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DATE News (chronologically)
Conway to ink 2012 IndyCar deal, but with whom?  UPDATE
Mike Conway won at Long Beach for Andretti but then sputtered the remainder of the year
Mike Conway is optimistic of signing a new deal in the next fortnight which will keep him in IndyCar next year.  His third season in the series saw a disappointing slide down to finish 17th in the standings. Despite the issues, the 28-year-old has had interest from several teams, including Andretti Autosport, for whom he drove this year. The Sevenoaks driver from the UK is pleased to have options on the table and is hoping to have a deal wrapped up this month.

“It’s looking OK, a lot better than last winter when we had to wait until February. It would be nice to go into Christmas knowing what you’ll be doing next year. We are talking to Andretti and also keeping our options open in other areas.  I love IndyCar racing and living over there. I do miss a lot of the European circuits and the technology being used, but I’m enjoying it [in the States] and hopefully can stay there.” More ...

2012 IndyCar schedule  UPDATE #20 Here is what we think the final 2012 IndyCar schedule will look like.  We believe the series will return to Texas Motor Speedway and Randy Bernard will do the impossible and make the Las Vegas street race a reality for the grand finale.

Bruton Smith, who owns the Las Vegas oval venue in addition to the Texas Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Infineon Raceway Sears Point on which the Indy cars raced in 2011, told the Associated Press he wanted the series to honor a three-year agreement, but that his company, SMI would agree to a buyout for the 2012 and review the final season's date at a later time.

At this time there is no sanction agreement in place at Texas Motor Speedway, frustrating track president Eddie Gossage, who was a member of the iCONIC committee that settled on Dallara as the chassis maker of choice for the 2012 season and beyond.

Smith said Gossage was frustrated by the lack of action on his date--especially this late in the year.

  1. March 25 - St. Petersburg, FL - street course
  2. April 1 - Birmingham, AL - road course
  3. April 15 - Long Beach, CA - street course
  4. April 29 - Sao Paulo, Brazil - street course
  5. May 27 - Indianapolis, IN - oval track
  6. June 3 - Detroit, MI – street course
  7. June 9 - Ft. Worth, TX - oval track (Saturday night doubleheader)
  8. June 24 - Newton, IA - oval track (Saturday night race)
  9. July 8 - Toronto, Canada - street course
  10. July 22 - Edmonton, Canada - street course
  11. August 5 - Lexington, OH - road course
  12. August 19 - Qingdao, China street course
  13. Aug. 26 - Sonoma, Calif. road course
  14. September 2 - Baltimore, MD - street course
  15. September 15 - Fontana, CA - oval track
  16. October 13-14 - Las Vegas, NV - street course More ...
IndyCar vigorously pursuing Vegas street race  UPDATE #2
Look for the street race, if it happens, to be down around the Mandalay Bay at the southern end of The Strip
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard continues to be optimistic the Izod IndyCar Series will have the 16 races in 2012 necessary to satisfy its contract with Izod. IndyCar has only 14 at the moment, with the June 9th event at Texas Motor Speedway in limbo amid financial discussions.

"We'll find something," Bernard said Friday of completing next year's schedule.

The total dipped Thursday when Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of Dan Wheldon's fatal crash in October, was dropped for next season. IndyCar paid the track rental fee the two sides had agreed upon when signing a three-year deal. Bernard said "considerable testing" must be done before IndyCar can return to the 1.5-mile oval.  Bernard went to Las Vegas on Thursday to speak to supporters of that event. He hasn't ruled out trying to arrange a street circuit race but said Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course is not a possibility for next year. Indy Star

With today's announcement that the previously announced IndyCar race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway has been terminated, we suspect the idea of a Vegas street race instead will get a lot more attention now.

11/16/11 Tony Cotman, one of the architects (along with Martyn Thake) of the highly praised Las Vegas street course used by Champ Car in 2007, is believed to be scouting options for a return to Sin City's streets in 2012.  As we have rumored previously if Vegas is to become a street race the series will race near Mandalay Bay and the plan is to close the southern portion of the Las Vegas strip.
USAC Champ Clauson Poised For Indy 500 Debut  
Will front engined USAC cars that race on dirt adequately prepare Bryan Clauson for the Indy 500?
When INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard saw his first USAC sprint show at Kokomo Speedway in 2010, he was impressed with the horsepower (850), the skill of the drivers on the quarter mile dirt track and the passionate fans that packed the grandstands.

On the drive back home, he wondered why none of those American open-wheel racers competed in the Indianapolis 500.

It was explained that USAC used to be the path to Indy but not for over 30 years because the dirt cars were removed from the championship schedule and road racing replaced DuQuoin, Springfield, Sacramento and the Hoosier Hundred. More ...

IndyCar to ditch airbox?  
Although the photos are poor, there appears to be no airbox on either car.
Chevrolet- and Honda-powered cars ran together for the first time Dec. 8 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to gauge the aerodynamic effects of traffic as engine manufacturing development continues in preparation for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.

However, as you can make out of these photos snapped with a handheld PDA, the cars were running with no airbox from what we can tell.  Of course turbocharged cars do not need airboxes.  We assume they were testing the car without airboxes to see if it improves the handling of the diabolical, poorly designed car.  If so, this is a HUGE design change.  Just how bad is this car to make this major of a change now?  Removing the airbox has to totally change airflow on the back half of the car.

The turbulence side by side was minimal and a good tow was apparent when running behind each other, according to INDYCAR vice president of technology Will Phillips. Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing drove Honda’s Dallara chassis while Tony Kanaan (Dec. 7) of KV Racing Technology and JR Hildebrand of Panther Racing (Dec. 8) were behind the wheel of the Chevrolet car. More ...
2nd Brazil race in IndyCar's future?  A new Hermann Tilke-designed road course in southern Brazil was unveiled Friday morning as part of the pre-event festivities for the annual Granja Viana 500 km kart race.

Limited details were released, but as SPEED.com contributor Efrain Olivares explained after the press conference, "The track is scheduled to begin construction next year, with a 2-3 year plan and they hope to attract IndyCar." More ...

Where will Grubb land? JGR?  UPDATE #4 This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement.

12/06/11 More evidence that AR1.com's inside sources were correct on Grubb and Mike Ford - Mike Ford was let go Tuesday as crew chief for #11-Denny Hamlin after a disappointing season in which the duo failed to contend for the championship. "I'm kind of relieved," Ford told The Associated Press. "It had been dragging on for so long, I'm actually relieved there's finally a resolution." Joe Gibbs Racing team owner Joe Gibbs met with ex-Tony Stewart championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb last week in Las Vegas, the day after the season-ending awards ceremony. Grubb has also toured the JGR facility. Ford said JGR officials made no mention of Grubb in telling Ford he was out late Tuesday. Associated Press

12/01/11 According to AR1.com sources, Mike Ford is out at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).  We hear that Darian Grubb, who helped Tony Stewart win this year's title, will replace him in 2012 on the No. 11, but if that falls through Jason Ratcliff will step up from the Nationwide series.

Darian Grubb (L) with Tony Stewart.  Grubb brings Stewart a Sprint Cup title and then Stewart fires him.  Smart.  Real smart.
Rick Hendrick talks to media: Rick Hendrick held a teleconference Monday and discussed a wide variety of issues:
About Darian Grubb:
A: I have had discussions with Darian. When he left (at the end of 2008), we told him we'd always have a place for him if he wanted to come back. Darian is a very smart guy. I know he's entertaining a lot of offers out there. We don't have a crew chief role. We have an engineering role that we think Darian would be really good in. But at the end of the day it's got to be what Darian wants to do. I know he is close to all of our people and our guys are close to him. We'd love to have him back in the organization, but I quite honestly don't know where he's going to end up. We would like to have him, but whether or not he's going to decide he wants to be in the role we've offered him or he wants to do something somewhere else, I'm just not sure. More ...
Sutil to secure Williams seat  UPDATE #2
Sutil is Williams bound
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil has a firm eye on Williams as formula one's driver lineup for 2012 takes more shape.

On Friday, one of the German's potential options for next year - the vacant Lotus seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen - was filled by new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.

Sutil is expected to lose his Force India seat to Nico Hulkenberg, so the team veteran is now hoping for a switch to Williams.

"Yes, certainly there has been talks with several teams for quite some time, but nothing is signed," the 28-year-old was quoted as saying on Friday by Germany's speed-magazin.de. More ...

Lotus to confirm Grosjean on Friday  UPDATE #2 This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement.

Romain Grosjean
12/08/11 (GMM)  As speculation surrounding the identity of Kimi Raikkonen's 2012 teammate goes into overdrive, clarity may now be just around the next bend.

International media reports claim the former Renault team, to be known as Lotus F1 Team from next season, is ready to make an official announcement on Friday that will complete its next driver lineup.

There have been plenty of reported candidates, ranging from the team's 2011 lineup Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov, refugees from other teams like Adrian Sutil and Rubens Barrichello, and even drivers under contract like Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen and Virgin's Timo Glock.

Indeed, with Virgin assuming the identity of the Russian supercar marque Marussia from 2012, it is reported that Lotus might swap Vitaly Petrov - who has a contract - with the similarly 2012-contracted Timo Glock.

"The owner of the (Lotus) team Gerard Lopez has said that the driver alongside Raikkonen will be experienced," reported Italy's Tuttosport.

"Glock might be just the name the team is looking for." More ...

Will more F1 teams quit FOTA group?  (GMM)  With up to five of F1's twelve teams no longer members, the future of the FOTA alliance is on shaky ground.

HRT pulled out at the start of the year, with team boss Colin Kolles chiding the Geneva-based association for being "just a name and not really existing in the real world".

But it was the exits of F1's biggest budget Red Bull and Ferrari that have rocked the foundations of the body, which was set up amid the teams' political battles with Bernie Ecclestone and former FIA president Max Mosley.

"FOTA fulfilled its purpose in the crisis period," Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko said this week, with team boss Christian Horner adding: "In the last 12 months it hasn't quite been clear what was the purpose of FOTA." More ...

Silly Season page links added  On our Rumors page, right above the first rumor, you can now find links to the 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page and the corresponding 2012 F1 Silly Season page.
Schmidt to run Honda power with Pagenaud in 2012  UPDATE #2
Simon Pagenaud

This rumor that we had posted since August 1st is now upgraded to 'fact' today.  Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will be the driver of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) Honda-powered Dallara in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, team owner Sam Schmidt announced today during a press conference in Indianapolis.

SSM team manager Rob Edwards and Pagenaud joined Schmidt at the press conference in the Indiana Convention Center during the International Motorsports Industry Show in downtown Indianapolis, just five miles from the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More ...

Larry Dixon to leave Alan Johnson Racing?  
Larry Dixon in Houston this past year
There are times when it's hard to ignore a rumor. It's even harder to look past the wisps of smoke from a source that has already sprouted flames.

That's the situation with drag racing's hottest report: Two-time champion Larry Dixon to leave his seat in the Alan Johnson Top Fuel dragster to race for Sheikh Khalid Al Thani.

Throughout the summer there were whispers the Sheikh would cut back his involvement of the Al-Anabi Racing team that featured Dixon and Del Worsham, who eventually won the Top Fuel championship. A week before the Auto Club Finals at Fairplex, word leaked that Worsham was going to step out of his ride. More ...

Where will Kurt Busch land?  
Kurt Busch won for Penske at Infineon Raceway this year
Benny Parsons, the 1973 Sprint Cup champion and 1975 Daytona 500 winner, explained the difference between a driver and a team: "Drivers win races, but teams win championships." It is a concise assessment that was true when the late Parsons said it many years ago and it remains accurate today.

Kurt Busch faces an arduous rebuilding process following his departure from Penske Racing. It's never good to be a free agent in December. The well-funded seats with the top teams are taken --with the exception of the No. 22 at Penske Racing that Busch vacated -- and Busch's opportunities for 2012 are limited to teams that finished in the 30s in owner points this season. Busch has at least one Cup victory in each of the past 10 seasons, 24 total, and it will be a notable achievement if he's able to keep the streak alive next year. More ...

Newgarden to drive for Sarah Fisher  UPDATE This rumor is now upgraded to 'fact.'  Fisher said Newgarden's signing is the first step in a series of planned announcements. She indicated an engine contract is in place, although she would not confirm it, and said it won't be revealed at a news conference set for today at IMS.

12/07/11 Sarah Fisher Racing has an announcement scheduled for today at IMS to announce its plans for 2012. Fisher told SPEED.com she could not confirm or deny that 2011 Firestone Indy Lights champion Josef Newgarden would be SFR's new driver...we have updated our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page accordingly.
Marussia an option as Petrov looks to save F1 career?  
Russian Love: Petrov makes sense at Marussia
(GMM)  According to the Russian press, a shock switch to the Marussia team might be an option as Vitaly Petrov looks to rescue his F1 career.

Lotus is reviewing its options after signing Kimi Raikkonen for 2012, with Petrov only one candidate for the sister seat alongside others including Romain Grosjean, Bruno Senna and Adrian Sutil.

The Russia Today website cited a French report in claiming new GP2 champion Grosjean is the hot favorite. More ...

Ricciardo to Caterham, Toro Rosso to remain unchanged  UPDATE
Daniel Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that Toro Rosso will most likely retain Jaime Alguersuari and Sébastien Buemi in 2012, with the pair seemingly doing enough to convince Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko of their pace in the latter half of the year.

Ricciardo was drafted in to replace HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan from the British Grand Prix onwards, impressing many and regularly outpacing team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi.

"At the moment it seems like Toro Rosso is going to stay with who they've got," Ricciardo is quoted as saying by The West Australian. "It wasn't put down 100 per cent, but it was the wording I was making out. More ...

All change for 2012 Lotus lineup  (GMM)  Team owner Gerard Lopez has confirmed reports Lotus could change its driver lineup completely ahead of the 2012 season.

Already signed up for next year is Kimi Raikkonen, amid reports 2011 drivers Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov are the main contenders to be the famous Finn's teammate.

"It's not just a question of Vitaly or Bruno," clarified majority team owner Genii Capital's Lopez. More ...

Will Busch stay in NASCAR or eye IndyCar?  
In February 2003 Kurt Busch tried his hand at a Champ Car at Sebring in this AR1.com file photo.  See video below
"Kurt Busch had some concerns and of course, so did we, which led us to the decision to mutually separate and end our driver-race team relationship," Penske Corp. senior vice president Bud Denker said in an email to USA TODAY. "We will begin to evaluate possible candidates for the No. 22 car.” Busch said "there was no single incident that got us to this point" and stressed it was "a mutual separation. That's how I want it to be expressed to everybody. Everybody's going to run with it and write 'out' or 'fired' or whatever it may be. Most importantly, this was a mutual agreement."

The Las Vegas native intimated he had been mulling a departure from the team prior to Homestead. It was a turbulent season for Busch, who revealed a separation from his wife in June and clashed with two reporters in the regular-season finale Sept. 11 at Richmond International Raceway.

"Right now I'm just looking at just putting the fun back into my racing. Maybe that's why I was out running drag racing, or Frank Kimmel's street stock racing. I was looking to find opportunities to put a smile on my face." More ...

Kurt Busch out at Penske?  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

Kurt Busch has cursed his way right out of a NASCAR job
Penske Racing officials are meeting Monday to determine the future of driver #22-Kurt Busch. Penske officials were contacted by ESPN.com on Sunday, but would not confirm or deny the meeting over Busch's status, while the Charlotte Observer reported that Busch has been fired.

Busch has been involved in several behavior incidents on the track this season, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch made an obscene hand gesture leaving the track after his transmission failure early in the race. He also had a profanity-laced tirade at ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch and his camera crew in the garage moments later, which went viral on YouTube. More ...
Berger linked with Renault/Lotus role  UPDATE
Gerhard Berger in 2008 when he was still part owner in the Toro Rosso team
This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today.  Gerhard Berger has played down reports he is a contender to return to formula one with a role at the Lotus team in 2012. International reports had predicted the former grand prix winner, BMW motor sport director and Toro Rosso co-owner will return from retirement amid rumors team boss Eric Boullier is leaving his role.

"My perpetual holiday is continuing," the 52-year-old former Ferrari and McLaren driver is quoted as saying by Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.

12/01/11 (GMM)  Gerhard Berger has emerged as a contender to work with the Lotus Renault team.

Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport and Finland's Turun Sanomat report that the former grand prix winner, BMW motor sport director and Toro Rosso co-owner has been sounded out by Lotus' owner Genii Capital.

"Team boss Eric Boullier is rumored to be leaving his duties," wrote journalist Heikki Kulta.

Additionally, former McLaren sporting director Dave Ryan was in the Renault garage last weekend at Interlagos, with team figures coy about his possible full-time involvement for 2012.

Genii's Gerard Lopez said this week: "Kimi (Raikkonen's) decision to come back to formula one with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future."

Raikkonen owns slice of Lotus F1 team  
Is Raikkonen driving for free in exchange for partial ownership in the Lotus Renault team?
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen is also a minor shareholder of the newly-renamed Lotus team, according to reports. Spain's El Mundo Deportivo, and Italy's Italiaracing, claim the 2007 world champion traded income and performance bonuses for an actual slice of the Genii-controlled team that is based at Enstone, UK.

He "could be the first 'driver-owner' in F1 in more than twenty years," the Spanish newspaper claimed.

El Mundo said Finn Raikkonen, 32, proposed the idea to Williams but it did not take place "perhaps because (the British team) is listed on the stock exchange".

Together with his management team headed by David and Steve Robertson, Raikkonen had his own 'Double R' F3 team. And he competed in world rallying this year with his own outfit by the name of Ice1 Racing, which is also involved in motocross.

Will Detroit bankruptcy affect Detroit GP?  
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is fighting a losing battle with unemployment so high in his city
Its financial picture is so bleak, the City of Detroit may not have the means to fix itself without landing in bankruptcy court, restructuring experts say.

Mayor Dave Bing and city officials insist they can find solutions to fend off a financial meltdown, even as the state begins its review of Detroit's finances Tuesday.

But experts who reviewed the city's finances for the Free Press said that even an emergency manager -- despite sweeping powers to slash costs, abolish union contracts and sell off assets -- will likely find the challenges too great to solve without the help of a bankruptcy judge. More ...

IndyCar economics not working for some teams  Rumor has it that Newman/Haas may not be the last IndyCar team to fold.  It is sad news about N/H for sure.  Having said that, word is there will be more teams reduced or not on the grid for the first race.  The budget needed to do a middle-pack job next year is around $7 million for the season.  This number is NOT sustainable in the marketplace, as N/H indicates.  They had to subsidize the team for the past few years (and that was with free cars and engines in 08, free cars in 09, $100k for chassis in '10). 

Given the fact that the new chassis is "cost reduced", compared to the old chassis, there are very few teams that actually paid much for their old cars, if anything.  Keep in mind that most of the IRL teams had engine deals with Honda, Toyota, etc.  These mfg. actually bought the chassis' for the teams, i.e. Honda paid for most of Andretti's cars, and Toyota bought Ganassi's.  Add in the fact that most Champ Car teams only paid $100k for their cars (after 2 years of free), so the new car is actually a big cost INCREASE for most teams. More ...
Honda plans new NSX  Rumors early last month were that Honda is working on a new NSX, but more details have emerged. The Japanese firm has revealed that it’s planning a new concept called the Super Sports concept, and it hints at a new top-of-the-range sportscar. The general manager of Honda’s R&D centre, Yoshikazu Kigoshi, said that the new concept is seen as “a halo model that will be a successor to the NSX.”

It will be shown to the public for the first time at the Detroit Motor Show in January next year and the drivetrain will be comprised of a petrol-electric combination that uses a three-liter V6 motor pushing out over 225kW and driving all four wheels through a system that’s been dubbed SH-AWD, which is very simply Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive. The petrol engine will only drive the front wheels, while the electric motor will take care of the rear wheels. More ...

Williams set to announce 'experienced' driver  Williams has revealed that a ‘more experienced’ driver is likely to fill the squad's vacant seat, with Pastor Maldonado being confirmed for another year on Thursday. The outfit also announced that GP3 Champion Valtteri Bottas will become its reserve driver, leaving team boss Sir Frank Williams seeking a man with more F1 mileage.

"We have a very specific approach to young driver development, working with one highly talented individual over a period of years," said Williams. "Valtteri has proved a very capable and rounded young man of fierce determination. More ...

Silly Season pages updated  Our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page has been updated with the removal of Newman/Haas Racing who announced today that they were closing their doors.  Our 2012 F1 Silly Season page was updated with car numbers for next year as well as showing Pastor Maldonado as 'fact' to drive for AT&T Williams after today's announcement.
Carl Edwards to struggle in 2012?  According to AR1.com sources, The 99 Roush NASCAR team has lost its race engineers. If true, Carl Edwards will have a much harder time maintaining his competitive form in 2012.  We also hear that Roush has cut almost all of its R&D staff, which are now looking for work. Roush won the bidding war for Carl Edwards, but his substantial salary is undermining the cars he will be driving.
Will Bruton sue IndyCar if they renege?  UPDATE IndyCar gave away a rumored 100,000 free tickets for this year's race on the Vegas oval and despite those free tickets and all the hoopla surrounding the big prize Wheldon was going after, the grandstands were so empty you could shoot a cannon in them and not hit anyone.  So if next year fans have to pay to see the race, how many do you think will buy them?  Faced with losing his shirt, Bernard may feel the lawsuit will cost IndyCar less money than the potential financial bloodbath that could result should he have to pay Bruton to rent the track again.  Since it is a track rental deal, how much would Bruton win in the lawsuit?  Peanuts we suspect.

11/30/11 While IndyCar is pursuing a 'safer' and more glamorous street race in Las Vegas, track owner Bruton Smith says he fully expects the IndyCar Series to return to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next season. Smith says there are two years remaining on the contract between the speedway and the open-wheel series, and he expects IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard to honor the deal.

While he did not say he will sue IndyCar if they do not honor the contract, don't put it past Bruton.  He knows how to play hardball.

Smith also wants the series at Texas Motor Speedway next season, but rumor has it Bruton wants to pay IndyCar less than what IndyCar is asking.

At a NASCAR event in downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday, Smith was critical of Bernard's indecision and called on him to honor his agreements with Speedway Motorsports Inc. IndyCar does not have a sanctioning agreement yet with Texas for 2012.

Is Chiquita in NASCAR's future?  Chiquita Brands International, an iconic company whose name is almost synonymous with 'bananas,' said Tuesday that it will move its global headquarters to Charlotte next year, bringing some 400 jobs. The company was lured by $21.1 million in government incentives and the promise of easier international travel from Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which has grown as the Ohio airport near Chiquita's current headquarters has shrunk. Chiquita is in negotiations to lease five or six floors in the NASCAR Plaza office tower adjoining the racing Hall of Fame. At the NASCAR Plaza, which has struggled to lease office space and faced foreclosure proceedings last year, Chiquita branding will feature prominently on and in the building.  Charlotte Observer
IndyCar house cleaning: Angstadt out, Barnhart reassigned  UPDATE #2 See today's announcement from IndyCar confirming this rumor.

11/29/11 Robin Miller at SPEED reports that Brian Barnhart may move to President of Operations for INDYCAR but will no longer be involved in day-to-day management of the racing series. He also reports that INDYCAR commercial division president Terry Angstadt will be replaced by Mark Koretzky, previously director of business development. Barnhart will be offered to stay on the payroll as president of operations but will no longer have anything to do with the officiating or managing of IZOD IndyCar Series races. Christmas comes early for IndyCar!

Are rumors true that Terry Angstadt was sacked?
11/29/11 Unconfirmed reports say that IndyCar Commercial Director Terry Angstadt has resigned from IndyCar.  The fact that the 2012 schedule has yet to be announced spells trouble for Angstadt because he was responsible for pulling all the events together. 

Will Brian Barnhart be next after he made many bad calls in race control and he spoon fed the new IndyCar contract to Dallara and the car turned out to be a disaster in every respect - it's slow as a slug, looks butt ugly, handles diabolically and the driver's head is more exposed than the old car, just waiting to be hit by a errant tire, flying suspension part, or catch fence post.
McLaren may switch to Honda engines (No)  UPDATE #4 (GMM)  Honda has now added its denial to rumors the Japanese carmaker could be looking to return to F1 by supplying a V6 engine to McLaren in 2014.

With McLaren's Mercedes relationship reverting to mere 'customer' status after next season, Auto Motor und Sport reported recently that Honda could fill the void by returning to F1 and rekindling its ultra-successful past link with the famous British team.

"That's all wide of the mark," McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale said last week.

And Honda chief executive Takanobu Ito said on Wednesday: "That was a complete unfounded rumor.

"Of course we are interested but we think there are higher priorities than formula one," he told North American reporters at the Tokyo motor show.

Honda pulled its team out of F1 at the end of 2008. More ...

Bottas favorite for Williams seat?  UPDATE
Bottas (center)
(GMM)  Valtteri Bottas has acknowledged he is in the running to step up to the formula one race grid with Williams in 2012.

The new GP3 champion, already the famous British team's test driver, impressed during the young drivers' session in Abu Dhabi recently.

It is also believed the 22-year-old Finn is promising an ample amount of sponsorship and, alongside contenders including Rubens Barrichello and Adrian Sutil, is in the running for a race seat in 2012.

Referring to his laps in Abu Dhabi, Bottas told Finland's Turun Sanomat: "I think the team wanted to see what I could really do on the track. More ...

2012 F1 Silly Season page goes live  With former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen confirming that he will make a highly-anticipated return to Formula 1 with Lotus Renault GP next season, the 2012 Formula 1 grid is fast shaping up. We have created our annual 2012 F1 Silly Season page.
Raikkonen to return to F1?  UPDATE #12 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today - Raikkonen is back to F1, but in a surprise announcement with Lotus Renault.

Kimi Raikkonen back in F1 with Williams, but wants ownership stake
11/23/11 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation' today.  Kimi Raikkonen's chances of returning to formula one next year with Williams seem to have receded.

The Italian magazine Autosprint reports that the 2007 world champion's prospective sponsors may have withdrawn their interest, leaving fellow Finn and rookie Valtteri Bottas at the top of the candidates list now.

German commentator and former F1 driver Christian Danner would not mind if Raikkonen's comeback attempt fails.

"Quite simply, he was already past his best when he stopped," he told German broadcaster RTL, referring to Raikkonen's departure from Ferrari in 2009. More ...

Hamilton to target Ferrari switch  UPDATE #2 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Lewis Hamilton has indicated he will almost certainly sign a new deal with McLaren next year to continue what Martin Whitmarsh has described as his "love affair" with the team.  A troubled 2011 finally came to an end for Hamilton yesterday in the kind of circumstances that were perhaps to be expected as he suffered the first mechanical retirement of the season.

Hamilton, though, sees no reason why he will not remain at McLaren even though it is highly likely seats at Ferrari and Red Bull will also be available in 2013.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Hamilton said: "What is most important for me next year is getting back to where I should be - to the good performances, to winning, to enjoying life, enjoying the year.

"I'm at a positive place within myself. Things are getting better, and I just want to continue on this path because it would be good.

"I don't think there's any question of my commitment to the team, so there's no real rush to have to do anything. I'll just focus on the year." More ...

Zipadelli being held hostage by Gibbs  Darian Grubb's future with the Stewart-Haas, if any is unknown, although the Competition Director position remains unfilled. Greg Zipadelli, crew chief for #20-Joey Logano, according to several sources has been the frontrunner for that job but has been unable to secure a release from his Joe Gibbs Racing contract. Signed through 2012, those sources say the former crew chief for Stewart and current head wrench for Joey Logano has met with strong internal opposition from J.D. Gibbs to secure his release. Frontstretch
BMW and Toyota to swap engines  Rumors out of Europe say there is a  planned engine swap deal between BMW and Toyota about to be announced.

Set to be made public at the Tokyo motor show this week, the cooperation is said to center on BMW supplying Toyota with four- and six-cylinder diesel engines. In return, Toyota plans to provide BMW with technology used to combine combustion engines and electric motors in various hybrid applications.

Newspapers in Germany and Japan have reported that the automakers are prepared to announce the powertrain plan this week. Toyota and BMW labeled the reports as speculation and declined to comment.

Addington headed to Stewart-Haas?  UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement.

11/22/11 Steve Addington, who resigned from Penske Racing today, could be headed to Stewart-Haas Racing where he would become crew chief for 2011 Cup champion Tony Stewart. Stewart’s crew chief, Darian Grubb, confirmed after Stewart won Sunday’s race and wrapped up the championship that he would not be back with the organization.

Prior to moving to Penske, Addington worked with Busch’s younger brother, Kyle, at Joe Gibbs Racing and drivers J.J. Yeley and Bobby Labonte prior to that.

He won 12 races with Kyle Busch, including four in 2009 when the No. 18 team failed to qualify for the Chase.

Kerry Earnhardt career over  
Kerry Earnhardt
Kerry Earnhardt hasn't competed in a NASCAR race since July 2009, and the 41-year-old driver wants to do what he loves. That means he wants to spend his time outdoors, but not necessarily at the race track.

The oldest son of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. still hopes to have a connection to racing but hopes it's through drivers appearing on the outdoors television show he's working on or at the track when son Jeffrey is racing. But with 106 starts in NASCAR's three national series - seven in Cup, 72 in Nationwide and 27 in trucks - Earnhardt doesn't expect to have another one.

"I do get bored a little bit," Earnhardt said. "I still have the thought [to race] but I just don't have the desire to drive. You can attribute it back to a lot of opportunities that I had that weren't successful, they weren't competitive opportunities. Scene Daily
Red Bull faked Vettel gearbox problem  
Vettel let Webber through to the lead but everyone thinks it was to give Webber at least one win for the season, such was the dominance of Vettel
(GMM) Even Ferrari smelled a rat on Sunday when Sebastian Vettel let his teammate Mark Webber pass for victory during the 2011 season finale.

Before the Brazilian grand prix, Australian Webber had failed to win a single race all season but was mathematically still in the fight for second place in the drivers' championship.

In the race, he passed dominant back-to-back world champion teammate Vettel after the 24-year-old developed what Red Bull described as a gearbox problem.

But suspicions were roused in the media centre when the young German continued to set fast lap times from second place, and it also emerged that Vettel's gearbox had been freshly installed before the event. More ...
Pic to land F1 seat in 2012  UPDATE #6 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's announcement that Pic will drive for Marussia in 2012.

11/14/11 It is yet to be officially confirmed but I am reliably assured that Charles Pic has signed to drive for Marussia Racing in 2012, with an option to stay with the team in 2013. Timo Glock is already under contract to the team and will be Pic’s team-mate – unless one of the big teams makes him an offer, in which I believe he has a contract that would allow him to leave. I am not sure how one defines a top team (probably based on the results of the previous season) and he could leave (probably) if offered a drive with Lotus Renault GP. That might leave the slim possibility that Jerome d’Ambrosio could stay next year. The team likes him and I think he has been one of the quiet revelations of the year, as matching Glock when one had no experience is no mean achievement. Sadly, I think Renault is looking more and more towards a pairing of Vitaly Petrov/Romain Grosjean, and so Jerome will need to look elsewhere, and without money behind him it is going to be tough to get a job. He deserves better. Joe Saward

Charles Pic
11/09/11 (GMM)  Frenchman Charles Pic has now sealed a deal to make his formula one race debut with the Marussia (currently Virgin) team in 2012.

We reported two weeks ago that the 21-year-old GP2 driver, mentored by Olivier Panis and managed by the Lagardere group, was on pole position to replace Timo Glock's current teammate Jerome d'Ambrosio next year.

The authoritative French sports daily L'Equipe reports on Wednesday that the deal is done.

"In 2012, there will be at least one Frenchman on the grid," read the report. More ...

FIA to clamp down on flexible F1 front wings  (GMM)  A rumor in the Interlagos paddock could spell bad news for Red Bull and Ferrari, as the FIA looks to clamp down on flexible front wings.

The issue has returned to the fore at recent races, with Ferrari testing a Red Bull-style wing that is so flexible at speed that it often "flutters" and sends sparks flying from the bottoming endplates.

Spanish sports newspaper Marca said the governing body has been looking at how to further improve its scrutineering load tests so that teams cannot pass them with clearly flexible wings. More ...

Upgrades planned for Interlagos  Brazilian Grand Prix chiefs are considering a plan to move the Interlagos pits and paddock to the current back straight as part of circuit improvements pencilled in for the next few years.

With the track evaluating modifications in the wake of two fatal stock car accidents earlier this year, there is already a scheme in place for revisions to be made to the run-off areas and current pitlane entry for next year. More ...
Caterham steals McLaren's chief aerodynamicist  Autosport reports that Team Lotus has boosted its technical strength with the signing of McLaren's chief aerodynamicist John Iley for next year.

Iley, who has previously worked alongside Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne at Jordan and Renault, has spent the most recent part of his career at Ferrari and McLaren.

Although the news has not yet been made official, sources have confirmed that Iley is currently on gardening leave from McLaren in light of his Team Lotus deal.

Oreca to build aero kit for IndyCar?  UPDATE #2
Will one company come up with a body kit for IndyCar that will include a canopy?
A reader adds, Dear AR1.com, The question is, will someone be bold enough to add a canopy and really shake things up?  I still say the most exciting opportunity for IndyCar is to try to license the design of the X1 Red Bull and have someone create the thing. That is clearly the biggest opportunity to change this game in favor of IndyCar. I realize that a car following the conventional design will in and of itself not change the game, but the X1 design would, and be safer at the same time! Randy needs to have discussions with Red Bull and maybe even Sony (PS3 tie in) to use the creation of the car as a marketing vehicle to sell more games and more Red Bull. Have Red Bull and Sony cover the cost to develop the prototype and buy 1 car per team to defer the cost to the teams and lessen he squabbling that would come from another new car. Remember the days when a new car was a common thing each and every year? I realize economics have changed and that is no longer feasible but this thing would so shake up the establishment that it would pay back to the owners in spades as the series was recognized, once again, as the leader in ‘cool’ and ‘exciting’ in NA, maybe worldwide with that radical and sexy chassis.

Cost to Red Bull and Sony:  Say the first 25 entrants get a  car (back up cars and spares up to the team)

Sony Alone will spend over 200M this year promoting PS3 world wide)

Give these two companies branding and exposure for 3 years for this investment, give them 2 more years if they buy a second chassis for all players , again peanuts for these guys and an average annual marketing spend of 6.5M (for 50 cars) or 3.25 each… nothing! I believe a deal like this can be sold to the players mentioned… question is does IndyCar have the stomach and the vision for it? Mike Earle

11/26/11 Oreca also builds the ALMS LMPC car with Chevy engines. Could the kit be for the Chevy engined cars?

11/26/11 Rumor has it that long-time sportscar manufacturer ORECA is talking with INDYCAR regarding the production of an aero kit for 2013. With its new, close association with Toyota on the sports car front, it's not clear what their goal would be.  An IndyCar engine manufacturer is not going to allow a Toyota body kit on its cars, and what is to be gained for ORECA unless Toyota wants to return to IndyCar as an engine manufacturer someday.
Hulkenberg to get race seat news in two weeks  
Nico Hulkenberg
(GMM)  Nico Hulkenberg's return to a race seat in 2012 is a done deal, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

The report said Force India has already signed its current reserve and Friday driver to replace race regular Adrian Sutil, even though an announcement is not due yet.

"If you remember, he (boss Vijay Mallya) said December 15 and that would be consistent with what he's always projected," deputy team chief Robert Fernley said on Friday.

24-year-old Hulkenberg also hinted that while the announcement might not be imminent, he will no longer have to wait "weeks". More ...

Comments suggest 2012 Caterham lineup not in doubt  (GMM)  Comments made by Team Lotus/Caterham chief Tony Fernandes seem to contradict reports Jarno Trulli may be unceremoniously ousted after Sunday's season finale.

It has been rumored that, despite inking a new deal with the Italian veteran recently, Fernandes may be in talks with Red Bull about sidelining Trulli to make room for either Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne.

But in La Gazzetta dello Sport's Sportweek magazine, the Malaysian businessman suggested that Trulli is definitely a part of Caterham's plans for 2012. More ...

Rumors hint at 2013 delay for Austin F1 race  UPDATE #7 This rumor is downgraded to 'false today.  See hot news whereby Circuit of Americas has agreed to meet Bernie Ecclestone's terms and keep their 2012 F1 date.

11/17/11 Austin Grand Prix chiefs are ready to accept moving their inaugural race back to 2013, after conceding for the first time that next year's race is probably not going to happen.  Organizers of Circuit of The Americas are responding to reported statements in the media by Bernie Ecclestone as follows:

“We have been excited for and working towards a 2012 USGP race and now understand that Mr. Ecclestone is interested in moving the Austin race to 2013,” stated Steve Sexton, president of Circuit of The Americas. “We know the U.S. market is important to the teams and their sponsors and 2013 certainly allows time for the Circuit of The Americas to be ready.” More ...

Bahrain's F1 return 'in the balance' for 2012  
Bahrain start 2010
(GMM)  The chances Bahrain will host its grand prix as scheduled next year have shrunk this week, according to two respected British correspondents.

The Telegraph's Tom Cary said he spent two hours on Wednesday reading the 500-page report produced by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.

He said the report, produced to analyze the unrest that earlier this year moved formula one to cancel the 2011 season opener, made clear that "many instances of torture" and abuse by the government took place and that "the situation in the country remains extremely delicate". More ...

Red Bull to place Vergne at Caterham in 2012  
Jean-Eric Vergne
(GMM)  Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko could switch the driver agreement with HRT to the Lotus/Caterham team for 2012, according to German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

In the second half of this season, the energy drink company has paid for Daniel Ricciardo to make his grand prix debut with the Spanish team HRT.

But the manager of the program, Marko, revealed recently that he is not sure if the deal will be extended for 2012. More ...

Red Bull knows why Ferrari wings flutter  
(GMM)  Red Bull knows why flexible front wings flutter, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. With the 2011 title chase over, Ferrari began experimenting with Red Bull-like front wings recently but have struggled to solve a "fluttering" phenomenon seen mainly on the car driven by Felipe Massa.

But Red Bull also experienced some fluttering in Abu Dhabi, with team boss Christian Horner also admitting: "Mark Webber had the same (problem) at Suzuka."

The German magazine cites Red Bull sources in saying the explanation is quite simple. The fluttering usually occurs at the end of a straight with the DRS rear wing system deployed, meaning that the aerodynamic load is increased at the front of the car. "Then, if the tire pressure is low, the car bounces on the tire" causing the heavier endplates to vibrate, said Auto Motor und Sport.

New crew chief for Montoya?  UPDATE
Juan Montoya
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Hendrick Motorsports engineer Chris Heroy will replace interim crew chief Jim Pohlman as crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced Tuesday. Heroy most recently was engineer for the No. 5 team and driver Mark Martin. He was with Martin when Martin won nine races in 2009 worked with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2010 before working with Martin again in 2011.

“We are very excited to bring Chris into the organization and to have him work with Juan Pablo,” said co-owner Chip Ganassi in a statement. “We think he will be a great addition to the Target team and believe his combined engineering and crew chief background should help him work well with both our engineers and competition folks to move our program forward.

“He has a great reputation in the industry and we are happy to bring him into the mix.”

Heroy joined Hendrick in 2004 after a stint as an engineer in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series.

“I am really looking forward to working with the guys in the shop at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing to help the 42 improve their performance,” Heroy said. “Juan Pablo is a great driver and they have a lot of great people here, so I am thrilled to get this opportunity.” More ...

Bank problem to spin Virgin off F1 track?  (GMM)  Virgin's part-ownership by the British bank Lloyds is threatening to run the struggling formula one team off track.

Part taxpayer-owned Lloyds bought an undisclosed stake in the team - to be renamed Marussia in 2012 - last year.

The Independent now reports that directors risk prosecution by Companies House as a deadline to lodge documents relating to the Virgin investment runs out. More ...

Liuzzi, Clos or Red Bull to complete HRT lineup?  UPDATE
Liuzzi should not be confident for 2012
(GMM)  Contrary to reports elsewhere, Vitantonio Liuzzi's seat at HRT for 2012 does not appear safe.

Pedro de la Rosa has been confirmed as one definite driver for 2012, moving some commentators to surmise that because Italian Liuzzi apparently has an existing contract, he will complete the Spanish team's lineup.

But in Abu Dhabi recently, the 30-year-old answered only "I believe so" when asked if he will still be racing a HRT in 2012.

We reported this week that young Spaniard Dani Clos or a driver appointed by Red Bull are also candidates.

Grandprixactual.com claims that a decision will be made as early as next week, with Adrian Sutil and Giedo van der Garde reportedly also in the running. More ...

Significant layoffs at Roush  AR1.com sources tell us there were significant layoffs this week at Roush Fenway Racing. According to sources, 125 workers were released by the team Monday and Tuesday and their 2012 operating budget for 2012 reduced by 5 million.  Prior to today, the team employed about 440 people. Roush Fenway is expected to reduce its NASCAR Sprint Cup car count from four cars to three next season, with the #6 driven by David Ragan likely to be shuttered. At last report, the team is also without sponsors for the #17 of Matt Kenseth. The team may also reduce the size of its NASCAR Nationwide Series operations from three cars to one or two.
Ragan could be out at Roush  
David Ragan
Monday morning, a few hours before he'd celebrate the twin championships his 2011 Roush Fenway Racing Nationwide Series program had won, Jack Roush said his primary Nationwide drivers, series drivers' champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, had rides for 2012.

However David Ragan, who has driven Roush's fourth Sprint Cup car for the past five seasons and who already knew the car's current sponsor, UPS, would cut back its involvement in 2012, more than likely won't return.

"My expectation right now is that I don't see having something for David next year," Roush said. "We aren't far enough along ... There are some discussions ongoing but they aren't far enough along that I would put more than a 40 percent chance of having something for David." More ...

More Lotus-Powered Teams On The Way  “I’ve realistically talked to everyone left,” said Olivier Picquenot, the Frenchman who manages the Lotus IndyCar program. “Of all the teams left, Dale Coyne, Ed Carpenter, Eric Bachelart, Jay Penske…we’ve talked to all of them. We are just waiting for them to commit to us or another [engine manufacturer].”

With four confirmed programs heading into 2012—factory partnerships with Bryan Hera Autosport, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and HVM Racing, along with a standard engine supply agreement for the new Michael Shank Racing team—a greater portion of the team/engine combinations are now known.

But with a half-dozen teams that have yet to either sign a contract or declare whose powerplant they’ll use, Picquenot expects to have lease agreements in place with many of the remaining teams before long.

“I know for [a] fact we have spoken to other [teams] that have pushed back or have not committed to IndyCar, but we are talking seriously with Eric Bachelart, Jay Penske for sure, I have talked a few times last week with Dale Coyne and Ed Carpenter, as soon as he made the announcement he will have a new team,” he continued. “I had a call from [Ed Carpenter Racing co-owner] Tony George and [Team Manager] Derrick Walker to come meet and tell them what we can offer.” More ...

Grubb out at Stewart-Haas Racing  UPDATE #2 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today.  Crew chief Darian Grubb, who made several key calls in helping #14-Tony Stewart win his third Sprint Cup championship on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, is looking for a job. Grubb said after Stewart won the title by a tiebreaker over Carl Edwards that he was told midway through the Chase at Charlotte that he would not be back with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2012. Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Grubb has been offered a job to return to Hendrick Motorsports, where worked for four seasons as an engineer and administrative assistant. Sources also said Grubb, who won a Daytona 500 as an interim crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, has been contacted by Michael Waltrip Racing and several other teams about a crew chief job. Stewart declined to discuss whether winning the title has changed his mind on Grubb possibly returning.

Among the speculation is that Stewart will hire former Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Greg Zipadelli to be his director of competition and Steve Addington, the crew chief for #22-Kurt Busch at Penske Racing, to be his crew chief. JGR president J.D. Gibbs told ESPN.com before Sunday's finale that he planned to have Zipadelli, who is under contract for 2012 and beyond, back next season with Joey Logano and the #20 team. Sources said Addington is not expected to return to Penske Racing, but could not confirm where he would go. Grubb said he would sit down with Stewart this week and see where things stand. Asked if winning the title would change things, he said, "It all depends.'  ESPN More ...
Tomczyk to BMW in DTM?  It was just announced that Martin Tomczyk has quit the Audi team after winning the 2011 DTM title in a year old car after Audi favored other drivers who he then beat using the inferior older car.

Speculation is that arch German rival BMW, who are re-entering DTM next year, might have snatched up Audi's best driver.  Still other rumors suggest maybe he'll try his hand at NASCAR.

Williams could lose PDVSA sponsorship  UPDATE
Pastor Maldonado (L) could lose his financial backing
(GMM)  Like his teammate Rubens Barrichello, Pastor Maldonado might also be feeling nervous about his Williams race seat beyond Sunday's 2011 season finale.

Last time out in Abu Dhabi, team boss Sir Frank Williams admitted that, despite Maldonado's lucrative sponsorship by the state owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, it is "not clear exactly who will be in both cars" next year.

Days later, it emerged that the Venezuelan parliament has been asking questions about Williams' PDVSA deal, with Speed Week reporting that it may not be "in compliance" with normal government approval processes.

Williams did not respond when asked for confirmation that Venezuelan politicians have been in contact. More ...

GP2 then F1 for Rossi?  
We told our readers since his Formula BMW days that Alexander Rossi would be the next  American in F1.  That prediction appears possible now.
American, Alexander Rossi was pleased with his first full day with Team Lotus in the T128-04 F1 car at ‘Yas Marina Circuit. The American driver supported by AirAsia and Team Lotus drove last weekend at ‘Yas’ for Caterham AirAsia in the GP2 finale where he is finished 13th and 7th. Rossi is a graduate from World Series by Renault in 2011, finishing 3rd overall in championship with 2 wins and 7 podiums.

This past Thursday was Rossi’s second opportunity behind the wheel for Team Lotus F1 squad, after driving in demonstration event on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia earlier this year.

Rossi was up to speed in the morning session and set a top five pace before the mid-day break. He completed 74 laps for the team with a combination of development and performance runs and finishing the day with a best time of 1:44.283, placing him 9th overall on the day. More ...
Detroit to be forced to sell Belle Isle  My grandmother used to talk about the end times, and would scour current events and the weather for evidence of the Biblical signs foretelling the Earth's final days.  I find myself doing the same thing with the city of Detroit.

Last week, Mayor Dave Bing provided a clear signal of the city's coming apocalypse. Faced with an existential moment demanding life-or-death decision making, the mayor instead stalled for time.

Detroit is out of time, and Bing's failure to act decisively to turn back the cash flow crisis makes it inevitable that an emergency manager will be appointed by the state to make the hard decisions and common sense reforms that should have been made decades ago. More ...

Busch may be done propping up NASCAR lesser series  For years now Kyle Busch has helped prop up the weak NASCAR truck and Nationwide Series by bringing his big name in to help out for many races.  Without Sprint Cup drivers running in these series they would likely fail (unless the France family were to use their billions and keep them alive with voodoo economics).  It was while helping out the truck series that hardly anyone cares about that Busch let his temper get the best of him with Ron Hornaday.  It nearly cost him his coveted Cup ride.  So why should he bother sucking up those toxic exhaust fumes and risking injury. 

Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, #18-Kyle Busch, in part from a Toyota Racing Transcript:

Q) Do you know if you will race in the Nationwide or Truck Series in 2012?

: "No, not yet. We're working through all of the schedules. The schedules hadn't been put together prior to Texas and still haven't been put together yet either."  Toyota Racing

Infineon Raceway to see changes for 2012  
Infineon has too many tight sections that deter passing
Bob Heathcote/AR1.com
Infineon Raceway has already announced that the IndyCars will be returning on August 26th next year, but the series wants changes to the track to increase passing opportunities.

“We spent quite a bit of time during the Friday of the Las Vegas IndyCar event last month speaking with Will Power, Ryan Briscoe and Tim Cindric from Team Penske,” said Steve Page, Infineon Raceway’s President and General Manager.

“Some of the ideas for changes to the track were pretty wild and ambitious, but we wanted to keep all ideas on the table from a creative standpoint. We also met with Mario Andretti, Johnny Rutherford and Brian Barnhart, and came away with a few changes that are plausible without being radical reconfigurations to the track.” More ...

Bernard under pressure since Wheldon's death  
Randy Bernard wasn't smiling after IndyCar's 'pack' racing mentality bit the series in the posterior in Las Vegas
It’s been a mixed bag for the IndyCar Series since Dan Wheldon’s death in the season-ending race in Las Vegas.

On the upside:

Ed Carpenter announced he'll field his own team next season with a three-year sponsorship commitment from Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan signed a deal with Honda and said it will attempt to run a full season in 2012.

Team Penske resigned Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Will Power. More ...

Harvick to lose crew chief?  UPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false today. Richard Childress told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio's Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody that there is no truth to rumors that the #29 road crew has been informed that they will be terminated after this weekend's season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. "There may be some changes made during the winter," said Childress, "but that is absolutely nothing but a rumor. Nobody has been told that they will not return."

11/18/11 Matt Clark reported on SPEED's NASCAR Racehub that Richard Childress Racing's crew chief for Kevin Harvick, Gil Martin, will not return as the crew chief in 2012, Supposedly Martin will move into RCR's Competition Director. No word who will take over as Harvick's crew chief. Fox Sports has already reported that Shane Wilson, crew chief for Clint Bowyer will move to the #31 team and driver Jeff Burton in 2012. Luke Lambert, who was promoted from team engineer on the #31 team to crew chief on July 25, will crew chief Elliott Sadler as RCR absorbs the Kevin Harvick Inc. Nationwide Series squads.
di Grassi to replace Bourdais LeMans?  Sebastien Bourdais makes no secret that he would like to race in IndyCar full-time in 2012.  This year he only ran the road and street races as the ovals conflicted with his Peugeot sports car commitments.

Ex-Formula One driver Lucas di Grassi is in the frame for a Le Mans 24 Hours seat with Peugeot for next season.

The Brazilian, who raced in F1 for Virgin in 2010 is among the contenders for one of the vacant drives at the French manufacturer in 2012. Di Grassi proved his credentials with Peugeot during an initial tryout at Paul Ricard and was then invited back for a further test at MotorLand Aragon in Spain last month.

Peugeot Sport technical director Bruno Famin confirmed that 27-year-old di Grassi is in talks for a deal that would likely encompass Le Mans and selected rounds of the new FIA World Endurance Championship.

"Di Grassi is under consideration along with others," Famin said. "He has tested for us on two occasions and went well, but nothing is decided."

Raikkonen also talking to Renault (Lotus)  (GMM)  Reports that Kimi Raikkonen is also eyeing the Renault team (Called Lotus next year) for next season appear accurate, with Eric Boullier confirming contact with the 2007 world champion.

Asked about the former McLaren and Ferrari race winner on Friday, Renault chief Boullier answered: "What about him?  I have just explained how we want to go about our driver lineup for next season."

Boullier had told F1.com that if Robert Kubica cannot return from injury in 2012, Romain Grosjean is at the top of the list to join Bruno Senna or Vitaly Petrov.

The Frenchman said "the driver market is closed anyway for 2012 so our priority is not to have a big name in the car but to have a fast car".

But Boullier also acknowledged that a "big name" driver would "help to make the car better", hence the Raikkonen question. More ...

IMS gauging interest in Indy road race  UPDATE #2
F1 cars at Indy in 2002
That's what some of the car owners want to do: open the month of May with a road race at IMS writes SPEEDTV’s Robin Miller in his latest mailbag.  He does not like the idea and neither do we. We do think a 2nd IndyCar race on the road course later in the year on Labor Day weekend to replace Baltimore if it goes under would eventually grow to be a sizable event.  It would be another holiday celebration weekend in Indianapolis to bookend the Memorial Day classic.  If they only got 75,000 to 100,000 people it would still be the 2nd biggest race on the calendar.  We would reconfigure the first couple of turns though - too Mickey Mouse.

Question: I was just clock watching at work reading some different racing articles and suddenly I had a dream. I am sure a dream is all it will ever be but why not end the IndyCar season in Indy! We are the racing capital of the world. The Midwest is a has a huge following of fans in close driving distance to the speedway. Run the final race on the road course. Have a lot of support races all weekend: V8 Supercars, Grand Am Series, Indy Lights, etc. What better place to have a championship weekend than the Mecca of motorsports? (Brian, Indianapolis)

Answer: I could see it as the end of the IndyCar and Indy Lights seasons, but that’s it. Grand Am will run on Brickyard weekend. But having such a finale robs another location of the honor; it’s an attractive piece of the puzzle. But, if Las Vegas can’t happen for 2012, maybe this is the way to go. It’s the only way I see it happening. Indy Star

11/15/11  Question: I received an email from IMS that they apparently sent to all Indy 500 ticket holders. The email directed you to a survey that is trying to gauge interest in an IndyCar road race at IMS for 2013. Not sure what they are thinking at 16th and Georgetown, but it appears that Indy Car oval racing anywhere is headed for extinction very soon. (Jonny, Foothill Ranch, Calif.)

Answer: Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. I’m told that IMS marketing included that in a “periodic” survey. “Those are routine questions that go out from time to time,” IMS spokesman Doug Boles said. Boles said he spoke with company CEO Jeff Belskus and such an event is not something they’re considering. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said there are no such discussions. I’d add that the subject has been tossed around for a few years with no clear direction. Some within the company would like to see it, others would not. I think the bottom line is, there are plenty of road course options for IndyCar. The only way I could see it being on the 2012 schedule is if IndyCar needs a last-minute addition to bring the total number of races up to a respectable amount. Right now they’ve got St. Pete, Long Beach, Barber, Brazil, Indy, Texas twice, Iowa, Toronto, Edmonton, Mid-Ohio, China, Sonoma, Baltimore and California. That’s 15, and it assumes that Baltimore stays together. I know there are some oval events being discussed, but you can see how the IMS road course might be needed if the Las Vegas street race can’t come together for 2012. Indy Star

Kubica has offer on table from Ferrari?  UPDATE #2
Robert Kubica
(GMM)  Ferrari has expressed interest in linking up with Robert Kubica once the Pole is ready to return to formula one, according to reports.

The rumors follow speculation his relationship with Renault might be coming to an end, with the existing contract set to run out and the Lotus-sponsored team likely to pick between Vitaly Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna at least for its initial 2012 lineup.

At the same time, there are other rumors, including that Eric Boullier has not spoken to Kubica for weeks, and that the 26-year-old driver might need yet another wrist operation. More ...

V8 Supercars look at other USA venues if Austin goes under  If the Austin, Texas Circuit of the Americas does not get built word is that the Australian V8 Supercars Series, that was slated to race at the Texas track in addition to F1, will look to either Infineon Raceway, Road America, Watkins Glen or Laguna Seca as alternate venues.
Keselowski fined for critical comments  
Brad Keselowski gets muzzled by NASCAR
Brad Keselowski has been fined by NASCAR for criticizing electronic fuel injection, The Associated Press has learned.

Multiple people familiar with the punishment told AP on Thursday about Keselowski's fine. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because NASCAR did not publicize the fine.

NASCAR has been privately punishing drivers for making disparaging remarks about the series over the last two years.

The fine is believed to be $25,000. More ...

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