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Addington on way out at Penske?UPDATE Kurt Busch crew chief Steve Addington said he is happy at Penske Racing and would not comment Friday on rumors and reports that he plans to leave the team after this season.
Busch, in his second season with Addington as crew chief, is currently sixth in the Sprint Cup standings, just 16 points behind points leader Carl Edwards.
With Stewart-Haas Racing looking for competition director and a crew chief for Danica Patrick and Michael Waltrip Racing searching for a crew chief for Clint Bowyer next year, the garage has been rampant with speculation about which crew chiefs may switch teams next season.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Addington is not expected to return to Penske and Busch’s No. 22 team.
“I have no comment on the story that’s written off pure rumors and speculation that has no leg to stand on,” Addington said prior to Bank of America 500 practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “So that’s all I can say. We’re here to concentrate on wining the Bank of America 500 and this championship.
“I don’t know where this is coming from. That’s all I can say.”
Randy Bernard does not like being forced to rent oval tracks to keep them on the schedule, but NASCAR track owners ISC and SMI are forcing his hand
Speedway Motorsports, like ISC before them, tried to run IndyCar races on their ovals but found them to be money-losers. Both SMI and ISC are publically traded companies and their shareholders are not going to stand for management signing up for events that will lose money.
However, IndyCar is also in business to make money and they have raised their sanctioning fee in recent years to force promoters to show their commitment to promote a race because they have a lot of 'skin in the game.'
Hence why you no longer see any ISC races (gone are Phoenix, Richmond, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen, Fontana, Homestead, Kansas) on the IndyCar schedule except Fontana, which is coming back in 2012 to give it one more try. And now SMI is balking telling IndyCar no more races on their oval tracks at New Hampshire, Kentucky, Charlotte, Atlanta and maybe even Texas Motor Speedway unless IndyCar is willing to rent the track and self-promote the race like they are doing in Las Vegas this weekend.
Zipadelli to stay with Logano? J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, says his organization has had "conversations" about the future role of Greg Zipadelli but that a change in his role as crew chief for driver Joey Logano "has not come up." "We've had those conversations. But I think right now, the 20 car needs to run well. That makes it a lot easier across the board." Gibbs said he expects the Logano-Zipadelli combination to remain intact. "We don't have a crystal ball, but that's kind of what our agreement is," Gibbs said. Scene Daily
Wheldon to replace DanicaUPDATE Dan Wheldon strolled into IndyCar's Thursday night poolside party and stole the show. Trendy white T-shirt. Confident smile. A can't-miss look with a beautiful family.
At any moment, Wheldon figures to be named Danica Patrick's replacement in Andretti Autosport's splashy No. 7 car. Given GoDaddy's energy for marketing, it will be the perfect platform for the reigning and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner with mainstream potential.
Vitor Meira is resigned to the fact that, as A.J. Foyt put it, "it's not working."
Sunday's race will be Meira's last with A.J. Foyt Racing, his employer of the past three seasons. Meira described it as a mutual decision, one that wouldn't have been reached if good results were more frequent.
The No. 14 car has only one top-five finish this season -- a fifth at Toronto -- and only two for the three-year period. The other came to start last season: a third in Sao Paulo.
Meira doesn't know which team will be his fifth in the series. The decision will be based in part on sponsorship programs he's working on in his native Brazil.
Meira carries a 131-race winless drought into the weekend. That's fourth on the sport's all-time list behind Raul Boesel (199 starts), Dick Simon (183) and Scott Brayton (150). Indy Star
Overheard in Las Vegas - Friday (Vegas Back)UPDATE It looks like our assumption below that the 17th event (18th race) being looked at for the 2012 IndyCar calendar would be IndyCar renting the track in Kentucky (or Chicago) was correct.
Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger said the speedway has been unable to reach an agreement with IndyCar about bringing the IndyCar Series back next season.
IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet.
F1 'distrust' threatens cost-curbing agreement (GMM) The inter-team agreement to curb costs in formula one is at a crossroads as the latest rumors sweep across the paddock.
First it was Red Bull, but now Mercedes is the subject of the latest speculation about teams breaking the gentleman's agreement known as the FOTA-sponsored resource restriction agreement (RRA).
The Mercedes rumors have gained strength since Mercedes signed Geoff Willis and Aldo Costa to join Mercedes' existing technical bosses Ross Brawn and Bob Bell.
"Each of the teams and team principals continue to assure FOTA that they are abiding by the limitations that are contained within the RRA," formula one teams association chairman Martin Whitmarsh said in Korea on Friday.
NASCAR to implement pushing rule NASCAR likely will make a rule change before next season - if not sooner - further defining when cars can push another car during a race, John Darby, Cup series director told [Dustin Long] Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Cars assisting another have been an issue in the Chase. NASCAR penalized Matt Kenseth for being pushed on the last lap at Chicago after he ran out of fuel, putting him 21st in the lineup (behind all the cars that finished on the lead lap). In the past the rule book stated that a car could not receive assistance on the last lap. Last weekend, NASCAR seemed to change its feelings about the situation when Austin Dillon pushed Kevin Harvick with about 50 laps left while under caution. Virginian-Pilot
Nepotism cost Bowyer his RCR ride?UPDATE Title of this rumor has been corrected.
10/13/11 Clint Bowyer approached Richard Childress in midsummer with a sponsor in hand (5-Hour Energy) to support him in the 2012 season. The Hall of Fame NASCAR team owner turned down the offer from a driver that he discovered in the minor leagues and brought to the Sprint Cup Series.
Bowyer's backing was worth an estimated $10 million, and when RCR said no, he took his talent and sponsorship to Michael Waltrip Racing. 5-Hour Energy will back Bowyer, who has made the Chase in three of his six full Cup seasons, at MWR for 24 races next season.
Mallya may exit F1 (GMM) Some in the F1 paddock reacted "with cynicism" to Vijay Mallya's sale of almost half of the Force India team.
Just last week, the Indian billionaire said he was "shocked" to read the media speculation about his negotiations with Sahara's Subrato Roy.
But on Wednesday, the $100 million deal was announced in Delhi.
"Some in the F1 press are (therefore) unimpressed with him, with rumors persisting that this is merely the first phase in a gradual exit," wrote Daily Telegraph correspondent Tom Cary in a blog from Korea.
(GMM) Despite boss Vijay Mallya's recent denials, the part-sale of Silverstone based Force India was confirmed late on Wednesday.
The team will be renamed Sahara Force India, the Indian billionaire sitting alongside conglomerate Sahara India's Subrata Roy announced in a Delhi hotel.
"On behalf of the Force India team, I am delighted to announce this partnership," said Mallya.
"Sahara India will invest 100 million dollars and will have a 42.5 per cent equity share," he revealed, according to Indian commercial broadcaster NDTV.
10/12/11 With just over a fortnight left for the first ever Formula One race to be held in India, UB Group's Vijay Mallya has sold 42 per cent stake in his Force India F1 Team to Sahara Group, headed by Subroto Roy on Wednesday. The two corporate honchos will sign an agreement on Wednesday evening, according to sources.
Spokespersons of both the groups are yet to comment on the development. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya had bought the Spyker Ferrari F1 Team in 2007, reportedly for about for 90 million euros. He then renamed the team as 'Force India' for the 2008 season.
See our other rumor on Force India sponsorship where our inside sources told us Sahara was the company.
Force India car to get sponsorship According to AR1.com sources, there will be an announcement today of the sponsorship of the Force India car to be driven by Indian Driver Narain Karthikeyan by the Indian company Sahara India Pariwar. Sahara India Pariwar is a major entity on the corporate scene having diversified business interests that include Finance, Infrastructure & Housing, Media & Entertainment, Commodity Sales with Services and Retail Chain, Consumer Products, Manufacturing and Information Technology.
Dollar General moving to Joe Gibbs Racing The sponsorship picture at Joe Gibbs Racing is set to undergo a vast change next season. At a news conference Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dollar General is expected to announce will greatly increase its involvement in NASCAR, sponsoring both Sprint Cup and Nationwide series teams at JGR in 2012. Among the changes:
- Dollar General will become the primary sponsor on driver Joey Logano's #20 Toyota in the Cup series for 10 to 12 races in 2012. - Dollar General will become the primary sponsor on JGR's #11 Nationwide Series team driven by Brian Scott. - The company will also be the primary sponsor for several races for JGR's #18 and #20 Nationwide teams.
Dollar General will likely also continue its involvement with the Truck series team owned by JGR driver Kyle Busch, sources said. A JGR spokesman declined to comment on Tuesday when asked about the sponsorship changes. The move means Home Depot, which has been a primary sponsor in the Cup series with JGR since 1999, will relinquish roughly a third of the races on the #20 next season. Charlotte Observer
Will 2012 IndyCar schedule look like this?UPDATE #9 The IndyStar's guess at the 2012 schedule is similar to ours, but the China and Sonoma dates are reversed with Sonoma on its traditional late-August date and China on September 23rd.
March 25: St. Pete April 1: Barber April 15: Long Beach (expected) April 29: Sao Paulo May 27: Indy June 3: Belle Isle June 9: Texas doubleheader June 24: Iowa (expected) July 8: Toronto (expected) July 22: Edmonton Aug. 5: Mid-Ohio (expected) Aug. 26: Infineon Sept. 2: Baltimore Sept. 15: Fontana (maybe) Sept. 23: China Oct. 14: Las Vegas
10/02/11 With the money-losing Kentucky race now off the schedule for next year, the 2nd race in Brazil toast (see rumor updates below), Laguna Seca won't happen, nor will the Las Vegas street race, so the rumored 17-race 2012 IndyCar schedule could now look like this, and that assumes that the China deal doesn't fall through, which it now sounds like could happen too:
March 25 - St. Petersburg, FL - street/airfield course
April 1 - Birmingham, AL - road course
April 15 - Long Beach, CA - street course
April 29 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - street course
May 27 - Indianapolis, IN - oval track
June 3 - Detroit, MI - road course
June 9 - Ft. Worth, TX - oval track (Sat night TWIN race 1)
June 9 - Ft. Worth, TX - oval track (Sat night TWIN race 2)
June 24 - Newton, IA - oval track (Sat night race)
July 8 - Toronto, Canada - street course
July 22 - Edmonton, Canada - street course
August 5 - Lexington, OH - road course
August 19 - Qingdao, China - street course (might not happen, deal not signed yet)
September 2 - Baltimore, MD - street course
September 15 - Fontana, CA - oval track (Sat Night Race)
September 23 - Sonoma, CA - road course (will move to August if China race falls through)
October 13-14 - Las Vegas, NV - oval track Bold = Confirmed Date
Ferrari and Button eye deal for 2013?UPDATE Obviously this rumor is now 'false' with Button's re-signing with McLaren. One has to wonder if this rumor was started to help Button land a lucrative new contract at McLaren.
09/19/11 (GMM) The reason Jenson Button's 2012 McLaren contract has not yet been announced is "simple", according to a veteran correspondent.
At Monza recently, the paddock openly wondered why October is nearing without the British team having announced already that it is taking up the option on the highly-regarded driver's existing deal.
Asked by the BBC if the delay over 2012 is because Button, 31, is pushing for fewer corporate appearance days, team boss Martin Whitmarsh answered: "It's not all about that."
Brazilian journalist Livio Oricchio, writing in the Jornal da Tarde daily on Monday, said Button simply wants McLaren to confirm him for 2012 so that he is available on the market for the season after.
Less Nationwide & Truck races in 2012? Lots of talk in Kansas about the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series schedules for next year, which won't released when NASCAR unveiled the 2012 Sprint Cup Series. The sanctioning body expects to have the finishing touches done in a few days. The Nationwide Series will more than likely be down to 33 races in 2012 with a return to Montreal expected. The truck slate may also be down a race to 24 with Road America and Watkins Glen on the speculative addition list marking a return to road course racing for NASCAR's number three series. Motor Racing Network
Jack Roush concedes that, while he is still looking for a sponsor to keep Ragan in his current ride, there are still no great prospects. And Roush says he's told Ragan to start looking for a new deal, because without major sponsorship Roush says he won't be able to run four full-time Cup teams in 2012. Speculation is that Ragan could be penciled in for a ride with Kevin Buckler, the sports car racer turned NASCAR team owner, and a Ford man.
But Ragan himself says he's focused more on finishing this season as strongly as he can. "Right now I am not focused on 2012 just yet," Ragan says. "I think it's important for us to finish this season strong. And the stronger we can finish 2011, that will only help our chances of finding a sponsor and a package to go racing next year. Everyone at Roush Fenway is working hard at selling sponsors for us and for Matt. They have to sell some sponsorships for us to go racing next year. Jack has always done a good job of selling our race cars. Even though it's come to the last minute, we have confidence we'll be out on the track racing (next season). And hopefully we can find a partner we can announce, sooner rather than later." MikeMulhern.net
Detroit Grand Prix could return in 2012UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to ''fact' today. The Detroit Grand Prix is returning to Belle Isle next summer. Officials have called a press conference for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, where the return of the event is expected to be announced. Last month, the Detroit City Council approved a request from racing officials, clearing one of the first hurdles in bringing the race back to Belle Isle June 1-3. SPEED TV has reported the race is officially scheduled June 3; a race at Fontana, Calif., will also be added for Sept. 15.
Mayor Dave Bing, and Mark Reuss, president of GM North America; Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR; and Penske are expected to be in attendance for the news conference set for the Ambassador Ballroom of the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. (See this Hot News story)
U.S. unlikely to hit Renewable Fuel Standard for cellulosic biofuels The Renewable Fuel Standard requires that 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol, 1 billion gallons of biodiesel and 16 billion gallons of cellulosic fuels be produced annually by 2022. According to the report, the corn ethanol numbers and biodiesel can be achieved, but the cellulosic goals probably cannot.
Tyner said that's because the corn ethanol industry has been working for more than 30 years, while the cellulosic industry is still very young. There are no commercially viable biorefineries for cellulosic ethanol today.
Dollar General moving sponsorship money to JGR? Turner Motorsports announced Tuesday that Reed Sorenson, who is currently third in the Nationwide Series standings, is out as driver of the #32 Dollar General Chevy. Brian Vickers will assume driving duties from Sorenson beginning this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Turner offered no reason why Sorenson has been sidelined despite the driver currently sitting third in the Nationwide Series points standings. "I'm pretty confused right now," Sorenson said. "I really don't know what's going on right now. I'm trying to figure some stuff out and get through this weekend. It's hard on me, it's hard on the guys that work on this car and where we finish in points. So it's a bad deal." The announcement comes on the same day that Turner Motorsports acknowledged that Dollar General was leaving at the end of the year. Dollar General is expected to be a limited sponsor on one of Joe Gibbs Racing's Sprint Cup cars and as a primary sponsor in the Nationwide Series. Calls to J.D. Gibbs were not returned. FoxSports
Penske re-signs Power and Castroneves According to sources in Brazil, Brazilian driver Helio Castroneves has re-signed with Penske and is guaranteed for the 2012 Indy Racing League season. The signing supposedly took place more than two weeks, during the Japanese race at the Motegi circuit.
The official announcement of the new contract should happen by the end of the season in the United States. The American option exercised by the team indicates only one more year of commitment. However, the parties talking again in 2012 and not ruled out the continuation of Castroneves at Penske from the 2013 season.
Roger Penske is also said to have re-signed Australian driver Will Power.
Wallace to shutdown NASCAR teamUPDATE Rusty Wallace Racing, which will lose sponsor 5-Hour Energy after this season, is working with potential sponsors on a deal for Steven Wallace, Rusty’s son, to continue racing in the Nationwide Series. RWR also will field a car next year for Michael Annett, who has brought sponsorship to the organization.
5-Hour Energy is leaving the team to sponsor Clint Bowyer at Michael Waltrip Racing, a deal expected to be announced this week.
Team owner Rusty Wallace said Monday that he has no plans to shut down his team and is looking for new sponsors. Wallace said if he can’t run a full Nationwide season with Steven, he would run a partial schedule. He didn’t want to name the sponsors he has commitments from until the formal announcements.
A noticeable work slowdown at Austin's Formula One racetrack site and a possible change in the track's promoter or management is raising new questions about the future of the circuit and the ability of developers to meet a tight construction schedule with the inaugural race now 14 months away.
On Monday, promoter Tavo Hellmund called state Comptroller Susan Combs asking whether a change in management or promoters would affect the circuit's eligibility for money from the state Major Events Trust Fund. The state has pledged $250 million over 10 years from the fund.
Combs said the race would still be eligible for the incentives in a letter Tuesday to Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone. Combs' letter revealed that major investors in the track, including Texas billionaire Red McCombs, haven't secured the rights to hold the race. Ecclestone bestowed the rights to Hellmund, but he has not transferred them to his partners in Circuit of the Americas, according to Combs' letter.
Superleague to scrap old Champ Car for new chassis?
Current Champ Car DP09 fitted with V12 (top) and model of new Lola Senior Car (bottom)
The Superleague Formula Series could introduce a brand new chassis in time for the 2013 season with steps already being taken to find a suitable partner.
With the current crop of bespoke single-seaters, built by Elan Motorsport Technologies in time for the inaugural 2008 campaign, due to enter their fifth year of competition in 2012, the nations cup series feels the time is right to begin evaluating its next generation of racing cars.
Any new chassis will have a tough act to follow: the crowd-pleasing ex-Champ Car DP09’s distinctive character, screaming V12, 750bhp and push-to-pass systems has ensured on-track action is seldom anything less than exhilarating as drivers battle wheel-to-wheel.
Report links Jules Bianchi with Force India test seat
(GMM) Jules Bianchi could be headed to Force India to become the team's official reserve and 'Friday' driver in 2012.
That is the claim of German-language Auto Bild Motorsport, referring to the Ferrari-backed Frenchman who finished this year's GP2 championship in third place.
Bianchi, 22 and a Ferrari test driver in 2011, "is a great talent and he had a positive season in GP2 but he needs to grow and gain experience next season", Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali said last week.
Bowyer to leave RCR for Waltrip teamUPDATE #9 Clint Bowyer is expected to be introduced as the new driver for Michael Waltrip Racing on Friday at Kansas Speedway. Team owner Michael Waltrip confirmed there is a press conference scheduled at the track on Friday afternoon to discuss "the future of Michael Waltrip Racing'' and that everything was looking good for Bowyer, a native of Emporia, Kan.
"I feel good about everything we're doing,'' Waltrip said before Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Bowyer said he's in the process of finalizing the contract with MWR and that he was "hopeful'' it would be announced at his home track. Waltrip also hopes to keep his relationship with JTG Daugherty Racing, allowing the team to move that operation to its Harrisburg, N.C., shop but continue to receive cars and engines from MWR. Co-owner Brad Daugherty told ESPN.com earlier in the week that they had an offer from MWR and that the plan was to move from MWR to its own shop.
"We'd like to think we will be together in some form or fashion,'' Waltrip said. Bowyer, wrapping up the final year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing, will give MWR three full-time Sprint Cup teams in 2012.
He joins David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr., the pole-sitter at Dover. Bowyer has spent all six of his Cup seasons at RCR, winning four races and making the Chase three times. Due to sponsorship issues, he was unable to renew a deal there even though both parties said they wanted to stay together. Bowyer will be sponsored for about half the 2012 season by 5-hour Energy drink. Waltrip said all other details will be revealed at Friday's press conference. ESPN
IndyCar won't return to Kentucky Speedway?UPDATE #2
The racing was great but the sparsely filled grandstands built for NASCAR Sprint Cup size crowds made the series look like a loser on Sunday. It's really too bad that despite fantastic racing IndyCar fans just don't buy tickets to watch most of the oval track events. And the racing was much better than even NASCAR could ever hope for
“We need to know real soon,” Kentucky track general manager Mark Simendinger said Sunday. “It all depends on what we end up with Randy. There’s never a deadline, but the longer it goes, the harder it is. We’re a speedway, we have a long history with the series, and the series has a great product. It’s just a matter of making it work, and a title sponsor would solve a lot of problems.”
10/02/11 According to this Speedtv.com article, IndyCar will not be back to Kentucky next year so we are bumping this rumor up to 'strong'.
10/01/11 IndyCar chief executive officer Randy Bernard said this week that he’s scheduled to meet today with Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith.
“To sit down and figure out which tracks he’d like us to finish out our schedule,” Bernard said.
Smith has been handling the 2012 sanctioning negotiations relating to Kentucky Speedway, general manager Mark Simendinger said.
A 2nd Brazil IndyCar race in the worksUPDATE #4 According to this Speedtv.com article, despite there being a mutual letter of understanding signed, this is another Terry Angstadt deal that has fallen through so this rumor goes from 'fact' to 'false.' The list of rumored venues that never materialized is long. And according to this same article, the rumored race in Qingdao, China has not been signed yet so don't be surprised if that one falls through as well.
05/03/11 Bernard confirmed that IndyCar signed "a mutual of understanding" to stage a second race in Brazil in 2012. If all contracts are signed, the race will be a downtown street race in the southern city of Porto Alegre.
"It'll be great," Bernard said. "It will be in the city, but it's their wine country."
Tony Cotman, who is designing the new Indy cars for 2012, laid out the circuit. He also designed the Sao Paulo circuit, which is highly regarded by the sport's drivers.
Bernard said series officials drove the proposed Porto Alegre circuit last week. Indy Star
04/29/11 We hear the second Brazil race might be in September, taking the place of Japan, which goes away after this year. Sao Paulo will likely keep it's spring date and have the potential Porto Alegre race scheduled for September. Brazil's economy is booming right now.
04/29/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. INDYCAR received written commitment April 28 from the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and the mayor of Porto Alegre of their intention to play host to a second IZOD IndyCar Series race in Brazil.
Germain may switch manufacturers Germain Racing [#13 GEICO Toyota & #60 Big Red Toyota] majority owner Bob Germain told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team may not return to the Toyota camp in 2012.
"There is a possibility that we might not be a Toyota team next year," said Germain. "I never thought we'd be running anything but a Toyota, but I'm not sure we're going to be able to get on the TRD (Toyota Racing Development) engine program. We wanted to buy TRD motors for next year's Sprint Cup effort, but with Joe Gibbs Racing getting out of the engine business at the end of this year, I'm not sure we're going to be able to get our engines from TRD."
VW dismisses NASCAR, eyeing IndyCar or ALMS? Countering rumors that the Volkswagen Group might test its mettle in NASCAR, the head of the maker’s motorsports operation said there are no plans — “at the moment” – to go stock car racing, but the German maker does plan to sharply increase its involvement in U.S. racing in the coming years.
A wide range of programs are under study, according to Wolfgang Durheimer, the former Porsche R&D chief who now serves double-duty as the CEO of Bentley and the head of motorsports for the entire VW Group.
“In my strategy role I am evaluating all motorsports activities,” said the executive following a preview of the new Bentley Convertible GTC convertible in Croatia, noting that, “The U.S. offers a variety of interesting race series.”
Battistini to test, drive for Conquest?UPDATE #2 Conquest Racing announced today what we told you a week ago - that Dillon Battistini will join the team as the driver of the #34 car this weekend at Kentucky Speedway for the Kentucky Indy 300, the penultimate round of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series Season. The rookie driver, coached by the Conquest Racing crew, successfully completed his rookie orientation test last weekend at the same track and is now ready to make his debut alongside the stars of series.
Battistini: "I thoroughly enjoyed being back at the wheel of an IndyCar for my rookie oval test last Friday. It felt great to get up to speed after being on the sidelines for so long. I'm relishing the opportunity to make an impression on the IndyCar stage at Kentucky Speedway this weekend, and can't express enough gratitude to my various backers and also to Eric Bachelart at Conquest Racing for doing everything possible to turn my long-held dream of racing an IndyCar into a reality."
09/20/11 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Conquest Racing has signed Dillon Battistini to drive its No. 34 IndyCar entry for the INDY 300 at Kentucky Speedway on the 2nd October 2011.
The Englishman contested a full season of Indy Lights in 2008 for Panther Racing, he caused a sensation when he won his first oval race at Miami Homestead and went on to win the most races of any driver in the Indy Lights Series in 2008, including the prestigious Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis 500 weekend. He won and tested Panther Racings Indy Car at Kentucky as well that year.
Battistini has made sporadic Indy Lights appearances since including driving for Brian Herta Autosport whilst pursuing opportunities to make his Indy Car race debut.
Wheldon to Andretti to Schmidt in 2012 Indy winner Dan Wheldon will compete for Sam Schmidt Motorsports for the final two IndyCar Series races, this weekend at Kentucky Speedway and Oct. 13-16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
After that, he's a free agent again.
Speaking about his 2012 plans earlier this week, Wheldon didn't rule out the possibility of driving for a team associated with an engine manufacturer other than Honda, a company he has been loyal to since 2003.
"The most important thing for me right now is to be racing next year," he said. "This year has worked out very well for me, but I can't afford to sit out another year.
"I have a phenomenal relationship with Honda; they've been fantastic with me, but I've got to be in a race car. It's important."
JTG Daugherty ending alliance with MWR?UPDATE #4 JTG Daugherty Racing is looking at potential alliances with Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing for the 2012 Sprint Cup season, co-owner Brad Daugherty said Tuesday. Daugherty, who is also an analyst for ESPN's NASCAR coverage, said the goal for the operation is to run the team from its own shop in Harrisburg, N.C. For the past three seasons, the team has been working from MWR's shop in Cornelius, N.C. Daugherty said the move has nothing to do with MWR looking to finalize a deal for current RCR driver Clint Bowyer in a third car. He also said reports that the organization is looking to form an alliance with Richard Petty Motorsports are not true. "We have an offer from MWR and we are evaluating that alliance opportunity along with a few others,'' said Daugherty. "I want to be clear it is JTG Daugherty Racing's desire to race out of our own shop. We are looking to run faster and smarter and we need a big team alliance to do so. MWR has been a good partner and we appreciate their input into our race team. One again, though, where we end up is a decision (co-owners) Tad (Geschickter), Jodi (Geschickter) and I will make.'' Daugherty said the team plans to keep its relationship with 2000 Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte and has not ruled out maintaining a relationship with Toyota. MWR and JGR field Toyotas, while RCR fields Chevrolets. ESPN
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement by IndyCar.
09/23/11 For expressing himself like Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves could be paying like Paul Tracy.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard fined Tracy $50,000 in July for suggesting on Twitter that Bernard manipulated the officiating at Toronto.
Bernard indicated Thursday that Castroneves faces similar sanctions for remarks made about IndyCar's chief steward, Brian Barnhart, after the Brazilian was moved to the end of the lead lap for passing under caution in last weekend's Japan race.
Castroneves called Barnhart "a circus clown," an interesting choice of words since that's what Tracy called former Champ Car chief steward Chris Kneifel a decade ago after, ironically, Castroneves made contact with Tracy at a race in Monterey, Calif.
Wheldon to replace Tagliani?UPDATE To prepare for his high-stakes race on Oct. 16, Dan Wheldon will compete in the Kentucky Indy 300 on Oct. 2.
Some might call it a rehearsal or a refresher, but the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion sees it as another opportunity to beat the best on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway oval. He's receiving an assist from team owner Sam Schmidt and IZOD IndyCar Series driver Alex Tagliani.
Wheldon will drive the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports -- the car that Tagliani has driven in 15 events this season, including earning the pole for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500.
(GMM) Pastor Maldonado insists he is happy at Williams. It is assumed that, due to his links with Venezuelan title sponsor PDVSA, the 26-year-old rookie will definitely head up the British team's 2012 lineup.
But media sources report that the Maracay-born driver actually has not yet signed a deal for next season.
Even so, rumors in the Singapore paddock this weekend suggest Venezuela is set to increase its commitment to Williams in 2012 rather than scale it back.
Maldonado told British television BBC: "I would like to get Williams to be in a position to fight for the championship and win races, because of that I want to stay there."
In a separate interview with Spain's AS newspaper he added: "I want to be champion with Williams, because it would be an incredible way to repay them for their trust."
Ecclestone: Greek Grand Prix still a possibility Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has said that a Grand Prix in Greece still remains possible, despite the nation being close to bankruptcy.
The sport will travel to a selection of new destinations over the next handful of seasons, with India hosting its inaugural race in October before the Unites States returns to the calendar with its brand-new circuit in Austin, Texas in 2012. Two years later, Russia will enter the schedule with Sochi’s circuit based on the site of the Winter Olympics.
“After Russia I would like to go to South Africa and Mexico,” Ecclestone explained to The Independent. “Both countries are trying to do something. Greece are also trying to do a Formula 1 race - the Germans will lend them some money.”
Waltrip to add third Cup team? Michael Waltrip Racing is preparing to add a driver but not a team.
Team co-owner Michael Waltrip said Friday he hopes to have a deal completed with driver Clint Bowyer and a sponsor within seven to 10 days. The move will not necessitate the addition of new personnel or expansion, however. MWR has been providing resources for the JTG Daugherty team - in essence a third team - but that relationship will end at year's end. Beginning next season, all three Cup teams operated out of the MWR shop will be owned by the organization.
Petrov F1 seat in jeopardy? IndyCar may want himUPDATE
Petrov on hot seat again? Perfect for IndyCar. They can use Russian Petrov if they decide a race in Moscow fits their agenda
(GMM) Vitaly Petrov has lashed back at suggestions he will not be racing with the Renault team in 2012. With a contract already in his pocket, the rumors began to swirl in Monza two weeks ago but the Russian insisted: "My contract is safe for next year."
But in the last few days, new speculation has suggested team boss Eric Boullier could be planning to keep Bruno Senna for 2012 and pair him with GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.
As for 27-year-old Petrov's signed deal, Boullier said: "You have contracts, but there are some exit clauses for every party."
In Singapore, Petrov once again insisted he feels secure for next season.
"I think everything's fine, it's just bullsh*t in the newspapers," he told reporters.
"As I said at the beginning of the season, we signed for two years and I don't see the reason I need to be worried."
IndyCar to consider race near Moscow?UPDATE The track is slated to be open for racing in July, 2012. The first race will be a World Super Bike race slated for August 2012. The question for IndyCar is whether they can clear a slot in their schedule to add both China and Russia in the warm months. China is rumored to be late August. With both Infineon and Loudon rumored to be dropped from the IndyCar schedule, that's two race weekends in August that would open up for a back-to-back swing in Moscow and Qingdao.
09/22/11 According to inside AR1.com sources in Russia, IndyCar will soon (mid-October) be asked to consider returning to Europe by way of a race at the new Tilke designed 2.4-mile Moscow Raceway 46-miles outside of Moscow. Planned capacity right now is 40,000 spectators. With Tilke designing the facility it will have F1-like standards, which far exceed most tracks IndyCar races at.
F1 will begin racing in Russia at Sotchi in 2014 so IndyCar at this track should not step on Bernie Ecclestone's toes.
Le Mans: 2014 likely to be end of open-cockpit era Open-cockpit LMP1 sports-car racing prototypes could disappear from the 24 Hours of Le Mans when the next generation of cars hits the track in 2014.
The idea of mandating closed-top coupe designs has emerged from the first meetings of the new committee setup by the Le Mans organizer, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, and the FIA ahead of the introduction of the new FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012. The coupe-only regulations would be part of a new rule book that calls for smaller and lighter prototypes.
Le Mans: Diesel-powered prototypes on verge of performance reduction The performance of turbodiesel LMP1 prototypes will be reduced if a new proposal gets the go-ahead. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest--organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans--and the FIA have put forward a reduction in power for turbodiesels believed to be in the region of 40 hp. The proposed reduction follows Audi and Peugeot's domination of the class so far this season.
The ACO has not confirmed the change officially, but Audi and Peugeot have both admitted the plan exists. The ACO will acknowledge only that it is committed to ensuring parity between different fuel technologies.
Fontana IndyCar return to be a hit? Having one major event a year creates plenty of down time for the staff at Auto Club Speedway. It also removes the Fontana track from the sporting landscape for months at a time. Not any more. The track staff still is smiling from the results of last week's social media promotion that resulted in a five-day blitz about the 2012 schedule, and a giveaway of 200 free tickets to NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide races and the return of IndyCar.
Clues were given away three times a day, with the final clue at 11:30 a.m. revealing the site of the day's promotional stop. Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Riverside and Los Angeles were the sites.
"We'll continue to be active, do more of them," said track president Gillian Zucker, who chatted with fans at each site. "We're looking to extend it to Long Beach, Orange County, Palm Springs, Bakersfield. Wherever our fans are.
IndyCar can kiss New Hampshire goodbye Jerry Gappens and his New Hampshire Motor Speedway team geared up on Wednesday for what he hopes will be a crowd of 100,000-plus people for the Sylvania 300, the second race in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, and the final major event of the track's busiest season ever.
Gappens sat in his office and talked excitedly about how the results Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had on Monday at Chicagoland Speedway energized their championship runs and about how tight the competition is as the Chase continues with Sunday's race.
The track's general manager and executive vice president was much more subdued when he discussed how next season is apt to be a little less busy at the track.
Gappens said it is “highly unlikely,” that the Izod IndyCar series will be returning to the track next summer.
NASCAR Timing & Scoring put Canadian Jacques Villeneuve on pole in Montreal to help sell tickets for this year's Nationwide race
Brian Vickers says he isn't feeling pressure to prove himself on the track, but that doesn't mean his future is secure or he knows where he'll be racing in 2012. Red Bull announced in late June that it was selling the team and it's been nearly three months with no announcement of a buyer. Vickers has even worked to line up potential buyers but nothing has materialized. There could be some rides available with other teams, depending on sponsorship.
Among those who have inquired about purchasing the Red Bull assets is former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve. His business manager confirmed that Villeneuve has inquired about buying the team, but gave no indication of whether talks have been productive. Villeneuve has never hidden his interest in Cup racing and if the Canadian driver can find investors to put him in a seat, he likely would do it. He also could have investors purchase the team with the idea of him running a partial Cup schedule along with another driver. Scene Daily
Stenhouse could drive for Woods in 2012, Bayne to get axe Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Led Wood says a decision will be made in the next few weeks about whether Trevor Bayne will return to the legendary #21 Sprint Cup Series Ford next season, or be replaced by current Nationwide Series point leader Ricky Stenhouse. "If I had to say right now, I would say it would be that guy," said Wood, pointing to Bayne's name on the roof of the #21 Quick Lane Tire and Auto Ford Fusion in the garage at Chicagoland Speedway. "He's done an amazing job for us this season, and we'd love to have him back. But it's all up to Ford Motor Company and the sponsors."
Wood said he expects to run a similar number of races next season, with "at least 12 and maybe as many as 18" events on the schedule. "If I tell you 12 (races) and it ends up being 18, that's great," he said. "Right now, though, I'll just say 12." He said a decision on who will steer the #21 Ford next season will be made by Ford Motor Company and Roush Fenway Racing, which whom the Woods have a longstanding technical alliance. "We'll probably have a conversation about that with (RFR President) Steve Newmark in the next couple of weeks," he said. Sirius Speedway
Grand-Am to replace ALMS at St. Pete It was IndyCar supported by ALMS for a number of years but now the rumor is that the France family wants to muscle in on the success by bringing the Grand-Am series to St. Petersburg starting in 2012.
Five-Hour Energy to sponsor Boyer at Waltrip? During a Friday morning interview on Sirius Satellite Radio, Rusty Wallace confirmed that Five-Hour Energy was leaving his Nationwide team next year for Sprint Cup and was shopping itself as a package deal with Bowyer. "I hear they'll run about 20 races," Wallace said. "They've been with me for over four years and put a lot of money in our team and been awesome partners of mine, but they want to move to the Cup series, and I'm not in the Cup series. They aligned with Clint Bowyer because he was out of a ride with Childress." USA Today
New IndyCar team for 2012 Michael Shank will return to his roots in 2012 when he brings Michael Shank Racing into the IZOD IndyCar Series.
SPEED.com is rumoring that the Ohio-based GRAND-AM team has purchased a 2012 Dallara chassis with the goal of fielding a full-time IndyCar Series program next season using Lotus-Judd engines.
After shifting to running sports cars in GRAND-AM, Shank has used open-wheel drivers during the annual Rolex 24 at Daytona race, with ex-Champ Car ace AJ Allmendinger and current IndyCar star Justin Wilson having driven for the team.
Speed reports that a formal announcement from the team is expected soon.
NASCAR 'crashgate' accusations ariseUPDATE #2 The discussion here at TNI regarding Paul Menard and his spin at Richmond began on Wednesday. One of our readers, Fireball Doowah, submitted the following question to ATIW:
Jeff Gordon alleged that the late spin by Paul Menard at Richmond was intentional. Do you think there is anything to this, other than sour grapes?
I responded with the following answer:
I guess anything is possible. As tore up as Menard’s car was, it’s not implausible to believe that he just lost it. But Menard spinning out with 17 laps to go did not win Harvick the race. The late pit stop and a strong race car did.
HRT to set up camp at Valencia harborUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' with more information we received.
09/16/11 (GMM) HRT is set to select the port of Valencia as its new headquarters, according to the Spanish sports daily Marca.
The newspaper said the back-of-the-grid Spanish team is targeting the harborside site recently occupied by the BMW Oracle yacht racing outfit.
Warning that the deal "is not done yet", Marca said HRT chose Valencia, the scene of the annual European grand prix, over other frontrunners including Madrid and Barcelona, and the factory of the sports car team Epsilon Euskadi.
Rumored Cape Town track layout. The proposed 5.3km circuit incorporates Green Point Stadium and several main roads through Sea Point, Green Point and Mouille Point
The Cape Town Grand Prix SA consortium, which plans to host a grand prix in the mother city has signed a strategic partnership agreement with a consortium of business and motorsport professionals headed by Dave McGregor, the former event organizer of the 1992 and 1993 South African Grands Prix.
Having successfully staged two grands prix in South Africa, McGregor has established a proven track record and strong working relationship with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and his team.
“Since our initial talks, it was apparent that the Cape Town grand prix concept not only makes economic sense in a South African context, but it does complete justice to the world-wide spectacle of grand prix racing,” McGregor explained. “Having delivered what the world thought was unimaginable in 1992, we can relate to Igshaan and his team's passion and enthusiasm in turning their vision into reality."
Renault trying to crush Cosworth? Craig Pollock has raised concerns over Renault Sport providing engines for four F1 teams from 2012, with the French company adding that it is open to supplying more in the near future. The CEO of PURE, which will enter the sport as an engine supplier in 2014, is also highly concerned about the future of Cosworth.
At present, Northampton-based Cosworth produces powerplants for Williams, HRT and Virgin Racing, although Williams will be joining Red Bull, Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus as a Renault-powered outfit next year. With this in mind, Pollock admits that worries continue to mount inside Formula 1.
As first reported by AR1.com on Monday, Nico Rosberg is reportedly yet to receive a visa to enter India for the country's inaugural formula one grand prix.
That is the claim of the Times of India, revealing that other F1 team members and journalists are experiencing similar difficulties whilst preparing to travel to Delhi next month.
The rumors had begun to emerge in the Monza paddock last weekend.
"I just came back from Monza where people have been complaining about how difficult it is to get visas for the trip to India," said Team Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok, whose father Vicky is the head of India's motor sport clubs.
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