Friday, December 21, 2007

Dec. 21 newsstand: A new team? + other developments

2008 drivers & teams updates
Darren Manning/A.J. Foyt
While this had been specuated for some time, it is now confirmed that Darren Manning will be back in the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Motorsports car next year.

On a sad note, the sponsor of the car, ABC Supply president Ken Hendricks, passed away after a fall from his roof. Our prayers to his family.

Buddy Rice "close" to being back with D&R
The 2004 Indy 500 winner is likely to be back with D&R next year. He says things aren't 100% finalized yet, but they're close.

Buddy tells writer Arizona Republic Michael Knight: "He said the team has made crew changes to improve pit-stop performance and has spent time in a wind tunnel and on a chassis shaker rig developing its Dallara-Honda."

Buddy is also planning to drive in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with David Donohue, the son of 1972 Indy winner Mark Donohue.

New team: D.B. Mann Motorsports
Mentioned today in Curt Cavin's blog, D.B. Mann Motorsports is planning a one-car team for the full 2008 season. D.B. Mann fielded cars for John Paul Jr., Gary Bettenhausen, Mark Dismore and Steve Chassey between 1989-1992. They finished in the Top 10 at Indy in 1992 with JPJ. It's also announced in a press release here. No driver or sponsor has been announced. Their website is up, and can be found here.

Says partner Tom Azbell: “We are very close to completing our sponsorship arrangements and we have spoken to several top-notch IndyCar drivers. We hope to be able to announce our sponsor/driver package soon and to have our team operational and ready for pre-season testing.
Scheckter the odd man out?
From Cavin's blog: Tomas Scheckter doesn't have any concrete plans for 2008, but Cavin says he basically has two options: stay at Vision or go to Panther. With P.J. Chesson apparently slotted for Panther's second car and Vision apparently cutting back to two cars (and the second car likely being for AJIV), it appears Scheckter may be the odd man out, unless something opens up at RLR or D&R or with one of the upstart teams.

If Chesson goes to Panther, Tomas Enge might join them to coach the new drivers.

RLR update
Bobby Rahal seems thrilled even though there has been a big shakeup and things look in complete disarray at RLR. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a good test at Infineon and the car looked good: ""Ryan did a really good job and we didn't know if the car was good, bad or indifferent. What we found out is, it's pretty darn good, in fact. That's why I'm excited. It's been a while since I had that kind of fun."

Meanwhile, in the old news department, it's largely expected that Scott Sharp will take his car & sponsor and go to ALMS next year. However, Robin Miller claims Ethanol demands a 2-car team, so that might mean a second car at RLR.

Paul Tracy???
A couple of weeks ago, PT debunked the rumor that he was looking at the IRL, but it's looking possible, at least. It's at least the hot rumor in motorsports right now, mentioned in Oreo's latest column, and also in a few other places, like Robin Miller's latest chat and Curt Cavin's blog.

Catching up with Brian Barnhart catches up with BB and talks about the TEAM matrix, safety and Project 2011.

Ryan Briscoe thrilled to be in the 6

The Kansas City Star catches up with Penske's newest driver, Ryan Briscoe, and even reprises Briscoe's last non-Indy ICS moment -- the fireball at Chicago.
Says Roger: “He did a terrific job at Indianapolis this year, and delivered for us in our (American Le Mans) program. Obviously he has big shoes to fill with Sam moving over to our NASCAR team, but he has shown us that he has the talent to win in the IndyCar Series.”
Meanwhile, American Patrick Long is taking Briscoe's ride in ALMS. Is it possible that Long could be the Luczo Dragon entry in the future?

IRL news & notes
The official IRL news & notes notes that P.J. Chesson (ICS) and Leilani Munter (IPS) tested Panther cars at Homestead.

That tends to lead us to believe those two will be in the Panther cars next year ... Chesson would be a teammate to Vitor Meira, and possibly in an orange-and-black car painted like Meira's 2006 machine.

Other potpourri: Homestead-Miami Speedway brings in lots of cash to South Florida

Adam Andretti, son of Aldo, brother to John, cousin of Michael, tested an IPS car last week and is planning to run the 2008 IPS season.

Wade Cunningham tested an IndyCar with AGR this week. While AGR's stable is currently VERY full with four cars, it was a nice opportunity for the 23-year-old to run the big cars for the first time.

Dario Franchitti is fully committed to his NASCAR effort despite wadding up at least five cars so far. No word on whether or not any of them have gotten airborne.

Whining from the south
The invasion of open-wheelers is causing some serious gnashing of teeth in the South now that it's realized that some "good NASCAR drivers" aren't getting rides.

A couple of solutions if they want to stay in the limelight: They could either try their hand at open-wheel cars, or possibly we could have Sam & Tony back so David Stremme, Tony Raines and Scott Wimmer can get a ride somewhere.

From the commentaries
Jeff Olson says "racers are good guys," in contrast to NBA players in gunfights and steroid-addled baseball players. He mentions the good stuff Vitor & TK are doing.

Meanwhile, David Phillips takes on the spec-vs-innovation debate, and takes a predictable shot at the IRL in the process.

Robin Miller, meanwhile, checks in with his semi-regular Speed chat. Among the items: "A couple of IRL teams are serious about Paul Tracy and he's serious about them" (Icicles are forming in Hades as we speak) ... however, PT wants to be on "the big 3," none of which currently have rides available.

And finally
This appeals to the roadgeek in me, but Speed unearthed an old story about Chip Ganassi Racing using the abandoned Laurel Hill Tunnel off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The abandoned Turnpike tunnels have long been a curiosity to roadfans, and this is interesting speculation.

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