Saturday, August 26, 2006

Nine Hours at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah next week to decide Grand-Am Rolex series champ; Dixon on pole for IRL Grand Prix of Sonoma:

A storybook win at Infineon Raceway for Auburn CA's Scott Pruett and Luis Diaz from Chip Ganassi expected coronation for Krohn Racing's Jorg Bergmeister didn't materialize...his car started from pit lane after an engine change...Jorg never contended but passed a bunch of cars...the win for Pruett and Diaz number 5. The points look something like this: Bergmeister has 437...Pruett and Diaz 418...Angelelli now 3rd.

Scott Dixon wins the pole...Marco Andretti starts 2nd in the next to last Indy Racing League IndyCar race of 2006. If you can find a sportsbook that'll take action on IRL racing...wheel the number 9 of Dixon anywhere in the top 3.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Indy Cars at Infineon Raceway

From the "taxicabs" to the naturally aspirated IndyCars in the space of 96 hours
We'll keep an eye on both the IndyCars (Indy Racing League) and Grand-Am Rolex Daytona Prototype Series this weekend. Scott Dixon is the real deal as a road racer. The 2003 IRL champ was fastest in practice...followed closely by Helio Castroneves. As in Kentucky...the IRL point lead could change after the race. Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr. is just 7 points ahead of Helio...and 33 ahead of Dixon.
Jan Magnussen is on pole for the GrandAm Rolex race...Jorg Bergmeister, the series point leader, starts 2nd overall. As we said on "Race-Talk", Bergmeister can clinch the title if he finishes 36 points ahead of Max Angelelli...both have Riley chassis; Bergmeister with Ford power, and Angelelli's team has the Pontiac engine.
There are 25 of the Daytona Prototypes qualified for the race. Eighteen Indy Cars will go for the pole on Saturday.
In the "what were they thinking" department...Patrick Carpentier (he of the Busch series ambition) will be co-driving another Pontiac Riley with Milka Duno. Why this driver from Quebec is not in a Champ Car in Montreal this weekend makes me pull out what little hair I have left (they have just 17 Champ Cars there).
Infineon is a jewel among places where cars race. It is worth a side trip when you visit wine country in Napa.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Car of Tomorrow @ Michigan--1st impressions

Bill Elliott was the first of the COT drivers on track...and turned the first test laps with the '07 Red Bull Toyota Camry...11 COTs in all hit the banks of MIS...Jeff Gordon...Joe Nemechek, Carl Edwards, Mickael Waltrip, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, rookie pheenom Denny Hamlin among the chauffeurs. Elliott seemed to make the most laps...the Toyotas were equipped with NASCAR spec Truck series engines...Chevys, Dodges and Fords their Nextel Cup powerplants. Though uglier than original sin in profile, and, with a message to send, all painted up, the Camrys were gazed upon by the other teams like the "Aflac duck". More to come after the break.
Updated at 5:55 pm
Jeff Gordon told me he had issues with the way the car looked...said it was not sexy enough...that all the minds of NASCAR (hmm) and Detroit's engineers could have come up with a car that really looked like a race did, however, drive OK by itself, says the four time champ, now 6th in points. Kurt Busch, says Toyota will have a steep learning curve before they become competitive. Bill Elliott ran not just the first but the most laps.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Car of Tomorrow tests at Michigan International Speedway on Monday 8/21

The first appearance of a racing 2007 Camry is scheduled for Monday, August 21...a NASCAR test is on tap for MIS...and we'll stay behind a day to take a look at the sanctioning body's representation of 2007 cars which will make their on track debuts at short tracks and road courses. The behind the scenes chat is that the cars of tomorrow are a solution to a problem that really does not exist...and does not solve the problems that do.
F1 back at Indy in 2007--

Here's the official word from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, subject as above:
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006 – The 2007 United States Grand Prix is scheduled for Sunday, June 17 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the eighth consecutive year that a FIA Formula One World Championship event will take place at the world’s most famous racetrack. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, IMS Chief Executive Officer Tony George and Formula One Management President and Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone came to an agreement on a one-year contract to bring Formula One racing back to IMS. The event returns to the third weekend of June, when it was run in 2004 and 2005, after taking place on the Fourth of July weekend in 2006. Ticket information for next year’s race will be announced soon. “It was important for us to reach an agreement quickly so we can begin notifying fans that Formula One will again be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007,” said Joie Chitwood, IMS president. “Though this contract is for only one year, it is still our goal to make the Speedway the longtime home of the United States Grand Prix.“Our immediate focus, however, is making sure IMS sets the stage for creating a world-class sporting event. The first step in doing that is beginning the process to sell tickets. We will announce that process soon, making sure that our ticket account holders get the opportunity to renew their seats first.”The 2007 race date is subject to final approval by the FIA, which is the sanctioning body for Formula One. Formula One was revived in the United States in 2000 by IMS after a nine-year absence. Race Day crowds for the USGP have been among the largest in Formula One since the event came to Indianapolis.The Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed a multimillion-dollar renovation and construction project in 2000, including the building of a 2.605-mile road course for the USGP that includes part of the famed, historic IMS oval. Michael Schumacher won this year’s United States Grand Prix on July 2 in his Ferrari, becoming the first five-time winner of a major event in IMS history.
How much was the sanctioning fee?
Will the fans come back?
Do you care?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Las Vegas-Long Beach Champ Car double weekend in April, 2007

A while back, I wrote about a possible back to back weekend for Champ Car in Las Vegas (which was confirmed by boss Steve Johnson) and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
If you go to the will find a date for the Long Beach street classic. It is the second weekend in April. The Las Vegas race is the first.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Shorty", a/k/a Cristiano DaMatta; Brickyard 400 and other takes
  • A rough go for the RUSport driver and 2002 CART Champion...thanks to some great medical work by the Champ Car Safety and Medical teams..."Shorty" is now recovering slowly from the subdural hematoma which proves fatal in 50% of the cases where traumatic injury occurs. He (like all who drive race cars for a living) can use your thoughts and prayers. Your good works could be directed toward the "Hole in the Wall Gang", the designated official Champ Car Charity.
  • If you didn't realize it before...then Sunday's Brickyard win for Jimmie Johnson & crew chief Chad Knaus should reveal that the #48 Lowe's team is fast becoming the favorite in this year's Nextel Cup championship chase. When you blow out a front tire at likely lose more than a lap or two. Not so for that team on Sunday...the victory went a long way to exorcise demons. The next one is a road course win...
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials tell me the F1 negotiations continue...any reported financial help from the city may not materialize--the money will likely (and properly) be spent for cops, jail beds and prosecutors to combat a spate of murders. That stuff is would not do if Flavio or Ron or the other F1 folks got caught in the wrong end of a drive-by..When I chatted with Indiana Governor "My Man" Mitch Daniels at the Brickyard, he reminded me about all the tourism $$$ the Speedway brings..
  • A Open Wheel (IRL Indy Car/Champ Car) reunification trial balloon floated would have both series having the Indy 500 and some road races as common events..That reminds one of what floats in a commode when the tank has insufficient pressure. Stranger things have happened, and will likely continue to happen.

  • I'm not a movie person--but the "Ricky Bobby-Talledega Nights" promotions--and the clips I've seen--are more than annoying. I believe I am likely one of a few auto racing observers who will never see this "magnum opus"--one can handle only so much hype at one time.

  • Just another random thought: What would happen this week if Sarah Fisher was able to win the IRL Indy Car race at Kentucky Speedway? She did win the pole there in 2003. That would kinda deflate the Danica Patrick bubble, wouldn't it? Both women will be in the race there on August 13.