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Press Snoop: Kahne leads Indy practice three

6 August 2006

Kasey Kahne was the fastest Nextel Cup driver on Saturday afternoon for the first of two practices after Bud Pole Qualifying, with a time of 51.161/175.915 mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Second was top Rookie, Clint Bowyer, with Busch Series points leader, Kevin Harvick third and Kurt Busch fourth. Sunday's Cup pole sitter, Jeff Burton was fifth

Only those drivers actually running Sunday's race were on track. The seven drivers who failed to make the field had packed and left.

Further dipping into the talent pool for next season will come from the newly announced Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports based in Mooresville, North Carolina. The four new owners of the NASCAR organisation are well known in a wide variety of motorsports venues: Bill and Bob Riley of Riley Technologies, formerly Riley & Scott; Eddie D'Hondt, general/team manager for top NASCAR teams including Robert Yates Racing, Evernham Motorsports, and Bill Elliott Racing; and Jim Matthews, sports car driver, who has raced with Riley Technologies in Grand American Rolex Series.

D'Hondt recently left RYR but won't talk about that situation. He wants to look ahead.

Bill Riley will be the Technical/Performance Director of RDM; D'Hondt will be the General Manager; and Bob Riley will be the Engineering Director. Matthews, a minority RDM owner, will provide financing and road racing expertise to RDM drivers.

The new firm will be utilising the chassis engineering and construction skills of its present 40-person staff currently based in 40,000 square foot Riley Technologies shop in Indianapolis, and expanding the engineering staff and space in its move on 10 September 2006 to the new 58,000 square foot Mooresville headquarters in Talbert Point Business Park. Riley Technologies planned to move to Mooresville in early spring, before the June partnership with D'Hondt was considered. Bill Riley said the current ups and downs in the sports car world helped him to consider expanding his opportunities in NASCAR.

The business plan is to start with a Busch Series team along with up to four Cup teams running the 2007 Brickyard 400 and five Cup races in the 'Car of Tomorrow' car. RDM won't give any specifics on drivers or manufacturers with which it will partner, but said it is about three weeks away from making such announcements. RDM is close to finalising some driver and manufacturer contracts, including two "very experienced drivers."

Bill Riley acknowledged that 2007 NASCAR testing at Daytona is only 21 weeks away and the plan is to have two Busch cars at the test. It is speaking with many pertinent teams and it is not without the realm of possibility that an existing team will align with RDM. D'Hondt said RDM has already been called by teams, before the team announcement. The sport is getting more technology oriented. The key is to translate that to a good on-track programme - combining technology with seat of the pants methodology.

Lee White of TRD, who started the Toyota Cup programme and will be working with it next year when Toyota joins the Cup Series, said he has "had lunch" with RDM and if it has the money and wants to buy Toyota engines, it could happen.

At this point RDM is looking at accomplished drivers, but the drivers will be eventually working a Driver Development programme.

Bill Riley has Cup experience with splitters and rear wings, which will be useful in working with the 'Car of Tomorrow.' He has done a lot of work on wings, and thinks the concept makes sense to him. Riley is looking forward to starting from scratch and engineering with a clean sheet of paper on the 'Car of Tomorrow.' Riley said he's always wanted to have an ownership role in NASCAR.

Part of the five-year business plan includes hiring of Dragonfly Capital Partners, a financial company looking outside the box in seeking investors. The company is at the Brickyard this weekend.

Matthews will now run the new Riley Motorsports Grand Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype team with Marc Goossens of Belgium as lead driver and Matthews as co-driver.

Goossens is one of three drivers who are sharing a Robert Yates Racing Busch ride. The other two drivers are Elliott Sadler, one of RYR two Cup drivers, and Stephen Leicht, a RYR Development Driver and heavily tipped to fill one of the two vacant seats on the 2007 RYR Cup team. Both Yates drivers, Sadler/No.38 M&M's Ford, and Dale Jarrett/No.88 UPS Ford, are moving on.

Leicht, the youngest Cup qualifier this weekend, failed to make the race. But he still has the Busch race qualifying later Saturday at O'Reilly Raceway Park for the Saturday night Kroger 250 Busch Series Race. Sadler starts twenty-seventh Sunday, while Jarrett starts thirty-fifth.

Bill Riley has a history with RYR, dating back to 1996 and in 2003 as a chassis engineer. He left two weeks before D'Hondt joined RYR. Riley currently is working with RYR on its road-racing programme and his next task is to go to Watkins Glen next weekend and win the Cup race.

Riley plans to continue his involvement with the Daytona Prototype programme, including his new team with Matthews. Presently Riley is involved with the race management of the SunTrust Daytona Prototype team owned by Wayne Taylor, but over Memorial Day weekend it was announced that the parties decided the partnership ends this year, as it is time to move in different directions and onto new things.

Last season Taylor and co-driver Max Angelelli won the Rolex Series Drivers' Championship and Riley won the Manufacturer's Championship. Riley chassis are on 16 of 26 DP's running this year's Rolex Series. The current points leader in the Drivers' Championship, Jorg Bergmeister just won another Rolex Series race last Friday at Barber Motorsports Park with co-driver Colin Braun in No.76 Krohn Racing Riley Ford DP.

D'Hondt thinks more cars in NASCAR will raise the level of competition.






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