February 2008
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RACE NEWS & VIEWS
Latest news is at the bottom
Indy Speedway News Index
Feb 1 - A new qualifying rule is announced for the Brickyard 400, which is the NASCAR stock car race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
during the summer.  All drivers outside the 35-teams that are automatically entered for the race based on owner points, will get to compete to
qualify in a single group. This should make things a little more fair for the teams already being discriminated against in the first place.

In the past, all cars received their position in the qualifying order through a blind draw, and cars outside of the top 35 faced varying track and
weather conditions based on their position in the order.
Feb 9 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first NASCAR race of the
year at Daytona - the Budweiser Shootout.  Even though it is
not a points race, Little E is happy to finally get a win.  He
credited his new teammate,
Jimmie Johnson, for pushing him
into the win over
Tony Stewart, who scored the highest win yet
for Toyota.  Earnhardt's Hendricks teammates, Jimmie Johnson
and
Jeff Gordon, came in 3rd and 4th.  Earnhardt switched to
the Hendricks team this season after leaving his Earnhardt
team and his Budweiser sponsor.   He also has switched from
#8 to #88.  His new sponsor is the National Guard.
Feb 12 - 2007 Indy 500 champion Dario Franchitti, who is
Scottish, reports a NASCAR official gave him some instructions
over the radio, and then said "That's if you speak English and
can understand what I'm saying."

Franchitti didn't say what he told him, but on HBO's "Real
Sports with Bryant Gumbel," Dario said  "He has no doubt now
that I can speak English."

How can a NASCAR official have his head so far up his ass,
that he doesn't know who Dario Franchitti is?!
Feb 12 - Don't miss this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue!  I'll give you three guesses who is posing in a bikini.

Check her out at  
2008 Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Photos of race car driver ???
Feb 12 - CART went bankrupt a few years ago.  Their system just did
not work: team owners who made the rules and a publicly traded
racing league, not to mention lack of oval races and American races
and drivers.  And of course most importantly - no Indy 500!   

For the stubborn few who went against IndyCar and Indianapolis, it
cost them a lot of money and grief.  If CART could have died the death
it deserved, the sponsors and teams may have blended back into
IndyCar and something like a unification, that the media seems to
crave, could have been satisfied.  (Ironic that the media, beginning
with Robin Miller, turned a nation against IndyCar and the Indianapolis
500, seeking the destruction of the IRL.)

But, alas, a billionaire foreigner (Kalkhoven), decided to help the rich,
stubborn old coots in CART (like Haas and Newman) to resurrect the
enterprise.  Strangely enough, they stuck pretty much to the same
game plan that had failed to begin with.  It takes more than moving
their headquarters to Indianapolis to rival the IRL.  I suppose
Kalkhoven figured he had enough money to keep throwing at it.  It
sounds like he may be tiring of that as rumors swirl that Champ Car is
also heading to bankruptcy.

The media is already trumpeting American open-wheel unification.  (I
don't see how a bunch of jobless race teams looking for a job can be
considered a merger.)  But if the media would stop and think, they
would remember that when CART went under, there was not going to
be a "merger".  Instead, Tony George offered to buy some of the
assets.  I believe he offered much more than Kalkoven and friends, but
a judge awarded the assets to those who would give CART another
chance, which meant George and the IRL was not going to buy the
assets.  If there ends up being a lot of Champ Car and Toyota Atlantic
teams and support people (or investors) that get hurt, I guess they can
blame the judge or the Champ Car team owners.

I hope they make it.  I like to watch them.  I don't think we need a
unification.  What we need is a strong economy where American
business performs well enough that there are enough sponsors for
both open-wheel series and NASCAR too.  
Feb 13 - Update - According to NBC, Derrick Walker says that
Champ Car is through and he is moving the Walker Racing
team back to the IRL.
Feb 4 - Tony Stewart received a ring at the Indiana Statehouse for winning last year's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.  Indianapolis Motor
Speedway boss
Tony George gave the champion's ring to Stewart, a native of Columbus.  Representatives on Monday commended
Stewart for being a great Hoosier and a great American. Stewart says he was honored and that he's probably gotten a speeding ticket in
every one of the 100 representatives' districts. He's also to be honored by the Senate.

Stewart won the NASCAR race last July in a late duel with Kevin Harvick. It was Stewart's second Brickyard victory in three years at the track
he considers his home.  
Feb 13 - After using his stock car racer as a battering ram to
crunch into Tony Stewart's racer during practice last week,
Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart have been put on double,
top-secret probation for six weeks.  Ewwww... scary.  What are
they going to do if they act up again? Kick them out of
Nascar?!  Ha!


Feb 17 - Hoosier
Ryan Newman and Penske Racing won the
50th Daytona 500.
OPEN-WHEEL MERGER???

Is Champ Car dead?

Will the teams to move to the IRL?

Who loses?  

Who wins?
Feb 15 - Champcar team-owner Kevin Kalkhoven says
bankruptcy talk is "absolutely wrong."  

Champcar team-owner
Derrick Walker says merger talk
continues and that Champ Car is on hold.  He says that Champ
Car team Newman-Haas-Lanigan is ready to make the switch to
the IRL if need be.

IRL President
Tony George offers to provide cars and engines
to teams that move to the IRL, whose first race is March 30.

IRL team owner
Dennis Reinbold, who is planning to field just
one car, wonders if he will get any assistance.  If so, maybe he
can field a second Indycar racer.
Feb 16 - A.J. Foyt Jr. said he hasn't talked to Tony George
or Brian Barnhart about any merger.  He said it wouldn't
make much difference as the IRL would only pick up a couple
races and the only team coming over of any note would be
Newman-Haas and the only American driver would be
Graham Rahal.  In response to the idea that the IRL would
offer incentives to Champ Car teams to come over, Foyt
replied ""I would throw a fit and pack up my bags if that was
true, and others may do the same."
Tony Stewart asked if too much emphasis is placed on
Daytona in terms of how teams are going to perform for the rest
of the season? "I think so. Daytona is a restrictor plate race,
and unlike Daytona, four guys can't get in a line at California
and go to the front. Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) have always
just been two different forms of racing. With the draft being so
important at those two tracks, it's more of a team deal than an
individual deal. What happens at California and the races after
that has to be done on our own. You can't help each other at
California. You just have to go race."
Feb 19 - Indy 500 veteran Jerry Karl was killed in a car accident
in Baltimore County Maryland at the age of 66.  Karl was both a
mechanic and a driver.  

His career in motor sports included road racing events: Formula
5000, Can-Am and the Daytona 24 hour race. In 1966 and '67, he
ended third in the URC Sprint Series standings.

Karl competed in 75 Indycar races from 1969 to 1984 with eight
top-10 finishes; his best was 7th at a oval in Ontario California.  
He qualified for six Indy 500's, but he was at the track on an
annual basis between 1970 and 1985, trying to make the lineup.
The persistent Karl performed much of his own mechanical
preparation when driving for underfunded teams.

His first "500" start came in 1973 when he qualified a Smokey
Yunick-fielded Gurney Eagle, housing a V8 stock-block Chevrolet
that was boosted by twin turbochargers. It completed only 22 laps
in the race and he finished in 26th.

Driving a turbo Offy for Lindsey Hopkins the following year, he
placed 19th. Karl climbed to seventh just before hitting the Turn 3
wall on his 116th lap.

He returned to drive for Yunick in 1975. And Karl enjoyed his
highest finish at the Brickyard - placing 13th in the rain-shortened
event of 1975, by which time his Yunick Eagle/Chevrolet was
permitted only one turbocharger.  That would be Yunick's last
effort at Indy.
Karl returned to Indy in 1978 driving a car for Frank Fiore Sr. of
San Carlos, Calif.   Karl started 28th and finished in 14th-place.
Karl raced at Indy two more times. He placed 21st in 1980 and
15th in 1981. But his final two trips to Indy stand out because he
designed and constructed the cars at his shop in Wellsville.

Born in Jamaica, N.Y., Karl had resided in York, Pa., for virtually
all of his adult life.
Upon his hanging up his racing helmet, he became a race car
owner and formed his own company, Karl Racing Enterprises. Karl
had a pilot license and started his aviation business in his home
town  In recent years, he had operated Karl Aviation at York's
Capital City Airport.

Karl is survived by his wife Linda and two children and eight
grandchildren.
Feb 20 - An Indianapolis television station says that the IRL is going to
be offering Champ Car teams Chassis, engines and $1.2 million to
switch over to Indycar.  They also said that the IRL would pick up
Champ car's races in Long Beach CA and Surfer's Paradise in
Australia.  Also Newman-Haas, PKU and Forsythe will be fielding 2-car
teams in the IRL this year.  Now lets see if that really happens.
Feb 22 - Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven met last night in downtown Indianapolis to talk merger.  Nothing is final yet.  The IRL is seeking
full rights to Indy-style racing including its history and trademarks.  All future races would be held under the IndyCAr Series banner and Champ
Car owners would not be permitted to operate a rival series based in the U.S.  Infact that organization should cease to exist.
Feb 22 - This weekend's NASCAR race in Fontana California will be Mark Martin's 700th NASCAR race!  The Principal Financial Group
will serve as the sponsor of the No. 8 Chevrolet and will feature a paint scheme that showcases a special 700th-start logo.
Feb 22 - Today, Tony George, representing the IRL, and Gerald Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, owners of Champ Car,  have
completed an agreement in principle that will unify major American open-wheel racing for 2008!

The IRL is poised to absorb teams and potentially '08 race events. George had offered free Honda engines and Dallara chassis to teams, plus
the incentive of the TEAM (Team Enhancement and Allocation Matrix) program, which pays a minimum $1.2 million to full-season teams.

Indy Racing League officials and IndyCar Series teams have been assisting prospective teams get ramped up for competing under the
IndyCar Series banner on a challenging mix of ovals and road/street courses.

No transition teams are expected to participate in the IndyCar Series' first Open Test of the year at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb.
27-28.  Some teams from the former Champ Car World Series (CCWS) might be ready to participate in an Open Test on the Sebring
International Raceway road course March 3-6.

"This is a huge day for the IndyCar Series and for our sport as a whole, for sure," said
Michael Andretti. "Over the years, whether I was in
the role of driver, team owner or promoter, I have always wanted a unified sport. That has been my only goal throughout this entire process
and I applaud everyone who played a role in making this happen. So many people have worked tirelessly, both publicly and behind the
scenes, to get this done. Everyone can now focus on taking the IndyCar Series to new heights for the good of our sport and everyone involved
in it."

Andretti's sentiments were shared by competitors, promoters and suppliers to the IndyCar Series.

Said four-time Indianapolis 500 winner
A.J. Foyt, "I'm glad that they were able to get it done. It'll eliminate the confusion for the race fans and
the sponsors because there'll be just one type of car and one type of motor and everyone will be running together. May the best team win."

Said Texas Motor Speedway president
Eddie Gossage, "The fans have won and we have to give Tony George and the Indy Racing League
credit for making a generous offer to resolve this issue."
Feb 23 - In this age of NASCAR ratings dropping, Champ Car going out of business, civilized countries losing their F1 races
to pagan dictatorships, it should come as no surprise that IROC is going under.

The
International Race of Champions series will liquidate all tools, equipment, race cars and memorabilia in a two-day
public auction March 7 and 8 at its headquarters.

The all-star series has been dormant since the conclusion of the 2006 season due to lack of sponsorship.

"We're all very sad to see IROC come to an end, but the competition for major corporate sponsorship is very tough and the
car manufacturers have not shown any interest," IROC president Jay Signore said. "We kept hope alive as long as we
could, but now it's time to look forward and move on."

Spanning four decades, IROC ran 120 events at 16 different racetracks across the United States, fielding cars for more
than 100 of the biggest names in stock car, open-wheel and road racing from throughout the world.

The concept of having top drivers from different major series compete in identically prepared cars was conceived in 1973
by Roger Penske and Les Richter. Signore ran the series from the first day, with considerable help from his wife Barbara.

The first IROC champion was Penske driver Mark Donohue in 1974. Since then, championships have been won by Bobby
Unser, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Harry Gant, Al Unser Jr., Geoff Bodine, Terry
Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Ricky Rudd, Davey Allison, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, Kevin Harvick, Kurt
Busch, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart, the last champion in 2006.
Feb 23 - After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, Jacques Villeneuve is enlisting the help of
Barry Green, who he raced for during his CART Championship and Indy 500 win.  Green has been
living in Australia.  He said that they were still talking with Bill Davis Racing about Villeneuve's possible
future with the team.   He is going to try and find the 36 y/o French-Canadian a major sponsor.
Jan 28 - IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher is forming her own IndyCar team that
will compete in Indy 500 this May.   The start-up venture -- integrating her
father at the race shop, father-in-law as team manager and husband as
crew chief may also add other races.

The 27-year-old Fisher, who was awarded the 2001, 2002 and 2003
IndyCar Series “Most Popular Driver” award and the 2005 NASCAR West
Regional Series “Most Popular Driver” award, continues on in the newly
unified IndyCar Series with 67 IRL races under her belt.  During her IRL
career thus far, Fisher became the youngest women to race in the
Indianapolis 500, became the first woman to capture the pole position and
is the fastest female qualifier for the Indianapolis 500, in the 91 year history
of the event.
Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven call a truce
Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Janet Guthrie