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DATE News (chronologically)
Haas CNC to run two cars in 2007  Haas CNC Racing team manager Bill Ingle said Sunday that the team would expand to field two full-time Nextel Cup Series cars next season. Hass currently fields the No. 66 Chevrolet with Jeff Green. Next year, the team will field the No. 70 as well, with Johnny Sauter expected to be the driver. Sauter is rumored to be the first choice of Robert Yates Racing for its No. 88 car, but Ingle said all his conversations with Sauter lead him to believe the driver is staying. Either way, he said adding a second team is imperative. It's going to be difficult for everybody, but we saw the one race where we ran both cars at Charlotte in May how much both teams were better that weekend," Ingle said. "That's not saying they're going to do that everywhere we go ... but hopefully we can get them both in the show every week." Scenedaily.com [Editor's Note: Meanwhile Gene Haas, owner of Haas CNC Racing, is scheduled to go to trial for alleged tax fraud.]
Premat eyes Champ Car  UPDATE #2 Alex Prémat, A1GP winner, third in the GP2 with ART Grand Prix and third driver for the Spyker MF1 Racing team during the Chinese Grand Prix has set his sights on the Champ Car series as his next challenge.

Frenchman Prémat will test for the Eric Bachelart’s Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team which is currently contesting the 2006 Champ Car World Series.  Alexandre Prémat will get his first test in the team’s single seater at the Houston circuit on Tuesday 28 November.

Alexandre Prémat commented: "Having had a taste of F1 during Friday testing at the Chinese Grand Prix, I’m really looking forward to trying out the competition in Champ Car at the test in Houston. Depending on how that goes, my future may well be in the United States."

12/16/05 “I hope to wrap up the budget to do GP2 next year in the next few days, but if I don’t, I’ll probably be at Sebring next week to test for a Champ Car team," Premat told SPEEDTV.com.

“Champ Car is a very attractive series, with lots of international drivers wanting to get into it right now. It can be good for your career because the cars are all the same and things like push-to-pass can help you impress the right people. So, even if I end up not testing this year, I could do some tests in 2006 to race [in Champ Car] in 2007.”

With Glock and Premat fighting over the 2nd seat at ART in GP2, and both also eyeing Champ Car, whichever one does not get the ride at ART will probably end up in Champ Car. 

12/08/05 GP2 and A1 Grand Prix standout Alexandre Premat from France has been keeping a keen eye on countryman Sebastien Bourdais exploits in Champ Car and now has his eye set on trying to land a ride in the Champ Car World Series in 2006. He will test with the PKV team on December 21-22 in Sebring. Katherine Legge is also slated to test those two days alongside veteran Jimmy Vasser.

Premat drove alongside Nico Rosberg on the ART team in GP2 in 2005 and has been dominate along with Team France in the A1 Grand Prix Series this year.

With so many French drivers eyeing Champ Car next year, could that rumored race in France be in Champ Car's future? That's how Champ Car will have successful overseas races - when there are local drivers for the fans to take interest in.

More bad news as NASCAR empire begins to crumble  Jayski reports hearing that PPI Motorsports will close up shop after the 2006 season, that the pit crew has been hired by Michael Waltrip Racing and most of the team/crew at the shop has been laid off. Driver Travis Kvapil, as announced, will drive a Roush Racing Truck in 2007. Sponsor Tide is leaving after this season and word is that they will not be back in NASCAR as a sponsor. Related Article 

[Editor's Note: We find it rather amusing that the NASCAR apologists can't see the forest through the trees. NASCAR has peaked and the younger generation has zero interest in watching four hour races of spec cars with headlight and grille decals to fool you into thinking it is a Ford, Chevy or Dodge. Then they race with 1950's technology of pushrod engines with carburetors, and some of the drivers have such a southern twang they sound like gomers - again zero interest for the younger generation. As NASCAR's fan base ages and dies off it will continue to lose followers. To make matters worse, with Toyota coming in to annihilate the American car companies, the rednecks, i.e. NASCAR's biggest fan base, will head elsewhere. What American race series was left thriving after Toyota got done with it?  IMSA, CART, IRL.....The result was the same.]
Yates secures sponsorship for the No. 88  UPDATE freecreditreport.com and McDonald's, Team Rensi's Busch sponsors, will be on Robert Yates Racing's Nextel Cup #38 and #88 cars as associates sponsors in 2007. SceneDaily.com

11/17/06 Robert Yates said Friday morning that he's secured sponsorship for his #88 team and that Robert Yates Racing will again field two full-time Nextel Cup Series teams in 2007. A driver for the team has yet to be secured, and the sponsorship agreement hasn't been signed, but Yates said everything is in order. Several sources indicate Mars, which sponsors the #38 via its M&Ms brand, will also sponsor the #88, possibly with another of its brands. David Gilliland will drive the #38 Cup car next year, with Stephen Leicht running the #90 RYR entry full time in the Busch Series. While Doug Yates is listed as the team's co-owner, Yates made it clear there wouldn't be any additional owners outside of the family. SceneDaily.com
Industry News
GKN may buy some pieces of Visteon  GKN PLC, a Britain-based supplier of technology that transmits rotational power to a vehicle's wheels, said Friday it has entered into exclusive discussions with Visteon Corp. to buy Visteon's European and South American businesses.

The possible acquisitions involve Visteon's driveline business and plants in Düren, Germany; Praszka, Poland, and Swansea, Wales. Driveline assets at a plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, also are included. Total revenue of these businesses is about $380 million.

Shares of Van Buren Township-based Visteon closed Friday at $8.59, down a penny. It engineers and manufactures climate, interior, electronic and lighting products.

F1 should brace for 20-race calendar - Mosley  UPDATE Here is the full transcript of the Q&A session with Max Mosley as provided by the FIA.

11/16/06 (GMM)  F1's annual calendar could expand to twenty races in the near future but Europe should brace for more grand prix losses, FIA president Max Mosley warned this week.

"There are still a disproportionate number of races in Europe," the 66-year-old said Wednesday at the BMW Research Centre in Munich.

With Imola and the Nurburgring disappearing from the 2007 schedule, and Silverstone and Magny Cours clinging to their own established spots, Mosley agreed that reducing F1's focus on Europe is a growing 'trend'.

He added: "We are out of balance.  Places like India, China, Russia, South America, Central America -- they are all very important markets."

The existing Concorde Agreement contains a clause whereby the author of the F1 calendar - Bernie Ecclestone - cannot cancel a so-called 'traditional' European race without the FIA's consent.

"(So) the ultimate sacrifice may have to be made by the teams having twenty races," Mosley suggested, conceding that arguably the biggest market for the manufacturers is Europe.

Moreover, in the 2008 regulations, the maximum number of races per year has been lifted from 17 to twenty.

Spencer to the #73 team  Ryan Smithson reports "am hearing that Jimmy Spencer is back part-time in the Nextel Cup Series next year with a new team called Revelocity Racing. It was formed by a group of four businessmen from West Virginia, and they plan on running all the Car of Tomorrow races in 2007." Smithson also heard the team also talked to Ward Burton, but eventually went with Spencer. NASCAR.com
Overheard in Mexico - IV  UPDATE As we told you in the rumor on November 12th, expect the new Champ Car TV deal to shock you.  See Hot News page for ABC/ESPN announcement.

11/12/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Craig Gore has given Derrick Walker the go-ahead to continue Team Australia for 2007 with a minimum of 2-Champ Cars. We hear that Will Power is pretty much a sure thing in one seat, but the 2nd seat is still up in the air........Expect Champ Car's new TV deal, when it is announced, to shock you....first you might say what? And later you'll say 'oh yeah, now I get it'.......It has major domestic and international implications.......Hearing the Denver race for 2007 is on shaky ground but the hope is that it can be saved......Hearing Zolder may need significant upgrades for Champ Car based on a recent Tony Cotman visit so the 2nd European race for next year remains up in the air. Zolder will get the nod of the promoter or track owner agree to the necessary changes. If not the nod could go to Hockenheim, Germany or the Bugatti Circuit at LeMans, both of which we previously mentioned as possibilities.
Tire shortage puts first test in doubt  A spokeswoman for Formula One's newly sole tire supplier has denied suggestions that the first test of the winter period may have to be called off or curtailed.

Despite announcing on Monday the signing of contracts with the six formerly Michelin shod teams, rumors this week hinted that Bridgestone was struggling to put together enough tires for the three-day test scheduled for Barcelona at the end of this month.

Bridgestone only agreed recently to supply the extra test, after some outfits expressed concern that two Jerez sessions in December was not enough post-season running.

"All of our partners will have tires (at the Barcelona test)," the Bridgestone spokeswoman reportedly told Auto Bild.

Speculation persists, however, that Bridgestone has not managed to construct enough development tires in its proposed 2007 design to fully supply the November test.

Hinting that chiefly irrelevant 2006-specification tires may therefore have to be used at Barcelona, an unnamed Bridgestone worker explained: "We were engaged for too long in the (2006) title fight."

Montoya to make Cup debut in Homestead  UPDATE #2 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will enter Juan Pablo Montoya in the Ford 400 qualifying field in the #30 Texaco/Havoline Dodge. It will be his first attempt at making a Nextel Cup starting grid. Montoya will attempt to make his Nextel Cup Series debut by qualifying on Friday for the Ford 400, scheduled for Sunday. Last July, Montoya announced his plans to switch to NASCAR where he will pilot the #42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger in 2007 while running for the Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year title, along with an assortment of NASCAR Busch Series races. In doing so, Montoya will become the first Formula 1 regular to ever join the Nextel Cup ranks full time. HMS PR

11/13/06 Car owner Chip Ganassi has entered a Nextel Cup car for driver Juan Pablo Montoya for next weekend's season finale at Homestead, Fla., but Ganassi and Montoya said they still haven't decided if Montoya will actually run in the Sunday race or just Saturday's Busch race. "We're making the decision this week," Ganassi said.  The stumbling block could be the car number: If Ganassi puts Montoya in the No.42, which Montoya is scheduled to run next season, he would be assured of a spot in the field. If not, then Montoya would have to make the field on speed. But Casey Mears, who is vacating the 42 at the end of the season and moving to the Rick Hendrick camp, might not be enthusiastic about giving up that number early. Ganassi said he had not raised the issue yet with Mears.

"If everything is right, it's worth doing it," Montoya said. "If things are not right, there's no point to doing it."

There is certainly pressure to put Montoya in the Nextel Cup race, from a marketing standpoint, and the ability to exploit Montoya's Miami-as-hometown angle.

"We feel very strong about getting him in the Cup race," Ganassi said. "The issue is getting him out of the pits in a competitive manner. You can have the fastest car, but if we can't get out of the pits you might as well not even be there.  This has all come on pretty quick, putting him in a Cup race. We just don't want to embarrass him or ourselves. We want to make sure it's right."  Winston-Salem Journal

11/12/06 Speculation is rampant that Juan Pablo Montoya, a Formula One star, may announce today that he'll make his Nextel Cup debut in next Sunday's NASCAR tour finale at Homestead, Fla., down the road from Montoya's Miami home.  Winston-Salem Journal
Briscoe to team with Power  UPDATE #2 This RDS article says Tagliani will not be back with Team Australia as they prefer two Australian drivers (Briscoe and Power).  He is talking to several other teams, including Rocketsports, Coyne, and RuSPORT.

10/23/06 "When I first showed Craig (Gore) the whole Team Australia thing with the Kangaroos and everything it was all about Australian drivers. Let's face it, that is the only way it will truly run as Team Australia.," said Derrick Walker.

"I am half Australian, even though I have not got the passport to prove it. I have an affection for the country," explained Walker, who was born in Scotland and spent his childhood in Western Australia.

"This team is all about Australians and Australian drivers in my book. So there is one who is not in this team who should be in this team in my book, and that is Ryan Briscoe.  I do not know if that will happen, but I would love it to happen."

"Ryan Briscoe is very good and I would not be surprised to see him do really well (in Champ Cars)," said Walker.

"He has not had a lot of track time, which was Will's problem last year. He is with a good team and he certainly has the ability to go quick enough. There is nothing wrong with his credentials.  If we run a two-car team (in 2007) I am saying that it should be two Aussies drivers. That is the way it should be."

Walker said a decision on drivers for next year would be made over the next month. Other than Power and Briscoe there are two other drivers in the Team Australia equation  Alex Tagliani and Simon Pagenaud.

Tagliani has campaigned for Team Australia in its two years in Champ Cars, while Pagenaud caught plenty of attention when he won the Atlantic series this year for Team Australia and is being touted for bigger things.

"Will Power is a definite. One hundred per cent he will be there," said Walker. "Alex has always been a tremendous support to us. Alex might be part of the team next year, he might not.

"So there is Alex and Simon and Briscoe. But I am saying I would like to have him (Briscoe).

"We have talked on and off with him. In fact, if we could have had him in a third car this year I would have loved to have had him here.

"I am all for three cars. If you have enough money and enough time it gives you more opportunity to win. So three cars in my books is not a scary thought."

Walker said the final decision on the Team Australia driving make-up would be made with the head and not the heart.

"We have to look at it from a business perspective and that is what it is all about. Talent is really important, but first you have to get the finances and the direction of the team going," he said. Gold Coast Bulletin

10/22/06 If it was up to Team Australia boss Derrick Walker, Ryan Briscoe will be racing alongside Will Power for the Aussie team in 2007. "This team is all about Australians and Australian drivers in my book. So there is one who is not currently on this team who should be and that is Ryan Briscoe," said Walker. "I do not know if it will happen but I would love for it to happen. Ryan is very good and I would not be surprised to see him do really good in Champ Cars," added Walker. "If we run a two-car team in 2007 I am saying that it should be two Aussie drivers. That is the way it should be."
Yates to team with Chevy outfit?  UPDATE #3 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Dale Earnhardt Inc. Vice President Richie Gilmore disputed reports that his company could be buying all or part of Robert Yates Racing.

During the race weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, DEI Technical Director Steve Hmiel confirmed that the company was in discussions concerning a purchase of at least part of RYR. He said the company could purchase RYR's shop and equipment, but that it could also acquire the No. 88 team and its owner points. If we can have more capacity, the number would be a bonus," Hmiel said at Phoenix International Raceway. "We've heard Team Red Bull has made an offer to buy the number, but we're not looking to buy just the number."

The owner points could be transferred to the third DEI team of Paul Menard. On Tuesday, though, Gilmore said that the story had grown out of proportion.

"Stories definitely grow in the sport and maybe it's a slow time of the year with the Chase not being quite as tight as it should be," Gilmore said. "It's one of them stories that grew. I told [DEI team owner] Teresa [Earnhardt], maybe if Teresa was going to go get a cup of coffee at 8 o'clock in the morning, by noontime around here she's going to buy a Starbucks. So I think the story kind of grew that way. It grew legs for sure.

"But right now we're just focused on getting Paul ready for next year and building our three organizations here at DEI. I think that was a story that grew a lot of legs this weekend at Phoenix maybe on a slow media weekend."

11/13/06 Car owner Robert Yates has offered more details concerning the makeup of RYR in 2007 and its appears it will still be a two-car operation. Reports Saturday indicated several teams were interested in purchasing the #88 operation and its owner points. However, just prior to Sunday's green flag at Phoenix Yates said “I actually have looked at that but what’s on the horizon, and is here now, I don’t think that’s gonna be the deal. It’s gonna be more expanding instead of getting rid of anything. I need to know and everybody will know as soon as we can get it all figured out but it looks pretty good right now.” While a decision could be reached this coming Tuesday, Yates said “Everybody needs to know where they’re headed when they come home from Homestead. That’s our agenda and I think we can meet that timeline. The facts are we’re gonna run a really good positive 38 team. We also have an opportunity to run a very good 88 team, and we’re still looking at opportunities of maybe growing it on into the bigger full scope of four teams.” PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show

11/12/06 A reader writes, This just tells you that NASCAR is a spec car series. All that is different is the decals on the cars. Tim DeCesaro

11/12/06 Robert Yates said Saturday that the fate of his #88 team will be known prior to heading to Homestead, Fla., next week for the Nextel Cup season finale. While Yates would provide no specifics, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Steve Hmiel said there have been negotiations between the two entities. The negotiations have centered on DEI's purchasing the team's shop and equipment, as DEI has long been looking for a way to expand its capacity. The team will begin fielding a third full-time Nextel Cup Series team when Paul Menard moves to Cup next season. Hmiel said the negotiations have not involved simply buying the rights to the #88, which would bring with it the owner points earned by Dale Jarrett this season. If, however, DEI bought the shop and equipment, with Yates fielding only the #38 on his own, DEI could acquire the #88's owner points as part of a larger purchase. "If we can have more capacity, the number would be a bonus," Hmiel said at Phoenix International Raceway. "We've heard Team Red Bull has made an offer to buy the number, but we're not looking to buy just the number." A number of obstacles remain, as RYR fields Fords and DEI runs Chevrolets, so it would have to be determined whether the shop was split into two separate entities; or whether RYR ran on its own or struck a deal with another Ford operation, perhaps Wood Brothers Racing. That would leave Robert Yates Racing with just the #38 team next season. RYR has fielded two teams on a full-time basis since 1996, but is losing both driver Dale Jarrett and sponsor UPS from its #88 after the season. Yates systematically danced around the issue on Saturday, saying only that he had four options to consider. Talk in the garage is that a decision by Yates must come by Tuesday. Yates said fielding just one car is an option, especially after crew chief Todd Parrott reminded Yates that he once fielded his two cars out of separate shops. And whether or not a deal is struck with DEI, Yates said he'll still be in the sport next year with the #38 team and driver David Gilliland. SceneDaily.com
Industry News
Toyota plans to grab 14% of global market  A leaked copy of Toyota Motor Corp.’s “global master plan” calls for grabbing 14% of the world car market by 2010 as the company moves toward unseating rival General Motors Corp. as the world’s biggest automaker, a newspaper said today.

Toyota declined to comment on the report in the Asian Wall Street Journal, but confirmed that the world’s No. 2 automaker is betting on surging demand in places like China and India to fuel rapid expansion.

Toyota, on pace to end GM’s half-century reign as the world’s biggest carmaker, has mapped out plans to capture 15% of the global market in the next three years, up from 11% in 2005, the newspaper reported, citing a confidential document it said was circulated to top Toyota executives earlier this year. More ...

Yates may sell No. 88  Ford officials have picked up the pace with Robby Gordon, the company's newest NASCAR driver, adding an engineer to crew chief Greg Erwin's staff. However, car owner Robert Yates, for years one of Ford's top men in NASCAR, still hasn't been able to come up with a driver and crew chief for his No. 88 team, which won the 1999 championship with Dale Jarrett at the wheel. And speculation continues that Yates may simply sell the number to another team. The number, under NASCAR rules, would give any buyer guaranteed starting spots in the first five Nextel Cup races next season.

Robby Gordon came close to buying the 88 team two months ago but Yates backed out of the deal at the last minute. Gordon, however, is now talking about reviving that offer.

Some Toyota teams also may be interested in the 88 logo, since they will be starting from scratch next season.

And there is a report that Dale Earnhardt Inc. is interested in buying the 88, although it would seem rather unlikely that Ford Motor Company would let yet another piece of its NASCAR pie go to the competition. Ford lost legend Mark Martin to Chevrolet last month.

One piece to the puzzle appears to be billionaire John Menard, whose son Paul, 26, drives for Teresa Earnhardt and DEI. John Menard has approached Gordon about setting up a team for Paul. Gordon, though, has had his hands full with his own two-year-old NASCAR team, though he is now trying to expand, because single-car operations are very difficult to run at a competitive level.  Winston-Salem Journal

Mexicans may get all Champ Car races back on TV  A good source from TvAzteca’s broadcast team member (who has been working in Champ Car telecasts for a while) revealed to AutoRacing1.com Sunday that they are trying really hard to get back to broadcasting the entire 2007 Champ Car Championship season live.  "You know, next year we will not have the Olympic Games or the World’s Soccer Cup, so we hope to find a way for TvAzteca Deportes (sports) to broadcast all the races again”

"It is very important that we get the corporative funding from advertisers to ensure all year long (network) telecasts.  We are looking forward to being the network broadcaster of Champ Car again next season, now they have improved their show and stability it will be easier to get the powers to be to agree to do it again”  Hector Serrano

A1GP does not like Champ Car chicane  There are still five months to the A1 Grand Prix race in Mexico City, which will be racing at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez for the first time. Julio Jauregui, vice-president of the A1 franchise in Mexico was at the track making a site inspection looking forward to decide which course A1 will choose to use the 25th of March of 2007.

Jauregui showed his disappointment for the chicane Champ Car placed before the famous banked curve.

“I believe the chicane reduces it attractive (to the race). We will evaluate how dangerous it is to the drivers to take the banked curve without the chicane Champ Car is using. Probably we will choose a chicane which does not require the driver to slow down speed that much, it will be interesting to let them run faster.”

Overheard in Mexico - III  Word in the Mexico City paddock is that Rocketsports is pretty much set on sponsorship for next season for a two-car effort.....Simon Pagenaud is still talking to a number of teams as to where he will take his $2M won from his Atantic title.......Dan Clarke still is not sure where he will drive next year, but a number of team owners have been impressed with his speed.......Dreyer & Reinbold is assumed to be staying in the IRL and Buddy Rice has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the ride......Most teams will be testing various drivers in an early December test with the old Lola.....The sun is beginning to break through and the track is drying so we might have a dry race today.
Schumacher could drive again  Mark Webber has speculated that Michael Schumacher return to Formula One in a testing capacity.  Schumacher, the seven-times world champion, retired at the end of last season and Webber reckons boredom must be setting in. "I think he will try it again for sure, probably in testing - he just can't help himself," Webber speculated.  "He will drive again and do a bit of testing (but) I think that in terms of competition, that's probably the last we will see of him."
Roush sponsor to move up to Cup  Sporting News has learned that Roush Racing will announce Sunday that Ameriquest Mortgage, currently a sponsor for Roush in the NASCAR Busch Series, will step up and take over as the primary sponsor of the No. 16 Nextel Cup Ford driven by Greg Biffle. Biffle's sponsor, the U.S. Army National Guard, will leave the organization.  Sporting News
Wrigley's to sponsor Montoya  Chip Ganassi Racing also will announce that the William Wrigley Jr. Co., through its Wrigley gum brand, will be a primary sponsor for three races on the No. 42 Nextel Cup car driven by Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007 and 25 races as an associate sponsor for the No. 41 Busch Series car driven by Reed Sorenson.  Sporting News
A1GP to change leadership  Word on the street is that the A1GP series will soon appoint a new Chief Executive Officer to try and turn around the series that is mired in red ink.
Grand-Am to go it alone in Mexico City  "The Mexico City Daytona Prototype Race, which has been taking place as part of the NASCAR Busch race the last two years, will probably move to be a standalone event in 2008, and will become a night race that will last at least 3 hours", said Federico Aleman, President of OCESA-CIE which is the promoter of all international race events that take place in Mexico, including Champ Car of course.  Hector Serrano reporting for AutoRacing1.com
Overheard in Mexico - I  UPDATE We also hear that the Paul Stoddart deal to enter Champ Car is indeed done and it will be good. So good in fact that there is a reasonable chance it could be a 3-car team. Meanwhile the Bob Gelles effort to enter Champ Car appears to have gone cold, at least for the moment. Kevin Kalkhoven told us today that there will be 22 cars on the grid next year, and not more, because Panoz simply cannot produce anymore cars. As it is they need to build at least 35 cars (including spares) by the start of the season.

11/11/06 We have been told that Champ Car's soon to be announced TV deal (perhaps this coming week before or at the awards banquet) will be REALLY good. Our response to that was, "yeah, we've heard that before," to which the response came, "no this time it is REALLY good." We hear it will be at least a three-year deal and will include network coverage domestically.
Seen in Mexico City - II  Although Mike Lanigan told AutoRacing1.com that there was no truth to the rumors that Mi-Jack would be doing anything with Newman/Haas next year, word in the paddock is that a request had been made that their two hospitality units be set up adjacent to one another.  Just a coincidence we're sure, but who was seen in deep conversation this morning with Mike Lanigan over breakfast?  None other than Carl Haas.  Carl was chewing on his cigar so the wheels were turning in his head.
Kimi to retire after 2009  Nov.11 (GMM) Kimi Raikkonen says he might not be in the F1 paddock long enough to have a crack at Ferrari predecessor Michael Schumacher's bag of records.

The Finn, who will test a red racer for the first time next January following a five season tenure at McLaren, hinted on Saturday that his three-year Ferrari contract might be his last.

Asked by German newspaper Bild if he might one day sniff retired Schumacher's title and victory records, 27-year-old Raikkonen said: "Probably not.

"I will not be driving for long enough to win seven titles. Perhaps this Ferrari contract is already my last," he added.

Kimi, meanwhile, acknowledged reports that certain factions at Maranello are apparently worried that his skills as a driver do not extend to car development.

Asked if he might consider changing his approach to motor racing, Raikkonen answered: "If Ferrari want, I will work every evening until ten o'clock. I am not afraid of some hard work!"

He also said he would be 'silly' to turn down an opportunity to benefit from Schumacher's new role as an 'assistant' to team principal Jean Todt.

"I would be happy if Michael would help me to acclimatize to Ferrari," Kimi insisted, but he did not want to comment on suggestions that the 37-year-old German elected to quit rather than face Raikkonen at the wheel.

Pressed for a sneak-preview of the championship challenge next year, though, Raikkonen admitted: "My toughest opponent will not be Alonso; it will be my teammate Felipe Massa."

Burton to drive No. 4 in 2007  After a long hiatus, Ward Burton is slated to be the full-time driver of the #4 next year. "We haven't completely signed the deal, but we've agreed on one," team owner Larry McClure said. "So it looks like he'll have a good shot at being back in the car next year." Burton's last gig as a full-time driver ended here at Phoenix back in 2004 when he broke a rear end about two-thirds of the way through the event and finished a disappointing 40th in Gene Haas' #0 [now #66] Chevy. To the consternation of his fans, Burton fell off the NASCAR landscape for a time after that. Offers came Burton's way for rides that would have been less than competitive, and he has admitted in the past that perhaps he was a little too picky when he turned them down. When McClure and driver Scott Wimmer agreed to part ways this fall, an outcry from Burton's fans was answered. McClure put the Virginia native behind the wheel of the #4 Chevy for a one-off race at Burton's hometown track in Martinsville in October. Burton started 35th in the Subway 500 and ran respectably all afternoon. Simply staying on the lead lap is an accomplishment on the half-mile Virginia bullring, and Burton kept the Chevy on the same circuit as the leaders to go the full 500-lap distance and finish 26th. Todd Bodine already was slated to start in the #4 car at Atlanta the following week, so Burton's rabid fans had to wait a little while longer to see if he would return. He did just that at Texas Motor Speedway, qualifying in the back of the pack in 37th and finishing one lap off the pace in 25th. Burton's fan base is a big part of the reason why the team is about to put him behind the wheel for the 2007 season. Yahoo Sports
England and France may be forced to alternate  UPDATE “We said it doesn’t work for us,” BRDC chairman, Stuart Rolt, explained in the Times. “We were not able to see how a grand prix every second year works financially — we have to keep the place in a suitable condition for a grand prix, and in terms of staffing. You may be able to let some staff go temporarily and hire them back, but that’s a difficult way to run a business.”

“We’ve given them the opportunity and Magny-Cours agreed. Silverstone had the opportunity and said they didn’t want to. Silverstone stays where they are. We respect our contracts and we’ll see what happens when the contract runs out,” Ecclestone said, explaining that the proposal would give Silverstone the opportunity to give them more time to complete the necessary work to the track. “We offered a ten-year alternating deal and all the work they are promising to do, they wouldn’t have to do probably for four years.”

The British GP’s current contract comes to an end in 2009 and sadly, they are not sure if the event will continue after that date…

“I really can’t reassure them (fans) after 2009,” he said. “To me there is a danger that we cannot, or we are somehow unable to, find a way to fund the improvements or there may be a point where the amount of money we have to pay for hosting the Grand Prix becomes untenable.”

11/09/06 Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that Britain and France may have to “share” their place on the world championship calendar to make way for the sport’s expansion into new markets. Ecclestone recently signed a long-term deal with South Korea to host F1 from 2010, and also plans to bring India into the fold the same year.

But with few in the sport enthusiastic about increasing the total number of races, it seems likely that the European portion of the calendar will be scaled back in the future.

In an interview with the Bloomberg news agency, Ecclestone claimed the French GP organizers “are happy” to alternate with Silverstone, but “as for the British race, I don’t know what they want and I’m not sure they do”.

The 76-year-old said negotiations over the Indian event are “far down the line” and that a venue had been agreed upon – though he declined to reveal where it will be. ITV/F1

Sharp to Rahal Letterman  UPDATE #2  This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.'  To the right is a photo of Scott Sharp at the Rahal Letterman announcement Thursday.  See Hot News.

11/07/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The Rahal Letterman team has set up a media teleconference for tomorrow where Scott Sharp will be announced as their 2nd driver for next year. Buddy Rice, who drove for Rahal the past several years said today, "obviously Scott Sharp is going to Rahal with his own money. He's got the Pátron sponsorship and he's taking it there."

10/23/06 Rumor has it that ride-buyer Scott Sharp will take his sponsorship money to Rahal Letterman Racing to complete their 2-car team in 2007.  Their other car is of course the Ethanol sponsored car.
Geoff Bodine to return for Daytona 500  UPDATE At 57, Geoff Bodine has found an elixir that he says has revitalized his arthritic body. Now, he hopes to attempt to qualify for February's Daytona 500 with the company behind that nutritional drink as his sponsor. Bodine started taking the nutritional, fruit-based drink MonaVie in April and says he's never felt better. The company approached Bodine with the idea of running a car at Daytona. Bodine, who hasn't driven a Nextel Cup car in more than two years, said he's up for the challenge. "I wasn't looking to get back into racing, believe me, but this opportunity came along and it's a good opportunity," Bodine said Wednesday. He said most of his family has tried the MonaVie juice, which is sold only through a network of individuals and costs more than $30. "It's got rid of the majority of my arthritic pains," he said. "I've felt the benefits of it and now I'm trying to get the brand name out and show the world this product." With his sponsor in tow, the 1986 Daytona 500 winner is looking for a team he hopes can help him have the kind of run he had at Daytona in 2002, when he finished third in the Daytona 500 with a small, independent team. "We know it's going to be tough and that's why we are looking for a good team that runs well on super speedways," Bodine said. "I've got a good sponsor and they understand the financial obligation that it's going to take to get an established team involved. If we don't get a good car we won't go. I'm confident we're going to find a good car and team and we'll do this." Bodine's last time in a stock car was 2005, when he made a few Busch Series efforts. "I wasn't looking for this, but I'm happy they want to do this with me and it might go farther," Bodine said. "I've been very happy with the time that I've had off from racing." During that time, Bodine stepped up his involvement in helping to raise money for the U.S. Olympic Bobsled team, which uses BoDyn sleds that he helped develop. Bodine will host the second annual Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge at Lake Placid from Jan. 4-7. He's also working on a project to retrofit a bobsled for paraplegics, with those sleds now being tested at the Salt Lake City Olympic bobsled run. One of his other business ventures, Geoff Bodine's World of Cars near Jacksonville, Fla., recently closed, Bodine said. Earlier this year he launched a virtual museum at the Web site www.geoffbodinemuseum.com. Elmira Star Gazette

11/09/06 Geoffrey Bodine, 57, will attempt to qualify for February's Daytona 500 despite having been out of the Nextel Cup Series for more than two years. Bodine said he has lined up a sponsor for the race but has revealed no details. Tennessean
Rossi to test DTM car  UPDATE Valentino Rossi has insisted that his DTM test at Hockenheim is purely for fun and that he has no plans to race in the series. The Italian was speaking after his first laps in the car at Hockenheim on Thursday, where he was driving Mika Hakkinen's former Mercedes C-Class.  Rossi said: "I expressed a desire to try a DTM car after the Ferrari F1 and Maserati MC12, and Mercedes was very nice in giving me this.  There are absolutely no plans for a future commitment, just fun," he said.

11/07/06 Rumor has it that Valentino Rossi will test a Mercedes DTM car at Hockenheim on Thursday.
ING to sponsor Belgium GP too  The Dutch financial company ING recently announced its plans to sponsor the Australian Grand Prix and we are expecting another announcement shortly, indicating that the firm is also going to be the title sponsor of the Belgium Grand Prix, the race closest to the company's headquarters in Holland. This will be a big bonus for the troubled Spa event which has struggled to balance its books in recent years but has managed to get back into the World Championship next year with a new promotional company. The previous promoter DDGP went out of business in 2005 with debts of $11.75m. The sponsorship will give the new promotions company a decent chance of success as the deal is believed to be for at least three years.  Grandprix.com
Paffett to get Honda nod  Gary Paffett is set to be confirmed as Honda's new test and reserve driver within the next few days, this week's Autosport Magazine reports.  A source close to Honda Racing told Autosport: "Being able to choose a driver with close working knowledge of a current top Formula One team is extremely useful for our development plans."
Winkelhock to keep Spyker test seat  (GMM) Markus Winkelhock says he can stay at Spyker in 2007 as a test driver.

The 26-year-old German, who is the son of the late F1 driver Manfred, ruled himself out of the race drive alongside Christijan Albers.

But he told racing1.de: "I have been promised that I can stay as a test driver."

Winkelhock added that, with the scrapping of the third car rule for Fridays in 2007, he is not yet sure about how the role will be organized next year.

He drove four Fridays for the Midland-Spyker team in 2006.

Winkelhock said of the Silverstone based team: "I think (Spyker) will take a step forward in 2007. They have Ferrari engines and Mika Gascoyne and the whole crew is highly motivated."

2007 Champ Car Atlantic team to announce  UPDATE We hear that the US RaceTronics team will announce their lineup Saturday.

11/08/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, there's a possibility there could be a 2007 Atlantic team lineup announcement at the Mexico City race this weekend.
Champ Car blesses Assen, Holland circuit  According to sources in Holland, the Assen TT circuit has been given preliminary approval by Tony Cotman, race-director of the Champ Car World Series after a short visit to the circuit. Cotman brought a representative of the FIA from Paris along. Basically Cotman thought the circuit was fine except for some minor pit lane modifications, and a safety wall issue here or there. Cotman also visited a few other European circuits recently. We hear announcements are getting close on the European races. 

Those same sources are saying that Dutch hero Jos Verstappen will be reunited with Paul Stoddart for his rumored Champ Car team. We are told if Verstappen is in the race it is guaranteed to be a complete sellout.
Penske boys to drive for Michael Shank  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - see Hot News page for announcement.

11/04/06 We now hear that Helio Castroneves is signed with Shank but Hornish is not yet.

11/03/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, IRL Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. will drive in next year's Rolex 24 at Daytona race for Michael Shank Racing. 
Ex-ALMS GT2 team eyes Daytona Prototypes  "My goal for the second car is to be a good partner that complements Ruby Tuesday and sees good benefit to being in Grand-Am," ex-ALMS GT2 team owner Alex Job explained, "We will have Porsche factory drivers in the #23 car only - the second car will be drivers I bring."

A long-time Porsche competitor, Job's new direction has garnered strong support from the German manufacturer. After returning the marque to victory lane with the Daytona Prototype in 2006, he is hoping to bring a championship next year.

"Porsche is very interested in Daytona Prototypes and would like to be a serious contender for the championship," Job concluded, "It is pretty unique because it brings personnel to the race tracks that are available to everybody running a Porsche. They have encouraged me to focus on the Daytona Prototype championship, which is very good news to me." Grand-Am team owner Alex Job has confirmed that he is closing on a deal to run a second Daytona Prototype alongside the #23 Ruby Tuesday entry in next year's Rolex Series.

Alex Job Racing has been one of the busier teams since the 2006 season finale at Miller Motorsports Park, having completed five days of testing already, with a sixth scheduled for the last day at Daytona this week. Having decided to suspend its GT program in the American Le Mans Series, the team is focusing fully on the 2007 Daytona Prototype championship, and Job is happy at the change of scene.

"I've been wanting to race for overall victories for some time, so we're going to concentrate on competing for the Daytona Prototype championship with Ruby Tuesday and the #23 car," he said at the latest group test, "This program came on late last year and we didn't get to test much, so we're taking the opportunity to do a lot more this year.

BMW eyes Glock  (GMM) 2006 GP2 racer Timo Glock will test in Spain for BMW-Sauber in November and December, the German squad confirmed on Tuesday.

In a statement, Hinwil based BMW-Sauber said the 24-year-old German - who raced and tested for Jordan in 2004 - would run at both the Barcelona and Jerez sessions.

Glock's earlier scheduled tests had to be postponed after he injured his hand in the GP2 race at Monza.

"We have kept a close eye on Timo since his successful time in formula BMW and are now keen to get a more accurate impression," team boss Mario Theissen said in the email.

BMW-Sauber has already confirmed German teenager Sebastian Vettel in the full time test seat for 2007, but many top teams - including Ferrari, McLaren and Toyota - have popularized the trend of employing a second development driver.

Klien on Honda’s short list  UPDATE #2 (GMM) Mere hours after Honda confirmed its interest in signing Christian Klien as a test driver, the Red Bull refugee says he would 'welcome' a deal with the Japanese marque.

"Honda is one of the most successful companies in the history of motor racing," the 23-year-old Austrian was quoted as saying by 'ORF'.

"Naturally I would welcome working for such a successful and ambitious team."

The test driver post at Brackley based Honda would be vacated by the probably Super Aguri-bound Anthony Davidson. Klien has also been linked with the vacant Spyker race seat alongside Christijan Albers, and traveled to the recent Brazilian grand prix for meetings with both teams.

11/07/06 (GMM) Honda has confirmed its interest in Red Bull refugee Christian Klien for 2007.

After the Austrian driver traveled to the Brazilian grand prix last month for talks, 23-year-old Klien was spotted last week at the factory of the Brackley based F1 squad.

As well as the opportunity to replace Anthony Davidson as test driver, he is also in discussions with Spyker about the race seat next to Christijan Albers.

Honda vice-president Otmar Szafnauer admitted to 'ORF Kurzsport' that the Japanese manufacturer is in contact with Klien.

Moreover, the driver's father and manager, Johannes Klien, has reportedly been told that a decision is necessary in the coming days.

10/10/06 According to autosport.com, Timo Glock and Christian Klien are on Honda's short list to be test drivers in 2007.  The team admits, however, that there are plenty of drivers that can fill that role.  Klien's career is over as it appears he will not land a race seat in 2007 without Red Bull backing and he appears destined to be, therefore, an F1 test driver at best.
Philippe to Forsythe  UPDATE According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Surfers Paradise Champ Car race winner Nelson Philippe is close to inking a deal to drive a third Forsythe car in 2007. Talks heated up after Philippe proved he could win a race. With Paul Tracy already signed it still remains to be seen who will land the 2nd seat at Forsythe if our sources are correct that the team will expand to three cars in 2007. Although Buddy Rice would like to land it, a lot of drivers are going to be knocking on Forsythe's door for that coveted ride with Michael Cannon as the engineer, so Rice is going to show he has the potential to win in Mexico City this weekend. If he can't run in the top three after Allmendinger proved he can win in that car his first race, Rice will struggle to keep the seat for 2007. Rahal Letterman sources say they are surprised Rice is in the seat for Mexico City because Rice wasn't as fast as Danica Patrick and she hasn't won a race yet.

10/18/06 Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe may not be back with the series next year.  He told AutoRacing1.com in Surfers Paradise Wednesday night, "For sure my priority is to stay in Champ Car.  But to do that I must now raise my own sponsorship.  I may have to look to ARCA or to another series if I can't raise the necessary money for Champ Car.

"I also want to clear up a previous inaccuracy.  Lease Plan has been a longtime sponsor of mine, but in no way does my family own any part of the company."

Nissan, Prost, consider F1 team  UPDATE #2 (GMM) A spokesperson for David Richards' future Formula One team Prodrive has refused to expand on speculation of talks with carmakers about 2008.

'Sky Sports' floated the concept of deals with Nissan and even Aston Martin, but the spokesperson said: "We are continuing discussions with potential partners but we are not in a position to divulge the exact nature of these discussions, nor the parties involved."

The Nissan rumors - including the possible involvement of former champion and team owner Alain Prost - arose in a report of the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, while speculation about British carmaker Aston Martin has been building with its forays in Le Mans and GT racing.

It is suggested that Aston Martin might link up with Cosworth to re-badge its unused V8 engine.

Prodrive's spokesperson also denied reports of a possible sale to another grand prix entrant, while confirming that the strategy is still to pair up with an existing team to buy both chassis and engine.

11/02/06 There have been rumors in recent days suggesting that Nissan may want to invest in Formula 1 in the near future. There is some logic in the idea if Nissan could acquire an F1 franchise - although these are few and far between. The only logical one available is if Prodrive cannot get its act together. That is not very likely given, if faced by a Nissan proposal, David Richards would try to negotiate a deal for his company rather than simply sell and run. The other option would be to try to persuade everyone to increase the number of cars on the grid - and it is hard to see that happening as it would mean all kind of fights over prize money.

If a franchise could be found, the logic would be for a Nissan team to be a Renault B team as this would cut out the need to spend years investing and developing and would give the best value for money, something which Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn is famed for chasing.

The problem with this idea is that Renault would have to overcome internal doubts about the idea as the Renault F1 engineers would advise against such a situation as it could affect the team's performance. It is not impossible but it would be a risk.

The option would be for a branding switch to Renault but this makes little sense as Renault still wants to benefit from its F1 involvement

The concept of putting Alain Prost in charge is a nice idea but his reputation as a team leader took a serious hit when his own team collapsed with huge debts in 2000 and it is hard to imagine him making any form of F1 comeback.

Nissan could do an in-house project - there is plenty of serious sporting technology already available from Nismo - but that goes back to the problem of the franchise. Who is going to sell? Grandprix.com

10/30/06 (GMM) New speculation suggests that the Nissan brand might unite with the world of Formula One racing in the near future.

Also reporting a link between the Japanese carmaker and former team owner Alain Prost, French newspaper 'Le Journal du Dimanche' said Nissan could join the grand prix grid in 2008.

Prost, also a former four time world champion, has reportedly already spoken with Nissan and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn about the project, after his own team was liquidated in 2001.

Nissan's corporate vice-president Simon Sproule is quoted by the newspaper as admitting that F1 is 'an option'.

"Right now we are involved in regional championships in Japan, the US and in Africa. We have studied the possibility to invest in a worldwide competition," he added.

Sproule said Nissan personnel have attended several grands prix to 'observe, learn and understand the discipline's finer details'.

Rumors earlier this year indicated that Renault were considering simply changing the name of its Formula One team to Nissan.

Arab racer eyes F1  (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has given his backing to an Arab driver's quest to reach the formula one grid by 2009.

In a letter to Lebanese 'A1 GP' driver Basil Shaaban, the F1 supremo wrote: "I am happy to see that you are going to join GP2.  This will be a positive way for you to show your talents to formula one teams."

Before F1 or even GP2, however, Shaaban is busy trying to find the more than $1m he needs to contest the British F3 championship next year.

'Arabian Business' reports that his management is in 'advanced talks' with a number of multinationals in Dubai and Beirut.

"I'm hoping to find in the Middle East those who share my vision to show the excellence of the Arab world on an international scale," Shaaban told a news conference.

No agreements have been signed yet.

Tracy could miss season finale  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today as Tracy told SPEEDTV.com that he will be unable to race in Mexico City due to his ATV injuries.  The team will not replace him.

"I'm not going to be able to make it," said the 37-year-old veteran who fractured his right scapula on October 28 after falling off his ATV. "I got an MRI over the weekend and there's some bleeding around the fracture and it's also real swollen.

"So I'm back to where I was 10 days ago. I was dying over the weekend before I got a shot to relief the pain and I might be able to start the race but Dr. (Terry) Trammell said as bumpy as that track is it wouldn't be pleasant

"I was riding my bike 30 miles a day last week before I started lifting too much weight in therapy last Thursday and that really set me back. I feel bad for my guys but I think we'll all be better off if I just let this thing heal."

11/06/06 A reader writes, Dear Autoracing1.com, If Tracy can't race in Mexico City, why doesn't Forsythe put Scott Speed in the car to race and at least give him a trial in case he is out of a ride in F1. Rod, Orlando, FL.

Dear Rod, That would make a lot of sense if his Red Bull contract will allow it.  Mark C.

11/04/06 Paul Tracy broke his scapula bone in a golf course accident near his home in Las Vegas and could miss the season finale Champ Car race in Mexico City according to SPEEDTV.com.  Tracy is in pain and it's touch and go right now as to whether or not he will be able to race next weekend.

"Something broke, the right-front wheel fell off and the golf cart tipped over," he explained. "It fell on top of me and threw everybody else clear. You don't have to tell me, it was dumb."

Tracy told autosport.com: "Sorry to say it was self-inflicted. I was at a party and had had a little too much to drink, and we thought it was a good idea to go out on a golf-cart and try and jump sand-dunes with it.

"We were wrong. It wasn't a good idea. Jumped a sand-trap and ended up with the cart on top of me. Like I say, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but it didn't pan out that way."

"We were making good progress Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, but I was at physiotherapy on Thursday and I started working it too hard and it's gone back about ten steps now.

"I can't move it right now, it can't take any weight. I've got a doctor coming over later on today [Saturday] and I've been talking to Terry Trammell [Champ Car and Indycar doctor] and work out what our game plan is.

"I've gotta get it to where I can at least start Mexico, get the starting points. I got my full range of motion back before Thursday, so if I can get back to that state again, then we should be okay.

"But at the moment, the muscles around the scapula have just kinda gone into lock-down to protect it."

It remains to be seen who the Forsythe team has on standby for Mexico City if the pain is too much for Tracy to bear.

Already Toyota has most powerful NASCAR engine  NASCAR officials put several Trucks on its chassis dyno after Friday night's race, to compare horsepower at the rear wheels, and Toyota engines were the strongest, according to several sources. But Mike Helton, NASCAR's president, denied reports that the Toyota motors cranked out as much as 30 horsepower more than the competition.

Toyota's Truck teams, led by Todd Bodine, hold the top four spots in the championship standings and have dominated the tour this season.

NASCAR also put a number of engines on the chassis dyno after yesterday's Dickies 500.

Generally this season, NASCAR has preferred to confiscate a number of engines after each race and take them back to the research-and-development shop in Charlotte for more detailed analysis than can be handled at a track. Winston-Salem Journal

McLaren's 2007 livery revealed  (GMM) A Spanish newspaper claims to have obtained an exclusive photograph of McLaren-Mercedes' secret new livery for 2007.

Sports daily 'Marca' says this year's MP4-21, with Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel, was running in the new colors at Jerez for a television advertisement for new title sponsor Vodafone.

It is reported that the car, still including silver and chrome in deference to its German engine partner, notably features the color red more predominantly than this year on the engine cover.

Dutch magazine Formule 1 RaceReport, meanwhile, suggests that the 'Marca' photograph shows de la Rosa driving only an on-track evaluation of one possible livery for 2007.

The final paint-job will be unveiled at Valencia in mid-January.

Today’s NASCAR race could rain out  UPDATE #3 At lap 165 Tony Stewart continues to lead over Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Stewart look well on his way to his 2nd straight win.

11/05/06 After 86 laps Tony Stewart leads Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson.  Points leader Matt Kenseth is struggling and could lose the points lead today.

11/05/06 So far the rain has held off and the race is underway.  After just 16 laps Kurt Busch leads Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson.

11/05/06 It does not look promising for today's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.  The forecast calls for rain showers early then thundershowers by the afternoon. High 66F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall around a half an inch.
Changes to Nextel Chase coming  UPDATE NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said this afternoon that NASCAR is still considering changes to its Chase For The Nextel Cup format, specifically in terms of making it easier for teams to qualify.

Under current rules, the top 10 teams in the standings after 26 races qualify, as well as any other teams within 400 points of the lead. However, in the first three years of the Chase, no teams outside the top 10 in the standings have been within that 400-point margin. The 400-point situation has not produced a wild card yet," France told a group of reporters in an impromptu talk. "Maybe that's OK, or maybe that's something we could look at."

As far as speculation that NASCAR might develop a separate point system for the Chase drivers, France said, "I don't think you're going to see races within a race or all that other stuff."

France also said that the sanctioning body was looking at awarding more points for race winners.

"There's a fallacy that you can't have one bad race or two bad races [in the Chase]," France said. "Every year, everybody has at least one and most have two. If you make the win more important, then the performance part of it, even if you have a bad race, you can catch up. We're looking at it."

For those questioning why NASCAR would consider changes, France said he had always intended to take a look at the format after three years and see if it needed to be tweaked.

"Listen, playoff formats are adjusted if you look at history in sports quite a bit over many years," he said. "Teams are added, conferences are changed around, teams are moved in and out. It all affects who makes the playoffs. ... It should not be looked at as unexpected." Scenedaily.com 

11/04/06 A highly placed source within NASCAR said that changes to the format for the 2007 running of the Chase for the Nextel Cup will not be announced until January, probably during the annual Lowe’s Motor Speedway Media Tour. Although the official did not disclose specific changes, there is widespread sentiment among teams and drivers that race winners ought to receive a higher bonus than the 10-point margin a winner now receives compared to second-place finishers. Another, though considerably more controversial, option would be to score the drivers in The Chase separately than the other 33 cars in each race. Thus, the highest-finishing Chaser would get 10 points, while the driver who finishes last would receive just 1 point. Ford Racing
Toyota using front-men to buy NASCAR talent  Rumor in the NASCAR garage is that although Toyota says they are not paying to steal the best talent in the NASCAR garage, they are.  Instead of directly writing the check and paying the person they steal, they are using their teams as front-men to write the check.

"They're trying to hire away a lot of talent from a lot of different people by paying a tremendous amount of money," said driver Jeff Burton, a 14-year veteran of the Cup Series. "That's the feeling right now about Toyota, that they're coming in and they're going to buy their way in."

Driver Jimmie Johnson, who has spent six years on the Nextel Cup circuit said, "The money that's coming in is changing our sport and is putting a lot of pressure back on the car owners."

Car owner Jack Roush criticized NASCAR's decision to allow Toyota to compete in stock-car racing immediately after the announcement was made. Roush quickly was quoted in numerous newspaper articles saying that Toyota's lavish spending and technological onslaught would hurt the sport.

"If Toyota is allowed to bring in money that Ford and General Motors and Chrysler can't match, then NASCAR has got a real problem, not just the teams, but NASCAR," Roush said in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot in May.

"The fact is you don't sign drivers to very large contracts and you don't make commitments to run them in a race series without having funding," said Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Racing. "So, obviously, Michael took a checkbook to the dance, and somebody put money in that bank account."

It was reported that Jarrett was offered a salary of $20 million for two years, but Dan Davis, the director of Ford Racing Technology, said he heard a bigger number.

"We're pretty familiar with what was offered and looking at what was offered there is no way that Michael Waltrip could offer those things, so it came from somewhere else," Davis said.

Braun eyes NASCAR  Also visiting both the Nextel Cup and Busch Series garages was 18-year-old sports car phenom Colin Braun.  Braun, who hails from nearby Ovalo, Texas, already has made a name for himself in sports cars as the youngest driver ever to win a professional sports car event.  Now he has set his sights on a career in NASCAR.

"This is where I want to be," Braun said. "This [has] the best drivers that there are and that’s who I want to race against."

Braun was one of 16 who took part in last month's GM Driver Evaluation program, which tested drivers from across the country on three different types of tracks. Word is that Braun did very well in his first time in a stock car.  Although he is set to once again drive for Grand American Series champion Krohn Racing in 2007, he'd like to get his NASCAR career started by running the Busch Series road course events at Mexico City, Montreal and Watkins Glen. Yahoo! Sports

Allmendinger Red Bull team strikes out  Word in the garage is that there were many very unhappy faces in the Red Bull camp on Friday after A.J. Allmendinger failed to qualify for Sunday's Dickies 500. Sources within the team say Allmendinger's qualifying speed, which was an embarrassingly slow 10 mph off the pole speed, raised some questions about the Dodge cars and engines the team has been using. The team now is finished for the 2006 season. Their original plan was to run only three races this season in preparation for their official debut with Toyota Camrys next year, but they failed to qualify (once due to rain) each time. The team will focus on a rigorous testing schedule for Allmendinger, who now is scheduled to make his Cup debut in the Daytona 500 in February 2007. Yahoo Sports
Prodrive to have $80m budget in 2008  (GMM)  Prodrive will enter Formula One in 2008 with a budget of around $80 million, according to the 'BusinessF1' magazine.

Run by former BAR-Honda principal David Richards, the Warwickshire based outfit's potential sponsors are, however, not known.

The estimated budget apparently also does not include the drivers' bill, which could up the price by several more millions.

Contrasted with a recent analysis, the $80m figure would make Prodrive nearly the poorest team.  It is estimated that Super Aguri spent about $95m in 2006, while the budgets for Spyker and Toro Rosso came in at approximately $76m and $66m.

In other reports of monetary matters within the grand prix clique, it is understood that Williams - despite underperforming in the last of a six-year collaboration with BMW - actually showed record profits of $60m in 2005.

The good figures, unveiled in the Grove based company's annual accounts, can be attributed to the compensation paid by its former engine supplier and Jenson Button for breaching contracts.

Martin to run for Wood Brothers in Truck Series  Mark Martin still doesn't know what his limited Craftsman Truck Series schedule will look like next year, but he said Friday that Wood Brothers/JTG Racing is working to secure the sponsorship. "We're waiting on the Woods to come up with a sponsor," Martin said. "... I can't give you answers [yet], but I don't expect things not to work out. They're looking to secure the sponsorship and we're looking at Daytona to be the first one." The team currently runs two full-time truck teams with #21-Bobby East and #20-Marcos Ambrose. It has committed to run a truck for Stacy Compton next year, with the driver or drivers for the other truck still being determined. It is expected that rookie Kelly Bires will compete at least part-time in the second truck. SceneDaily.com
Cingular to dump NASCAR sponsorship?  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false' as Cingular will remain the primary sponsor. See Hot News for Lenox Tools announcement.

11/03/06 Today at Texas Motor Speedway, #31 team owner, Richard Childress and driver Jeff Burton, along with a new sponsor representative will be announcing a new partnership for the 2007 NASCAR season. Rumor has it that Cingular does not like the fact that the series sponsor, Nextel, gets all the PR. Nextel is of course a direct competitor of Cingular.
Bourdais leaves door open for Sebring, LeMans  UPDATE #2 Sebastien Bourdais has again admitted that he is in talks with Peugeot about a factory ride at LeMans next year. “There’s no doubt one of my objectives is still to win the 24 Hours, and the best way to achieve that is to race with a manufacturer,” Bourdais told Autosprint. “For next year the regulations won’t change much, so I don’t see realistic chances for private teams. The door is always open with Henri Pescarolo, but he’s always told me not to let the chance of racing with a manufacturer go by.”

10/26/06 Rumor in sportscar circles say that Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais could team with Dindo Capello in the new diesel powered French Peugeot 908 LMP1 entry at LeMans next year.  Bourdais could do Sebring too, but it's thought the new Peugeot won't be race-ready by then.

10/25/06 When asked in this interview whether he would run any races other than Champ Car in 2007, Sebastien Bourdais said, "I could potentially appear like I've done in the last few years and especially this year in Sebring or things like that.  This year, Sebring and LeMans, would be pretty much the ones that are doable.  And after that, it becomes pretty hard for me to do something.  My priority is to try to win the Champ Car World Series title again and I can't go there and keep getting distracted."
Big F1 layoffs planned  The 11 Formula 1 teams recently agreed on a 30,000km per team testing limit for 2007. This is around half the testing that some of the teams have done in the past and with the FIA turning Fridays at each Grand Prix into a testing session, it is logical that some of the teams will reduce their manpower as there will be only 13 non-Friday tests in the calendar year and several of these will be before or after the racing season. This means that there is no economic logic in keeping an independent test team in operation as the race team will be able to do the work. We hear that several teams are planning to lay-off staff and that others are reassigning people to new roles. Grandprix.com
Klien could take Paffett's test seat at Honda  Our spies in Brackley report that things are now coming to a head in the competition to become the Honda Racing F1 test driver next season. Anthony Davidson will soon be officially confirmed as a Super Aguri F1 driver for next year, alongside Takuma Sato and the race to replace him seems to be between Gary Paffett and Christian Klien. Both men have considerable F1 experience, Klien as a racer with Jaguar and Red Bull and Paffett (right) with many miles of testing with McLaren.

It is perhaps worth noting that Klien (left) and his father/manager Johannes Klien were guests of Honda in Brazil and that the pair were spotted this afternoon dropping in to the Honda factory in Brackley but that does not mean that Paffett is out of the picture. It seems there is a race to the flag. Grandprix.com

Will Champ Car fill the gap?  UPDATE Looking at the last half of the 2007 Champ Car schedule below, we now hear that Champ Car is considering moving the Road America race from a doubleheader with ALMS in August, to a standalone race on the same weekend it was this year, which would fill that huge gap in September-October we pointed out below. This of course would make sense because the doubleheader with ALMS in August is almost sure to be a money loser. Why do you ask? Because the doubleheader won't draw enough "additional" fans to pay for two top-level race purses.

11/02/06 If AutoRacing1.com sources are correct, the two yet to be confirmed European races on Champ Car's 2007 schedule will be moved up to September 2nd and 9th as shown below. This creates a huge gap between the 2nd European race and the Surfers Paradise round. Will Champ Car fill that gap with yet another event?

July 22 Edmonton, Alberta, CN 1.96 Mile Airport Circuit
July 29 San Jose, CA 2.0 Mile Street Course
Aug. 5 Open
Aug. 12 Elkhart Lake, WI 4.048 Mile RC (Could move to Sept.)
Aug. 19 Denver, Co 1.65 Mile Street Course
Aug. 26 Open
Sep. 2 Assen, Holland 2.84 Mile RC
Sep. 9 Zolder, Belgium 2.471 Mile RC
Sep. 16 Open
Sep. 23 Open (Elkhart Lake, WI 4.048 Mile RC?? )
Sep. 30 Open
Oct. 7 Open
Oct. 14 Open
Oct. 21 Queensland, Australia 2.795 Mile Street Circuit
Oct. 28 Open
Nov. 4 Open
Nov 11 Mexico City, Mexico 2.48 Mile RC
Nov.18 Open
Nov. 25 Thanksgiving Dec. 2 Phoenix, AZ 2.11 Mile RC

Ammermuller could lose F1 test seat  (GMM) Michael Ammermuller is not guaranteed a seat within Red Bull's Formula One family in 2007.

The German rookie moved into the Friday role amid the Christian Klien reshuffle late last season, but the publication 'Eurosport MotorMagazin' suggested that a test ride next year has not yet been sealed.

Meanwhile, Ammermuller is expected to contest at least a couple of races for 'Team Germany' in the current winter-based A1 GP series.

Williams eye ’Lexus’ or Toyota power  UPDATE #14 (GMM) Toyota's longer term plan for the engine collaboration with Williams is for 'Lexus' branding, according to rumors.

The latest speculation suggests that while Sir Frank Williams' Grove based team will be powered by Toyota in 2007, some chiefs of the Japanese carmaker favor utilizing the agreement to promote the luxury automobile brand.

The US weekly 'AutoWeek' said recently: "It is possible (that Williams' Toyota engines) will be branded Lexus in the future."

It is understood, however, that F1 bosses John Howett and Tsutomu Tomita do not favor the Lexus re-branding idea.

07/27/06 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  This story, first revealed by AutoRacing1.com in April below, months before anyone else, means that Cosworth now must find another F1 team to supply engines to, because their F1 future appears cloudy. 

07/01/06 (GMM)  Sir Frank Williams opted to keep his lip zipped over speculation that he is nearing the announcement of a semi-works engine deal with Toyota.

The English chief admitted at Indianapolis that the ideal scenario is a 'partnership with a manufacturer', but said no more.

At the moment, Williams' collaboration with independent supplier Cosworth is a multi-million dollar expense for the Grove-based team.

''I couldn't tell you,'' Williams said when asked if he was nearing a more ideal situation.

''I can't say any more.''

Meanwhile, when probed about whether he had already taken up an expiring 'option' on Mark Webber's driving contract for 2007, he added: ''If I had, I couldn't possibly tell you.'' More ...
Industry News
Ford to sell Aston Martin  UPDATE #2 BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said the German automaker has no interest in buying the iconic Aston Martin brand. Ford Motor Co. has put up for sale the famed English maker of sleek and expensive cars.  “We are a focused company and we want to stay a focused company. We’re not interested,” he said during a conference call with analysts.

08/31/06 This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact' - see Hot News page for story.

08/31/06 Ford Motor Co. said Thursday it has begun the process of exploring a possible sale of all or part of its Aston Martin luxury brand as the company works to speed up its North American turnaround.

“As part of our ongoing strategic review, we have determined that Aston Martin may be an attractive opportunity to raise capital and generate value,” Bill Ford, the automaker’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

He said the Aston Martin’s dealer network, design and size are different from other Ford brands and the most logical choice for possible sale. He said no decisions have been made about its other Premier Automotive Group brands.

“We continue to be encouraged by Jaguar’s progress and by the strength and consumer appeal of the Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo product lineups” he said.

In July, Ford pledged to speed up and possibly deepen its North American turnaround plan.

Dearborn-based Ford’s “Way Forward” plan, launched in January, calls for shedding 25,000 to 30,000 jobs and closing 14 plants by 2012 to help return Ford’s North American automotive operations to profitability.

Swede tipped to get F1 test  World Series by Renault champion Alx Danielsson is tipped to make his F1 test debut this winter. The Swede, who wrapped up the title at Barcelona during the weekend, will reportedly earn the Renault test as a prize for becoming the junior series' champion, according to reports on Wednesday.

"I hope to represent Sweden on the Formula One track," the 25-year-old told 'Formule 1 Race Report' in Holland.

He hinted that the test in the French marque's single seater could be staged 'soon', with sources adding that a date has not yet been set.

BMW-Sauber's impressive rookie racer Robert Kubica, then effectively an unknown to the world of grand prix racing, won the World Series' title - and a F1 test - last year.

Graves to stay in Cup with Toyota  UPDATE Andy Graves will be formally introduced Friday at Texas Motor Speedway as the director of Toyota’s Nextel Cup efforts for 2007. Graves, who spent the better part of a decade at Hendrick Motorsports before becoming team manager at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, has experience with Toyota, having worked with the Japanese automaker in 2000, when he worked with Ganassi’s CART open-wheel program. In addition to Graves talking about his new gig, Toyota is also expected to introduce its NASCAR Busch Series lineup for 2007. SpeedTV.com

08/11/06 Former Chip Ganassi Racing G.M. Andy Graves says he's close to making his next move once he's officially released from his contract. Graves has been contacted by open-wheel and NASCAR teams and expects to remain in Nextel Cup.
Davis threatens Ford pull out from NASCAR  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Ford has a choice, they can stay in NASCAR and look like monkeys when Toyota annihilates them, which in turn will further reduce their car sales, or they could take that $50 to $100 million they spend every year over to Champ Car where they are the exclusive engine supplier. With that level of effort Ford could do for Champ Car what Winston did for NASCAR and together they can grow Champ Car, and as Champ Car's popularity rose, and TV ratings rose, Ford will enjoy the exclusive benefits. So Ford can continue to beat their head against a wall in trying to beat Toyota's deep pockets, or it can do the smart thing and support a series where they can advertise they are winners....instead of losers. Dirk Kirpatrick

11/01/06 “If you look at the engineers I have lost, they (Toyota) are a predator as far as I'm concerned. At some point, if that money gets so high that we decide we can spend it on something else and sell more cars and trucks, we're going to do something else.” -- Dan Davis, Director of Ford Racing Technology, on claiming he lost its top engineer to Toyota which offered a 200-300% raise.

“We've been doing this for 50-plus years, so we've seen manufacturers come and sometimes go. And we've seen manufacturers have a dominant run. It's our job to make sure the rules package are even, balanced... NASCAR's not going to stay in the past when the world's moving forward.”-- Brian France, NASCAR Chairman of the Board and CEO

There is no rule that NASCAR can implement that can stop Toyota from stealing away the best "talent."  Toyota will eventually dominate Nextel Cup like they now dominate the Truck series.

Sunday’s ESPN Outside the Lines will examine Toyota's anticipated 2007 debut into the NASCAR Nextel Cup series. (November 5, 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN; re-air noon Sunday on ESPNEWS) The Toyota Camry's entry marks the first time a Japanese manufacturer will be competing, and many owners and fans are nervous, criticizing Toyota's spending and technological onslaught. Toyota insists it has earned its way into the world’s most popular stock car racing series, and today is a part of America. ESPN NASCAR reporter Mike Massaro presents views from both sides of the issue. NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, currently fifth in NASCAR’s “Chase for the NEXTEL Cup,” will be among host Bob Ley’s guests Sunday.

ISC in partnership with Legault for Canadian expansion  In an SEC filing today ISC revealed that it is a limited partner with Group Motorise International in the organization and promotion of NASCAR and Grand-Am events at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada.  According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Legault is partners with ISC in the Canadian market, and ISC is the promoter of the Busch NASCAR race in Montreal with  Legault.   A birdie tells us that this partnership is  preparing something for NASCAR in western Canada, perhaps Alberta (Calgary) for  2008 or 2009.  Mark C.
track news
ISC to cut more ties with Hulman George  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News page.

11/01/06 ISC (France family) appears to be slowly cutting their ties with Hulman George and the latest news according SportsBusiness Daily is that Int’l Speedway Corp. (ISC) will announce today that it is purchasing Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp.'s share of ownership in Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway for $69M in cash. That will give ISC 75% ownership of Raceway Associates LLC, which owns and operates Chicagoland and Route 66. They report that ISC intends to exercise its right to purchase the remaining 25% from the minority owners by early ‘07 (which includes Champ Car team owner Dale Coyne).  Is the France family distancing themselves further from open wheel racing?
Fernandez winding down IRL, Grand-Am operations?  UPDATE #4 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced the hiring of Fernandez Racing's engineers Tuesday, the latest sign that Adrian Fernandez's Indianapolis-based team might not return to the Indy Racing League next season.

Fernandez co-owner Tom Anderson said his staff has been whittled to a bare minimum because the team lacks a primary sponsor. Among the layoffs were veteran engineers John Dick and Chris Finch, who were hired by Dreyer & Reinbold, another Indianapolis-based team.

Dick engineered Scott Sharp's car this past season; Finch directed Kosuke Matsuura's.

The drivers will be on the move, too. Sharp figures to land at Rahal Letterman Racing, while Matsuura is expected to drive the second car of Panther Racing. Neither the teams nor the drivers have confirmed their associations. Indy Star

10/31/06 This rumor was confirmed when SPEEDTV.com talked to Fernandez Racing co-boss Tom Anderson who confirmed they laid off 27 IRL staff and said,

“I’m still hoping we can do something full-time for ’07 but right now I don’t see it. We’ve got one thing on the table but it’s kinda way out there and we just couldn’t hang on to our payroll without a deal in place.

“The League is aware of our situation and we’ve been talking to drivers but right now all we’ve got are cars and equipment.”

“I know Brad (Stout) and Bill (Lafontaine) of Delphi want to stay in the IRL but without the associates (Futuba is also gone), they’re not able to do the whole deal,” continued Anderson, who left Ganassi Racing to help start Fernandez Racing in 2001.

“If we do get something going, I think we could be on the track in 14 days from the time we signed the deal.”

Scott Sharp is said to be taking his Delphi money to Rahal Letterman and Kosuke Matsuura is thought to be taking his Panasonic money to Panther Racing.

10/30/06 We have not said much about Fernandez also winding down his Grand-Am team in addition to his IRL team.  This makes sense since, 1) Honda probably preferred/insisted that they not race in a competing sportscar series, and, 2) All of his Grand-Am equipment has been bought by Roger Schramm and will be campaigned under the R.V.O. Motorsports banner. Roger has tabbed road racing veteran Jack Baldwin to co-drive the car for a full season in 2007.  Baldwin is no stranger to Grand-Am.  He  joined with Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) to create the Baldwin-Tafel Racing Grand-Am in mid-2004, which has since been bought out by Tafel and the team is being run by sports car racing guru Tony Dowe (TWR Jaguar Racing, etc.) they are even expanding into ALMS in '07.

10/30/06 Hearing that Fernandez Racing laid off their entire IRL staff last week.  Somewhere around 30-40 people were let go we were told.

However, based on this Grand-Am interview, it doesn't sound like the Ganassi Grand-Am effort is winding down at all.

Q. Scott, are you going to have a new co-driver in 2007? If so, do you have any idea who it is yet?

SCOTT PRUETT: Yes, I am. And, no, I don't (laughter). I wish I could give you a little bit more information. Even as of right now, the biggest question is -- we're actually going to go test three or four potential Mexican national drivers, some of the guys that have been working their way up similar to what Luis (Diaz) has done. Carlos Slim is a very huge supporter of the team and of Grand-Am. They're young drivers he would like us to go and run.

At this point in time, I don't know. I'd say I'm 90%, 95% sure it will be a Mexican national.

10/24/06 With the creation of their ALMS Acura team we're now hearing faint rumors that Fernandez Racing is winding down their IRL operations, and that along with Luis Diaz, the CompUSA funding will move to Fernandez and ALMS from Chip Ganassi’s Grand Am team, which could mean Chip is winding down his Grand-Am effort.  Hmm.....

Herta and Franchitti to head AGR ALMS charge  UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with Tuesday's announcement by AGR.

10/29/06 SPEEDTV says that Dario Franchitti will stay with AGR Indy Car team and his brother Marino will take the AGR Acura ALMS seat alongside Bryan Herta.

10/27/06 More information regarding Courage’s plans for 2007 have been revealed.  Courage technical director Claude Surmont gave French sports car racing website Endurance-Info.com some details of their 2007 plans.

A third Courage LC75 LMP2 (pictured right) car is on its way to the United States.  It will be shipped directly to Honda Performance Development and is expected to be used as a development car for Acura’s program in the American Le Mans Series.  Two other LC75s (Highcroft and Andretti-Green) have already been delivered and undergone preliminary tests. 

Surmont also said that it is almost certain that there will be multiple Courage LC75s racing in the ALMS next year.  One is rumored to be Cosworth powered. 

07/25/06 Rumor has it that Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta will step down from their Andretti Green Racing IRL seats and be the team's two ALMS LMP2 drivers when the team campaigns their new Courage Acura in 2007.
Japanese rookie to test Toyota  (GMM) It is understood that Japanese talent Kamui Kobayashi may test Toyota's Formula One car in the very near future.

The 20-year-old F3 driver, who is part of the Cologne based F1 team's 'Young Drivers Program', will reportedly get his debut run when testing resumes later this month in Barcelona. Kobayashi, who lives in Paris, may also test again at Jerez next month.

He was F3 Euroseries' rookie of 2006.

Rookie Swede tipped for Renault test  (GMM)  World Series by Renault champion Alx Danielsson is tipped to make his F1 test debut this winter.

The Swede, who wrapped up the title at Barcelona during the weekend, will reportedly earn the Renault test as a prize for becoming the junior series' champion, according to reports on Wednesday.

"I hope to represent Sweden on the Formula One track," the 25-year-old told 'Formule 1 Race Report' in Holland.

He hinted that the test in the French marque's single seater could be staged 'soon', with sources adding that a date has not yet been set.

BMW-Sauber's impressive rookie racer Robert Kubica, then effectively an unknown to the world of grand prix racing, won the World Series' title - and a F1 test - last year.

Franchitti eyes Champ Car for 2007  UPDATE #7 As we predicted on October 23rd below, and now confirmed today, Franchitti did like he does every year, uses the media to write a story that he might be eyeing Champ Car so he can get a better deal at AGR. This IndyStar article tells more:

Dario Franchitti will be a busy driver in 2007. The veteran Indy-car driver is planning to drive for Andretti Green Racing in both the Indy Racing League and the American LeMans Series, team members said today from a trade show in Las Vegas.

Bryan Herta was confirmed as AGR’s primary driver in the ALMS, a sports car series. He will be joined by Franchitti at the events that don’t conflict with the IndyCar Series.

Team owner Michael Andretti said a contract with the Scotsman hasn’t been signed, but “we’re close.” Franchitti could not be reached for comment.

Franchitti, 33, will return to the Indy-car team he has been with since 1998. His pairing with 2004 IRL champion Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick will make for an all-star cast.

Herta couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for Franchitti joining the new Acura sports car team that will be sponsored by XM Satellite Radio.

“It will be great to have him in the car with me,” he said. “We were hoping we could do this together.” Indy Star

10/23/06 As he and his management do every year, rumors are started that Dario Franchitti is eyeing Champ Car when in fact they have every intention of staying with Andretti Green Racing.  That will again be the case in 2007.

09/14/06 This rumor is now downgraded to 'false' as we predicted. Asked by Autosport if there might still be a chance that Franchitti would race for RuSPORT in Australia and Mexico, RuSPORT President Jeremy Dale said: "Never say never... but I'm 99.9 per cent certain that won't be the case."

Dale would not tell Autosport what the issue was but we can tell you it was money. In fact it was money all along. Franchitti's camp wanted too much as we reported....and we did not tell you everything we know because we were asked not to. Mark C. 

09/13/06 We are getting close to downgrading this rumor to 'false.'  As announced today (see Hot News page), RuSPORT will only run one car at Road America.  As we told you, RuSPORT and Franchitti are far apart on cost, we hear $1 million apart for 2007 and hence we are of the opinion that there is a very good chance a deal will not be done.  We suspect this is why Franchitti will not be running at Road America.

Why doesn't RuSPORT just run an American like Hunter-Reay or Rice that doesn't want an arm and a leg to drive and who have proven they can win at this level?  We ask again, does Champ Car race in Scotland?  More ...
Forsythe to run Jourdain Jr.  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' with today's announcement that Forsythe will instead run David Martinez in his 3rd car in Mexico City.

10/31/06 Michel Jourdain's press office put out a release last night saying that he won't have a NASCAR stock car race at Phoenix, the same weekend as the Champ Car Mexico City race, and is now available to finalize a deal to drive for Forsythe Racing in Mexico City. 

10/26/06 According to a report on SPEEDTV.com, Forsythe Racing might run Mexican Michel Jourdain Jr. in a third car for the season finale Champ Car race in Mexico City.
Martinez, Diaz eye Champ Car  UPDATE #3 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today with Forsythe's announcement that he will run David Martinez in the Mexico City Champ Car race.  Martinez also wants to land a full-time ride for next year.

09/20/06 Add Luis Diaz to the list of possibilities of a Mexican driver racing in the Mexico City race.  Diaz, like several other drivers, is hoping to land a ride in one of the regular teams backup cars.  Since this is the final race for the old Lola before it becomes a museum piece, the asking price to drive in Mexico City is said to be running around 50% of what it was in the past.

09/19/06 David Martinez's manager, Jorge Quintanilla, said today they are in negotiations with 4 different Champ Car teams to get a seat for Martinez in the last race of the season in Mexico City, According to Quintanilla, one of the teams is offering them a seat for half of the amount some teams were asking in 2005 for the seat in Mexico City. They are still looking for some Mexican sponsors. Joe Arrambide reporting from Mexico

07/18/05 AutoRacing1.com sources tell us that Mexican Toyota Atlantic driver David Martinez hopes to have sponsorship in place to move up to Champ Car in 2007. Currently he is the only Mexican driver in Atlantics, so he represents the future of Mexicans in Champ Car. As for 2006 he will either be back in Atlantics going after the big prize mentioned in our other rumor, or if he lands the spot for the Mexican A1 Grand Prix team, he might do that, but either way his goal is Champ Car for '07. We hear he almost had a Champ Car ride this year but was $1.5 million short of money. Mark C.
XM Satellite Radio to move to AGR ALMS car  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement - see Hot News page.

10/31/06 Rumors say that XM Satellite Radio will be unveiled today as the primary sponsor for Andretti Green Racing's American Le Mans Series car for 2007. Bryan Herta, an AGR Indy Racing League driver until the this season ended, is the main driver. Dario Franchitti, still with AGR in the IRL, will be his teammate on a limited basis. The ALMS will run a support race for the April 1 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IRL race. St. Petersburg Times
Industry News
DaimlerChrysler AG to jettison Chrysler  UPDATE Eight years after being taken over by Daimler-Benz, Chrysler remains a company in need of restructuring. So much so, in fact, that executives at the German company are increasingly in favor of unloading the American subsidiary. Dieter Zetsche's stint as an advertising spokesman for Chrysler was a failure. Featured prominently in a Chrysler ad campaign, Zetsche, the CEO of DaimlerChrysler, was trying to convey a message. The ads, which were a blend of humor and irony, were meant to emphasize that Chrysler is not a purely American car company like General Motors or Ford. A Chrysler, according to Zetsche in his role as pitchman for the US automaker, also contains plenty of advanced German engineering, thanks to its relationship with sister company Mercedes Benz. The logic behind the ad campaign was that it would convince customers to pay a little more for a Chrysler instead of switching to a Ford or a GM just because the competition might be offering a few hundred dollars more in rebates.

But instead of selling more cars, Chrysler's sales have in fact gone down since the campaign was launched. The ads featuring Zetsche were discontinued. And at a board meeting last Wednesday, the DaimlerChrysler CEO faced questions over whether he may have failed in his efforts to reorganize Chrysler.

As head of the US subsidiary from 2000 to 2005, Zetsche shut down plants, cut jobs and had his engineers develop new models. He made Chrysler profitable, and his successes were part of the reason he was ultimately promoted to CEO of parent company DaimlerChysler.

But now the US brand has plunged deeply into the red once again, showing a loss of just under €1 billion for the first three quarters of 2006. DaimlerChysler's board of directors was caught completely off guard once again by this development. In a repeat of two previous crises at Chrysler, its German parent has now put together restructuring teams.  More at Spiegel.de

10/27/06 DaimlerChrysler AG seemed to send mixed messages Wednesday about the possibility it might jettison its American partner, Chrysler.

"We don't exclude anything here," Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber said during a conference call on DaimlerChrysler's third-quarter results, which were marred by a $1.48 billion loss at Chrysler.

Pressed about the possibility of spinning off Chrysler or pairing it with another automaker, Uebber told reporters and analysts that the company was studying the situation and would draw its conclusions afterward.

"We need to safeguard sustainable profitability for the Chrysler Group and for DaimlerChrysler," Uebber said.

But in response to media speculation ignited by Uebber's comments, DaimlerChrysler chief spokesman Hartmut Schick issued a statement late in the day saying "there are no plans to sell Chrysler."

Uebber's comments triggered a rally in DaimlerChrysler shares.

"It's no longer a clear denial" that Chrysler might be dumped, said Juergen Pieper, an auto analyst and co-head of research at Metzler Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. More at Detroit News

Schu leaves comeback door unlocked  UPDATE (GMM)  British bookmaker William Hill is offering odds of 25-1 that retired world champion Michael Schumacher will compete in at least one race in 2007.

But the 37-year-old German, and his long time manager Willi Weber, insist that speculation of an imminent return to the grand prix grid is wide of the mark.

"I can assure you that there is no more 'formula one driver Michael Schumacher'," Schumacher told 'Express'.

Weber told a similar story, and repeated his denial that the Schumacher camp were considering a multi-million dollar bid by Audi to lure him to DTM.

Weber told Sport1: "I have nothing against the series, but a seven time world champion does not need to drive in DTM."

Schumacher adds that, at least at the moment, he is not keen to reunite with a steering wheel of any kind, 'except for my go-karts', he smiled to 'ARD' (German association of public broadcasters).

He insisted: "What I want to do is take some time out until it becomes clear what I want to do in the future."

10/25/06 (GMM)  Michael Schumacher on Wednesday ruled out switching to DTM, but left the door open for a return to motor racing in the future.

"Why would I do that?" the retired seven time world champion told Sport Bild when asked about speculation linking him with Germany's touring car series.

"But I can only answer these questions with certainty from my point of view today.  Niki Lauda made a comeback (to F1), Mika Hakkinen returned in the DTM -- these things only happened after a while.

"I cannot give a one hundred per cent guarantee today about what I might do in two or three years."

Schumacher, 37, might have left the door to a racing comeback unlocked, but he also did not appear disturbed at the prospect of his former rivals returning to the test track in four weeks.

Indeed, he said he had already planned a vacation with his wife and two children for late November, and admitted that he was now looking forward to 'attracting less attention' after sixteen years of F1 stardom.

Schumacher said: "I have always wanted to go diving with whales but I was always at the right place at the wrong time.  Now I will have time to wait for them!"

With more time also for his family, Schumacher said he will therefore be able to devote time to his other passions -- such as his role as an ambassador for UNESCO.

Mosley threat  (GMM) Max Mosley threatened to strip drivers of their F1 superlicenses after criticizing Monza's safety standards, according to David Coulthard.

A row with the governing body erupted at the Italian grand prix last month, when the 'Grand Prix Drivers' Association' (GPDA) threatened to boycott the high speed circuit because pleas for better safety were allegedly being ignored.

"Instead of real answers we got a letter from Max saying we were speaking out of turn," former GPDA chairman Coulthard, referring to the president of the FIA, told the British monthly magazine F1 Racing.

The Scot, 35, added: "(The letter said) that the terms of our superlicenses include a clause that says we aren't allowed to speak out of turn or against the governing body, etc."

But Red Bull racer Coulthard insisted that drivers are 'not intimidated' by the warning.

"It's still us, and only us - the drivers - who really know what it's like to follow another car through a wall of spray at somewhere like Spa," he said.

"I'm all for everyone involved in the sport expressing their views; why, then, must we drivers not express ours?"

Green poised to drive for Riley-D'Hondt  David Green will drive the Busch Series season-opening race in 2007 at Daytona for Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports and possibly the full season for the team. Team co-owner Eddie D'Hondt said Sunday that the new team has moved into its shop and working on finalizing plans for its Busch program next year. The team is planning to run two Busch teams. Champ Car driver Paul Tracy was supposed to run a handful of races for the team next year but opted to concentrate on his open-wheel campaign. Scenedaily.com
Schu to be ’Todt assistant’  UPDATE (GMM)  Ferrari and Michael Schumacher steered clear of detail on Sunday after announcing that the retired seven time world champion would be CEO Jean Todt's 'assistant' in 2007 and beyond.

Todt said: "We are going to try to use Michael's vast knowledge and experience of the sport for technical and strategic decisions.

"He is not going to have to be in an office or even at tests or grands prix," the Frenchman added, "but he will be an invaluable resource for important decisions."

Schumacher, 37, also indicated at Monza on Sunday that the 'assistant' role is not yet fully defined by insisting that his immediate priority is a short break with his family.

"In December I will begin my new life," the German explained, "and over the coming weeks I will consider how I can contribute in the future to Ferrari."

10/29/06 (GMM)  The word from the 'World Finals' event at Monza is that Michael Schumacher is to become an 'assistant' to Ferrari CEO and managing director Jean Todt in 2007.

It is further understood that Frenchman Todt, 60, is not planning to attend all grands prix in 2007, with his role as team principal taken over by Stefano Domenicali.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo clarified that Domenicali - 'an important man' - will liaise with sponsors, the governing body, and other teams and drivers.

But even though the Maranello based team is also losing technical director Ross Brawn, Montezemolo insisted that he did not fear for the future of the red camp.

"I think there is no risk that we will not have a competitive team for 2007," the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport quoted the Italian chief as saying.

Hakkinen may return to F1 as a manager  (GMM) Twice world champion Mika Hakkinen says he might return to Formula One some day -- as a manager.

The Finn, who entered the sport's pinnacle with the guidance of countryman and 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg, told 'Welt' that he can envisage doing a similar thing for an up-and-coming driver.

But the DTM racer cautioned: "I do not feel ready for that yet. If I do it, I would want to do it properly."

Hakkinen said being a driver-manager is a 'big responsibility' that some take on without recognizing the importance of doing it right.

"If in three years you decide you have had enough, you could have ruined someone's whole career," he added.

Hornish eyes eventual move to NASCAR  UPDATE #7 Sam Hornish is looking to the future, trying to decide the perfect mix of NASCAR and Indy Racing League for his future. Right, Sam Hornish Jr. poses in front of the NASCAR Busch Series car he will attempt to qualify at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. Photo courtesy of Dodge.

Hornish is attempting to make his NASCAR debut in the Nov. 11 Busch Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. He's also attempting the final Busch race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll drive the No. 39 for Penske Racing South with sponsorship from Exxon Mobil in both events.
From there, anything is possible. Hornish plans to compete in some Busch races with the team next season. Penske Racing officials say they could run as many as 20 races in the series in a combined effort involving Hornish and the team's Cup drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.

"A couple of races this year at least gets the wheels turning and gives me an idea of what [I] need to be looking at as far as what needs to happen for the races that we're going to do next season," Hornish said Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. "And depending on what happens with next season's races and what happens with the IndyCar program, we'll see what we want to pursue from there on out."  Scenedaily.com 

10/14/06 Reports that IRL champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. will make his stock car debut next month at Phoenix in a NASCAR Busch Series car are premature, a Team Penske spokesman said Friday night.

A story posted Friday on ThatsRacin.com, the racing Web site for The Charlotte Observer newspaper, cited unidentified sources as saying the Penske team will enter Hornish in the Busch races at Phoenix and Homestead in November, as well as running him in selected Busch and ARCA events next season before launching a full-time Nextel Cup career in 2008.

"Roger Penske has said publicly that we are considering a plan that would allow Sam to race in some Busch and ARCA races next year, for sure, along with his IRL schedule," Chris Schwartz, director of marketing and communications for the Penske team, told The Associated Press.

"That's all in motion and it's a goal of ours to get him into a Busch race this year," Schwartz added. "But he hasn't even tested a (stock) car, yet. We hope to get that accomplished soon and we hope to get him in the Phoenix (Busch) race and maybe the Homestead (Busch) race, too. But nothing is done yet." More at AP.org

This season’s debut this season is also expected to be just the tip of the iceberg of Hornish’s involvement in NASCAR.

The 27-year-old native of Defiance, Ohio, will continue to compete in the IndyCar Series in 2007 while at the same time running a mixed schedule of Automobile Racing Club of America, Busch and possibly Nextel Cup races in 2007, sources said.

All of the preparation is in anticipation of Hornish making a full-time debut in the Nextel Cup Series in the 2008 season, sources said. ThatsRacin.com  More ...
Why ALMS teaming with Champ Car/IRL  UPDATE A reader responds, I have to take exception to your comments about ALMS' motivation to run races with ChampCar/IRL. Having been associated with and having attended almost every race since the series’ inception, ALMS has made strong progress in attendance over the years. You mention Sebring and LeMans. How about Petit this year? Huge crowds. Also, have your source check with track management at Laguna to see how they felt about the crowd this year...it was up significantly and the front straight grandstands were also virtually full at times.
Crowds at Mid-Ohio and Road America were also as big as they've ever been and not in the "small" category as they definitely were in the early days at roval venues such as Charlotte and Las Vegas. Houston for a Friday night at a new venue also did well.
While ALMS is certainly not at NASCAR level crowds and never will be, the attendance growth is very significant. (Please take into consideration the stadium style seating at NASCAR oval events as opposed to road course seating. Thus your analysis of the Laguna crowd is very misleading).
Finally, whatever you do, please don't lump GrandAm attendance in with ALMS...not even close to being in the same league.....ask around. Name Withheld

10/28/06 Next year the ALMS will run half of its schedule as a Saturday event in conjunction with Champ Car and the IRL, mostly at street circuit events, because, Sebring and LeMans not withstanding, the series is tired of holding races and hardly anyone shows up.  The same can be said of Grand-Am. The split in sportscar racing is a bad thing.  By teaming up with Champ Car and the IRL, ALMS avoids the bad rap it gets when hardly anyone is in attendance. The following excerpt from AutoWeek paints the picture at last weekend's Laguna Seca ALMS event.

I hate to say that the ALMS is the best-kept secret in motorsports, but it’s got to be close. Granted, Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca is a big place with big hills, and small people can pick out a vantage point just about anywhere around the 2.2-mile track to take in action. On the two days leading up to the four-hour Saturday afternoon-evening race, there was no one at the track. I’d bet crew and team members outnumbered spectators.

On race day, the crowd was a bit larger, but at no time was anyone feeling crowded. Driving into the event on race morning, always a telltale sign of crowd health, we raced to our parking spot. The lots were open.

For the past couple of years, sports car racing has faced the same problem as open-wheel racing, namely a split in the ranks. The results of the Champ Car-IRL divorce have been well documented, and the ALMS-Grand Am battle for closed-wheel road-racing supremacy—while perhaps not as well publicized—has seen the same results: Fans’ allegiances have been tested and divided. While the NASCAR marketing machine keeps rolling, great racing is happening across the country with few people taking note.  AutoWeek [Editor's Note:  One of our photos from the event shows people sitting in one of two grandstands, but that was the most we spotted.]

Rahal to drive for Newman/Haas or PKV  UPDATE #8 It's being reported in the October 25th edition Australian weekly motorsport magazine Motorsport News that Graham Rahal may be going to Newman/Hass next year with backing from Coca-Cola, this according to rumors they heard in the paddock in Surfers Paradise.

09/18/06 On a Champ Car media conference today Graham Rahal alluded to the distinct possibility he will race for Newman/Haas in 2007 and that an announcement will happen in the near future.

Q.  Graham, when we talked at the USGP, everything was centered on you getting over to Europe.  Now the goal has changed a little bit.  Is there something in particular or some point in particular that caused your focus to shift? 

GRAHAM RAHAL:  "Obviously we haven't made any announcements.  I would almost guarantee that the Champ Car is my best option.  Whether I win the $2 million or not, I don't think that has any effect on it.  Certainly I want to win the $2 million just to say I've won at Atlantic championship.  That's something I've always wanted to do.

"Well, I mean, it's tough to say.  Certainly the USGP, the whole reason we were there was to try to open some eyes.  At the same time I think there have been a lot of opportunities that have come my way in Champ Car.  As soon as everybody reads about the Newman/Haas opportunity, I just feel if you get an opportunity like that, how can you turn it down?  I mean, there's just a proven record.  They win.  That's the type of team you want to be with. 

"For me it's tough to say.  But the goal, like I said, is still Formula One.  Right now, you know, I'm enjoying myself here.  I want to see what I can do in Champ Car.  The other issue is GP2. That seems to be the logical path, the clear way to Formula One.  At the same time you have to make sure you're with a proper team, which is obviously apparent when you just watch the races.  You can see which cars are the best.  Right now those teams are full. 

"I just don't want to go there and suffer and look like a complete failure because after having a successful season like this year, I just don't want to go back and really change my fortunes at all.

"Well, I think -- if I have a deal in Champ Car, I think it will be announced fairly soon.  Whichever team that's with, that's who I'll be testing with.  I mean, at this point we all know that you can test the old car until I think it's December 15th.  Basically once your motors run out, you're done.  I don't know.  We'll see.  I will be testing, continue to test, but probably with the team I'll race with next year.  We'll see what happens there."  

08/18/06 Second-generation driver Graham Rahal may still have eyes on Formula One, but he almost certainly will spend the next two seasons in the Champ Car World Series.

The 17-year-old senior-to-be at New Albany High in Ohio has an opportunity to test next month with Newman-Haas Racing, whose lead driver, Sebastien Bourdais, is in position to win his third consecutive championship. If the test goes as expected, Rahal, who has been driving this season in the Mazda Atlantic development series, could find himself with one of the premier teams in American open-wheel racing.

PKV Racing, another Champ Car team, also is interested in young Rahal, the son of former Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, now a team owner in the Indy Racing League, Champ Car's rival series.

"If we didn't do anything with him, I'm pretty sure they would," Chicago businessman Carl Haas said of Graham Rahal. "I think the chances of him being in Champ Car next year are pretty high … "

Driving for Haas and actor Paul Newman is one of the sport's plum jobs. In its 24th season, Newman Haas has won 95 races and six championships, three in the last four years

"Our view is, if you get an offer to drive for Newman-Haas, it would be pretty silly not to accept it," Bobby Rahal said.

Said Graham: "A lot of people say to get to F1, you have to go to Europe, you can't get there from Champ Car, but I've talked to several people in the F1 community and they don't feel that's the case."

Racing in the F1 feeder series, GP2, is still an option for Graham, but after missing a test in France because of bad weather, it probably would be with a second-tier team.

Bobby, who headed Jaguar's F1 program in 2000, said two years in Champ Car "wouldn't be a negative in any respect, and may be a huge positive. He'll still only be 19, 20 years old. You have to recognize the history and impact that driving for Newman-Haas would have on his career."

Graham Rahal has won four of 10 Mazda Atlantic races this season, with four pole positions, and is 16 points behind series leader Simon Pagenaud with two races remaining.

The champion will win $2 million to apply toward a Champ Car ride in 2007.

"It's not a matter of if, as much as who," Bobby said of his son's future team. "Nothing is ever 100%, but there's an awfully good chance he'll be in Las Vegas [for the season opener] next year in a Champ Car. He just won't be allowed to go anywhere" because of his age. LA Times

08/14/06   This rumor is close to becoming 'fact.'  Bobby Rahal had a choice Sunday. The Indy Racing League team owner had three cars competing in the main event at Kentucky Speedway. And his son, Graham Rahal, was racing in the support-series event in Denver.

Bobby chose to spend the day with family, and said he has no regrets. The 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1986 and 1987 Champ Car champion watched Graham win the Atlantic race from the pole.

"He's the priority and has done a fantastic job all weekend," Bobby Rahal said. "I don't think there is any question he has a heck of a future ahead of him. I mean, he's a 17-year-old, doing what he's doing. There's some offers for Champ Cars, so we'll see what happens."

Despite his affiliation with the IRL, Bobby Rahal likes the idea of his son competing in the rival series. He advised Graham to compete in the Atlantic series because he believes it offers better training than the IRL's Infiniti Pro Series.

Graham Rahal has an upcoming Champ Car test with Newman/Haas Racing and said he'd like to be in Champ Car next season.  Denver Post

08/13/06 According to SPEEDTV.com, on Saturday, Kevin Kalkhoven, Paul Newman, Carl Haas and Bobby Rahal had a meeting in the Denver paddock to discuss Graham's future.

"Graham still hasn't tested yet but after he does I believe he'll receive an offer from Newman/Haas and, for some reason if they don't, then PKV will offer him one," said Kalkhoven. who co-owns Champ Car along with Gerald Forsythe along with co-owning the two-car PKV Racing operation.

"He should be in this series and I think he will be."

Ralph Hansen, the longtime sponsor finder for Newman/Haas is working on a major deal that is contingent on a young American. "It would be a great fit because Graham is perfect for their demographic, besides being a great young talent and young man.

"We're working hard to make it happen."

08/11/06 It hasn't been determined to which side of the Atlantic Graham Rahal's aspirations will carry him in 2007.

"It's tough to say, but there is a very good possibility that I could be in Champ Car," says Graham, who will receive $2 million toward a Champ Car effort if he overtakes points leader Simon Pagenaud and wins the series. "You have to look at what the pluses and minuses are of staying here vs. going to Europe."

The choices come down to Champ Car and GP2, Formula One's feeder series. Graham says heading over to his father's IRL team — which has an obvious vacancy with Danica Patrick leaving for Andretti Green Racing — is not an option.

"My dad won't let me race on ovals," he says. The elder Rahal held that belief before Rahal Letterman Racing rookie driver Paul Dana was killed during the final warm-up in the season-opening IndyCar race in March.

"Our attitude is that if the interest is from the right (Champ Car) team, it would be hard to pass that up," Bobby says.

"If it's not with the right team, we have to stick to our plan, which is to go to Europe."

Newman-Haas Racing fits the definition of the right team. The team co-owned by actor Paul Newman and Chicago businessman Carl Haas has won six Champ Car titles, including consecutive titles by current points leader Sebastien Bourdais (2004 and 2005).

Graham has a test with the team scheduled for September.  USA Today  More ...

Dodge and Chevy to change NASCAR nameplates  UPDATE #2 Dodge's Mike Accavitti, the new racing boss, continues to say no-comment on reports his company will follow GM's lead and badge its own car of tomorrow under the new Avenger logo. Winston Salem Journal

10/24/06 General Motors has received permission from NASCAR to begin fielding a new model car in Cup competition next season, the Impala SS, replacing its current Monte Carlo SS model, The Charlotte Observer reports.  A formal announcement of the change is scheduled Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where a new model of the car built by Hendrick Motorsports will be unveiled, multiple sources confirmed Monday night.

10/23/06 According to Yahoo! Sports, beginning in 2007, Dodge and Chevrolet will campaign new models in Nextel Cup competition.  Dodge will run the Avenger, while Chevrolet will run the Impala SS, according to sources with some of NASCAR's manufacturers. The change also was indicated in a technical bulletin distributed to all teams last week. Both Dodge and Chevy soon will announce that they have been given approval by NASCAR to change to the new models, with Chevy's announcement possibly coming as soon as this week.
Allmendinger to miss Atlanta race  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  See this Hot News item for the story of a washed out qualifying - Allmendinger does not make field because of it.

10/27/06 A.J. Allmendinger will try to qualify the No. 84 Red Bull Dodge at Atlanta. Allmendinger may not even get a chance to run the car this week if qualifying at Atlanta is cancelled as rain is forecast all day Friday and Friday night.  Qualifying is scheduled for 7:10pm/et and will be televised on SPEED.  If qualifying is washed out, the field is set by the rules book - top 35 by owners points, past champs, then by race attempts, which means Allmendinger would sit out the race.
IRL Silly Season  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, As usual you are spot on.  The fact that former Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice had no ride in the IRL for next year shows just how meaningless it is to win the Indy 500.  Tony George has indeed destroyed his sport.  I am glad to see Forsythe give him a chance.  The momentum has definitely shifted Champ Car's way.  I sure hope they come back to Europe.  Alfredo Pasterelli, Rome, Italy

Dear Alfredo, You may get your wish as it appears Champ Car is close to announcing two European races for next year, one apparently in Assen, Holland.  Mark C.

10/27/06 We never did start a 2007 IRL Silly Season page because there isn't much movement or interest in the IRL.  Here's how the 2007 lineup appears to shake out.

Penske Racing - Castroneves and Hornish
Ganassi Racing - Wheldon and Dixon
Andretti Green - Andretti, Patrick, Kanaan and Franchitti
Rahal Letterman - Simmons and Sharp
Vision - Carpenter and Scheckter 
Panther - Meira
Foyt - Bucknum
Dreyer & Reinbold - Eyeing Champ Car, future doubtful
Fernandez - May be doing ALMS only - future doubtful

Not many cars and some of the above are doubtful.  At this juncture there is a lot of uncertainty with the IRL and its future as momentum appears to have shifted toward Champ Car which is going to grow and become even stronger in 2007 with a car count of 22 to 24 cars minimum. 

London street race gathers steam  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. This race was never going to happen. Rumors of it only came about after a Champ Car street race in Manchester surfaced.

(GMM) London mayor Ken Livingstone has insisted that Formula One will not be staged in the British capital.

At an event on Thursday to announce London's route of the 2007 Tour de France, he said organizing a grand prix would not make economical sense.

"To get a grand prix you are talking about $56.5 million," Livingstone was quoted as saying by the British Guardian broadsheet.

"If I dipped into the council tax payers' pockets to come up with $56.5 million for a grand prix I don't think I would be able to walk safely down the streets."

London's West End flirted with the sport in 2004 for the popular 'London comes to Regent Street' F1 street parade.

12/10/04 According to this Telegraph.co.uk article, Bernie Ecclestone remains in the grip of Christmas spirit. A day after the gift of the British Grand Prix, given a July 10 date at yesterday's FIA world council meeting, Formula One's commercial rights holder reiterated his desire to see a race on the streets of London. The green light to Red Ken, as it were.
What began as a soundbite from Mayor Livingstone following the street display in the capital ahead of the British Grand Prix in July, an event that attracted half a million people, has developed into bona fide proposal. According to Ecclestone, only one element is missing - the money.

"Ken knows that. I have told him. I would sign a deal today," Ecclestone said. "Ken is still very much behind the idea, which is good. It could happily run alongside a British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It is finding the money to put it on."

It was ever thus, as the British Racing Drivers Club, the owner of Silverstone, discovered over five hard months of negotiation. Ecclestone's imagination was fired in Monaco, the prince of street circuits, where he attended the gala dinner last night in honor of the motorsport world champions of 2004.

Ron Walker, the force behind the Australian Grand Prix, has offered to act as consultant following a recent meeting in London at which detailed plans were discussed. It was established that grandstands would be erected in Hyde Park and a pit and paddock complex along Horse Guards Parade.

Feasibility studies commissioned by Livingstone gained the approval of the police and Westminster Council. Finances pending a race could appear on the F1 calendar as early as 2006. [Editor's Note: With 19 races on the 2005 F1 schedule, and with the Concorde Agreement calling for just 16 races per year, how is Bernie going to justify a 20th race when the smaller teams are struggling to get by with three extra races already and Ferrari vetoing the cut in testing?]

09/28/04 (GMM) London mayor Ken Livingstone will only start a serious bid for the British Grand Prix if current venue Silverstone loses the F1 event.   Livingstone told London newspaper 'Evening Standard' that he would prefer if a street race around Hyde Park become the 'European Grand Prix', with Silverstone still on the calendar.   ''I'm still backing a grand prix for London 100 per cent,'' he said. ''However, I believe Silverstone makes an important contribution to the continuing success of the UK motorsport industry.''   This week, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's deadline for a new race deal at Silverstone will expire (Thursday).   The track-owning 'British Racing Driver's Club' (BRDC) has made the 73-year-old mogul an offer to become promoter, but it has fallen several million pounds short of Ecclestone's minimum, which is the fee for races such as at Hockenheim.   BRDC officials, meanwhile, are reporting that their offer is at the limit, making - at present - the loss of Silverstone more likely than a 2005 grand prix.
Reports say Brawn bound for British switch  (GMM)  Ross Brawn could re-emerge at a different Formula One team before long, reports in Italy speculated on Friday.

With his Ferrari departure now confirmed, Friday's edition of sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport rejected talk of a 'sabbatical' or retirement, claiming that contact may already have been made between the 51-year-old and English based teams like McLaren and Williams.

Ferrari boss Jean Todt said of the departure of Brawn and engine chief Paolo Martinelli: "I wish them all the best in achieving the objectives they have set themselves in their new lives."

USGP to see drop in attendance  Look for the money-losing USGP to take another financial hit in 2007. Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were easily the most popular drivers in the event’s history. Now, they’re both gone from F1. Will the charismatic Kimi Raikkonen fill those shoes? We're kidding of course, as Raikkonen has to be the most boring driver media-wise in the history of the sport.
Martin to run some truck races in '07  Martin plans to run some Truck races in 2007..for Ford: Mark Martin said Thursday that he probably will drive in five to 10 races in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2007 in a Ford. He said he also probably will run five to 10 races in the Busch Series, driving a Chevrolet. Martin is driving the #01 Chevrolet for MB2 Motorsports in 20 Nextel Cup races next season. Martin has raced in the truck series 11 times this season, winning five of them. Dallas Morning News
Alonso not retiring  (GMM) Fernando Alonso has played down speculation that he could retire as soon as the end of the 2007 season.

The double world champion commented recently that he would be content to quit as a three time title winner, giving rise to suggestions that he might not live out the term of his new McLaren contract.

But Alonso, 25, told Spanish newspaper El Pais on Thursday: "I have a three year contract that I will fulfill.

"I do not know yet whether I will get one more title or perhaps even three. Time will tell."

He insisted, however, that the three titles won by Ayrton Senna would be 'the reference' for his own career.

With the retirement of Michael Schumacher and the departure in 2006 of Jacques Villeneuve, Alonso will be the only world champion on the Melbourne grid next March.

He said: "I know how hard it is to win two championships successively. I also know that it is even more difficult to win three.

"But I will go for it!"

New sponsor for Newman/Haas  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' We finally caught up with Mi-Jack's Mike Lanigan who said, "we are not going to be sponsoring a Newman/Haas car in 2007."

10/25/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Mi-Jack may move its sponsorship from the Conquest Racing team to Newman/Haas Racing in 2007 we assume for one of their three cars planned for next year. Meanwhile we hear that Conquest is in fine shape for next season and will not be impacted by the move. Stay tuned as we run this one to ground.
Forsythe to bench Allmendinger  UPDATE #2 According to this SPEEDTV.com article, Buddy Rice will replace Allmendinger in Mexico City.......and they may run a third car for Michel Jourdain Jr. as well

10/26/06 According to Allmendinger management, he will be racing for Forsythe in Mexico City, so if this rumor is true, then Forsythe would be running a 3rd car in Mexico.

10/25/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, Forsythe Racing will run a former American IRL driver in Mexico City, rumored to be either former Atlantic Series and Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice, or another American, perhaps Alex Barron.  Whoever it is, Forsythe has decided to bench AJ Allmendinger and start auditioning his replacement effective immediately.
New sponsor for Grand-Am Cup series  Look for the Grand American Road Racing Association to announce a new title sponsor for the Grand-Am Cup Series at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas next week.
Brawn’s departure announced to Ferrari  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement of Brawn's departure from Ferrari.  See Hot News page for story.

10/23/06 Ferrari may be silent on their imminent staffing reshuffle, but autosport.com has learned that technical director Ross Brawn has now told the team that he will not be with them next season.

The Maranello outfit are expected to reveal this week the future structure that will take them into a new era following the retirement of Michael Schumacher. The team's senior management have refused to comment on exactly what shape the new organisation will be, despite Autosport first revealing that Brawn will be taking a sabbatical next season.

But it appears that the team's staff have now been informed officially that Brawn will be leaving his position, after almost a decade with the Italian car manufacturer. According to high level sources, Brawn spoke about his future plans at the debrief following the Interlagos race, and told team members that he would not be a part of their plans for the 2007 season.

That announcement, on the back of Schumacher's decision, prompted emotional scenes on Sunday night as Brawn hugged and congratulated Ferrari staff members in the garage prior to departing the circuit. Brawn himself has not confirmed his news, but has simply reiterated that the official announcement about his plans will be made in the next few days. "We will know this week," said Brawn about whether he will be with them next season. He is expected to make his final public appearance with Ferrari at their Monza World Finals celebration this weekend. Autosport

Michelin leaves door open for F1 return  Michelin is leaving F1 because of a rules change that eliminates tire competition, but that does not mean it won't someday be back.

“Michelin will keep a very close eye on the way the sport evolves. Competition is very close to our heart, and if F1 goes the way we think it will go, then we’d be willing to come back to F1. It’s not a question of Max Mosley, it’s a question of the sport, and does the sport correspond to what Michelin’s ethics and values are. I think we’ve expressed it sufficiently for people to understand that we are very, very keen supporters of motorsport in general, and particular F1, when it’s competitive.” Michelin F1 boss Nick Shorrock to SPEEDTV.com

NASCAR runs roughshod over IRL's 'Road to Indy'  The IRL's 'Road to Indy' slogan indeed is dead, but we knew that years ago when NASCAR decided to suck up all the best young open wheel USAC drivers while the IRL could just watch in angst.

The U.S. Auto Club has its Big Five in NASCAR: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and J.J. Yeley. Meet some of the Next Five contenders.  Bobby Santos III, Josh Wise, Bryan Clauson, Billy Wease and Stephanie Mockler are among the USAC drivers positioned to break into NASCAR. Of course, there are no guarantees. Clauson, who has signed with Ganassi Racing, suffered multiple neck injuries in a sprint car accident in September. He is expected to return to driving in the spring; his Busch Series debut is projected for the final third of the season.

A look at why these five drivers are positioned to advance: More at Indy Star.....

Singleton back to Toronto?  UPDATE #3 Bob Singleton, who has served as the San Jose Grand Prix's general manager will not return in 2007.  San Jose Grand Prix President Dale Jantzen will take over most of Singleton's duties, after race organizers decided not to renew Singleton's contract to operate the race.  Now it remains to be seen if Singleton will move back to Toronto to manage that event again.

09/09/05 We are changing this rumor back from 'false' to 'speculation' as it appears our original source on this could have been correct.  With the sudden departure of Jo-Ann McArthur from Molson (See Hot News article), it opens the door for Bob Singleton to return.  As the original rumor said, Singleton did not get along with McArthur, but that she would be moving on.  We reported that back in June and here it is in September and lo and behold, McArthur is leaving.  The Molson folks are baffled how we knew. The walls have ears.....Back to the subject at hand, if Singleton does move back to Molson, Champ Car will have an ally against the rumor in this article that says Molson could drop Champ Car in favor of NASCAR.  If Singleton returns to Molson, who will oversee the San Jose race?    06/24/05 In talking to Cynthea Galbraith of Molson she tells us Bob has moved on and as far as she knows there is no plan to bring him back....so we'll make this rumor 'false.' 06/24/05 We hear that Bob Singleton might be asked to return to Molson to work once again on the Canadian Champ Car races. We hear the reason he left was because he did not get along with his boss, but that she may be moving on. Of course he would not leave San Jose in a lurch and there would be a smooth transition if it were to happen.
What about the European races?  UPDATE For those of you who attended Surfers you may have received one of our 2007 Champ Car schedules showing two European races. Were we a bit optimistic? We think not. While nothing has yet been confirmed in relation to the European races, the announcement that the Assen TT World Superbike race has been moved to April included reference to a proposed Champ Car race.

"We realize we are breaking a time-honored tradition by advancing the [WSBK] race to the 29th of April," managing director of the Assen circuit Peter Oosterbaan said, "but in this way the main events are spaced out better across the season, most certainly with an eye to the pop-concerts that will have to be scheduled after mid August and the proposed Champ Car races at the TT Circuit Assen in the month of September (Sept. 21-23)."

As for the second European race, as we stated in another rumor, it's between four different venues. A decision should be forthcoming within a couple of weeks. 2007 Champ Car schedule (shows Oschersleben as 2nd race - this will probably change.  We also hear the dates could change by a few weeks.)

10/10/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Champ Car president Steve Johnson said when the 15- race 2007 schedule was announced that he hoped to finalize the deals in Europe in a week or two. It's been two weeks, are those races dead on arrival? Eric Rothman, London, England

Dear Eric, According to our sources, the two races in Europe will happen. The concern I believe has to do with Oschersleben, Germany being too close to the Assen race (distance apart) as well as the Spa F1 race and Zandvoort A1GP bookending both events, all in the course of 4 weeks. If it were us we would look at tracks further away in lieu of Oschersleben. It's too bad the Bugatti circuit at LeMans did not materialize, as that would have been a good event given Champ Car's 'French Connections.' Another possibility is Brno in the Czech Republic. As can be seen below, the 3.357-mile road course is much longer and wider than Oschersleben as it was built to F1 standards. The question with Brno is whether there is enough interest in the Czech Republic for racing. The A1GP was sparsely attended. However, Brno has been looking for a 'signature' event for a long time and Champ Car could fit that bill. Mark C.

New mega Champ Car team in works  UPDATE #20 BTW, we forgot to mention that their intention is to call the team Minardi as Stoddart told AutoRacing1.com he still owns the rights to use that name.  We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page.

10/25/06 According to this Dutch website, the long rumored new Champ Car team is a go - Paul Stoddart, Harry Muermans and two unknown investors will have a go in Champ Car and a Dutch F1 commentator (Olav Mol) is being asked to become team manager.  We are bumping this rumor up to 'strong.'

10/18/06 According to AutoRacing1.com sources Kevin Kalkhoven, Champ Car President Steve Johnson, and others had dinner with Paul Stoddart in Sydney, Australia Wednesday night.  No word on what stage talks are at, but they do continue.

10/02/06 Some interesting quotes from this Dutch article, Doornbos stated, "Red Bull have indicated they'll be able to offer a drive in Champ Car and I am seriously reflecting on this."

The Dutchman's sponsor, Harry Muermans commented, "With Formula 1 anything is possible. But indeed the Champ Car offer from Red Bull hasn't been dismissed yet - certainly something to consider." He also expressed shock that Christian Klien had declined Red Bull's offer of a seat saying, "I do not understand Klien. He should have grabbed the offer of a Red Bull Champ Car drive with both hands."

It would also appear that Muermans favors the Champ Car option - over going back to an F1 testing role - for his protégé:

"If Robert chooses to race in Champ Car, that won't mean the end of his Formula 1 career. If he continues as a test and reserve driver, he will not get much running, as using a third car at races won't be allowed. Therefore, you're talking about no more than 3000km testing. But by racing in America, Robert would stay sharp, so that he can, when necessary, return to Red Bull [in Formula 1] and immediately be up to speed."

09/30/06 The team isn't giving Robert any false hope. "They have been very clear to me about that, for next season there will only be a testing role available for me at RBR (Red Bull Racing)", according to Robert Doornbos in China, who indicates his future plans are not only pointed at F1 anymore. "You can endlessly focus on F1, but there is a moment when it's over. Inside Red Bull they have told me they can arrange a racing seat for me with an American Champ Car team, I'm now seriously considering that option. If I can stay race fit that way and be involved as a test driver at the same time at RBR, then maybe that's the best option for me for 2007."

Nevertheless Robert is still focusing on a permanent seat in F1 in 2007 for the next couple of weeks. "In the coming 3 GP's I'm one of 22 drivers at the start and there isn't a better way to show off. Maybe my performance in the next three races will open doors at other F1 teams which are currently - still - closed"

With today's qualifying result (10th), Robert is already doing his best to crack these doors!

09/26/06 Robert Doornbos admitted that following his three F1 races in China, Japan and Brazil, a return to the test bench is most likely.

The Dutchman admitted to F1's official website: ''We have an offer from Red Bull to stay on next year as a test driver.  ''Maybe a combined role of testing and racing somewhere else would be a good option as well.''

Recall we told you that Muermans is not coming to Champ Car in a big way unless Doornbos comes.  If the "racing elsewhere" that Doornbos refers to does not mean Champ Car, then this rumored new Champ Car team won't happen, but we are told Muermans will continue to support Jan Heylen at Dale Coyne Racing.  Mark C.

09/11/06 Paul Stoddart says that he is now in a position to enter Champ Car next year but has yet to convince himself that he wants to spend his life flying back and forth across the Atlantic. Stoddart is even believed to have negotiated a deal to run his fleet of F1 two-seaters at a number of races in the United States as the F1 circus was not much interest in using them. Stoddart says that he will have to decide soon and that he would probably take over an existing team rather than starting his own team but still needs to be convinced that it is the right thing to do.

Stoddart was at Monza to visit the F1 fraternity and was muttering about maybe looking at doing something in GP2 instead. The Australian aviation magnate has a large racing factory and staff in Ledbury and still owns the right to use the Minardi name. He started out in major international competition fielding a Formula 3000 team with drivers Mark Webber and Christijan Albers before moving into F1 with Minardi. Stoddart accepts that the way F1 is at the moment it would be hard to get back into the game but with cost-cutting and other changes that could occur in the years ahead, he might one day be in a position to get back into F1. Grandprix.com

[Editor's Note: We told you Bernie would find a way to get Stoddart back in his camp instead of Champ Car.  We also told you Stoddart may take over the CTE Racing- HVM team, and he hints at that above.  To clarify, we believe KK owns all the assets of CTE Racing-HVM, not the actual corporation.]

09/11/06 With Robert Doornbos being announced as replacing Christian Klien to race alongside David Coulthard the remainder of this year, this rumor is downgraded to 'speculation.'  Just as Bernie Ecclestone found a way to remove Champ Car owned Cosworth from F1 in 2007 (unless Spyker badges the Cosworth) he may have also seen to it that Muermans (right) and Stoddart did not come to Champ Car.  However, Webber has the 2nd Red Bull seat for next year, but the rumors are that Doornbos (or Klien) could find their way to Spyker next year....or both.

Remember, Bernie has always wanted CART, now Champ Car dead, so when he heard Muermans might bring his money to Champ Car, he may have decided that wasn't going to happen. Recall we reported that this mega-team very much depended on Doornbos (left), because Doornbos is Muermans' guy (note his hat while he talks to Harry Muermans). We'll see if Bernie finds a way to stop Red Bull too.

09/09/06 AutoRacing1.com is hearing that one option for the Muermans Stoddart team is to take over the CTE Racing - HVM operation.   According to our sources Kevin Kalkhoven owns CTE Racing - HVM and unless that operation can become self-sufficient by finding sponsorship, KK could use the shop and personnel to provide Stoddart and company a turnkey operation in Indianapolis so they can hit the ground running.

If true, the Stoddart team would not be two additional cars on the grid, but instead would reinforce an existing 2-car operation.

Another option for Stoddart would be to expand the existing PKV facility.  As we understand it, the building PKV Racing is in is large enough to house another 2-car operation that would see Stoddart's team as an offshoot of PKV Racing, which could see the two teams sharing engineering data.  In this scenario Stoddart's team would add 2-cars to the '07 grid.

09/09/06 “We’re obviously still evaluating it [Champ Car team],” Paul Stoddart told SPEEDtv.com on a visit to Monza. “They’re lovely people and it’s a lovely series. The final decision won’t be made until October, and there are reasons for that, none the least being that although some of the boys are quite prepared to be based over there it’s a pretty big upheaval in my life, and 13 trips a year would give me a few problems. So let’s wait and see. But we wouldn’t go into it unless we were funded, so there’s no issue there.

“I think we’d go for an existing team probably, but the option is there to start from scratch because it’s a new car. But that’s the kind of thing we’re evaluating at the moment. It would probably be in Indianapolis. You’d be quite silly to try and base it anywhere else, to be honest. One thing that F1 taught me is that you might think you can do it better than other people, but you can’t, so it’s better to build on something than start from scratch.”

Stoddart said he would like to hire F1 drivers he knows.

09/03/06 Latest word on this team according to AutoRacing1.com sources is that a lot depends on Robert Doornbos.  If he finds a suitable ride in F1, that is where Muermans will back him and he probably will not fund a Champ Car team.  However, if Doornbos does not get a fulltime 'regular' drive in F1, which appears unlikely at this time, the likelihood of Muermans funding a Champ Car team is very high.  "Doornbos is Muermans guy," the source told AutoRacing1.com.

08/22/06 Hearing from our European sources that this team is indeed going forward.  More ...

Todt to vacate team boss post - reports  UPDATE #2 See this Hot News item for the announcement that Todt is now the new CEO of Ferrari, a position we assume will preclude him also managing the F1 team.

10/25/06 (GMM)  An authoritative Italian newspaper has added credibility to speculation that Jean Todt is on the verge of stepping down as Ferrari's team chief.

Media reports claim that the Frenchman, alongside the 'sabbatical' of technical director Ross Brawn, will be among the personnel reshuffle scheduled to be announced by the Maranello squad this week.

Roman daily newspaper 'La Repubblica' told a similar tale on Wednesday, adding that 60-year-old Todt is to be promoted to the Ferrari presidency, leaving Luca di Montezemolo free to concentrate on his roles at Fiat, Maserati and the Italian business lobby Confindustria.

Team manager Stefano Domenicali will reportedly replace him.

10/24/06 (GMM) Ross Brawn's retirement or 'sabbatical' will be confirmed by Ferrari this week, according to widespread media reports.

London broadsheet 'The Times' quoted race and test technical manager Nigel Stepney as saying the team reshuffle 'is not going to be easy' for the Maranello based squad.

"I don't know at the moment what's happening to Ross," he insisted, "but taking two or three members out of the team and with people moving up into their places -- it's difficult to say."

Stepney's comments give rise to speculation that the Briton might be near the front of the queue to fill posts.

Luca Baldisserri (left) is tipped to take over from Brawn as technical director, the Italian 'ANSA' news agency said.

ANSA added: "(Team principal Jean) Todt (right) in all likelihood will leave the paddock and focus more on running the company."

Stefano Domenicali may take over from the Frenchman at the helm, with Mario Almondo promoted to fill his post as sporting director.

Engine chief Paulo Martinelli may also leave the team, to be replaced by Mattia Binotto, additional reports in Italy insist.

Williams may not sign second tester  (GMM)  A spokesman for Williams says the Grove based team will decide within six weeks whether or not a second test driver will be appointed for the 2007 season.

It was reported on Wednesday that Timo Glock was already out of running for the ride, sparking speculation that Toyota-powered Williams will not in fact nominate a bespoke 'reserve' pilot to run alongside secondary tester Narain Karthikeyan.

The spokesman said Williams was 'assessing' the situation following the recent agreement limiting testing for next year.

"I think we'll probably reach a conclusion in the next month, six weeks as to whether we have a second test driver," he added.

The spokesman admitted that Karthikeyan's contract does not make him 'the de facto reserve driver'.

He explained: "If a race driver was unfit, yes we could use Narain, equally we have the capacity to use anyone else."

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