Tuesday, January 29, 2008

American LeMans Series--2008 Sebring Test
The picture above is of yet another diesel powered racing car...the Peugeot 908, testing at Sebring, during the pre season test at the central Florida road course. It will challenge the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1)championship (and 24 Hours of LeMans) winning Audi R10 TDi diesel powered sportscar in the 10th season of the American LeMans series. The Penske LeMans Prototype 2 (LMP2) champions are also testing, ready for defense of their title.
Also seen in the paddock is Scott Sharp...who will be driving the Highcroft Racing LMP2 Acura this season. We'll have more with the 1996 Indy Racing League co-champ and past Trans-Am champion on our Race-Talk program this week. Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz are testing their LMP2 Acura..along with Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi for Andretti Green Racing.
Sebring has a great history. In its original configuration, it was the training base for some of the bomber pilots of the Greatest Generation during World War II; today, it is a road racing shrine and one of the crown jewel facilities for the ALMS...which kicks off its 10th season on March 15 with the 12 Hours of Sebring.
We'll post any other interesting tidbits we find on this series' media day.
Lunchtime Update--Gil de Ferran will return to American racing after a tenure as Honda's F1 Sporting Director. The 2 time CART Champion is forming an American LeMans Series team to run an Acura ARX-01B, with a scheduled launch later in the season...he'll sit out the first few to make sure all the i's are dotted and t's crossed. This "green" initiative that the ALMS is pursuing with the EPA, SAE, etc is for real. The Corvette team will run an E85 'Vette in the GT2 class. That means that the race car will run on 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline...like about 2-million other General Motors products. The obvious question: Yes, GM is working on a production 'Vette that will run on E85.
More later.
Did You Know?????--the ALMS picked the GT2 nail-biting .202 second 2006 12 Hours of Sebring finish of GT2 champ Jaime Melo over Jorg Bergmeister (you might remember him from Grand Am in 2006) as the greatest moment in American Le Mans Series history so far.
A final thought about the 24 Hours of Daytona: No observer of racing will deny that A. J. Allmendinger is the real deal, after the Champ Car wins that got him noticed by Dieter Mateschitz of Red Bull...and two strong 24 Hour of Daytona runs in successive years. It would have been interesting seeing A. J. and perhaps Juan Pablo Montoya or Scott Pruett fighting for the lead. Allmendinger's Michael Shank mount led easily until it fell victim to the road racing gremlins that prowl about the "world center of racing" looking for cars to bother.
We'll be back in sunny central Florida for the Champ Car festivities this weekend at Sebring, where we will likely see the first official appearance of new Newman Haas teammates Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal, who also partnered as teammates with the aforementioned Allmendinger and Michael Shank Racing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


The Chip Ganassi road racing team won its third Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona by two laps over the second place Bob Stallings team...and the third place Taylor/Penske (yes that Penske) team.

Winning Drivers:

Scott Pruett/Juan Pablo Montoya*/Memo Rojas/Dario Franchitti*

2nd Place:

Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty/Jimmy Vasser/Jimmie Johnson**

3rd Place:
Ryan Briscoe/Helio Castroneves*/Kurt Busch
*-denotes an Indianapolis 500 winner
**-denotes a Daytona 500 winner
Scott Pruett sums it up as a big time "test of man and machine" especially with the rain off and on down here in beach land. Grand-AM says there were 60 lead changes among 15 different drivers. Just like 2007...the Ganassi Lexus didn't put a wheel wrong...and lasted about 2,470 miles...about a 100+ mile an hour pace.
We'll have more with Dario on our Race-Talk program, available on our podcast page:

Rolex 24--Threepeat?

We rejoin you with less than an hour to go...and it looks like Chip Ganassi will write some racing history as a three time consecutive winner of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, barring the appearance of some gremlin in the next few minutes. Juan Pablo Montoya showed why he excelled in open wheels and caught on quicker than most expected in NASCAR racing. Dario Franchitti looks to join an exclusive club of Daytona 500 winners, Indy 500 and 24 Hour winners (AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti,), along with teammate Montoya when the Cuppers take the track on February 8 for practice for the 50th Daytona 500. Mark Donohue was the first of a few to become winners of the 24 and the Indianapolis 500..Franchitti will join that group, again, barring incident.
More from Daytona after the race finishes.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Racing Season is Underway--

Greetings from Daytona International Speedway...where Cuppers A. J. Allmendinger and Jimmie Johnson just gave their perspective of what's going on at the 24 Hours...last year, there were 15 lead changes for the entire race...at the quarter (6 hour) mark, there have already been 13. There are less than 18 hours to go...a grey Florida day most of the day, with some rain off and on. Ryan Briscoe of the Penske Taylor team (and soon to replace Sam Hornish in the #6 Penske IndyCar) kept the pace..along with teammate Helio Castroneves...and their teammate across the hall at Penske Racing--Kurt Busch. We also saw Cristiano da Matta in the infield media room...you'll doubtless remember the car deer collision at Road America which almost killed him...he looks to be most of the way...if not all the way back.

The picture illustrates what the heavy hitters are trying for.
Update at 9:50 PM (8 hours and change)
The car co-driven by A. J. Allmendinger is scored in the lead (a Michael Shank Racing Ford powered prototype), followed by the car co driven by the defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, the defending Grand AM Rolex Series co-champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, and 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser. The Penske Taylor Racing car driven by Kurt Busch, Helio Castroneves, and Ryan Briscoe is 4th...and rounding out the top 5 is the Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley driven by last year's winners Scott Pruett and Juan Pablo Montoya...and 2007 Indy 500 winner (and Sprint Cup rookie) Dario Franchitti. Talent (like cream) rises to the top.
See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Updates From Concord/Lowe's Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour.

ESPN heard the fans and acted--Rusty Wallace will leave the play by play booth...and analyze on the pre race broadcasts. Dale Jarrett will become the lead analyst for the Worldwide Leader in Sports' NASCAR coverage.

Dale Earnhardt, Inc purged virtually all vestiges of Dale Earnhardt Jr. from their establishment (the "Garage Mahal")...which did not go unnoticed. DEI president Max Siegel, when asked about this, called the question unkind. Point: Jr brought DEI most of its Sprint Cup wins. When Junior was told about what happened at his former place of employment this afternoon (Wednesday), he took great pains to mention that he does not mind dealing with us ink-stained wretches and wenches.

NASCAR wants to get back to the basics...and supposedly unleash the drivers so they might express their personalities...most drivers when told of this took a "wait and see" attitude.

The Daytona 500 will see not less than 4 past Indianapolis 500 winners competing or trying to compete: 2007--Dario Franchitti; 2006--Sam Hornish, Jr (about to become a new dad); 2000--Juan Pablo Montoya; 1995--Jacques Villeneuve (if he should qualify and win...he would be just the second member of the club of Daytona 500 winners, Indianapolis 500 winners, and Formula One World Champions--joining Mario Andretti).

The media tour is an intense few days, and it's my bad for not posting pics and posting earlier. The Windshear "rolling road" wind tunnel in Concord (above) is only one of three in the world...a rolling road simulates movement, and unlike a static wind tunnel where a car would just have wind blown over it...the car moves at speeds up to 180 miles per hour. It will open for business this spring...we got an advance view yesterday.

Kyle Petty may get testy with the media on the TV. His heart, however, is bigger than the grandstands at Lowe's Motor Speedway, when you consider the work he and wife Pattie do on behalf of kids who are suffering from catastrophic illnesses at the Victory Junction Camp. They will have nothing to explain on the day they meet St. Peter.

The other shoe drops...as Lowe's Motor Speedway announces the building of the drag strip and the awarding of one of the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series Championship Countdown races in September.

We'll have some interesting sound on our program this weekend.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Catch Up/Lowe's Motor Speedway Media Tour Updates

To amplify on last week's Race-Talk, where we talked to Daly Planet Editor John Daly: If the TV ratings are not so good, then what does that say, first, about the organization that is producing the coverage, and second (and more important in the context of connecting the dots) what it says about the subject/event that is being covered? Hundreds to thousands of you have weighed in at http://www.thedalyplanet.tv on this subject.

Our Motor Sports Radio Network coverage is not like the all you can eat buffets...more like a high quality push cart hot dog, that whets your appetite...

We're at the Lowe's Media Tour in/around Concord, NC this week, where we'll likely hear from NASCAR's Maximum Leader, Brian France, major teams, and perhaps some of the TV partners. The question we'd ask our friends at ESPN/TNT is this: "Where do you think you need to improve in 2008"? The answer--either way--is instructive.

We'll blog some snapshots...and weigh in with our opinion...from time to time during the four days.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cars on Track--The First Test Day of 2008 at Daytona International Speedway
Greetings from a quick visit to the "World Center of Racing"...where the Grand Am Rolex Sports Cars are testing for the first of three days, leading up to the 24 Hours of Daytona. There's a new tire supplier--Pirelli--and newly tweaked Daytona Prototypes, like the series defending champion number 99, which will be driven by Grand Am co champions Alex Gurner and Jon Fogarty, 1996 CART Champ and PKV Champ Car owner Jimmy Vasser, and a driver you may have heard about--the 2006 Daytona 500 winner, and two time and defending Sprint Cup Champion, Jimmie Johnson...the team is the all-California team. Some other notables...Dancing with the Stars winner (and a two time Indianapolis 500 winner) Helio Castroneves, 2004 Sprint Cup Champ Kurt Busch, and Ryan Briscoe pilot an entry for Penske-Taylor Racing...and the dream team of Chip Ganassi...with Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon (IndyCar teammates) in one piece...and Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti (from the Chipster's Sprint Cup operation) in another...Montoya and Scott Pruett co drove the 2007 Daytona Prototype winner here.
Champ Car sophomore Graham Rahal will be in a Michael Shank Racing prototype...IndyCar rookie of the year Ryan Hunter-Reay in a Bob Stallings machine...Champ Car rookie of the year Robert Doornbos in this race as well...for Synergy Racing in a GT3 Porsche.
This race is getting back to the future...with a lot of cross pollination between drivers from other series. That is good for all of racing.
We'll be back down for the 24 Hours...but will check in from time to time until then.