November 2007
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RACE NEWS & VIEWS
Latest news is at the bottom
Nov 2 - Fernando Alonso is leaving the McLaren F1
team.  No word yet on which team he will move to.  Alonso
tied for 2nd place this year with his teammate.  He won the
championship for Renault the previous two years.  
Indy Speedway News Index
Where will Fernando Alonso end up?
Nov 4 - Having won his 3rd race in a row, Jimmie Johnson has now passed Jeff Gordon in the run to the NASCAR Nextel
Cup Championship.  Most of the driver's in the Chase have been mathmatically eliminated from winning.
Nov 5 - Champ Car announced their 14-race 2008 schedule.  The won't run the Las Vegas street race or San Jose
street race.
Driver Hideki Mutoh has signed with Andretti Green Racing.   Mutoh spent the past
season driving in the Indy Pro Series for Panther, where he won races at the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course) and Kentucky Speedway. In 15 IPS starts
with the team, Mutoh collected seven podium, 10 Top Five and 12 Top Ten results.
The Japanese driver also made his IndyCar Series debut in a Panther car last
season at Chicagoland Speedway, where he finished in eighth place. Mutoh brings
Super Aguri funding with him.


The IRL has announced their 16-race
2008 Indycar Schedule.  It is the same as this
year's, but they have dropped Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn.
Nov 7 - The Indy Star said today that Sam Hornish, Jr. will not be racing in Indycar in 2008, but in NASCAR
Cup.  He will still be driving for Penske Racing, joining Penske drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman.
NASCAR's Cup series was not the "Nextel Cup" for long, compared to the 31 year Winston cigarette sponsor.
Nextel bought the naming rights in 2004.  They also merged with Sprint that year.   They are now renaming
the series the  "NASCAR Sprint Cup" beginning next year (2008).
OPINION ON OPEN-WHEEL DRIVERS IN NASCAR

I've seen a lot of hoopla in the media recently about how NASCAR is being beseiged by open-wheel drivers.  
I think there needs to be a counterpoint to the stuff I have been seeing and hearing, so here it goes.

I've detected a few attitudes out there in the media.  Some say they don't deserve the opportunity to move
into the Cup series and that they are taking away the opportunity for more deserving young lads in feeder
series. They portray them as fur’ners who don't belong and who’ll just get in the way.

I grant you that there are some differences in stockcar racing which an open-wheel guy must adapt to.  
However, these veteran open-wheel racers have experience with faster, more dangerous cars and most have
a lot of experience outside of oval racing.  Road courses require more strength and stamina.

NASCAR payouts may be much higher than in days gone by, but you don’t see a lot of stock car guys making
the transition to open-wheel back when there was a much higher payout in Indycars.  The reason is that they
could not adapt and compete.  The point is that the drivers of Indycars and Formula One cars are simply
better because the series they race in are faster and the skill level must be higher to contend with the danger.

I think some of these drivers are gravitating to NASCAR because it is a safer environment.  Stock car drivers
have complete roll bars all around them and it is almost impossible for them to get hurt regardless of how the
car is flipping around after a crash.  A loose tire could easily bounce into the face of an Indycar driver and kill
them instantly.

Anyway, here are my takes on the recent drivers who are relocating:

Sam Hornish Jr. has proven himself and won everything in Indycar.  He could continue to do so, but he’s
ready for a change and perhaps his bride would prefer him in a safer environment.  

2007 has been the best year
Dario Franchitti has ever had in racing, having won the IRL series title and
the Indianapolis 500. Now is a good time to leave while he is on top.  His movie star wife is also a blatant
attention junkie.  I’m sure she is looking forward to being photographed every week in the long Cup season.

While French Canadian
Jacques Villeneuve absolutely rocked in Indycars (2004-2005) and for two years
afterward in Fromula One, he was booted out of F1 recently after years of miserable performance.  Pehraps
he didn’t want to return to Indycar or Champ Car because he was afraid of looking bad.  With NASCAR, he
can excuse poor performance by simply saying he’s not used to stock car racing.  Or maybe he and some of
these other drivers really do look forward to a change.

Young American
Scott Speed was booted out of F1 this year after having accomplished little.  He had a
pretty big ego during his short stay in F1 and he made some derogatory remarks about the Indy 500.  That
aside, his reason for moving to NASCAR is simply that his Red Bull sponsors are moving him there.

Like Villeneuve,  Columbian
Juan Montoya won the CART title and a Indy 500 before moving to Formula
One.  He did not have JV’s immediate success, nor did he win a F1 championship, but he did win races and
had an admirable career in F1.  He’s a great driver who could have continued in F1, but he disliked the
intense training programs there. He’ll enjoy life better in NASCAR, where he can relax and eat a donut or
have a beer.  I'm sure he won't miss all the politics either.

The point is that just about any open-wheelers can move into stock car racing if they want to, because they
can do it.   I can't recall any drivers moving from stock cars to Indycars.  Now Bobby Joe may claim that
NASCAR provides a bigger salary these days than American open-wheel, but that has not always been the
case.  I believe open-wheel requires more guts, skill and power.

Some today may think
Robby Gordon or Tony Stewart running the Indy 500 shows stock car drivers doing
it, but those drivers were in Indycars for years before they went to NASCAR.  As far as I'm concerned,
Villeneuve, Montoya, Franchitti, Hornish, and Allmendinger have all proven they can kick ass in a real race
car and there is no doubt that they can succeed in stock cars if given a good team with which to compete.

If I were a NASCAR fan, I would be very excited to see these very talented drivers come into the series!  To
me, this news is a thousand times more exciting than their so-called "Car of Tomorrow" news, of which a
million lines of copy have been written.
Nov 11 - Jimmie Johnson won his 4th NASCAR Cup race in a row.  With only one race to go (Homestead),
he has the championship all but locked up.  
Jeff Gordon, who finished 10th today at Phoenix, is 86 points
behind and the only person who has a crack at the championship.

Indycar driver
Sam Hornish, Jr. wound up in 30th in his Cup debut.  Champ Car driver Patrick Carpentier
ended up in 33rd.  
Jacques Villeneuve crashed out on lap 136.
Nov 11 - Sebastien Bourdais closed out his Champ Car career by taking his final race win in the series that
for the past four years he has dominated. He now moves back to Europe for his new challenge in Formula
One.

Bourdais leaves the series with 31 career wins and today's victory over Will Power was the most he has
earned in a single season. On taking his eighth win this year, he said: "...there was no better way to finish off
that chapter of my career. I really felt like everybody deserved it in the team, and it was on my side to finish it
off because the cards were on the table and played pretty much. It was up to me to make the best use of it."
Nov 12 - Ross Brawn, who worked with Michael Schumacher for all of the German's seven championships,
is coming back to F1 after a year's sabbatical.  HOWEVER, he is not returning to Ferrari, but will be team
principal at Honda F1!
Nov 12 - Penske Racing is moving Ryan Briscoe into Indycar to replace Sam Hornish Jr., from his role as
American Le Mans racer.  The Austrailan has previously competed in twenty IRL races, including the 2007
Indy 500, for other teams.
Nov 18 - Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship for the second year in a row.  He is
sponsored by Lowes Hardware and drives for RIck Hendricks.  He won a whopping $6,740,800 for the
championship.