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RCR to drop Chevy for Dodge?UPDATE Don't look for NASCAR to add a new manufacturer anytime soon. Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said during Friday's "Gen 6" test at Charlotte Motor Speedway that he doesn't anticipate another manufacturer joining Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota in the "foreseeable future ... the next year or two." Dodge pulled out of the sport after winning the championship last season with Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing, which moved to Ford in 2013. There has been speculation that Dodge might return in 2014, possibly with a premier team such as Richard Childress Racing that has fallen to third among organizations in the Chevrolet fleet. Pemberton said the governing body periodically gets "cold calls" from potential manufacturers, but none that appear ready to join the sport in the next few years. ESPN
NASCAR to run races in Europe? NASCAR is considering running exhibition races in Europe in hopes of bringing more exposure to the sport. NASCAR has revealed that it would consider hosting exhibition races in Europe to boost the profile of stock-car racing in the region.
“NASCAR would consider future exhibition race opportunities in Europe as part of a broader strategy of promoting stock-car racing in a region and supporting existing efforts like our Euro Racecar NASCAR Touring Series, which is about to embark on its second season,” Silbermann told Autoweek.
“NASCAR's philosophy has evolved over the years, from the NASCAR exhibition race model of the 1990s -- when we ran several races in Japan -- to the more recent model we implemented beginning with Mexico,” said Silbermann.
“The prime difference being that the NASCAR national series races staged in Mexico City nearly a decade ago were part of a broad strategy of promoting stock-car racing in that country. The results are clear today, with a healthy NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series having just completed its seventh season under the NASCAR banner. The series boasts close racing, strong car counts, record crowds, and the fifth new oval circuit in the country having just been completed in Chihuahua.” AutoWeek
Alfa Romeo and IndyCarUPDATE #5 The actually last Alfa Romeo IndyCar (Champ Car) was this 1991 Miller Genuine Life Alfa Romeo driven by Danny Sullivan. John Capels ran the Alfa the first time in 1989 with Roberto Guerrero driving with the Morales team.
In 1990, Pat Patrick sold his Chevy team to Ganassi and Pat, Jim McGee and Morris Nunn were partners in the new Alfa program with MGD sponsorship.
Guerrero drove the 20 car all year with Al Unser Sr. in the 40 car at Indy. It was a March chassis in the early part of 1990 season before they switched to Lola.
Steve Nielsen to join Toro Rosso as Sporting Director Grandprix.com rumors that Steve Nielsen, Sporting Director at the Caterham Formula One team, is to leave the Anglo/Malaysian outfit and take up the same position at Scuderia Toro Rosso starting on February 1.
Nielsen has previously worked with technical chief Mike Gascoyne at Caterham, Tyrrell and Renault. At Caterham Nielsen oversaw the team's factory move from Norfolk to the former Arrows premises in Leafield.
Nielsen will move to Italy to take up the position.
What is The Captain up to?UPDATE We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' today. AR1.com did a little research on the Leaders Circle program and found that it is the ENTRY that qualifies for the subsidy. Once the ENTRY has qualified a team can ‘sell’ that ENTRY to anyone. Penske ran with three cars (ENTRIES) last year and each of those entries qualified for the 2013 Leaders Circle membership (subsidy).
Penske is a very astute businessman. If he does not want to run a third car he can simply draft up a contractual agreement for a third party to ‘use’ his entry. The name of the entry is allowed to be changed so it is not necessarily a ‘Verizon’ or ‘Penske’ name that would have to appear it. It could easily be ‘XYZ Company’ and be fielded by Dragon as we speculated below.
So not only is the $50k registration a good value, it locks in over a million dollars of entitlements to that ENTRY. Penske can sell that ENTRY to a third party for whatever the market will bear, but we'll sure he would sell it to his son for less than he would sell it to another team. Mark C. reporting for AR1.com
Austin Dillon to move up to Cup in 2014, running #3? It's almost a given that Austin Dillon will be NASCAR's 2014 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year. He'll run another full Nationwide Series schedule this year before moving up to Cup. His grandfather, legendary team owner Richard Childress, plans to run him in six to eight (maybe more) Cup races this year to prepare him for 2014. With Dillon still registered as a Nationwide driver, he can run unlimited Cup races without jeopardizing his rookie status. (That's why Danica Patrick, who ran 10 races last year, remains eligible for the Cup ROTY awards this year). Dillon plans to run some Cup races for Circle Sports (the Joe Falk-owned associate of RCR) and will get some starts for owner James Finch at Phoenix Racing.
Larson to NNS in 2013 and some Cup races? Earnhardt Ganassi Racing development driver, Kyle Larson said he was going back to Charlotte on Sunday to find out what [team owner Chip] Ganassi has planned for him this season but it's believed he'll be driving a Target car full-time in Nationwide with a few Cup [#41?] races thrown in at the end of the year. Robin Miller/SPEED
IndyCar to announce new CEO and COO?UPDATE #2 Robby Greene, the president and chief operating officer of Indianapolis-based IMS Productions, the television entity owned by Hulman & Company, has assumed COO duties of IndyCar. Greene will serve in a dual capacity until a more permanent day-to-day leader is found for the sanctioning body of the sport. The move is expected to be confirmed by Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials soon, perhaps this week. Mel Harder, the senior vice president of operations, will move to a new role overseeing the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, the MotoGP event held at IMS the past three years. Indy Star
Doug Boles moves up to Chief Operating Officer
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. IMS CEO/interim IndyCar CEO Jeff Belskus will promote IMS communications VP Doug Boles into the COO position effective immediately, and Robby Greene, who heads IMS Productions, will be given the 'interim COO' tag at the IndyCar Series according to Speed.
01/08/13 Rumor has it that IndyCar is close to announcing a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO). Short of it being Roger Penske himself, or NASCAR taking it over, not sure who can turn the ship around.
Experience might secure Caterham reprieve for Petrov, talks stallUPDATE (GMM) Following reports he was the favorite to secure the other Caterham race seat, Vitaly Petrov's manager actually sounds far from optimistic.
German reports had suggested the Russian has found new sponsors and was on the cusp of sealing the deal to secure his place at the team for 2013.
"So far, we haven't managed to find new sponsors," Petrov's manager Oksana Kosachenko is quoted by R-Sport.
"Where do journalists get this information from? I'm a journalist myself and I know very well how this can just pop into someone's head."
Ludicrous NASCAR Bump-Drafting over There were few complaints and even less direct involvement from NASCAR officials. By all accounts this week’s Sprint Cup Series test at Daytona International was a resounding success – well almost.
There was the 12-car wreck on Friday afternoon when teams elected to try drafting in packs, but even that produced one positive – teams were able to gauge how the parts and pieces on the new 2013 model cars faired in an accident.
“All in all, I think the test progressed quite nicely,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. “Speeds look to be where they need to be.
Kyle Busch has re-signed a long-term extension with Joe Gibbs Racing, removing one of the biggest names from the Sprint Cup Series' impending free-agent market. Two officials with direct knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports that Busch, whose contract at JGR was set to expire after the 2013 season, signed a multiyear deal in December.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team had yet to announce the deal. The team had no comment on Busch's contract status. Asked Thursday night by USA TODAY Sports about whether he had a deal done, Busch coyly replied that "everybody will find out on (the team's) media day what's coming down."
With Busch's future secure, JGR has its three drivers under long-term deals. Denny Hamlin re-signed an extension last season, and Matt Kenseth joined the organization this year in a multiyear contract. #78-Kurt Busch, #42-Juan Pablo Montoya and #39-Ryan Newman are the biggest names who aren't signed beyond 2013. USA Today
Ganassi to close down 2nd IndyCar Shop? Rumor has it that Don Prudhomme has sold his racecar shop in Brownsburg, Indiana, to John Force Racing. Could the Snake be all through with racing? And wasn't that the shop that Ganassi was using for his second team? Does this mean no fourth car and he runs three cars out of the Target shop?
Pirelli To Extend Contract As Official Tire Supplier Of F1 Italian tire manufacturer Pirelli "has confirmed its desire to continue in F1 beyond its current contract," which is due to expire at the end of this year, according to Mat Coch of PIT PASS. Pirelli Motorsports Dir Paul Hembery said that "the company is ready to submit a formal proposal to the teams after months of preliminary discussions."
Returning to F1 in '11 as the sole tire supplier, the Italian company "was subject of heavy criticism" before being credited with helping reinvigorate the sport. Hembery said, "We've had two very exciting seasons, and we feel we've contributed our bit to that, which is what we were asked to do. As a company we are interested in going forward."
Nurburgring still has shot at German GP in 2013UPDATE #5 The Nurburgring is set to be confirmed as the host of this year's German Grand Prix, with Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confident of finalizing a new deal. The 82-year-old, who also explained that the 2013 calendar will feature 19 races after Turkey's failed bid to return, believes an agreement can be reached this week.
"It should be the Nurburgring and we are trying to make it happen," Ecclestone is quoted as saying by Reuters, ruling out the possibility of Hockenheim hosting the event. "I'm talking with them today."
Meanwhile, a Nurburgring spokeswoman explained to GPUpdate.net on Tuesday afternoon that the circuit is awaiting a response to its latest proposition.
Are Corvettes sandbagging? With Ford and BMW engines consistently topping the Daytona Prototype speed charts at the "Roar Before the Rolex 24" test at Daytona International Speedway, many in the paddock were wondering: Are the Chevrolet Corvettes sandbagging, fearful of being penalized before the race if they show too much speed?
That suspicion was fed by the fact that immediately after the test, one of the fastest Chevrolets -- the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona car -- was required to pull its Chevrolet V-8 engine on the spot, under the watchful eye of multiple Grand-Am officials. The engine will be taken to the NASCAR Technical Center in North Carolina to be tested.
No other car was required to pull an engine after the test.
Rumor has it that the US Postal Service will issue a set of Muscle Car stamps in conjunction with the Daytona 500 events held during the last weekend in February and AR1.com got its hands on a bootleg copy of what they supposedly will look like.
Allmendinger still may end up in IndyCars in 2013UPDATE AJ Allmendinger tried to close the book on 2012 by going to bed early on New Years Eve and not celebrating the end of the year. But it was hard for him when just a few days later he drove through the tunnel at Daytona International Speedway. He couldn't help but remember last July when he drove through the DIS tunnel wondering if he would ever race again as NASCAR had just suspended him for a failed drug test the previous weekend at Kentucky Speedway. His return to Daytona Friday didn't have that type of drama as he set the fast time in testing for the Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona, which is scheduled for Jan. 26-27 on the track's road course.
GM, Ford gave NASCAR an earful And you can add the manufacturers to the list of those concerned as well. The powers that be in NASCAR - Brian France, Lesa France & Mike Helton - make an annual visit to the participating manufacturers every December. They do that to personally thank the manufacturers for their participation and exchange pleasantries.
This past December they visited GM and Ford executives and after the pleasantries they got an earful. In those meetings NASCAR was told that it has to do something about the declining ratings, the slow embrace of technology, the poor lack of engagement with the younger demographic, a needed rethink of The Chase, etc., etc., etc.
For years NASCAR has blithely assumed that Detroit-based manufacturer participation was automatic, but with the burgeoning influence of ROI considerations, that era is rapidly coming to a close. Autoextremist
Dodge + Judd = IndyCar? Dodge is like a rookie at Daytona and just can’t find a partner who wants to draft with them. Judd Engines has an IndyCar engine ready to go and just waiting for a manufacture to badge it. Perhaps Dodge can pick up the pieces of Lotus’ failed IndyCar effort and run to the front with it.
I suspected long before the initial announcement that Dodge would leave NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and despite their comments otherwise I don’t think they have any intention to return. Just to get on the track Dodge would have to spend millions. The only team with fabrication experience and no contract is Robby Gordon Motorsports, and the only open top of the line engine shop is owned by Roger Penske. It would take millions in development just to get on the track, and then spend millions more to pull off a top line racing team.
Is Danica Patrick switching teams? Turner Motorsports is losing a sponsor but apparently could be gaining a driver who should attract plenty of interest from the companies that help fuel NASCAR team budgets.
ESPNW.com reported Wednesday morning that Danica Patrick will drive 10 Nationwide Series races for Turner in 2013, starting with the Feb. 23 season opener at Daytona International Speedway. In the Daytona 500 the following day, Patrick will begin her first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
(GMM) Mark Webber looks set to struggle to keep his Red Bull race seat beyond 2013, or maybe the rumors of Vettel going to Ferrari in 2014 are true.
Granted just a one-year contract for a seventh consecutive season at the team, the 36-year-old Australian is already on notice by Red Bull's tough Dr Helmut Marko.
Now, Austrian Marko has made clear Red Bull was not happy with Webber's driving at the 2012 Interlagos finale, when teammate Sebastian Vettel was fighting for the title against Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
Indeed, Flavio Briatore - still involved with the management of Webber's career - said after Brazil: "The only one who helped Ferrari was Webber."
Force India in talks for Ferrari powerUPDATE We are bumping this rumor up to strong based on new information received in Europe by AR1.com.
01/02/13 (GMM) Force India is in negotiations to revert to Ferrari engine power, according to Italy's La Stampa newspaper.
The talks between the Silverstone based team and Ferrari are "under way", the correspondent Cristiano Chiavegato claims.
Force India is currently powered by Mercedes' V8 engine, but Vijay Mallya's team began its formula one career with customer power supplied by fabled Ferrari.
Central to the new talks, according to La Stampa, is the Ferrari-linked French driver Jules Bianchi, who was Force India's reserve in 2012 and is now reportedly first in line for the race seat alongside Paul di Resta this year.
Dakar Rally kisses Africa goodbye forever The legendary Dakar Rally will start on Saturday and send its participants through the deserts and mountains of South America. It will be the fifth consecutive time the rally "will take place in South America after terror threats led to an abandonment of its original route through West Africa that was last used in '07."
However, terror threats "are not the only reason why a return to West Africa seems highly unlikely." The route through the Sahara desert was "as legendary as remote" and, therefore, was only sparsely attended. The Dakar's South America premiere on the other hand "had 4 million visitors." In addition, "a booming South American continent fits better into the marketing concepts of sponsors and manufacturers."
Danica Patrick will drive for Turner Motorsports in her 10-race commitment to this year's Nationwide Series schedule, sources tell espnW.com. Driving for JR Motorsports in her first full-time Nationwide season last year, Patrick produced the highest final points finish (10th) among women in NASCAR history. She will begin her partial campaign in NASCAR's second-tier series on Feb. 23 at Daytona International Speedway in conjunction with her first full Sprint Cup season with Stewart-Haas Racing the same weekend.
NASCAR looking to marginalize IndyCar and F1 on NBCUPDATE The Motor Racing Network (MRN) recently revealed that the NBC Sports Channel, formerly known as Versus, is looking for a piece of NASCAR action to possibly knock out ESPN/ABC for the last third of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. NBC Sports is also currently out shopping for top TV sports programs beyond the NASCAR Sprint Cup as well.
That last third of the NASCAR Sprint Cup is currently aired by ESPN and ABC with those rights expiring in 2014. However, NBC Sports could knock TNT out of the NASCAR box instead of ESPN/ABC only because it would be a lot easier for them to get a foothold in NASCAR now during the middle of the NASCAR season. Consider the fact that ESPN and ABC have a lot of depth and opportunities that NASCAR benefits from now with all of their extensive sports programming on the ESPN channels.
Barrichello to opt for stock carsUPDATE #2 Rubens Barrichello has announced that he will leave IndyCar to race in Brazil's Stock Car V8 series in 2013. He will drive for Peugeot squad Full Time Sports.
"After my 20-plus years representing Brazil racing all over the world, it is time to come home," said Barrichello.
"It will be amazing to race in my home country again, while allowing me to be closer to family. I have much enthusiasm for what this perfect fit will bring."
12/12/12 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. There will not be a second IndyCar Series season for former Formula One standout Rubens Barrichello.
Friends of the popular Brazilian said Tuesday that he will race in his home country's stock car series in 2013, driving for the Medley Full Time team. He had three races with the team in the fall.
Tony Kanaan said Barrichello couldn't secure the sponsorship for a full-time IndyCar ride before he had to decide on joining the Medley-sponsored team. Medley is a Brazilian pharmacy company. Barrichello also will work television broadcasts of F-1 races next season.
Barrichello, 40, finished 12th in the IndyCar standings. His best finish was fourth at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in August. He was 10th in the Indianapolis 500. Indy Star
(GMM) New GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi has admitted his best hope of breaking into formula one in 2013 is as a third driver.
On his fifth attempt in the F1 support series, the 25-year-old Italian this year beat Brazilian Luiz Razia to the title.
Valsecchi was hoping to follow recent champions like Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg into F1, but admitted to Italiaracing: "At this point, I'm working to get the place of the Lotus team's third driver.
"I honestly thought I could find the financial support allowing me to find a team for 2013, but the various possibilities have weakened."
Zanardi, Alguersuari, Senna linked with DTM moveUPDATE Former F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari is linked to the eighth and final BMW seat for the 2013 DTM season. BMW were unwilling to confirm or deny the Spaniard's link to the eighth seat but expects the name to be revealed in January, similar to Alguersuari's answer when asked by Motorsport Total. "I will talk about my future in January, I can't say anything about it now," said Alguersuari.
12/05/12 (GMM) Three well-known F1 names are being linked with the premier German touring car championship DTM.
When former F1 and Champ Car driver Alex Zanardi recently tested a modified hand-controlled BMW, the 46-year-old played down suggestions his next project could be a DTM race seat.
But Germany's Auto Motor und Sport said there is a chance the popular Italian will soon be chosen by BMW.
"Who will drive the eighth BMW M3 DTM in the coming season will be announced at a later date," a spokesman is quoted as saying.
Former Toro Rosso driver and 2012 Pirelli tester Jaime Alguersuari has also been linked with the seat.
And Portuguese reports say 2012 Williams driver Bruno Senna, who has been replaced for 2013 by Valtteri Bottas, did some test laps at the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz DTM car at the Estoril circuit at the beginning of this week.
Force India does not have enough money to race in 2013UPDATE Kingfisher Airlines, Vijay Mallya's ailing carrier, on Monday submitted its revival plan to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in a bid to restart limited operations after having remained grounded for almost three months.
Kingfisher had a few weeks ago submitted an application for renewal of its flying permit, which is due to expire on December 31. The permit was suspended by DGCA on October 20.
DGCA officials had then said a decision to renew or revoke the suspension of its Standard Operating Permit (SOP) cannot be taken till it submitted a comprehensive financial and operational revival plan, that was given Monday.
Daly to test with Foyt, but his heart is in F1UPDATE #2 All of a sudden, Conor Daly's future is coming together. The Noblesville driver said Thursday he expects to sign for next year with a strong team in Europe's World Series by Renault while keeping his options open for a full-time IndyCar ride in 2014.
A couple of weeks ago, none of that seemed possible.
"I was just saying that last night," said Daly, who turned 21 earlier this week. "Life is good. We've suddenly gotten things going."
Details won't be made public until contracts are finalized, but Daly, who is in town for the holidays, said a sponsorship package for what's officially known as Formula Renault 3.5 is nearly in place. A budget for a competitive team is about $1 million.
Judd to return to IndyCar with different manufacturer?
John Judd told SPEED.com he’d welcome the chance to their IndyCar program with a new manufacturer.
“At the moment, to continue in IndyCar, we’d need a manufacturer that has a contract with the series,” he said. “We haven’t had any approaches so far, but the most likely way would be through IndyCar. The engine is there, and it’s available.”
“The IP (intellectual property) and the physical parts all belong to us," said the former CART Indy car engine supplier. "All the engines are our property and have ownership of all the tooling and everything else to produce more engines, to develop them and to support a continuation of the program.”
Christian Sylt revealed in Pit Pass that Bernie Ecclestone "has spoken to the King of Morocco about hosting a grand prix in the country though he stresses that this is unlikely to take place." The last Moroccan Grand Prix was held in '58 near Casablanca."
A senior F1 sponsorship agent said, "There is a huge amount of investment in Marrakech. Some locals said it's even overcrowded and prices are falling again." He added: "Great location. But these kinds of money are only in the King's coffers, and I think he would promote Casablanca or similar cities that need a new drive."
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