thought-out plan to methodically snuff out open wheel racing as a viable top form of racing in North America. So far the plan is working to perfection and when it is all said and done, what will be left will be NASCAR's brand of racing as the 'major league' motor racing sport in North America. Name Withheld
The Liuzzi connection  UPDATE We spotted Vitantonio Liuzzi's manager Peter Collins at Zolder today but we did not yet have a chance to ask him whether his driver might be coming to Champ Car, but why else would he be here?  His chances of landing a ride in F1 are slim to none, so ultimately Champ Car might make a lot of sense, especially if the series is looking at possibly racing in Italy in the future.  Mark C.

08/25/07 Many question what value Italian driver Vitantonio Liuzzi would bring to Champ Car now that he has lost his F1 ride. Well suppose Champ Car were to hold an event at a place such as Imola (see related rumor), which lost its F1 race and the race promoter has backed away from coming back and paying Bernie's ransom sanctioning fees? Meanwhile the circuit is undergoing significant improvements. Should such a race happen Giorgio Pantano may also make sense for Champ Car. Food for thought....
Overheard in Zolder - 1  UPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Your hypothetical future schedule for Champ Car that moves the late season races to the front of the schedule is brilliant.  How come Champ Car didn't think of it?  Oh wait, that requires one to think outside of the box.  Denny Jake

Dear Denny, It's not a matter of thinking outside the box.  It's a matter of having a can-do attitude and working with the race promoters and cities involved to understand why it benefits everyone and make the changes. Maybe not next year - but pick a year, plan for it, and get it done.  The schedule as it currently exists is unworkable.  Just when they get some traction they hit yet another gap and it goes away.   The only race we see that could have an issue would be Australia which has a lot of date equity, but let's not forget that the race used to be in March and it was changed to the October and it never really missed a beat.

08/24/07 We accidentally forgot Road America on our hypothetical best case scenario future Champ Car schedule. It has been added below. The schedule makes too much sense, therefore it won't happen.

08/24/07 As budgets are being established for 2008 we hear that Champ Car is looking to hire one of the top-3 marketing firms in the USA to help move Champ Car from a largely unknown entity to more of a household name. They are also looking to strengthen the PR end of things as well.......The series is hoping to announce their 2008 schedule in late September. We hear only 15, maybe 16 races in 2008 with some races being dropped and some being added. More races in Europe are possible. If true this is the same number of races as 2007 and indicative of Champ Car's goal to eliminate races that are not cutting it and replacing them with others that hopefully will. However, recall Tony Cotman's statement that the series was looking to stabilize its schedule and make the existing races all profitable, so we don't expect wholesale changes.

One albatross that is hanging around Champ Car's neck is the spaced out race schedule. Having Phoenix so late into the season (early December) is ludicrous because it contributes to the problem. The season should start in late January and be done before October for all the obvious reasons. This isn’t rocket science. Contracts need to be renegotiated with the following dates, and yes, we know the Las Vegas and Phoenix races are supposed to bookend the season by contract, but it simply does not work and that race promoter and those two cities must be made to recognize that.

1. Phoenix: Late January
2. Mexico City: Early February
3. Australia: Late February
4. China: Early March
5. Houston: Late March
6. Las Vegas: Early April
7. Long Beach: Mid April
8. Europe 1: Early May
9. Europe 2: Mid May
10. Cleveland: Early June
11. Mont-Tremblant: Late June
12. Toronto: Early July
13. Edmonton: Mid-July:
14. San Jose: Late July
15. Road America: Early August
16. Europe 3: Late August
17. Europe 4: Early September
18. Orlando: Late September (Season finale - night race under lights)

Super Aguri to sue main backer  (GMM) Super Aguri has decided to sue its continuing main sponsor SS United after the Hong Kong-based oil and gas company failed to pay its bills.

The company's logos still feature on the Japanese team's cars in Turkey this weekend, but it has emerged that Leafield based Super Aguri commenced legal proceedings during the recent summer break after two due installments were not paid.

The situation has left the struggling team desperate for replacement backers, after halting development of the SA07 car and scaling back other programs, including testing.

Dominguez to replace Clarke  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Minardi Team USA today announced that Mario Dominguez will drive the No 4 Minardi Team USA entry for the remainder of this weekend’s Champ Car Belgian Grand Prix.  The experienced 32-year-old Mexican racer takes over the car normally driven by Dan Clarke.

08/24/07 We have further word that it will probably be Champ Car veteran Mario Dominguez in the Clarke seat the rest of this weekend and if Clarke's suspension continues through the Assen race we hear Zsolt Baumgartner will be in the seat. We are told the team will make an official announcement later today. Mark C. reporting from Zolder

08/24/07 Rumor in the paddock here in Zolder is that Team Minardi USA will put ex-F1 driver Zsolt Baumgartner (or possibly their other 2-seat Champ Car driver Mario Dominguez) in the Dan Clarke seat now that Champ Car has suspended Dan Clarke. Baumgartner, who is the team's official test and reserve driver, was rushed to the Minardi garage from his Champ Car 2-seater duties by Paul Stoddart and although nothing has been announced, the body language indicated something along those lines were being planned.  The car will not run today in qualifying so we should know by later today or tomorrow morning who will be in the seat.
Mayfield, career over, resigned to Busch and Trucks  After taking one too many shots at Penske Racing as Jeremy Mayfield tried to get out of his contract, Penske fired him in 2001.

Mayfield landed with Evernham Motorsports, but his mouth got him in trouble again last season and led to an ugly split that included a lawsuit attempting to block his firing.

He was relegated to accepting an offer from Bill Davis Racing this year, but midway through the season both sides agreed it was a lose-lose relationship and announced plans to part ways for 2008.

After acrimonious exits from powerful teams and a peaceful one with a lesser one, Mayfield agreed he might have to settle for competing in the Busch and Craftsman Truck circuits because a top-level Cup ride might be out of reach.

"I'd rather win races in another series than just be out here with any team," he said. "My first option is to stay at this level with a competitive team, but I'll do whatever it takes to get another shot with a good organization." Detroit News

Disciplinary action to be taken against Clarke  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' Champ Car Race Director Tony Cotman announced that "Dan Clarke, who was put on probation after the San Jose race, will be barred from any further activity at this event and we will decide by next Friday whether he will be allowed to compete in Assen. I cannot tell you how many races he will be suspended. Dan was already on probation after previous incidents in San Jose which helped lead me to my decision today.

"After the weekend is complete and I have a time to review the incident without the raw emotion of the moment, I will make a decision as to any further penalties against Clarke."

08/24/07 Rumor in the Champ Car paddock is that Champ Car is going to announce some disciplinary action against Dan Clarke. We expect to hear he will be sat out at least one day. Stay tuned...

Doornbos eyes F1 ride  UPDATE #2 Robert Doornbos said he is not interested in returning to F1 with a backmarker team like Spyker. "No, not at all. Spyker just doesn't have a competitive car and I have done that. I have raced in the back of the grid in F1 and in the midfield and now I'm racing in Champ Car and as a sportsman I feel much better here. I wish Spyker the best of course, as a Dutch team, but the car is just not fast enough."

I think the technical side of things. Of course they are working with bigger budgets in F1, we're working with 10% of the budget of an F1 Team. So there is much more money for the development of the car in F1 than in Champ Car.

But Champ Car is an incredible Series and with identical chassis, engines and tires it is very spectacular for the fans and the drivers. In Formula One the material you're driving defines your results for 70%. I think that this is the biggest difference between F1 and Champ Car."

08/19/07 (GMM) Robert Doornbos is in talks with Toyota and Williams about returning to formula one in 2008 -- but he is not interested in moving to the Spyker team.

That is the information of the Dutchman's manager Christian Geistdorfer, who is a legendary German rally driver.

Geistdorfer told the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report that, given former Red Bull driver Doornbos' impressive results since switching to Champ Car in 2007, he has now opened talks with the aforementioned F1 teams.

He said he would like clarity about Doornbos' plans for 2008 by next month.

Ousted Toro Rosso driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, meanwhile - who will be replaced for 2008 by Sebastien Bourdais - vented his frustration by hitting out at the multiple Champ Car title winner.

According to Eurosport, Italian Liuzzi referred to Bourdais as "nothing special".

"In the tests he made with Toro Rosso he didn't turn impressive lap times," Liuzzi said.

"He performed fairly well, but nothing special." [Editor's Note: He certainly beat Liuzzi's times. And besides, Bourdais is much more professional and knowledgeable and will work with the engineers to improve the car.]

08/17/07 According to Formule1Wereld.nl Champ Car driver Robert Doornbos is interested in a Williams F1 seat and Doornbos claims that they are interested in him. This was told to the Dutch publication by Doornbos himself. However, he admits that the chances are slim of it happening.
Liuzzi could drive for Williams  (GMM) Vitantonio Liuzzi on Friday admitted that he is hoping to keep his formula one career alive by joining the Williams team in 2008.

The Italian, whose first experience of a F1 car was in a Williams test in 2002, must leave Toro Rosso at the end of this year.

And Liuzzi, 26, confirmed rumors linking him with the Grove based team, that currently runs Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz.

"I don't know if my future will be with them but they were the first team that gave me a chance to test a formula one car and I am really grateful for that and we'll see what happens," he told reporters in Turkey.

Liuzzi said the driver market is currently "on standby" amid speculation that reigning world champion Fernando Alonso might leave McLaren.

Austrian Wurz is similarly waiting on the market, and hopes to be retained by Williams also for next year.

Technical director Sam Michael reportedly said recently that the veteran is at the top of the team's shortlist for 2008.

Wurz said on Friday: "There is no news to tell you."

Alonso could retire  (GMM)  One option for 2008 possibly under consideration by Fernando Alonso is a sabbatical or even retirement, according to one of the Spaniard's closest media confidantes.

Antonio Lobato, a correspondent for the Marca newspaper and commentator for Spanish F1 broadcaster Telecinco, said in Turkey that 26-year-old Alonso is so unhappy at McLaren that he might not feature on next year's grid at all.

"More probable is a sabbatical year", Lobato wrote in Marca when contemplating speculated moves for Alonso to Renault or Ferrari.

He added: "But you cannot discard a definitive retirement, although it is less probable and would also depend on him winning the world title (this year)."

As to why Alonso would take a sabbatical and then return in 2009, Lobato reckons: "Fernando would only move to a team in which he has options to win.

"This is the problem.  Ferrari has two drivers with contracts and BMW will have Heidfeld and Kubica next year."

Coulthard reveals conspiracy theory  UPDATE (GMM)  Yet another controversy could be set to arrive in the formula one paddock.

According to the specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport, Ferrari team members might be enjoying inside information from F1's governing body, the FIA.

Two journalists have told the publication that Felipe Massa knew Fernando Alonso and McLaren would be punished by the stewards in Budapest three weeks ago, before the officials actually handed down their verdict late on Saturday night.

About an hour before the stewards published the verdict, Massa told the unnamed reporters in a restaurant: "Alonso will lose five places and his team will score no points."

The German newspaper Bild wonders: "Where did Massa get his information?  Is there a mole?"

Meanwhile, Massa confirmed to reporters on Thursday that he does not have a problem with Spaniard Alonso despite their recent post-race swearing match in Germany.

They both played in the F1 drivers' football team on Wednesday, and Massa said afterwards: "Sometimes we might have a problem in the race but that's the way it works.

"Everybody saw the problem I had, but it doesn't mean that I don't talk to him any more."

08/23/07 (GMM) David Coulthard publicized his own championship conspiracy theory as the formula one circus convened in Turkey on Thursday ahead of Sunday's grand prix here.

The 13-time race winner, who drives for Red Bull, said he thought Ferrari might have deliberately fouled a pit stop for Felipe Massa three weeks ago in Hungary so as to give the Brazilian's teammate Kimi Raikkonen a clearer shot at the 2007 title.

The Maranello based team in Budapest admitted its mistake in failing to properly fuel Massa's car during a qualifying pit stop, which wrecked the Brazilian's event and left him out of the points.

"How do we know that Ferrari didn't deliberately not put fuel in Felipe's car?" Coulthard, who between 2002 and 2004 was Raikkonen's teammate at McLaren, wondered in a news conference at the circuit outside of Istanbul.

"Maybe that was a team decision to benefit Kimi. How do you forget to put fuel in a car?"

Massa, in the same media gathering, acknowledged Coulthard's conspiracy theory but answered: "It was not on purpose.

"It was a misunderstanding.

"A pretty fundamental misunderstanding," Coulthard, who at 36 is the oldest driver on the current formula one grid, retorted.

"I think it's a conspiracy to favor Kimi. Good luck."

DEI's No. 8 back on track next season  Barring a last-minute change, Nextel Cup Series veteran Mark Martin and rookie Aric Almirola will become the drivers of Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s No. 8 Chevrolet next season, The Charlotte Observer has learned.  Martin and Almirola, who currently drive the No. 01, which was acquired by DEI through a merger with Ginn Racing earlier this season, are also expected to be joined by sponsor Army next season in the No. 8, multiple sources said Thursday. A formal announcement is expected within the next two weeks. ThatsRacing
Kovalainen Renault future in doubt  (GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen on Thursday admitted that even his future on next year's formula one grid is not assured.

Renault's test driver Nelson Piquet Jr is expected to graduate to a racing role next year, but so far the incumbent team racer whose future has been in doubt is the veteran Giancarlo Fisichella.

But Finnish rookie Kovalainen, who is 25, told reporters in Istanbul that he too is waiting to hear Renault boss Flavio Briatore's decision about the 2008 lineup.

"I certainly hope I can be with the team," he said when asked about next year.

Kovalainen, who had a shaky start to his career but in recent races has got on terms with Fisichella, added: "But like Flavio said, he hasn't made a decision yet."

Briatore said three weeks ago in Hungary that he would settle on Renault's next race lineup around the time of the Italian grand prix in two more weeks.

Kovalainen admitted: "At the moment, honestly, I don't know."

Assen ticket sales remain strong  Sitting here in the Zolder media center on Thursday we hear that advance ticket sales for race day at Assen stand at 45,000.  Like Zolder, a strong walk-up crowd is expected and around 70,000 are expected on race day.
Grosjean tipped for 2008 Renault test role  (GMM)  Flavio Briatore is on the lookout for a new Renault test driver for 2008, according to reports.

The current occupant of the French squad's official test and reserve seat, Brazilian rookie Nelson Piquet Jr, is hoping to graduate to the grand prix grid next year.

He is already being linked with a racing role at Williams for 2008, and even Renault itself.

The French weekly magazine AutoPlus claims that F3 Euro Series championship leader Romain Grosjean is at the top of Briatore's short list of possible replacements for Piquet.

The Swiss 21-year-old, who competes with a French racing license, is reportedly also likely to move up to F1's feeder series GP2 next year, perhaps with the ART team.

Prodrive to race in 2008  UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Prodrive is set to announce its formula one chassis and engine supplier some time in September, team boss David Richards has said.

British newspaper The Times, meanwhile, claims that the expected link-up with McLaren and Mercedes-Benz could be just "days away".

"McLaren is one of three possible options for us, but they are closest," Richards, formerly Benetton and BAR-Honda boss and now owner of Aston Martin, said.

He added: "We will not be able to make an announcement until next month but talks are progressing very well and we will be on the formula one grid in 2008."

The Times added that the McLaren 'B' team route for Prodrive will allow it to compete in the sport with an annual budget of just (US) $60 million, compared with the annual $400m and $500m spent every year by big teams such as Ferrari, Toyota, and McLaren itself.

Prodrive may also be supported in 2008 by sponsors that missed out on spots on the McLaren livery this year, the newspaper said.

The Times' F1 correspondent Kevin Eason wrote: "Final legal issues are thought to stand in the way before McLaren can start supplying Richards."

The issues probably relate to the fact that F1's customer car regulations for 2008 are still in dispute.

"But those loopholes are expected to be cleared quickly," Eason said.

08/19/07 (GMM) David Richards has allayed fears that his Prodrive formula one team might be stillborn.

The lack of news about F1's official twelfth and final team, and the fact that expected team announcements in July did not materialize, led to speculation that the outfit would not be ready to debut next year.

But motorline.cc quoted world Rally supremo Richards, referring to the F1 rumors, as saying: "Absolutely not. We will be there next year."

The Briton added that more information would be forthcoming "very soon", even though several weeks have passed since McLaren-Mercedes' end-of-July deadline for a full 2008 car-engine customer deal to be finalized, elapsed.

Richards also would not be drawn on possible drivers for 2008, including rumors that Williams' Alex Wurz - who raced for Benetton in the Richards era in the late 90s - has already been in talks.

"I know him very, very well," Richards said of the experienced Austrian, "but I have spoken with him as a friend; not about contractual matters."

08/15/07 (GMM)  In Red Bull-Toro Rosso style, McLaren and F1's twelfth team Prodrive next year could use essentially the same formula one chassis.

Although news about David Richards' incoming team has been sparing in recent times, it is reported this week that Prodrive is still on track to debut in Melbourne next March.

And the specialist German magazine Auto Motor und Sport claims that with three substantial Prodrive sponsors now on board, McLaren is now working closely with Richards' outfit to put together effectively a 'B' Mercedes-powered team.

To simplify the cross-over between the two teams, and because of time constraints, Prodrive is likely to run the 2008-specification MP4-23 single seater, probably with an identical Mercedes-Benz V8 power plant to its works sister, as the new privateer-friendly rules will probably allow.

Alongside McLaren test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett as possible Prodrive racers, meanwhile, is Paffett's French-Canadian DTM colleague Bruno Spengler, the magazine added.

LeMans Series calendar for 2008  During the Spa-Francorchamps race weekend there were a lot of rumors going around about the possible calendar for 2008 and the participation of teams in the final round of the 2007 Le Mans Series season at Sao Paulo.

Monza, Spa and Silverstone could return in 2008, but the Nürburgring 1000 kilometers was not mentioned so far and might be dropped for next season. The other tracks said to be included in the 2008 calendar are Barcelona (replacing Valencia), the A1 Ring (currently abandoned but owned by Red Bull owner Dieter Mateschitz) and the Interlagos circuit (depending on this season’s race).The Le Mans Series organization could not confirm this calendar yet but did mention that it is pretty much complete and they want to announce it as soon as possible, so there is still a possibility that it will be announced at the Silverstone 1000 kilometers next month. Planet LeMans

Gordon to appear on The Apprentice?  UPDATE A spokesman for Jeff Gordon said the NASCAR driver has not been signed to appear on the upcoming season of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice," denying a report in the New York Post.

08/20/07 The NY Post reports that NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon will appear on Donald Trump's The Apprentice show.
Sutil eyes 2008 with Spyker  (GMM) Despite recent rumors to the contrary, Adrian Sutil will remain at Spyker next year.

Alongside close friend Lewis Hamilton, the German rookie has been a standout of the 2007 season and linked with the affection of rival formula one teams, including that owned by Sir Frank Williams.

But amid other disruptions, such as speculation of financial trouble for Spyker, the Dutch magazine 'Formule 1 Race Report' said the 24-year-old is likely to stay at the team in 2008.

And he said: "I know that we are going to finish the season as planned and I also do not expect any problems in the future."

Asked if he saw Spyker's current situation as a reason to leave, Sutil answered: "Absolutely not."

He said driving even at the back of the formula one grid is worthwhile.

"If you are good enough, you are still noticed," Sutil said.

"Let's see what Spyker can do next year. I hope that we take a good step forwards."

Spyker hopes the first step will be made this weekend in Turkey, where the Silverstone based team will for the first time race the so-called 'B' car.

But like technical boss Mike Gascoyne, Sutil is keen to play down expectations for the machine.

"Some people spoke about a difference of one second (per lap) -- that is too much," he said.

"It is difficult to say how much better it will be, but without doubt there will be an improvement.

"In Istanbul we will find out whether it is enough. Pretty quickly you find out whether a car is quick or not."

Alonso eyes Ferrari  According to Italian newspaper Affari Italiani, Fernando Alonso is willing to go as far as taking a year sabbatical to get out of his McLaren contract and drive for Ferrari starting in 2009 instead. The article goes on to say that Alonso could have an out from the McLaren contract based on the damage that has been done to his image as a result of the Spygate scandal.
Did Alonso flirt with BMW switch?  (GMM) Team principal Mario Theissen has played down suggestions that BMW-Sauber seriously flirted with signing Fernando Alonso for the 2008 season.

Some sections of the media recently linked the long delay in confirming a new BMW contract for Nick Heidfeld next year with reports that unhappy reigning world champion Alonso was looking to leave McLaren.

But Theissen, an unabashed admirer of the 26-year-old Spaniard, told the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst: "They were two completely separate issues." More ...
Video: ATT prepared to thumb nose at NASCAR  UPDATE #3 NASCAR expects the AT&T logos to be removed from the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car for the Nextel Cup events this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.  The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mandate Tuesday that its decision to be followed that NASCAR is not legally required to allow the AT&T logos on the Jeff Burton car, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Tuesday night.
The appellate court also clarified its Aug. 13 ruling that the logo issue return to U.S. District Court in Atlanta for consideration of other legal issues other than breach of contract, Poston said.

AT&T had won the injunction on breach-of-contract grounds as U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob ruled May 18 that NASCAR's grandfather clause in its licensing agreement that gives RCR a car number allowed for the Cingular logos to be changed to AT&T following their December 2006 merger.

But the appellate court ruled that because the grandfather clause (enacted in 2004 when Nextel became the primary sponsor of the Cup series) was designed to benefit RCR and not necessarily Cingular, that AT&T could not sue under breach of contract grounds.

Court documents indicate that AT&T plans to ask the district court to consider another injunction under the premise that NASCAR's actions indicated that a logo change was permissible and therefore it's an injustice that they cannot. Scenedaily.com

08/18/07 AT&T is still reviewing its options in wake of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' overturning an injunction Monday that had allowed the AT&T logo to replace the Cingular logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car.

One of those options includes seeking another injunction on grounds other than breach of contract.

In a filing Friday to preview a status conference in the case in U.S. District Court, AT&T stated that it has until Monday to request a rehearing.

"We have not yet made a final decision regarding whether we will file a petition for rehearing, and, if so, what the petition will contain," AT&T's attorneys wrote in the brief.

AT&T is considering filing a broad request for a rehearing, a more narrow request or not asking for a rehearing at all.

If it files a narrow petition or does nothing, AT&T indicated in court documents filed Friday that it would request Monday that the district court consider an injunction under promissory estoppel - the legal theory that would rule that AT&T had reasonable expectations to believe that it could change the logos and it is an injustice to AT&T that it can't.  Scenedaily.com

Jeff Burton will not be on the market any time soon, even if the NASCAR/AT&T legal wrangling doesn't fall AT&T's way, car owner Richard Childress said Friday at Michigan International Speedway.  Burton signed a contract to drive for Richard Childress Racing in June, with AT&T signing on as sponsor. But that was before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction that had allowed AT&T logos on the No. 31 Chevrolet in place of Cingular signage.

"We've got contracts with AT&T and Jeff Burton," Childress said.

That means Burton isn't going anywhere, Childress indicated.

Childress did not want to comment on the NASCAR/AT&T situation "because it's still in the legal system," he said.

"We hope we can come to some kind of agreement we can all live with," Childress said.

Should there be further trouble for AT&T, it could affect RCR's plans for a fourth team in 2008, though Childress was confident the fourth team would go on as planned. Scenedaily.com

08/16/07 AT&T plans to have its logos on the No. 31 Nextel Cup car for Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

Although the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction permitting the logos, AT&T still has time to request a reconsideration of the ruling, and until that process is over, it can keep the logos on the car. AT&T is expected to ask for the reconsideration Friday.

"This weekend, we will be running the car with the AT&T brand," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said late Thursday afternoon while declining to discuss the company's legal strategy. "The legal process is moving along. I can't predict what will happen after [this weekend].

NASCAR had requested that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issue a mandate that AT&T comply with the ruling while the reconsideration process unfolds. The court has declined that request, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Thursday evening.

"It was and continues to be our hope that AT&T would comply fully with the 11th Circuit Court's ruling, and it appears that they're not willing to do that at this time," Poston said.

"We respect the decision the court has made, and we're looking at a variety of options."

AT&T has argued that NASCAR's grandfather clause for telecommunications sponsors, enacted in 2004 when Nextel became the series sponsor, allows it to change the logos from Cingular to AT&T on the Jeff Burton car. Scenedaily.com More ...

Zolder ticket sales slow  According to sources in Belgium, only 10,000 tickets have been sold so far for this Sunday's Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium. With that said, the promoter expects a large walk-up crowd with fans from Holland, France and Germany crossing the border this weekend. Assen is another story where a very large crowd is expected. Of course it helps that a Dutch driver has won two races this year.
Prodrive may confirm de la Rosa at Istanbul  UPDATE (GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa could shortly become the first driver to be confirmed as part of Prodrive's inaugural race lineup for 2008.

The Spanish newspaper Marca suggests that the 36-year-old, who is currently a test driver for McLaren, is waiting this week to hear if a seat with the British team has been reserved for him.

His link to Prodrive is obvious, with David Richards' new outfit expected to become a full McLaren customer team next year with a Woking-built chassis and Mercedes-Benz V8 engine.

Marca said the first official Prodrive announcements could be made at the edge of the Turkish grand prix this weekend.

Also touted as frontrunners for Prodrive seats are de la Rosa's fellow McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, and Paffett's French-Canadian DTM colleague Bruno Spengler.

08/20/07 The Spanish media is surmising that Pedro de la Rosa will drive for the new Prodrive F1 team in 2008. The Dave Richards team were granted a license to compete in F1 next season, and speculation is rife about Prodrive's future where it's expected they will be the McLaren 'B' team. And Spanish sports daily Marca claims that McLaren test driver de la Rosa could be confirmed as a Prodrive driver at the Turkish Grand Prix.
BMW to unveil new Heidfeld deal  UPDATE (GMM) BMW-Sauber on Tuesday announced that it will field an unchanged race driver lineup in 2008.

The Hinwil based team "realizes the importance of continuity", a statement read, confirming that Nick Heidfeld would again drive alongside Robert Kubica.

As reported earlier, Timo Glock has not yet been confirmed as next year's official test driver because he is currently negotiating for a race deal elsewhere in pitlane.

A BMW statement confirmed: "With regard to signing a test and reserve driver, an announcement will be made at a later stage."

08/21/07 (GMM) BMW-Sauber is expected to shortly announce that Nick Heidfeld will remain with the German team for two more years.

Bild newspaper reports on Tuesday that the 30-year-old and his team boss Dr. Mario Theissen finalized the contract during the summer break.

An official announcement could be issued as soon as today.

After an impressive 2007 season so far, Heidfeld will in 2008 and 2009 earn (US) $7 million per season, Bild claims.

His teammate next year will still be Poland's Robert Kubica, with Timo Glock moving up to the full time test and reserve driver role if his talks for a race cockpit with teams including Williams do not come to fruition.

Champ Car NOT being sold  UPDATE “We enjoy our current relationship with Champ Car and have no reason to change it. Champ Car’s business model and strategic vision are different than IMSA’s and we feel that we remain amicable colleagues engaged is different areas of motor sports. Where we have shared venues, we feel that both parties, the promoters and the fans have enjoyed a benefit, but rumors of a takeover or merger are simply unfounded and irresponsible. We feel that it is important to remain focused on our business and wish Champ Car the best with theirs.“
--Tim Mayer, Chief Operating Officer of both ALMS and IMSA

Editor's Note:  This article is where this unfounded and irresponsible rumor started.

08/19/07 There have been some rumors floating around lately that Champ Car might be sold or merged with the IMSA or ALMS.  Don't believe them.  Champ Car’s official position on it is as follows:

“There is not one single element of truth to recent gossip posted on a web site about the Champ Car World Series ceding control to IMSA. Clearly, there are people and/or organizations who are attempting to undercut our Series, and will continue to do so, but our owners and senior management are committed to supporting and strengthening the Series, and we will continue to maintain the momentum that we currently are enjoying as he head to Europe for our upcoming two new events there."

Champ Car to announce European Team Cup  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  See Hot News page for story.

08/19/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, on Monday Champ Car will announce that Champ Car race teams will be gunning for the inaugural Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Cup. After a four year absence, the series returns to Europe for the first time since 2003 and will race in Belgium and The Netherlands on consecutive weekends – competing at Zolder, the former home of the Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix, on August 26 and the famous Assen TT circuit on September 2, renowned as the historic venue for the Dutch round of the MotoGP World Championship.

As we understand it, the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Cup follows a similar format to the recent Champ Car Canadian Triple Crown – the results of a team’s two drivers combine to provide an average finishing position.

With a host of European Champ Car drivers competing in this year's championship, the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup will certainly be a hotly contested prize. Minardi Team USA with Robert Doornbos of The Netherlands and Dan Clarke of Great Britain and PKV Racing with Tristan Gommendy of France and Neel Jani of Switzerland could have a slight advantage with both of their drivers from Europe.

Whereas the Canadian Triple Crown winners only got a trophy, we hear that the drivers who clinch the Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup for their team will each be rewarded with unique trophies and a luxury seven-day stay at a Phanos Resort in Europe for themselves and their partners.

While eight of the nine teams in the Champ Car World Series will have two drivers on hand for their Phanos Resorts Champ Car European Team Cup assault, Jan Heylen faces a tougher challenge as Conquest Racing’s single entry. His results will count twice in the competition we are told.

Silly Season off and running  UPDATE #3 Robin Miller reported on Wind Tunnel that Marco Andretti told him he likes driving for his father's team and has no plans to move to the Haas team.  This of course agrees with what we reported last week - Carl Haas told us he never even spoke to the Andrettis.  He also reported that Tony Cotman had dinner with Tony George regarding some Champ Car teams running next year's Indy 500.  We're quite skeptical on this notion. 

08/11/07 This Italiaracing.net article says that Marco Andretti will be moving to Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing next year to replace Sebastien Bourdais in the hopes of honing his skills to move to F1 someday. We agree that Andretti would need to race in Champ Car for F1 teams to consider him seriously, but we asked Carl Haas yesterday here in Road America whether there was any truth to the rumors that Andretti could drive for his team. He told AutoRacing1.com that "we have not even spoken about it yet." Assuming Haas was being forthright and not trying to hide the truth until an announcement is made, there is no validity to the Italiaracing.net report. We expect to hear a lot of rumors regarding who will get that coveted seat before it's all said and done.

One thing is for certain, we doubt the Andrettis share in Tony George's 'vision' of what open wheel racing should be for Marco......i.e. flying through the air on a regular basis with death staring you smack in the eye at every turn. Of course Roger Penske shares in this same vision as he says Indy Cars belong at these big stadium style NASCAR tracks and 60% of the races should be on ovals. Did you know that the estimated car damage at Michigan last Sunday was $930K?

07/04/07 Tony Kanaan said Tuesday he will not be a candidate to fill Sam Hornish Jr.'s Indy-car seat at Team Penske if the 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner leaves for NASCAR at the end of the season.  Hornish is considering a move to the Nextel Cup Series with Roger Penske's organization. Hornish said Saturday he has not made a decision about where he will race next season.  Kanaan is under contract to Andretti Green Racing through the end of the 2008 season. He is not interested in leaving the Indianapolis-based team.  "I'm good where I'm at," Kanaan said from his home in Miami. "The team is back. We put in so much hard work, and now we're being rewarded for it."  Indy Star

07/01/07 Robin Miller was full of rumors tonight on Wind Tunnel:
  • Sam Hornish to NASCAR with Penske - we already rumored this one
  • Dan Wheldon to NASCAR with Chip Ganassi - we already rumored this one
  • Tony Kanaan to take Hornish's ride at Team Penske.  Kanaan is rumored to be tired of having to help Danica and Marco with their setups and then have to play second fiddle to them in the media
  • Dario Franchitti to retire from open wheel and possibly run ALMS and the Indy 500 in 2008
  • Justin Wilson and CDW to Newman/Haas/Lanigan to replace Bourdais - we already rumored this one
  • Sebastien Bourdais to F1 in 2008 - we already rumored this one
  • Scott Speed to Champ Car with Red Bull backing - we rumored this one last year
  • Now he's saying Marco Andretti won't be going to Newman/Haas/Lanigan to replace Bourdais - which means Marco won't make it to F1 because F1 is not going to hire an oval track driver and that is what the IRL is viewed as in Europe
  • If Bourdais leaves Champ Car as rumored, Graham Rahal may move over to the McDonald's car
Rained-out MIS race could run on Thanksgiving  UPDATE We are downgrading this rumor to 'false'.  The average temp of 35 degrees on Thanksgiving Day weekend would play havoc with the regular tires, according to Goodyear.  There is no way that their Cup tires could run a race in that cold temp.  The overwhelming opinion in the garage area would be that, should the race not be held by Tuesday morning, the cars would be impounded, and the teams return a week from tomorrow after their run at Bristol.  Tim Wohlford reporting for AutoRacing1.com

08/19/07 With no off weekends left in the season, NASCAR officials desperately hope that the 3M Performance 400 Nextel Cup race is completed in the next few days at Michigan International Speedway. The race, postponed Sunday because of rain, is scheduled for noon Monday. There is a 50 percent chance of rain then.

If the race is not run Monday, it will be rescheduled for Tuesday. There is a 30 percent chance of rain then.

And if not Tuesday, NASCAR would consider running it on Wednesday, but no decision has been made, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Sunday afternoon.

And then what?

"If this race is not able to be completed this week, it will move to the week of Thanksgiving and become the final race of the season," Poston said.

He said it most likely would be run Thanksgiving Friday if frigid Michigan temperatures. The Sept. 16 race at New Hampshire International Speedway would become the final "regular season" race and the Chase For The Nextel Cup championship-deciding segment of the season would start the following week at Dover. Scenedaily.com

Grand-Am to drop some tracks  Hearing that Grand Am might not be back at Laguna Seca, VIR, and probably not Barber, either.   We hear the France family will run their Grand-Am more at the tracks they (ISC) own.
Who will replace F1 at Imola?  If Champ Car is looking to run more races in Europe perhaps a hard look at Imola is in order. San Marino GP race promoter Alfredo Cazzola has withdrawn his bid to run Imola despite ongoing renovation work demanded by Bernie Ecclestone if F1 was to return to the famous Italian circuit. Like every race F1 promoter, they lose their shirt unless they get government backing.
V8 Supercars to copy Champ Car  V8 Supercars is considering a Champ Car-style push-to-pass button to increase passing.  That is just one of the changes a committee is thrashing out to spruce up the Holden versus Ford category, which has been pedestrian for most of the season.

Plans also include a move to smaller fuel tanks and bonus points for leading laps in races.

Committee members include drivers Jason Bright, Paul Morris and Brad Jones and team owner Paul Cruickshank. They are pushing for changes for next season.

Most agree with the moves, which also include provisional qualifying on Fridays, with the fastest driver guaranteed a front-row start for the opening race on Saturday.

Along with points for any driver who leads a full lap, there would be bonus points for the driver who has led the most number of laps in races.

The committee is also reviewing the code of conduct with a view to bringing in more biff 'n' barge.

It follows a decision by V8 Supercars chief executive Wayne Cattach made in June to encourage drivers to speak out against each other in the media to spice up races.

Evernham team eyes possible Toyota move  "I've had probably six phone calls from George Gillett," Toyota's Lee White said of the new majority owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports. "I knew him 18 years ago when we tried to put an Indy-car team together.  I haven't talked to him in 18 years and suddenly I get six phone calls in a couple of months. There must be some interest in something."  [Excerpt is from ESPN.com article]
Jarrett could leave Waltrip’s team  UPDATE Dale Jarrett is puzzled by reports that he could retire at the end of the season. Not only does he plan to continue racing for Michael Waltrip Racing next season, but he also says that sponsor UPS is solidly on board with the No. 44 team.

"I don't know where all this other stuff got started," Jarrett said. "Nobody came to me and asked me. As a matter of fact I was standing in a restaurant with some friends and a guy tapped me on the shoulder last week and said, 'I didn't realize you were retiring at the end of the year,' and I said: 'Well I didn't either. I've been on the golf course for two days, but I didn't realize things had changed quite that much.' I have no ideas of making any change, and I'm committed."

06/11/07 XM Radio reported on Sunday that Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota were re-evaluating Jarrett’s future with the team and could release him outright or sending him to a different Toyota team, either a current team or one that could switch to Toyota next season. Ford Racing/XM Radio
Summerton to run F3  According to Italiaracing.net VW Motorsport will make their F3 Euroseries début at the Nurburgring round on September 1 & 2. Amongst the 3 drivers starting the VW challenge against the Mercedes-Benz engine dominated series, will be 19-year old American Jonathan Summerton from Kissimmee, FL. He will be driving for the Italian RC Motorsport team and will be joined by German driver Maxi Gotz. The 3rd VW Motorsport driver will be German Marco Holzer, who has already competed in this years F3 Euroseries with his family run AM-Holzer Rennsport team's Dallara F305 Opel.

Last year Jonathan won the last round of the F3 Euroseries at Hockenheim (see photo). Next to him Dutchman Giedo van der Garde (left) and Red Bull's Swiss driver Sebastian Buemi. (photo's Peter Aswendt / PWS-Consultancy / Autoracing1.com © free) Pieter W. Slinger
New Chevy engine making big HP  The new Chevy R07 engine is again being run here at MIS for this weekend's Nextel Cup race.  Rumor has it that some of the Chevy teams now have 40 hp more than the competition.  However, one of those new engines (Jeff Burton) blew up early in first practice.  Tim Wohlford reporting from MIS
Midland could bail out Spyker  (GMM) A possible savoir of the Spyker team has a familiar ring to it -- Midland's Alex Shnaider.

The Russian-Canadian billionaire sold the Silverstone based team to Spyker last year, but retains an interest due to monies still owed.

So with Spyker in financial difficulty and searching for a buyer, the fact that Midland holds the formula one team as security against its debt could become significant.

Shnaider told F1's official website on Friday that he expects the current Dutch management to pay its bills.

"Whether or not Spyker is in some turmoil, we expect the deal to be executed as agreed, and we will try to help them along if requested," he said.

The 37-year-old admitted, however, that Midland could be a viable creditor for the team.

Shnaider said: "We have rescued the team in the past and we are capable of doing it again, if necessary."

But he advises Spyker to find a partner or simply sell up.

And "if we are forced to take the team back, then we will fund it in the short term while also looking for (a) commercial partner."

Briatore in talks for English football team  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. A matter of days after the west London football club denied the story, it now appears certain that Renault boss Flavio Briatore has bought Queens Park Rangers.

Widespread reports last week said the 57-year-old Italian was in talks about a $50m deal.

British tabloid The Sun on Friday quotes QPR chairman Gianni Paladini and a spokesman for Briatore as confirming the news, with the deal set to be completed early next week.

"It's a dream come true for QPR fans and saves this club from liquidation," Paladini said.

"Mr. Briatore wants to do for QPR what Mohamed Fayed has for Fulham and turn us into a Premier League club."

Briatore's spokesman said: "Mr. Briatore is looking forward to being involved with English football.

"QPR is a club with a rich history and fine future now."

08/10/07 (GMM)  Renault boss Flavio Briatore is in "advanced talks" about taking over the west London football club Queens Park Rangers, according to reports.

The Times in Britain said the deal could be worth about (US) $50 million, including taking on the club's substantial debt, with QPR reportedly trying to avoid falling into administration.

Flamboyant Italian millionaire Briatore, 57, is not a renowned football fan but two years ago he was linked with a failed bid together with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone for Chelsea.

Earlier this year, he scoffed at reports that he was preparing to bid for the Italian football club Parma.

"Such a project does not figure in my plans either for now or in the future," he said then.

Ecclestone is currently thought involved in a bid for yet another famous London club, Arsenal.

Briatore, meanwhile, is believed to have attended a QPR match recently, and promised club manager John Gregory a player budget of about $20m.

GP2 Team Campos into F1  Adrian Campos (an ex F1 driver himself) seems to be one of the interested parties to either buy a share in the Super Aguri F1 team or buy a share in the Spyker F1 team. One of his own shareholders, and personal friends Alejandro Agag, a wealthy Spanish businessman, was already in the news earlier this week, being in talks with Super Aguri about a substantial share in the team.

Although Adrian Campos has ruled out his team stepping into F1 by 2008, stranger things have happened, especially in F1. With all the troubles surrounding both Super Aguri and Spyker, and the (future Chinese F1 team) plans of Alejandro Agag, we wouldn't be at all surprised if this project comes to fruition earlier then expected, even for Adrian Campos himself! F1Today.nl

Dodge to sponsor Dover race  Dover Int'l Speedway's Nextel Cup race on September 23 will be called the Dodge Dealers 400. An announcement is expected later today.
industry news
New '09 Camaro could be a hybrid  It could be the future of cruising, a muscle car for the 21st Century: A Chevrolet Camaro that could approach 40 m.p.g. on the highway and 30 m.p.g. in the city.

It might glide silently through future Woodward Dream Cruises, running on battery power up to 25 m.p.h. but with a beefy V8 engine poised to leap to life for a 0-60 sprint.

This Camaro, wedding Chevrolet's legendary small-block V8 engine to General Motors' advanced new hybrid system, isn't on the drawing board yet, but it is feasible, a knowledgeable GM source told the Free Press. GM has the parts on the shelf to get this dream car cruising. It would combine production-ready hybrid technology that hits the road this fall in some GM vehicles with the celebrated new Camaro that is to go on sale in early 2009.

"The Camaro is Chevrolet and GM's halo car," said Joe Phillippi, principal of AutoTrends Consulting, in Short Hills, N.J. "It projects an image that reflects on the whole corporation. To offer all the performance aspects of a classic Camaro and still be environmentally friendly ... that's a real plus from an image point of view.

"A hybrid Camaro, it could go a long way toward changing the perception of General Motors and Chevrolet," he said, particularly if the car won the seal of approval of Consumer Reports magazine or some other respected third party.  More at Detroit Free Press

Spyker to sell F1 team to Mol  UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Michiel Mol, who quit as CEO of Spyker's road car making parent this week, has confirmed that he is hoping to buy the financially-embattled Silverstone based team.

His admission on Wednesday followed the issuing of a statement by the Dutch team insisting that there is no danger that Spyker does not have the money to finish the 2007 world championship.

Spyker is not the only team in financial strife at present, with separate reports this week revealing that Super Aguri are in urgent talks to sell a stake of the Japanese outfit because major sponsor SS United Oil and Gas had defaulted on payments.

Former Spyker CEO Mol, meanwhile, who quit because "I cannot negotiate with myself", told the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report that he had not yet bought the team.

But he said: "I want to make an offer and am presently looking for partners with which I can finance that."

Mol confirmed that his wealthy father, Jan, could be one of the financiers.

Team boss Colin Kolles, meanwhile, said in the team statement: "There is no doubt that we will be racing with our current driver lineup of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto in the Turkish grand prix and beyond."

08/15/07 Further to the statement of Spyker Cars N.V. dated 14 August 2007, Spyker F1 Team Ltd wishes to clarify its position on the security of its participation in the FIA Formula One World Championship this season and beyond.

Spyker Formula One Team principal and managing director, Colin Kolles, states: 'Spyker F1 Team Ltd is completely confident that it has the necessary budget to race in the FIA Formula One World Championship this season. There is no doubt that we will be racing with our current driver line-up of Adrian Sutil and Sakon Yamamoto in the Turkish Grand Prix and beyond.

'The recent press statement issued by Spyker Cars N.V should not be taken as an indication that the team is in jeopardy of immediate closure. As part of its own strategic review and refinancing strategy Spyker Cars N.V is considering the (partial) sale of the Spyker Formula One Team. This is however but one possibility.

'Should Spyker Cars N.V. ultimately decide to sell, its management will strive for the final decision to be in the best interests of the team, its employees and partners and that we have the means to achieve our goals that have been set in motion this season.'  Spyker F1 PR

08/15/07 (GMM)  The CEO of Spyker's sports-car making parent has stepped down amid speculation that he might buy the Silverstone based F1 team.

Recent press reports said the Dutch marque was on the verge of financial collapse, including the projection of a substantial loss in 2007.

The Dutch news agency ANP on Tuesday added that CEO Michiel Mol, having only recently taken up the position, has now departed, to be replaced by Hans Hugenholtz.

Several potential buyers are interested in the formula one team, ANP said, including Mol, who could not be contacted for comment.

To the Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report, Hugenholtz played down suggestions that even Spyker's short-term liquidity is in doubt.

"That is an invention of the press," he said.

"What is correct is that Michiel has resigned as CEO.  And I am his successor.

"The reason for that is that Michiel wants to buy a larger share of the formula one team.  So he possibly would have had a conflict of interest.

"The Spyker formula one team does and will continue to exist."

Eddie Jordan sold his eponymous Silverstone based team to Midland at the end of 2004.  Last September, the Russian steel magnate Alex Shnaider sold the team to Spyker.

08/14/07 Dutch sports car maker Spyker could sell some or all of its Formula One team as part of a refinancing plan.

The firm said that negative publicity about its credit worthiness had forced it to seek addition funds to keep its finances liquid in the short-term. A Spyker statement said: "Of the various refinancing scenarios being considered, the (partial) sale of the Formula One team is one possibility."

Spyker F1 team director Michael Mol is considering buying the racing outfit. Mol is therefore stepping down as interim chief executive of the parent company to avoid a conflict of interest. The sports car company, founded in 2000, is expecting to make a financial loss this year, with the F1 operation costing more to run and generation lower revenues than anticipated. BBC News
Ganassi getting out of Grand-Am?  Speculation is that Chip Ganassi may get out of his Lexus Grand-Am program, and if true one would assume so the team can focus their efforts on NASCAR where they are struggling.  And if the rumors are true (his driver Scott Pruett is shopping for a job and Chip has not been at many Grand-Am races this year) the next question begs to be asked - if Ganassi is leaving the Toyota Lexus effort in Grand-Am will he move to Toyota in Nextel Cup?  Toyota likes Juan Montoya as he won a lot for them in CART, and they certainly need another top-level Cup team besides Joe Gibbs Racing.  The current Toyota teams have been a disaster for Toyota.
Sarah Fisher could lose ride  Sarah Fisher envisioned a better comeback than this.  When she returned to the IndyCar Series circuit at the Kentucky 300 last summer, she viewed it as a job interview, and her 12th-place finish for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing earned her a full-time job with the team this season.

After spending the better part of two years away from open-wheel racing, Fisher looked at 2007 as an opportunity to resurrect her career, and the series buzzed about a potential rivalry with Danica Patrick.

But neither has materialized.

Though Patrick has yet to win, she has been competitive, and she entered Saturday’s race seventh in the season points race with nine top 10 finishes. Only a flat tire late in last week’s Michigan 400 seemed to prevent her first trip to victory lane. Winning for Patrick does not seem to be a question of if, but when.

For Fisher, the questions are harder to answer. Her team has struggled to find a package that can put her near the front. She returned to Kentucky Speedway — where she set the track record of 221.39 mph while winning the pole in 2002 — 17th in points.

“We’re not getting the most of what we can out of a two-car team at the end of the day, and I wish we could,” Fisher said. “I don’t know what to change to fix that and I wouldn’t even say if I did know. It’s just not working as healthfully as I thought it would, and that disappoints me.”  More at NY Times

F1’s Bernie preparing Arsenal bid  UPDATE #3 (GMM) An English premier league football team has denied that it is considering selling up to Renault boss Flavio Briatore.

It was reported last week that Italian Briatore, 57, is in talks with the west London club Queens Park Rangers, concerning a $50 million buyout deal.

But QPR chairman Antonio Caliendo said in a statement: "There have been many rumors spread in the newspapers recently about QPR. The club is not for sale.

"The club will be making no further comment at this stage."

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's separate interest in Arsenal, meanwhile, has stepped up a gear, even if the north London club have also stated that they do not want to sell.

The 76-year-old told The Times: "I am still very interested. If I could buy Arsenal I would, but I would want control."

08/10/07 Bernie Ecclestone is counting down the days until he can secure control of Arsenal in one of English football’s most astonishing takeover deals. In an exclusive interview with The Times, the Formula One impresario revealed that he would be “interested in buying the club today”, if it were on the market.

But his aspirations will have to wait for an agreement, signed by five Arsenal directors who control a crucial 45 per cent of the club’s share-holding, to expire. Their commitment is to resist any takeover attempt until next April. By then, though, the price could surpass the £790 million Malcolm Glazer paid for Manchester United.

Arsenal are valued at £432 million, while the 60,000-seat capacity at the new Emirates Stadium has catapulted match-day takings to £80 million a season. Some financial experts believe that the takeover price would soar if Ecclestone, whose fortune is valued at £2.2 billion, allowed himself to be drawn into a bidding battle with Stan Kroenke, the American sports magnate, who has made his intentions clear by spending £65 million for 12.2 per cent of the club.

[Editor's Note: This would not be a bid by Bernie to cut the legs out from under the soon to start soccer/football based Superleague now would it?  You bet it is as Bernie goes through great lengths to protect the worldwide dominance F1 enjoys and the Superleague could be a threat were the soccer/football tie-in to catch hold.]

07/21/07 Ecclestone denied on Saturday talks with English soccer club Arsenal about a possible takeover bid but said he is always open to offers.

"I don't know too much about that, actually," the billionaire told Reuters at the Nurburgring when asked about a report in the Mirror newspaper suggesting he could be interested in the Premier League club.

"It's good if somebody is saying that, because maybe I will be approached and maybe it will be cheap," added the 76-year-old, who considered buying into Chelsea before the arrival of Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

"I'll buy anything if it's cheap enough," Ecclestone added. "If somebody offers me something that I think is good value, I'll have a go."

(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone at the Nurburgring refused to deny reports that he is preparing a bid to buy the famous north London football club Arsenal.

According to the Daily Mirror, F1's chief executive is locked in a battle with rival bidder Stan Kroenke, an American, who is apparently prepared to spend more than (US) $1.3 billion for the club known as the Gunners.

"It's good if somebody is saying that, because maybe I will be approached and maybe it will be cheap," Bernie told Reuters on Saturday.

The Mirror reported that Arsenal officials might be happier with a British owner, and a source said of 76-year-old Ecclestone's rival bid: "It's more than just a spectator's interest."

Another insider added: "When Bernie does something he does it properly."

Ecclestone revealed two years ago that, with Renault boss and friend Flavio Briatore, he made a failed bid for the Chelsea football club.

Bernie said the pair "had the money" before fellow billionaire Roman Abramovich rolled into town.

And, referring to the fact that he often attends Chelsea games, he commented on Saturday: "Look at what a problem I'd be in with Chelsea if I bought Arsenal."

07/21/07 (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone is reportedly preparing a bid to buy the famous north London football club Arsenal.

According to the Daily Mirror, F1's chief executive is locked in a battle with rival bidder Stan Kroenke, an American, who is apparently prepared to spend more than (US) $1.3 billion for the club known as the Gunners.

The newspaper reports that Arsenal officials might be happier with a British owner, and a source said of 76-year-old Ecclestone's rival bid: "It's more than just a spectator's interest."

Another insider added: "When Bernie does something he does it properly."

Ecclestone revealed two years ago that, with Renault boss and friend Flavio Briatore, he made a failed bid for the Chelsea football club.

Bernie said the pair "had the money" before fellow billionaire Roman Abramovich rolled into town.

Kevin Lacroix to Walker  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see Hot News page.

08/11/07 Rumor has it that young Canadian driver Kevin Lacroix will drive for the Walker Racing Champ Car Atlantic team in 2008.
Toyota wants 11 to 12 cars  UPDATE During the Q&A portion of the Joe Gibbs Racing news conference announcing Kyle Busch's signing with the organization, Busch and J.D. Gibbs talked about the possibility of the team switching from Chevrolet to Toyota next year.

Kyle Busch: I took it into consideration, but as I looked at it, you know, I thought about it. And I'm like, "Well, you know, Joe Gibbs Racing, they've done pretty well at what they've done so far." And I feel like they'll make the right decision... Do I feel like Toyota struggled a little bit this year? Sure, they have. But do I feel like Joe Gibbs and everybody here can try to turn that around? Certainly. And if they're looking in that direction, you know, more power to them, but I'm going to let the man over here answer all of those tough questions.

J.D. Gibbs: Yeah, really for us, we haven't had much change in really the past several weeks. We had some great conversations with GM here. Obviously, we've had a great partnership with them over the past 16 years, and we've been great partners as well. I think going forward, we're just going to sit down really... I want... We're going through a process to have all of our technical guys figure out where we need to be. I think GM just got a verbal agreement from Hendrick, the first team to kind of re-sign for next year. So we're kind of in the same phase as I think lot of those teams are. I think in the next several weeks, we're going to really have to figure out where our future is and our direction.

Bob Pockrass, NASCAR Scene: Along those lines, Kyle, would your expectations for next season be different if it is Toyota?

Kyle Busch: I don't think so. I think Joe Gibbs Racing will come out of the box strong. They wouldn't make the decision that if it wasn't right for them, if it wasn't economically right for their sponsors and the success rate. You know, I've got a lot of good friends over at Chevrolet and have developed a strong relationship with those folks. And hopefully I can still have that whether or not we do decide to switch over here at Joe Gibbs Racing. But to me, I feel like I said, Joe and J.D. here are going to make what they feel is in their best interests and how they feel the competitiveness will stay and where it won't mess any of that up.

08/13/07 Joe Gibbs Racing will welcome Kyle Busch into the fold for the 2008 season with a news conference Tuesday in Huntersville, N.C. With the driver set for the No. 18, the team now must settle on tying up sponsors and a manufacturer for Busch's car.  JGR president J.D. Gibbs said there was no deadline for deciding whether the team will extend its 16-year relationship with General Motors. Toyota wants to expand its seven-car lineup to 11 or 12 in the next few seasons. Toyota Racing Development general manager Lee White said the manufacturer didn't [yet] have a deal with JGR but had talked to the team. Indy Star
industry news
Ford to sell Jaguar and Land Rover  The board for Ford Motor Co.’s Jaguar and Land Rover brands has been engaged in a series of meetings with potential bidders for the two British brands, a company spokesman confirmed.

“The process is well under way,” said Jay Ward, a spokesman for Land Rover and Jaguar.

Ford is hoping to wrap up a sale of the two British brands by early next year, Don Leclair, Ford’s chief financial officer recently told the Financial Times of London.

The automaker has not divulged the number of bidders for Land Rover and Jaguar, which are expected to be sold together, but the company has said it’s impressed with the quality of the interested parties.

Media reports have identified a handful of possible bidders. Aside from India's Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra, two former Ford executives are leading private equity bids for the luxury British brands.

Jacques Nasser, who was Ford CEO from 1999 to 2001, is leading a bid for the brands on behalf of One Equity Partners, a private equity firm owned by JPMorgan Chase.

Meanwhile, Nich Scheele, who had served as Ford’s president and chief operating officer from 2001 until his retirement in 2005, has joined New York-based Ripplewood Holdings LLC in its bid for the luxury brands.

“Each bidder has the opportunity to come down and sit and meet with the board,” Ward said. Detroit Free Press 

Bernie orchestrating Narain ride  In what is clearly a move by Bernie Ecclestone to help the India F1 become a reality, Williams tester, Narain Karthikeyan has confirmed that he has a contract with the Grove-based outfit for next season - and that he is hoping to get behind the wheel as a race driver.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times he added that if the Williams drive doesn't happen, then he will continue racing in the A1 Grand Prix World Cup of Motorsport..

“I have got a contract with Williams for next year and am hoping to get behind the wheels as a driver,” he revealed to the online version of the ‘paper. “If it doesn't materialize though, I have got a commitment with the A1 Grand Prix and would race”

Williams meanwhile have refused to comment on the story.
Super Aguri to become Chinese team  UPDATE Further research tells us that Alejandro Agag (36 yrs. old) is quite a bit more then just a very successful Spanish businessman, he is mainly seen as the successor of ... none other than 76-year old Bernie Ecclestone!

He's best friends with Flavio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Fernando Alonso and the son-in-law of former Spanish Prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, married to his daughter Ana.

Together with Bernie, and Flavio he owns a Kent, UK based company called Stacourt Ltd. They own the TV rights for all Spanish speaking countries and are also the license holders of all F1 text message games. He also manages the GP2 series.

On top of all this his next challenge is to create a Chinese F1 team within 2 years! With his newly created contact to Super Aguri (see below), this might already happen next year. Backing for this exciting project will come from Citic Group, a Chinese consortium .

08/14/07 Super Aguri are in talks with Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag about buying a shareholding in their team, autosport.com reports. The team is on the lookout for a financial partner to help secure their future, with the team well aware that they cannot rely on partners Honda to fund them long-term. The urgency to find a cash injection has increased because major sponsor SS United has defaulted on payments. This has left the team a budget shortfall that needs to be filled.
Bourdais, Vettel, to Toro Rosso in ’08  UPDATE #9 This rumor should have been upgraded to 'fact' last Friday.

08/01/07 (GMM) Toro Rosso's 2008 'option' on the services of Sebastien Bourdais ran out on Tuesday.

No news about the multiple Champ Car title winner's possible future in formula one was forthcoming, but 28-year-old Bourdais admitted to the media that rumors of a link with a possible switch to NASCAR did have some substance.

"As of right now, I'm trying to pursue everything I can in the F1 world, and we should have some news pretty soon," the Frenchman told the Tampa Tribune.

He added: "If it doesn't come through, then yeah, NASCAR is definitely something I would be interested in."

Bourdais had been strongly linked with American STR driver Scott Speed's seat for 2008, but that will almost certainly now be filled next year by Sebastian Vettel.

His hopes now rest on Vitantonio Liuzzi also being dropped by the Faenza based team.

Bourdais said the fact that Toro Rosso had yet to take up its option on him just hours before it expired was not necessarily a bad sign.

"They announced Vettel today, I think that was probably enough to occupy them quite a bit, so all it says right now for us is that it doesn't mean it's not going to happen," Bourdais said.

"It means we don't only have a door open at Toro Rosso; now we can try to see if there are other opportunities."

Asked if he already had other F1 opportunities on the table, he answered: "No, not really. But at least now we can talk."

[Editor's Note: If STR offer Bourdais a similar meager $165K as they did to Vettel to drive for them he will definitely take a ride in NASCAR as there is no way he will drive for them for that kind of money.  Bourdais can drive for the Yates/Newman/Haas/Lanigan team in NASCAR and make millions.]

07/31/07 Vettel was confirmed today but July 31st (the last day Toro Rosso had an option on Bourdais) and still no word on Sebastien Bourdais.  We suspect NHLR has gotten involved with the negotiations since they still have a contract with Bourdais and that may be slowing down any official announcement.  Our sources maintain he is definitely going to Toro Rosso.

07/20/07 Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has confirmed that the Formula One team has an option to sign three-time ChampCar series winner, Sebastien Bourdais.

Bourdais, from Le Mans in France, has tested with Torro Rosso on a couple of occasions, performing impressively enough for the team to draw up an optional contract for him to drive for it.

Berger said at the European Grand Prix overnight that Toro Rosso has until the end of this month to decide whether to complete the deal.

"I have to say he delivered what we were expecting from him," he said.

"He has been quick, consistent and good with the engineers. So I think he has a good potential. We have an option on him until the end of the month."

There are no French drivers in F1 and, with the future of the French Grand Prix in serious jeopardy, Bourdais could be the man to help revive one of the sport's traditional strongholds. More ...

Speed out, Liuzzi next on STR hit-list?  UPDATE This rumor should have been upgraded to 'fact' last Friday.

08/01/07 (GMM)  With Scott Speed now out of the picture, Vitantonio Liuzzi's position at Toro Rosso could be next on the to-do list of the team's disgruntled bosses.

Faenza based STR's principal Franz Tost was on Tuesday quoted by Sport Bild as reiterating that the team was, prior to the Nurburgring event two weeks ago, unhappy with both of the current '07 drivers, not just Speed.

The timing of his comments is interesting, as they coincided with the expiry late on Tuesday of a contractual 'option' on the 2008 services of multiple Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais.

Former BMW test driver Sebastian Vettel has already been granted ousted Speed's cockpit for the remainder of 2007, and probably also for 2008.

Tost suggested that his ideal scenario would be to kick out both Speed and Liuzzi, the 25-year-old Italian.

"But that is not so simple," Austrian Tost, who was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with Speed after the Californian spun out of the European grand prix, said.

"All the desirable drivers have current contracts.  So it is simply a matter of a lack of alternatives."

Qualifying changes as soon as New Hampshire?  NASCAR will make changes to the Nextel Cup qualifying format sooner rather than later. A source within NASCAR confirmed to Captain Thunder that they would indeed change the way teams qualify for Nextel Cup races, and the changes will take place this season instead of next. Currently, all race entries are placed in to a “lottery type” format to decide qualifying order and all entries must qualify against one another. But, not for long. Beginning with the first Chase race at New Hampshire, teams inside the top 35 in owner points will qualify separately from teams outside of the Top 35. Teams inside the Top 35 will qualify first with teams outside of the Top 35 qualifying later in the day. In the event of a rain out after Top 35 qualifying is over, the remaining eight spots will be decided by owner points and past champion’s provisionals. If qualifying is completely rained out, NASCAR will still revert back to owner points. Captain Thunder Racing
Hamilton dating McLaren boss’ daughter  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has edged further into McLaren's inner sanctum -- by dating the daughter of one of his team boss's.

It emerged this week that the rookie championship leader was holidaying in St Tropez and staying on the luxury 72-metre mega yacht of McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh.

Hamilton, 22, was photographed frolicking in the sea, on the beach and out for dinner with a "mystery brunette".

According to the UK tabloid The Sun, she is 18-year-old Sara Ojjeh -- Saudi-Arabian multi-millionaire Mansour's daughter.

Ojjeh owns 15 per cent of Woking based McLaren.

Biffle, Yeley among group being considered to drive No. 8  Greg Biffle, Regan Smith, J.J. Yeley and David Reutimann are among the drivers being considered for the No. 8 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc., a source close to the situation told ESPN.com. Don't count Mark Martin out, either.

Biffle is under contract through 2008 at Roush Fenway Racing, so he's a long-shot for next season.

But should he opt to sign with DEI for 2009 and not be released by Roush, there's a scenario in which Martin and Aric Almirola split the No. 8 next season and Smith moves into the No. 01 currently shared by those drivers.

Then in 2009 Biffle would move into the No. 8 that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is vacating after this season so he can drive for Hendrick Motorsports.

DEI officials also are high on Reutimann, whose contract with Michael Waltrip Racing expires after this season. Reutimann said he hasn't spoken to DEI officials.

"Whatever is being said is without my knowledge," Reutimann said. "But who wouldn't be thrilled to have their name mentioned with DEI."

Overheard at Road America - 3  UPDATE #2 I would agree with Scott that the fans get the best value in all of racing when there is a doubleheader.  Road America was a great example as the crowds were probably the biggest they have had in years. It's a very expensive proposition for a promoter to host two major series on a weekend.  They have to be able to offset the costs with increases in ticket sales and sponsorship. It was evident at Road America this weekend that they did both. Steve Johnson, Champ Car President

08/12/07 In addition to what Champ Car's Paul Gentilozzi said below, ALMS President Scott Atherton told AutoRacing1.com, "If the measure of success is fan response, I think the crowds speak for themselves.  Any time you put together two major racing series with their unique and shared sets of fans, both series benefit. These doubleheaders have enabled us to showcase our world class cars, teams and drivers with events that are unparalleled on the motorsports calendar.  People and companies that have not been exposed to the American Le Mans Series come away not only with a better understanding of what our series is about but with a real appreciation for our exciting style of racing.  The last several years have seen increases in all our major benchmarks, and the doubleheader concept is further accelerating that growth even more.  It’s the classic case of one plus one equaling three."

08/11/07 The problem with the onboard starters on the new Champ Car is the small battery according to Paul Gentilozzi. "We are looking to add a more powerful battery but it will add 11 to 15 pounds to the car and we have to figure out where to remove that much weight elsewhere.".....He also stated that Champ Car will be back at Road America next year without question as a result of the huge success this weekend.
Goodyear to bring Softer Tire  Goodyear likely will bring a softer tire for the October race at Lowe's Motor Speedway and is looking at even softer left-side compounds for when the car of tomorrow COT hits that track next May. The track, resurfaced in 2006, has posed problems for Goodyear, which has had to bring a hard tire to keep from having tire failures. "We ran the softer left-side in October, and then with the larger fuel cell, we went a little tougher again in May," said Goodyear engineer Mark Keto. "We're going to go back to last fall's left sides, at least that's what it looks like." Four teams tested at the track last week for next season with the car of tomorrow. "We were trying to see how they react - we were looking to see if we could get them more grip," Keto said. "We tested some left sides but mostly rights. It was just kind of a first look at what the car was going to do. They ran comparable speeds to what the current car ran in May. We're trying to get a better understanding. We haven't seen a lot of track time on the intermediate speedways." Keto said that the next intermediate track COT tire test will be Aug. 21-22 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Tentatively scheduled for that test are #29-Kevin Harvick, #9-Kasey Kahne, #36-Jeremy Mayfield and #7-Robby Gordon, Keto said. SceneDaily.com
Overheard at Road America - 4  Hearing that Atlantic Series rookie Franck Perera, who has shown he can beat the best of them is trying hard to put together a Champ Car deal for next year. It will come down to money and if he cannot get it done he will remain in Atlantics another year.......Still hearing that Atlantic Champion Matos will run for PKV next year.........Robert Doornbos is talking to a couple of F1 teams but will likely stay in Champ Car in 2008.....Mexico's David Garza will return to the Atlantic series in 2008, but is eyeing Champ Car for 2009.......Mario Dominguez still does not have any sponsorship to run the Mexico City race and Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, has not stepped up to help. He is said to still be mad at Jerry Forsythe (his son is as he runs all the sport activities). With no Mexicans in the series and no races on TV in Mexico, this should ensure the Mexico City Champ Car race will eventually die.....Hearing that Katherine Legge is getting very frustrated this weekend. After running competitively at Road America last year she is over 4 seconds off the pace this year and the team and her cannot figure out what is wrong with the car. Meanwhile her teammate Junqueira is 6th fastest. When nothing works setup wise on the car that typically indicates the car is flexing under load somewhere.......Look for the 2008 ALMS schedule to be very much the same as their 2007 schedule.  No new races are anticipated in 2008.
Hall of Fame team could move to Toyota  Hall of Fame Racing managing partner Bill Saunders said the goal of his team remains to finish the season in the top 20 in owner points. The #96 DLP HDTV Chevy is 26th in the standings after driver Tony Raines finished 15th at Pocono last weekend. Saunders denied an Internet report this week that Hall of Fame Racing was talking to Richard Childress Racing about using their engines next season. "We're with Joe Gibbs Racing, and I don't know where any of that came from," he said. Saunders said if Joe Gibbs Racing decides to switch from Chevy to Toyota, Hall of Fame Racing would do the same as a satellite Gibbs team. Saunders also said that it's written into Raines' contract that if he finishes in the top 20 in points, he's guaranteed a spot behind the wheel next season. If he doesn't, Saunders said, the team will assess his performance and make a decision on 2008 after the season. Dallas Morning News
$300M for five years  Lewis Hamilton's father is rumored to be trying to negotiate a $300M salary for his son over five years.  He may be good but no driver is worth that much money.
Overheard at Road America - 1  UPDATE It may not be a new track record but already the new Panoz is 0.6 seconds under the time set on Friday at Road America last year and that was in September when it was cooler.

08/10/07 We spoke to Team Australia boss Derrick Walker who told us, "I am going to talk to Craig Gore about possibly running a 3-car Champ Car team next year. If we can do it there are some economies of scale and it would make us stronger as a team.".......Franck Perera is hanging around the NHLR pits between Atlantic sessions. We know he would love to land that Sebastien Bourdais vacant seat next year but what driver would not?.....The lap times appear to be down this year. Yes it is hot and humid here but Scot Elkins told us that the new car simply has too much drag to overcome down the straights, and although the car is faster through the corners due to the increased downforce, we don't expect to see any new records this weekend.....We hear the Friday crowd is up significantly over last year and visibly it indeed is. We have not seen this many campers at Road America in quite some time.
Overheard at Road America - 2  Hearing that there are talks ongoing about bringing Scott Speed to Champ Car next year, possibly with Red Bull backing. Who he will drive for is the question, but it would make sense for him to take Bourdais' seat at NHLR as putting a fast American in a winning ride certainly has to help the series....Carl Haas tells us he wants to make a decision on Bourdais' replacement before the end of the year.....Katherine Legge now has a much nicer silver and purple livery on her car but Dale Coyne says it is not related to a new sponsor coming onboard. The team got tired of looking at the drab colors the car had before.
H.W.A GmbH to enter F1  According to AutoRacing1.com sources, H.W.A GmbH, who run the Mercedes DTM team are eying a move to Formula One as the Mercedes 'B' team. We hear they could buy up the rights of the stillborn Prodrive team that is struggling to raise the funds necessary to enter F1 after being selected last year, or they could buy the struggling Spyker team that is struggling to stay in F1.
Labonte to stay with Petty Enterprises  Petty Enterprises Robbie Loomis says that other Cup teams’ are interested in driver Bobby Labonte, who has a contract with them through the end of next season.

“Before it was three months to six months before a contract was up people were working deals, now they’re working on their deals a year-and-a-half out to put things in place,” he said.

“Bobby has been a great asset to Petty Enterprises and brought a lot of stability to it. We look at Bobby Labonte as a cornerstone of Petty Enterprises, hopefully for the next four or five years.”

Another future team merger in NASCAR?  Robbie Loomis, vice president of racing operations for Petty Enterprises, said the organization is planning to greatly expand its alliance with the new Gillett Evernham Motorsports by next season. In addition to getting engines from Gillett Evernham, Petty also hopes to receive car chassis and technological support, including the sharing of wind tunnel data, which leads s to believe that the two teams might someday merge.  We have seen mergers become the norm recently in NASCAR as the teams strengthen to combat on expected Toyota onslaught.
Brian's sister to eventually run NASCAR  Rumor has it that Brian France has five years to make his mark on NASCAR or he will be replaced by his sister Lesa France-Kennedy, who many believe would make a better President and CEO of NASCAR than Brian. So far under Brian's reign NASCAR has seen a steady drop in TV ratings and soft attendance at some tracks. If this continues it will be all the ammunition Lesa needs to oust her brother Brian from the top spot.

Rumors still persist that Brian would prefer to live in Southern California and start or take over an NFL football franchise. The France family clearly has their eye on someday surpassing the NFL as America's most popular sport and for years we have seen them trying to tap into the football fan base. If Brian owns a football team it will be the France family's foot in the door to the NFL, and you can bet he will use that opportunity to market the heck out of NASCAR to NFL fans. Don't for a minute think that Brian's desire to own an NFL team has anything to do with his love for football. It has everything to do with being one of the France family's strategic business moves.
STR to confirm Bourdais  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's STR announcement - see Hot News page.

08/09/07 This rumor is about to go to 'fact.' French radio station RMC reports that three-time Champ Car champion Sébastien Bourdais has signed a 2-year contract to race in Formula One for Scuderia Toro Rosso for 2008 and 2009. Bourdais will replace Vitantonio Liuzzi, giving STR an all-new lineup having also recently fired Scott Speed.

08/07/07 (GMM)  Toro Rosso will officially complete its 2008 driver lineup on Wednesday, according to a specialist report on Tuesday.

Multiple Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais has now reached a deal with the Faenza based team to replace Vitantonio Liuzzi from 2008, the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell claimed.

28-year-old Bourdais, a Frenchman from Le Mans, will join the already-confirmed German rookie Sebastian Vettel in the team, and plans to relocate from Florida to Europe with his wife Claire and their baby daughter Emma.

Motorsport Aktuell reported that Bourdais was tying up loose ends with his American employer Newman/Haas so that an official announcement could theoretically be made on Wednesday.

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