Tuesday, August 7, 2007


John Graham will be piloting the No.10 Kickbutt Amped Energy Ballz Toyota Camry in this weekend’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. Graham is no stranger to The Glen having competed in Grand Am and American Le Mans races there but has never driven the road course in stock car.

Last weekend Graham made his first Busch Series start of 2007. Also piloting the No.10 Braun Racing Camry, Graham started 32nd and finished 23rd in the inaugural Napa Auto Parts 200 in Montreal, Canada.

John Graham is no stranger to international racing with more than 170 professional starts. He has seven starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans including a class win in 2000 to his credit. He also has nine starts at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 11 starts at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He has four NASCAR Busch Series starts at O’Reilly Raceway Park, Richmond International Raceway, Memphis Motorsports Park and Phoenix International Raceway.

Graham played professional Hockey in Sweden but his career was cut short due to Hodgkin’s Disease. His racing career began at Mosport, his local track in Canada in 1986.

GRAHAM ON RACING AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL: “Now that we have Montreal under our belt, I’m feeling even more confident heading into this weekend at Watkins Glen. I’m a lot more confident with the weight of the car and how it’s set up. I know the track pretty well having raced there several times before so that will help my confidence level as well. We are going to be pretty conservative during this race but I feel like we can better our finish from last week and I can better my comfort level with this type of race car. I’m looking forward to my second race with Braun Racing. All the guys work really hard and bring great cars to the track.”

EQUIPMENT INFORMATION: The No. 10 Kickbutt Amped Energy Ballz team will compete with chassis #28 in Saturday’s Zippo 200. This is the same chassis Graham raced last weekend in Montreal where he started 32nd and finished 23rd.

From: Sarah Holladay // Public Relations Manager // #10 Braun Racing

NCATS: Dodge-sponsored Avenger driver Mark Dilley slowed by transmission woes at Montreal’s NASCAR race weekend

BARRIE, ON – While last weekend’s NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was a highlight of the season for many of those associated with the series, the on-track result was anything but for Mark Dilley and the #9 Dodge / Mobil1 / Exide / MOPAR / Leland / Wild Wing / CRS Dodge Avenger team.

The thrill of racing in front of packed grandstands in the inaugural NASCAR race weekend at the legendary Formula 1 road course was Dilley’s only consolation, after transmission troubles dramatically slowed his pace around the 4.361 km circuit on Ile Notre Dame. After starting 12th in the field of 31 the Barrie, ON racer lost first, third and fourth gears just 10 laps into the race, and was left to soldier home to a 21st-place finish, two laps back of the leaders.

The result was all the more frustrating given that in the early laps Dilley was passing cars with ease and was excited about his potential for a top finish. “I had probably the best car we’ve ever had at a road course,” said Dilley. “If anything, we might have been a bit shy on horsepower because it wasn’t intended to be a road course motor. And then we just broke first, third and fourth gears out of the ‘tranny’, so we rode around in second gear after that point. But before that, I think we were as high as sixth. The car was good and it was amazing how well it was
braking and turning. But bad luck got us.”

The entire Montreal NASCAR race weekend was presented by Dodge, which was bittersweet for Dilley, given the result. “It was an incredible event and we were glad to be part of it with so much support from Dodge. The frustrating part is that we weren’t able to give them the top finish we were hoping for.”

Dilley’s tough run in Montreal came on the heals of an equally difficult tour of western Canada, in which the #9 Dodge-sponsored Avenger finished 15th in the British Columbia Dodge Dealers Dodge Avenger 300 (on July 15) and 11th in the NASCAR race at the Grand Prix of Edmonton (July 21).

“That was a tough deal out there,” said Dilley, of his outing at Vernon, BC’s Sun Valley Speedway. “That’s never been one of my strongest ovals. My goal was to go there, lead a few laps to help us out in the points, and maybe get a top-five.”

Dilley continued, “DJ [Kennington] and I tagged coming off the corner and we spun with like nine laps to go. I went down and hit the inside wall. We were fifth at that point, so things were looking good until then. It’s horrible to see a good finish go away like that so close to the end. And it took us from leading the points to taking a big hit.”

Hoping to bounce back the following weekend, in Edmonton, Dilley realized almost immediately that it wasn’t to be. “My engine blew up a lap into our first practice. And then we got just one lap under our belt in the second practice, before qualifying. In the race, I was punted off when everyone checked up except for the guy behind me. I came back on in 17th and made it up to 11th and then the race was over.”

Still smarting from his run of bad luck, Dilley is optimistically ready to start the second half of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule this Saturday night at Mosport Speedway. “All in all, it’s been a tough few weeks. I’m hoping we got our bad luck out of the way in one stretch. We have lots of work to do to get back into contention for the championship,” said Dilley, who is sixth in the standings after six events. “We’re looking forward to Mosport this weekend, but the car we’re taking there was the one that was damaged at Sun Valley, so we won’t have an opportunity to test it before the race.”

MONTREAL NOTEBOOK: The inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was witnessed by grandstands jammed to capacity with enthusiastic fans. Quebec racer Andrew Ranger was the crowd favourite and looked set to take the victory until a daring move by Kerry Micks in the final turns propelled him to the front. From there, he was able to survive a side-by-side drag race to the checkered flag, nosing ahead of Ranger by one-tenth of a second at the finish line. Robin Buck took third to earn the final spot on the podium.

LOOKING AHEAD: NASCAR heads to Mosport Speedway
Next, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series returns to Ontario this coming Saturday (Aug. 11) for a 200-lap race at Mosport Speedway.

Prepared by Inside Track Communications // For more information about the #9 Dodge team and its sponsors, visit http://www.whitlockmotorsports.com/ . For more on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, including complete race results, reports, point standings, event schedules and upcoming broadcast times for races on TSN, see http://www.nascar.ca/

FDA and Drug Safety: It Keeps Getting Worse

How bad is the drug safety climate? Just ask GlaxoSmithKline.

Sure, last Monday was a rough day—nothing like having two FDA officials tell an advisory committee that one of your biggest products ought to be pulled—but we’re not talking about Avandia today.

No, today we are talking about the product formerly known as Trexima, a fixed-dose combination of the GSK’s migraine drug sumatriptan (Imitrex) and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug naproxen. GSK is developing the combo in partnership with Pozen. On July 31, the Food & Drug Administration issued a second “approvable” letter for Trexima, saying that it is still not convinced the combination is safe enough for marketing. (FDA has already told the companies that it will not approve the Trexima brand name, but the firms are still using it until they settle on a new one.)

In particular, Pozen says, FDA is concerned about a positive genotoxicity test. The agency apparently wants the company to conduct a relatively simple human study to provide reassurance that it is a false signal. This comes after FDA previously declined to approve Trexima because of concerns about the cardiovascular safety profile of the combination.

Keep in mind that this pill combines two ingredients that have been used together countless times in the 15 years that Imitrex has been on the market. If there really is a safety problem here, FDA probably should be doing more than just sending an “approvable” letter to Pozen.

To be fair, Imitrex has well known cardiovascular risks, and naproxen’s cardiovascular safety profile became an issue in the context of the cox-2 inhibitor safety brouhaha. So you can understand why FDA asked for more data. Now, Pozen says, the agency is satisfied on that front (thanks in part to GSK’s willingness to do a post-marketing study on the blood pressure effects of the combo). But the drug is still on hold.

Welcome to the world of new drug reviews in 2007. Trexima is just the latest indication that this may be the worst time ever to try to get a new drug through FDA.

There should be good news soon. Congress is on the verge of enacting historic drug safety legislation—at least, Congress says it will after August vacation. The bill will put new burdens on manufacturers to be sure, but it will also allow Congress to declare the drug safety problem to be fixed. That may lead to increased confidence in FDA as a regulator—and maybe increased confidence within FDA itself to allow the agency to approve drugs even if they do have a safety signal.

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT: The RPM Report and Ropes & Gray will host a webinar on Aug. 14 to discuss the impact of the pending FDA bill. Two experts from Ropes & Gray’s legal practice will dissect the key provisions of the legislation, and the editors of The RPM Report will tease out the business implications of the law. Registration information is available here.

Insight + Preparation + Dumb Luck = Blockbuster

This blog has spilt plenty of bytes on the nasty consequences for GlaxoSmithKline, and for the industry, of the Avandia problem – but we haven’t said much about who’s likely to benefit. That part of the story we left to The RPM Report – and you can see that analysis here.

As Kate Rawson notes in that story, the two biggest big beneficiaries are Merck’s Januvia – the only DPP4 inhibitor on the market—and Amylin/Lilly’s Byetta. But Januvia is in many ways a more interesting business case study – and one we’ll talk about in a public fireside chat with Merck CEO Dick Clark at Windhover’s annual shindig in New York for the industry’s top business development executives, Pharmaceutical Strategic Alliances.

Clark -- pictured right -- ain't exactly the pin-up CEO. He's a manufacturing guy, from the blue-collar neighborhood of the drug industry. But he's managed a turnaround at the otherwise very white-collar Merck of impressive proportions, this being the company, that not so long ago, looked like a cartoon Gulliver hogtied by thousands of litigious Lilliputions.

And as Clark and I will discuss at the PSA meeting, much of that success is due to Januvia, the product of a nearly perfect blend of scientific insight and strategy, management skill and dumb luck.

Trailing Novartis by four years, Merck’s DPP4 team not only built a molecule that avoided one of the receptor subtypes hit by Novartis’ compound, Galvus, they managed to convince the FDA – although no one is saying so, publicly – that by doing so they’d made a safer drug. Thus Januvia never got hit with the FDA scrutiny Galvus did – and ended up with a safety label so compelling (a side-effect profile comparable to placebo) that this once-a-day pill, noted one diabetologist, has become “the first truly simple-minded therapy in diabetes.”

And probably the fastest beginning-to-end development program for any first-in-class primary-care drug in recent memory (seven years from discovery initiation to approval). Indeed, Clark and research chief Peter Kim had decided – given the company’s thin late-stage pipeline -- that Januvia was one of two drugs (the other was Gardasil, the cervical-cancer vaccine) absolutely crucial to Merck’s recovery from its disaster with Vioxx.

And so Clark created a multi-disciplinary task force around the compound, with its boss reporting directly to him. Bureaucratic hurdles fell away. And the launch was as nearly perfect as a major primary-care launch can be – five months after launch, the drug had captured a greater share of attention (nearly 40%) than nearly any of the recent successful primary-care launches. And it’s now on target for what analysts think could be $775 million in first-year sales.

(We should mention that Clark did the same thing – another multi-disciplinary task force reporting directly to him -- with Gardasil – on track for $1.5 billion in worldwide full first-year sales.)

And then there’s dumb luck. Januvia has been the extraordinary beneficiary of the misfortune of others--the Galvus approval delay, in the first place, and now Avandia. Merck therefore took 100% of the profit from the excitement Novartis helped generate around the arrival of a brand-new anti-diabetic class—but none of the negatives of Galvus’ apparent side-effects. Likewise, it’s taking the lion’s share of Avandia’s lost prescriptions.

And all of this despite the fact that Januvia ain’t that great a drug. Good as an add on. But not particularly powerful in itself. Instead, Januvia is the perfect drug for our era, when safety—particularly mixed with extreme simplicity--sells far better than efficacy alone.

The PSA conference will be a good time to question Clark on just how much a CEO matters in creating a blockbuster. We forecast his answer this way: some -- but dumb luck sure helps.

Monday, August 6, 2007

NC Primary Results

Click here for complete results.

Democratic President
Clinton 29%
Edwards 29%
Obama 23%

Obama drops a bit among black voters. Might just be fluctuations.

Republican President
Thompson 30%
Giuliani 20%
Romney 12%
McCain 7%

NC mirrors national trends. Giuliani is falling from front-runner status, while Romney is gaining. McCain is sinking and Thompson leads in the South.

Democratic Governor
Perdue 38%
Moore 28%

Perdue had been leading by 4% for about 3 months. The change can be explain by normal fluctuations and margin of error. It also suggests that her lead had always been on the higher side of 4%.

Republican Governor
Graham 23%
Smith 11%
Orr 9%

Nothing changing here. Civitas' polls continue to be starkly different than our results and the results coming out of the Graham campaign.

Democratic Lt. Governor
Dalton 10%
Dellinger 10%
Smathers 9%
Besse 7%

NC Primary Poll sneak peek

Our NC Primary Tracking Poll is coming out tomorrow morning. Here are a bit of the results, something even Mark Stephens might appreciate. :)

Republican Gubernatorial Race

Graham 23%
Smith 11%
Orr 9%

Medtronic/Kyphon: Averting a Shake-Up in Spine...For Now

If Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Spine and Abbott Spine weren’t overjoyed by Medtronic Sofamor Danek’s recent $3.9 billion acquisition of Kyphon, those two members of the spine market’s Big 3 at least heaved a big sigh of relief knowing that the market leader had eliminated the company that was emerging as a potentially significant competitor to the trio’s domination of this product sector. Indeed, Kyphon had already begun to flex its newfound muscle when it out-bid MSD and Abbott to acquire St. Francis Medical Technologies for $725 million last year—a deal that shocked the spine market as much for whom the acquirer was as for its huge sticker price.

Kyphon’s rapid recent growth and willingness to pay a premium price to acquire new technology marked perhaps the largest shock waves threatening to disrupt the status quo in the spinal market, where small companies have had little choice other than the Big 3 when looking for potential acquirers. Recently, however, that sector has been undergoing a bit of a shake-up with the major companies losing market share; MSD, in particular, has seen its market-leading position drop from 48% to 40%. These losses have largely come at the hands of the many burgeoning spine start-ups. Analysts now estimate there are as many as 150 spinal device companies, compared with one-third that number just a few years ago.

The start-up company growth and recent deal activity in this sector appear to belie the concerns that interest in the spine market peaked. A panel of investors and entrepreneurs at Windhover’s In Spine and Orthopedics conference last December (excerpted in IN VIVO) was quite bullish about the spine sector. Indeed, rather than entering a period of slower growth and retrenchment or consolidation, this group of spine industry veterans predicted that a number of product, market, and clinical forces are coming together to drive significant future growth, with one panelist suggesting that the current $4 billion spine market will more than triple in the next few years.

The factors contributing to this perfect storm in spine include innovations in diagnostics, particularly new imaging technologies, along with new implant designs, and a patient population growing not just from overall aging but from younger patients looking to take advantage of new treatment options. Clinically, the spine market is characterized by variety of conditions that can be treated by numerous therapeutic approaches; doctors are not wedded to any single therapy and continue to explore different options, resulting in a fertile environment for companies with innovative technology.

Indeed, with a clinical community receptive to new therapeutic options and a growing patient population, huge deals like Kyphon and St. Francis are likely to spur increased entrepreneurial and investor interest in spine, creating an opportunity for the growth of new mid-cap companies who themselves will be positioned to be potential acquirers, leaving the IN VIVO Blog to ask: Who will be the next Kyphon?

Drug Safety...or Food Safety...or Tobacco Safety...or Pet Food Safety...or Dietary Supplement Safety?

So which is most important to you? Well, if you're in charge of FDA, they all are. That came through loud and clear during a health care reporters breakfast with commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach organized by the folks at Health Affairs.

But fortunately for us here at the IN VIVO Blog, we only have to worry about drugs and biologics. With Congress taking off for their August recess, it looks like the Prescription Drug User Fee Act reauthorization as part of the much grander FDARA drug bill will have to wait until September to get passed.

So wait, doesn't that mean droves of FDA employees will be out of a job come September 1st because there will be no money to pay them (FDA gets half of its drug review budget from user fees)? Not so much. Von Eschenbach said the agency has already dipped into "carry-over" funds to ensure the agency will run smoothly while they wait for lawmakers to act. He expects/hopes the bill will pass in the first few days when the House and Senate come back from recess. Von Eschenbach emphasized he was working very closely with specific players in Congress to make sure that happens. The "carry-over" money, which seems to have magically appeared, is enough to last a couple of months before FDA would have to send out lay-off notices.

The RPM Report will be hosting a webinar on August 14 in partnership with the law firm Ropes & Gray to explain the commercial impact of the new drug safety rules for pharma and biotech companies. This will be the first in a series of audioconferences on the pending drug safety reforms.

While You Were Making History*


IN VIVO Blog picked up on a few news items you may have missed over this fine summer weekend.
  • The irony. Foot and mouth disease is back in Britain--though so far confined to a small area near the twin Pirbright laboratories of the UK's Institute for Animal Health and Merial Animal Health (a veterinary JV between Merck & Co. and Sanofi-Aventis).

  • The agony. Mannkind is having trouble licensing its inhaled insulin product, the company's CEO said on Friday. The company's shares fell like they were whacked over the head with an Exubera bong. Wait, they were?

  • The ecstacy! OK maybe not ecstacy, because we couldn't find anything resembling such excitement. But spending $16 billion (or selling out for $16 billion) must feel pretty good. The WSJ is reporting this morning ($ sub. reqd.) that Akzo Nobel is spending its Organon cash as ICI will accept a sweetened takeover offer.

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Stephens Reply

Below is the comment we received from Mark Stephens in regard to my latest post. I figure its fair to give him front page space to reply. For what its worth I disagree with most of what he has to say, but I will save my comments for the comments section.


The logic of your blog entry of August 3 is founded on two basic premises.

First - that because a client of mine chooses to refer to PPP polling, I must have personally encouraged the client to do so. While I wish my clients would always take my advice, that is not the case. In fact, I've never called a reporter to push a poll on them - yours or others - that employ a similar methodology utilized by PPP.

Second - that because that particular client of mine referred to a PPP poll, it somehow proves that the methodology utilized by PPP is sound and accurate. That logic is even more flawed than your polls.

I've been around this stuff for nearly 30 years. During that time, I've seen various new technologies come and go. Some good and useful - some not so good. If it's good, you keep it and use it.

The polling methodology utilized by PPP is not new. It's been around for some time. It lacks accuracy and I would never recommend it to a client that requires accuracy. I would never recommend it to anyone in the media that is attempting to analyze a political issue or campaign. The selling point for the product is that it is cheap.

I've never contended that it is totally useless. Over a period of time, it may serve to track trends and movement, but the data of any given poll is not reliable enough to make sound judgments.

I have nothing against your company. You serve the liberal political community in North Carolina and elsewhere. If they want to buy your wares - that is fine with me.

The only time I've voiced objections is when your company and clients attempt to persuade the media that your polling - or political spin based on that polling - has equal weight with traditional methodologies that have been tried and tested over decades. IMHO - that is not true and can mislead the media and their readership.

For what it's worth, that's my two cents.

Mark Stephens

Saturday, August 4, 2007

NCATS: Micks beat Ranger for dramatic win in Montreal

On Saturday afternoon, Kerry Micks used a late-race pass on crowd favourite Andrew Ranger to win the 23-lap NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race. Robin Buck was third. JR Fitzpatrick went out with a blown motor on lap 13.
FINISH: Kerry Micks, Andrew Ranger, Robin Buck, DJ Kennington, Scott Steckly, Don Thomson Jr., Peter Gibbons, Jeff Lapcevich, Jim Lapcevich, Trevor Seibert, Dave Whitlock, Pierre Bourque, Joey McColm, Ron Van Es, Doug Brown, Derek Lynch, Kent Nuhn, Andre Coursol, Brad Graham, Jason Hathaway, Mark Dilley, JR Fitzpatrick, John Gaunt, Dave Thorndyke, Alex Tagliani, Peter Klutt, Dave Connelly, Ron Beauchamp Jr., Michel Disdier, Richard Durivage, Kevin Dowler (DNS)

... more to come.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Stephens Duplicity

Our last Pollster Profile of McLaughlin & Associates got me thinking. The Bill Graham campaign is consulted by the Fetzer Stephens firm, the same people who are running Elizabeth Dole's campaign. Three weeks ago Mark Stephens complained to WRAL (see the comments) about one of our polls, saying we used "questionable polling techniques."

This week Mark Stephens sent out the latest Bill Graham poll conducted by their own "traditional" pollster that showed Bill Graham leading 21% to 9% for Smith to 6% for Orr. PPP's last Republican primary poll had Graham leading by a very similar 23-9-9%.

Does Mark Stephens think our Republican primary poll was phooey? It was pretty much the exact same as his poll. Plus our numbers have been consistent in that race month after month.

Like I said three weeks ago, he was only complaining because he didn't like our results -- which indicated Elizabeth Dole was in trouble. In the case of Bill Graham he doesn't complain because he likes our results.

Oh wait a minute. He must really like our results because the Bill Graham campaign is touting our numbers on the website! He ought to think twice the next time he criticizes our "questionable polling techniques."

NCATS MONTREAL: Fitzpatrick Speeds To NAPA AUTOPRO 100 Pole

J.R. Fitzpatrick, winner of the last two NASCAR Canadian Tire Series races, edged points leader Andrew Ranger for the pole for tomorrow's race at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
In other action in Montreal, Patrick Carpentier was fastest in the fourth Busch Series practice session, while fellow Canuck Ron Fellows was fourth. Click here for a full listing from Busch Practice Session #4. NASCAR has an article on the many Canadians who turned out for this historic race here.

Below is a copy of Shon Sbarra's NASCAR press release following NCATS qualifying:

MONTREAL (Aug. 3, 2007) – J.R. Fitzpatrick (No. 84 Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevrolet Monte Carlo) was the fastest qualifier for the NAPA AUTOPRO 100 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He turned a lap on the 2.71-mile permanent street course in 106.755 seconds which translates to an average lap speed of 91.387 mph. As a result, he will lead the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio field to the green flag for Saturday’s race scheduled to get under way at 10:20 a.m.

Fitzpatrick is coming off consecutive Canadian Tire Series wins and has now earned two straight Bud Pole Awards. It has been a busy couple of days for the 19 year-old driver out of Cambridge, Ont. He is also entered in the NASCAR Busch Series which is making its Canadian debut this weekend. It will be his second career start in that series.

“The car felt pretty good and I was pushing it pretty hard,” said Fitzpatrick. “I kind of wanted to see how it would react, but I don’t see the race being run at the pace we did today. I expect it to be a hard fought race.”

Point standings leader Andrew Ranger (No. 27 Wal-Mart/Tide Ford Fusion), who, at 20 years of age, is developing quite a rivalry with Fitzpatrick, was second quick with a lap time of 107.452 seconds (90.794 mph). The Roxton Pond, Quebec native took the pole position in the season’s first two road course events and won the first. Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has the other road course win and started alongside Ranger on the front row of the previous two.

The third-fastest time was posted by Kerry Micks (No. 02 Beyond Digital Imaging Ford Taurus) at 108.304 seconds (90.080 mph). Micks won the former CASCAR Super Series event at this track a year ago.

Current CHAMP Car World Series star Alex Tagliani (No. 8 Gain Chevrolet Monte Carlo) showed his experience and knowledge of the Montreal track by being fourth fastest in qualifying despite it being his first time in a stock car. His best lap was timed at 108.477 seconds (89.961mph).

Fitzpatrick believes the race will come down to brake and tire management. The rate of speed that the 3,000-lb. cars carry into the corners has the drivers on the brakes hard and often on the demanding street course.

It’ll be about who can get the most out of their brakes and their tires,” said Fitzpatrick. “These cars get around this place pretty good, but it’s going to take a little discipline tomorrow in the race.”

Qualifying Results
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve August 3, 2007
1. 84 J.R. Fitzpatrick, Cambridge Ontario Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevrolet Monte Carlo 106.755 91.387
2. 27 Andrew Ranger, Roxton Pond Quebec Wal-Mart/Tide Ford Fusion 107.452 90.794
3. 02 Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert Ontario Beyond Digital Imaging Ford Taurus 108.304 90.080
4. 8 Alex Tagliani, Lachenaie Quebec Gain Chevrolet Monte Carlo 108.447 89.961
5. 88 Robin Buck, Campbellville Ontario Ron's Burner Service/Jennifer Ashleigh Charity Ford 108.496 89.920
6. 17 D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas Ontario Castrol/Krispy Kreme Dodge Charger 108.513 89.906
7. 39 Dave Whitlock, Petrolia Ontario Dickies/Hamilton Tiger-Cats Dodge Charger 109.014 89.493
8. 22 Scott Steckly, Milverton Ontario Erb Group Dodge Charger 109.164 89.370
9. 23 Jeff Lapcevich, Caistor Centre Ontario Tim Hortons/EMCEA Chevrolet Monte Carlo 109.401 89.177
10. 4 Don Thomson, Jr., Ayr Ontario Home Hardware Chevrolet Monte Carlo 109.504 89.093
11. 69 Trevor Seibert, Williams Lake British Columbia Lake Excavating Ford Fusion 109.670 88.958
12. 9 Mark Dilley, Barrie Ontario Dodge/Leland Industries Dodge Avenger 110.003 88.688
13. 60 Ron Beauchamp, Jr., Windsor Ontario Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge Avenger 110.158 88.564
14. 77 Derek Lynch, Warksworth Ontario Canadian Shield Dodge Charger 110.823 88.032
15. 19 Brad Graham, Glencoe Ontario Full Throttle/Challenger Dodge Charger 110.829 88.028
16. 1 Peter Gibbons, Stouffville Ontario Canadian Tire/Mastercraft Chevrolet Monte Carlo 110.892 87.977
17. 29 Pierre Bourque, Ottawa Ontario DRIVING.CA/Conservative Party Dodge Charger 111.013 87.882
18. 12 John Gaunt, Barrie Ontario Centennial Chrysler Dodge Avenger 111.788 87.272
19. 50 Joey McColm, Ajax Ontario ATTO Insurance Dodge Charger 111.811 87.254
20. 11 Ron Van Es, Stoney Creek Ontario Van Es Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo 112.078 87.047
21. 35 Kevin Dowler, Sherwood Park Alberta EMCO Ford Fusion 112.320 86.859
22. 82 Dave Connelly, Arnprior Ontario Samsung Chevrolet Monte Carlo 113.235 86.157
23. 10 Doug Brown, Brantford Ontario Haldex/UAP NAPA Dodge Charger 113.861 85.683
24. 53 Peter Klutt, Halton Hills Ontario Legendary Motorcar/G-Force Pontiac Grand Prix 114.947 84.874
25. 09 Kent Nuhn, Williamsford Ontario Fuel Genie/Nuhn's Auto Recylers Pontiac Grand Prix 116.669 83.621
26. 67 David Thorndyke, Oshawa Ontario Thorsons Chevrolet Monte Carlo 116.901 83.455
27. 5 Andre Coursol, St. Jerome Quebec Carquest Canada Chevrolet Monte Carlo 119.384 81.719
28. 18 Richard Durivage, Montreal Quebec Habitation Eric Alary/CHOM-FM/Six Flags LaRonde 123.590 78.938
29. 46 Michel Disdier, Nice France Trident Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 160.000 60.975
30. 3 Jason Hathaway, Appin Ontario Snap-on Tools/Super 8 Dodge Charger No Time
31. 25 Jim Lapcevich, Hamilton Ontario EMCEA/Tim Hortons Chevrolet Monte Carlo No Time


Once in a Blue Moon: SGP's Stock Offering

When everyone and their pharmaceutical brother decides it's time to buy back their own stock, leave it to Schering-Plough to buck the trend.

The Big Pharma, fresh off the news it had emerged from the five-year old consent decree after righting all the wrongs at two manufacturing facilities ($500 million for the poorer, though), said it was selling a boatload of stock. The proceeds of this expected offering will cover some of the expense of its $14.5 billion cash takeout of Organon BioSciences, announced earlier this year (we covered the acquisition in depth, here).

The move marks the first time in months years decades? that a Big Pharma has decided to sell common stock to public investors (there have been plenty of debt financings and lots of cash raised via many divestments and spin offs, but zero equity offerings in a very long time as far as we can tell).

Schering-Plough is selling 50 million common shares (plus up to 7.5 million more in the greenshoe), which at yesterday's close would rake in nearly $1.5 billion toward the Organon tab. Simultaneously the company said it would sell $2.5 billion in convertible debt.

The fact is that Big Pharma rarely need to dilute shareholders since debt is readily available and they are often sitting on piles of cash that -- thanks to strong cash flow and goofy measures like the American Jobs Creation Act (oh yeah, how'd that go?) -- can resemble some of the minor peaks in the Alps. In fact most go out of their way to appease shareholders by buying back shares, the wisdom of which we question here.

But Schering-Plough has enjoyed success of late with Vytorin and Zetia, and has been growing both its top and bottom line nicely--so why not take advantage?

Novartis: Having & Eating Its Cake

It’s tough to be both a financial and a strategic investor. Which is why corporate VC has generally fared so poorly. If you’re out for returns, then you want to maximize the value of the company you invest in. If you’re out for product rights, you don’t.

For the last 10 of its 11 years, Novartis has been running a VC operation, originally as a way to fund the ideas of Novartis executives and scientists who’d been restructured out of jobs but later as a more or less pure returns-focused venture operation.

But now Novartis, like many companies before it, wants to have its VC cake (newco’s products) and eat it too (newco’s returns). Thus the interesting Novartis Option Fund experiment (confusingly, one of two option funds for Novartis as a whole—the other one is run by the pharma division and operates as a side-by-side fund with MPM Capital). Start-Up has discussed the funds briefly before, but Novartis Option now made its first investments, leading a $9 million round in RNAi delivery company Cequent Pharmaceuticals and a $14 million round in a re-start company called Adenosine Therapeutics.

The option fund works like this: along with its founding investment, Novartis Option Fund buys an option for a single program (any company Novartis Option invests in must have at least three programs--so that Novartis isn't exercising virtual control). The option comes with a pre-negotiated licensing deal and can be exercised at one of three increasingly expensive points: lead optimization, pre-IND, and first-patient dosing. Thus with Cequent, Novartis tops up a Series A led by Ampersand, Nexus and Pappas and, simultaneously, bought an option for another small amount to a inflammatory bowel disease program. With Adenosine, Novartis got an option to its A2B receptor antagonist program (Bristol has rights to its Phase III A2A agonist).

Clearly, the other VCs wouldn’t let the program go for nothing, but Novartis’ VC boss, Reinhard Ambros, argues that it's in Novartis' best interest to sign a market-priced deal as well. If it’s too cheap, he says, the start-up won’t work on the program—since Novartis has only one seat on the board, it can’t force things. And a cheap deal “hurts our investment returns,” says Ambros, which determine his annual bonus. If it’s too expensive, Novartis’ research group won’t exercise the option – and so has wasted its option price.

Meanwhile, Novartis Pharma’s option fund, the MPM Pharma Strategic Fund, is looking for later-stage programs—and according to the Novartis executive who oversees it for the company, Corinne Savill, will soon close its first deal. We'd earlier reported that the fund was looking to pick up product options without paying anything more than its equity. Not true, says Savill: they'll be paying option fees. You can't get something for nothing.

Too true.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pollster Profile: McLaughlin & Associates

Today's Pollster Profile concerns Bill Graham's campaign pollster, McLaughlin & Associates (M&A). M&A is run by Jim and John McLaughlin, who both have extensive experience polling for Republican campaigns and corporate clients nationwide. The company has offices in New York and Northern Virginia.

McLaughlin & Associates conducted polling for former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer, who is now a consultant for the Bill Graham campaign (Fetzer Stephens).

M&A's client list is impressive, full of numerous major national corporations, Republican Senators, Governors and Congressmen, and the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC. North Carolina clients include Jesse Helms, Lauch Faircloth, Fetzer, Paul Coble and Richard Vinroot.

The latest poll, was a second by M&A for Graham this year. An earlier one came out in April.

ROAD TRIP!!!!.... Spontaneous Subscriber-Only contest to win FREE tickets to this Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Pocono Raceway

UPDATE: This morning, we awarded the tickets to a lucky subscriber. Thanks to everyone who called!

Are you a subscriber (in good standing) to Inside Track Motorsport News?
Are you up for a spontaneous road trip to this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Pocono Raceway?
Can you get yourself to the Inside Track offices on Friday (in downtown Toronto) to pick up the FREE race tickets?
Can you get yourself (and some friends) to Pocono in time for the race on Sunday?

If you answered "YES" to all of these questions, call (416) 962-7223 right now and tell Rob Morton that you're ready for a spontaneous NASCAR road trip to Pocono!

We have four superb "CLUB LEVEL" tickets available in all. We also have four tickets to Saturday's ARCA race, if you can use them.

All you need is your Inside Track subscriber ID number and you're ready to hit the road! We'll post it here as soon as the tickets have been awarded.


Turn-by-Turn Coverage Available to Millions of Race Fansin Both English and French

Daytona Beach, Florida (August 2, 2007) --- Motor Racing Network (MRN) Radio announced it will broadcast live coverage of the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge from the historic Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on August 4, 2007. Race coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. EDT, and will be available in both English and French in Canada.
The race will be broadcast on nearly 300 stations in 40 states throughout the U.S., and in Canada on CKGM-AM, Team 990 in Montreal, a 50kw station owned by Chum Radio, and WBDR-FM, KIX 102.7 in Kingston, Ontario. The race will also be broadcast in French on CKAC-AM, 730 in Montreal (also 50kw), CHRC-AM 800 in Quebec City and CJRC-FM, 104.7 in Gatineau.
"This is a watershed event in the history of the NASCAR Busch Series and MRN Radio," said MRN Radio President David Hyatt. "We are very excited to bring this inaugural race in Montreal to the legions of race fans in both Canada and the U.S. They'll be able to follow the exciting turn-by-turn action as their favorite drivers maneuver this challenging course. We are pleased to have such strong partners like McColman Media to help us bring the thrill and excitement of NASCAR racing to broader audiences across North America."
Through a previously announced partnership, McColman Media assumes sole distribution rights for MRN Radio throughout Canada and handles all network advertising. Affiliate relations efforts are lead by Canadian Radio Syndications as an agent of McColman. The French-language broadcasts will be produced for CKAC-AM by Corus Media of Montreal as a licensee of MRN Canada, and will be distributed to CHRC-AM and CJRC-FM.
MRN Radio, which has been broadcasting NASCAR events since 1970, is the primary source for NASCAR stock car racing and related radio programming. Their award-winning play-by-play coverage of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is delivered via satellite to over 700 radio stations nationwide plus the American Forces Radio Network. This makes MRN Radio the largest independent sport radio network in America. For more information on MRN Radio, visit www.mrnradio.com.

Graham has Graham in the lead

New poll results from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Graham. According to his poll, he leads the Republican race with 21%, followed by Fred Smith at 9% and Bob Orr at 6%. These results closely resemble our latest tracking poll that had the race at 23-9-9%. FYI, our August tracking poll goes into the field tonight. You’ll get the results early next week.

The poll was conducted for Graham by McLaughlin & Associates between July 24 and 26 and included 500 likely Republican primary voters.

Thanks to Under the Dome for the news.

I’d love to see the press release or any other results released. Can I get some help?

Update: Thanks Ryan! Here is the polling memo (PDF). Obviously, they only released questions with positive results for Graham.

The most interesting nugget of info was name recognition. Graham had the highest name recognition (68%), followed by Orr (55%) and Smith (49%). That's not a huge lead, but it could explain some of Graham's lead.

Canadian Tire NASCAR Experience... coming to a town near you

For the second year in a row, NASCAR is on the road in Canada with a cross country tour bringing fans closer to NASCAR action.

Having started in Moncton, NB in mid-July, the tour is traveling across the country visiting Canadian Tire stores, with the most recent stops in the Greater Toronto area. From there the tour will head West eventually finishing up in the Vancouver area at the end of August.

Whether you’re a NASCAR fan or not, the Canadian Tire NASCAR Experience is a must- see if you want to get up close and see what a NASCAR really looks like.

On display is the #26 Jamie McMurray, Irwin Tools NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series show car and the #20 Tony Stewart SUBWAY NASCAR NEXTEL Cup show car (both of which are actual running race cars)….and they do start them up to make some noise!!

You can also race against the clock with the Budweiser Pit Challenge and feel like a crew member or the #8 car, Enjoy a Tailgate BBQ courtesy of Lillydale, (awesome sausages & burgers etc!!) and meet the Team Full Throttle girls, who’ll be more than happy to offer you an ice cold Full Throttle energy drink.

The tour also has licensed NASCAR prizes & giveaways from time to time so don’t miss the tour when it pulls into your area. It’s worth the experience! The Canadian Tire NASCAR Experience will visit Canadian Tire stores in the following areas:

*Thursday Aug. 2nd – Hamilton, ON.
*Friday Aug. 3rd – Kitchener, ON
*Saturday Aug. 4th – Barrie, ON
*Sunday Aug. 5th – Sudbury, ON
*Thursday Aug. 9th & Fri. Aug 10th – Winnipeg, Man.
*Saturday Aug. 11th – Regina, Sask.
*Sunday Aug. 12th – Saskatoon, Sask.
*Thursday Aug. 16th & Friday Aug. 17th – Calgary, AB
*Saturday Aug. 18th & Sunday Aug. 19th – Edmonton, AB
*Thursday Aug. 23rd – Kelowna, BC
*Friday Aug. 24th – Vernon BC
*Saturday Aug. 25th & Sunday Aug. 26th – Vancouver BC.
* Dates Subject to change

Check the NASCAR page on TSN.ca for event information and participating Canadian Tire store locations in your area.

PHOTO GALLERY: Michael Waltrip & David Reutimann in Mississauga, ON

NASCAR drivers Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann were in Mississauga on August 1 to celebrate the NAPA AUTO PARTS 200, the first NASCAR race in Canada and join NAPA Auto Parts in celebrating the opening of its new store at 1825 Dundas Street East, in East Mississauga (between Dixie and the 427).

Thanks to Dave Franks for forwarding these pictures!

Is Partial Agonism the Key to PPAR Success?

In case you haven't had your fill of TZD news this week, we bring you word that Dr Reddy's Labs and Rheoscience have dosed their first patient in what will be the first of several large Phase III studies of their partial PPAR gamma agonist balaglitazone.

Say what?

The timing of the trial's launch missed the Avandia circus by only a day and suggests there are companies out there willing to put in the time and money and Herculean effort to make their case for potentially differentiated products in a problematic class. Some senior industry executives think the odds are stacked against success.

Among those skeptics is Wyeth R&D chief Bob Ruffolo, who when interviewed by the IN VIVO Blog only six weeks or so ago, asked (rhetorically): "Who is going to bring a new, improved version of Avandia to market" given the regulatory mountain the FDA will surely make such a company climb?

And it's a fair question, particularly in light of the past few months' events. Let's review.
  • GSK's Avandia, subject of everyone's favorite meta-analysis, though allowed to remain on the market for now, will get slapped with some stern patient- and doctor-scaring warnings. Takeda's Actos has avoided the whirlpool so far.

  • The PPAR class hasn't exactly had smooth safety sailing prior to Avandia's snafu. Warner-Lambert's Rezulin kicked off the parade back in 2000 and so-called next-generation dual gamma/alpha PPAR agonists like AZ's Galida and Merck's MK-767 and Merck/BMS' Pargluva eventually followed.
  • Clinicians and patients may be moving beyond the PPARs in any case. The RPM Report has reviewed the winners/losers: Actos may have seen a bump in the wake of the initial Avandia news, but that hasn't lasted. Merck's first-in-class DPP4 inhibitor Januvia is enjoying wild success in its first year on the market and observers are salivating over potential newcomers like Amylin's once-weekly Byetta and Novo Nordisk's liraglutide.

Nevertheless, Rheoscience presses on. If Actos is now the TZD safety standard bearer, it makes sense that to get to market now companies will have to prove their drugs as safe or safer than Takeda's (in fact, European drug regulators require such an active comparator to prove non-inferiority). Rheoscience is aiming to do just that. The first balaglitazone Phase III will be a European "six-month, double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled multicenter trial in which type 2 diabetes patients will be given daily doses of either 10 or 20 mg of balaglitazone versus the active comparator Actos (45mg/day) as an add on to stable insulin treatment," according to Rheoscience.

Our interest piqued, we got in touch with Rheoscience CEO Philip Just Larsen, MD, PhD. (For background on Rheoscience, check out our 2004 profile of the company.) Rheoscience's September 2005 deal with Dr. Reddy's got the Danish biopharma company European and Chinese rights to balaglitazone in exchange for taking responsibility for execution and costs associated with the drug's US/EU Phase III program and US regulatory submission (Rheoscience will also receive an undisclosed milestone payment if an NDA is approved and undisclosed royalties on US sales). Novo Nordisk once held rights to the drug, but returned them to Dr Reddy's in 2004, back when dual PPARs were still expected to dominate the class, says Larsen.

Larsen stresses the benefits of balaglitazone's partial gamma agonist properties. "It doesn't take full agonism for full glycemic control," he argues, pointing out that Phase II studies of the drug as well as preclinical models suggest that 20mg of balaglitazone is comparable to 45mg of Actos in that regard.

What's more, he says, balaglitazone shouldn't raise the same safety concerns as other TZDs, since in vitro models and preclinical trials suggest it causes less fluid retention than Avandia and Actos and is less adipogenic than those drugs. The second Phase III trial for the drug is an international long-ranging study to generate a safety database; again that trial will use Actos as a comparator, but Larsen says he doesn't expect either drug to generate the same cardiac ischemia safety signals that have plagued Avandia.

"It's worth emphasizing that it's not the class as such that is under suspicion for inducing cardiac ischemia," he says. "Actos is not associated with cardiac ischemia," a notion backed by FDA's David Graham during Avandia's recent panel meeting, he says.

Nevertheless the series of trials required to get balaglitazone onto the European and US markets will be very costly (Larsen declines to say exactly how costly). Patients and clinicians may be wary of TZDs and hamper trial enrollment (a suggestion Larsen disputes, particularly in terms of European patient accrual). The future of diabetes treatment may indeed by combination therapy, but whether or not TZDs are a mainstay of those combos remains to be seen as newer drugs like the GLP-1s make progress. The regulatory environment--for all drugs, it sometimes seems--is increasingly tricky. Larsen remains optimistic.

"I'm not worried about the regulatory environment. The advisory panel was in favor of drugs in this class, they're a necessary tool in the toolbox," he says. "Treating diabetics is a challenge and by limiting the options you put yourself in a difficult position, and these [TZD] products are quite efficacious."

As for the class' past failures, he points out that "the entire concept of pursuing the dual agonists was a blind alley, and it took those Phase III trials to show that is the case. That is how the selective PPAR agonists like balaglitazone were revitalized," and now shown that pursuing partial agonism could control the side effects related to full agonists like Avandia.

Rheoscience and Dr. Reddy's have competition. A second partial-PPAR gamma agonist in late stage trials belongs to Metabolex and Johnson & Johnson (we wrote about their innovative deal last summer). But don't expect any winners for quite some time. Balaglitazone's NDA won't be filed before late 2009 at the earliest.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

HALDEX TEAM HEADS TO QUEBEC: Brown Looking Forward To NASCAR Doubleheader

The NASCAR Busch Series –“NAPA Auto Parts 200” may be the featured event at this weekend’s race in Montreal but it’s the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series –“NAPA Autopro 100” that will set the stage for what is shaping up to be one of the biggest events in Canadian sport.

The NAPA AUTOPRO 100 at the famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve track is the third of four 2007 scheduled road course races on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Sirius Satellite Radio.

For Doug Brown and his Haldex Limited/NAPA Autopro-sponsored team it’s also a weekend they hope to get their racing programs on track, literally, with a performance they know they are capable of.

After five events run todate, the Brantford based NASCAR Canadian Tire Series team has had some impressive runs but less than satisfactory results thanks to some unfortunate events that are a part of the racing challenge. They presently sit 14th in the points’ standings and are looking for their first top-ten finish in Canada’s premier stock car racing series.

“We need a good run this weekend,” Brown noted. “If this car is as good as it was in Edmonton two weeks ago, we should be able to post a descent finish. This track is tough though with those sharp 90 degree turns. Hitting the shift point is critical.”

“It will be a good test to see how strong this Haldex, Mopar-powered Dodge (prepared by DJ Kennington) really is especially with those long straightaways”, he added.

With upwards of 30 cars expected to take the green flag in the 27-lap chase around the 2.71-mile circuit, Brown also realizes he most post a fast qualifying time, something he wasn’t able to do in Edmonton.

“Yeah, that engine problem during our qualifying session in Edmonton put us in a tough position for the start of that race”, he acknowledged. With only two laps under the clock, the team was forced to swap engines prior to the race, relegating the Dodge driver to the final starting spot in the 30-car field. “We certainly don’t want a repeat of that problem for this event. It’s just too difficult to work your way through the field from the back on a track like this, especially with only 27 laps scheduled.”

Saturday Race Notes:

The Montreal race weekend will see the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series teams line up for a 10:00 am start on Saturday morning followed by NASCAR Bush Series qualifying at noon. The Busch race, the first event of this magnitude in Canada, is scheduled to take the flag at 3:00.

With NASCAR Nextel Cup stars Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, David Reutimann and Robbie Gordon along with road racing specialists Ron Fellows and Boris Said joining the foray for the Busch race, it will undoubtedly be a great weekend to be in Montreal.

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series regulars JR Fitzpatrick and DJ Kennington will be doing double duty this weekend as they attempt to qualify Busch Series cars for the Saturday afternoon event. Other Canadians vying for positions in the starting field will be Quebec favourite Patrick Carpentier, sports car racer, Michel Valiante from Vancouver, 51-year old John Graham of Aurora driving for Brewco Motorports and Tevor Boys of Calgary.

HB Motorsports is pleased to have Haldex Limited as its Title Sponsor with NAPA Autopro supporting team programs through its role of Major Associate Sponsor. Bicknell Racing Products; World of Graphics; HurryPrint Imaging Centre; WIX Filters; KWIC Internet; Gates Canada; BOC Gases; Brochures etc; Leitch Performance Engines; Strodes BBQ & Deli; and BrentZone Graphics are also valued members of our Associate Sponsorship Marketing team.

Prepared by: Ken Spencer // Marketing and Media Relations // HB Motorsports

NASCAR Canadian Tire Series on TSN: Edmonton


Premiere: Saturday Aug 4 @ 11:00 AM EST

Repeat 1: Monday Aug 13 @ Midnight

Repeat 2: Wednesday Aug 15 @ 12:00 PM EST

40th Anniversary Marks a New Tradition of Celebrating the Past at Brighton Speedway!

This Saturday night, August 4th, will mark a first in 40 years as staff and management of Brighton Speedway unveil the new Wall of Fame and recognize it’s inaugural inductees. To honor its proud history, and 40 years of consecutive racing, it is only fitting that dedicated fans get a chance to remember and new fans to the facility are made aware of our storied history.

The first to be inducted will be Speedway founder and original promoter Lou Reddom. Lou opened the speedway in 1967 and managed to find that magical touch that kept the speedway alive. In a time of fierce competition for racers with limited resources available, there were no fewer than eight other race tracks in existence at that time, all within a one hour radius of Brighton. Both the Riverview Speedway in Trenton and Colborne Speedway could not manage to survive and did not live to see the 80’s. It was definitely Lou’s entrepreneurial spirit and hard work that allow us to enjoy racing in Quinte and Northumberland 40 seasons later.

Fans were asked to submit their nominations to the selection committee for consideration and two names stood out; Doug Davis and Ron Herrington. Both local to the Brighton area, these two gentlemen were fierce competitors for years on the track and fittingly, were neck in neck in the running for the first inductees as drivers on the Wall of Fame.

Doug Davis competed at Brighton Speedway full time for more than a decade. Doug will always be remembered for his creativity and mechanical brilliance as he was one of the drivers that mastered every aspect of racing, including building every piece of his car from scratch.

Ron Herrington was loved by many throughout his racing years. His bright coloured cars could always be found close to the front of any race and under the helmet would always be a smiling face. Brighton fans will always remember Ron for introducing the famous WEDGE Late Model at Brighton Speedway.

As the ceremony to unveil the Wall of Fame and launch what will be an annual event is an important tie to the past 40 years of racing, the Rinaldi Family and track staff are inviting ALL past Brighton Speedway drivers to attend our special night with free admittance. To register and ensure your name is on the guest list please email angie@brightonspeedway.com, or call 613-475-1102.

Be sure to join us Saturday, August 4th when the gates open at 5:30 pm. The Wall of Fame ceremony will take place at 6:45 PM. In addition to the Wall inductions and great racing, Brighton Speedway will also have a spectacular Mystical Distributing FIRE WORKS display to celebrate the night, all brought to you by Matthew’s Automotive, Colborne and Port Hope.

For more information on this night or the rest of the 40th Anniversary Season visit www.brightonspeedway.com.

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2007-08 Schedule Announced

Montréal, Canada (August 01, 2007) - A1 Team Canada Seat Holder, Wade Cherwayko, has expressed his delight with today's announcement of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport schedule. Heading into a third season of global competition, A1GP, which pitches nation against nation in identical 550bhp open-wheel race cars during the traditional 'off-season' in motorsport, today unveiled an 11-round calendar starting in September 2007 and concluding in May 2008 with A1 Team Germany as the defending World Champions.

Continuity is foremost in the 2007-08 A1GP calendar with many popular venues returning from last year's schedule. Circuit Park Zandvoort in The Netherlands again has the honour of kicking off the new season, the Dutch seaside resort hosting a 70,000 sell-out last October, while Great Britain's famed Brands Hatch Circuit once again closes the season having hosted the 2006-07 A1GP finale in April - A1 Team Great Britain creating series history there becoming the first nation to score a home pole position and victory before a rapturous British crowd.

Brno Autodrom in the Czech Republic, home of A1 Team Canada's sole podium finish last season - a second place Sprint race finish for Toronto's James Hinchcliffe, follows Zandvoort with the series heading to Asia in November with races in Malaysia and China. The New Year again sees trips to Taupo Motorsports Park in New Zealand and Sydney, Australia with the streets of Durban, South Africa hosting a street race for the third straight season in February 2008. A1GP crosses the Atlantic for a return visit to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico in March before a second stop in China in April and the season finale in Great Britain in early May.

Following an 11th place finish in the 2006-07 A1GP Nations Standings, having fielded James Hinchcliffe and Vancouver's Sean McIntosh behind the wheel, A1 Team Canada is looking to break back into the top-ten after finishing tenth in the inaugural 2005-06 season including a Feature race victory in Indonesia courtesy of McIntosh.

"I think the new calendar represents the growth of A1GP as a truly international racing series," stated A1 Team Canada Seat Holder Wade Cherwayko. "We've established a foot-hold in some amazing territories and the fact that we're returning to race at some venues for a third straight season shows how well the series has been working with individual promoters. We need to get A1 Team Canada firing on all cylinders now and into regular contention for race wins. We've had a win and some podiums through the first two seasons but if we're to take on the likes of Germany, France and Great Britain we need to focus on our own consistency!"

James Hinchcliffe (20), a front-runner in this year's Champ Car Atlantic Championship, raced for A1 Team Canada in A1GP last season scoring a total of seven top-ten finishes. "It's a nice, tight, consistent schedule," said Hinchcliffe. "It's great that the series is returning to some venues which hosted amazing racing last season. The Canadian team has some unfinished business in the likes of the Czech Republic but overall the consistency in the calendar will be good for the teams and drivers and is likely to make the quality of the racing even more spectacular if that's possible!"

2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Schedule

Round Date Event
1 30 September 2007 Zandvoort, The Netherlands
2 14 October 2007 Brno, Czech Republic
3 4 November 2007 Asia - Venue TBC
4 25 November 2007 Sepang, Malaysia
5 16 December 2007 Zhuhai, China
6 20 January 2008 Taupo, New Zealand
7 3 February 2008 Sydney, Australia
8 24 February 2008 Durban, South Africa
9 16 March 2008 Mexico City, Mexico
10 6 April 2008 Shanghai, China
11 4 May 2008 Brands Hatch, Great Britain

A1 Team Canada Media Relations: Stuart Morrison - PR & Media Manager

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Dodge Motorsports: Teleconference with Patrick Carpentier

From Dodge Motorsports...

Patrick Carpentier, (Driver, No. 22 Zellers Dodge Charger)

What are you looking forward to this weekend? “I am looking forward to going back to Montreal. I haven’t raced there in a couple years, but I am really looking forward to driving these cars in the Busch Series let me tell you. Forty-three cars coming into that tight corner one there is going to be a good show for the fans. We tested yesterday a little bit and things went pretty well. We’re really happy and now we’re looking forward to it. I’m really looking forward to go there. I think the guys are going to like the city there.”

How different is racing a stock car compared to some of the other cars you’ve raced? “From the Indy cars it’s a world apart. You’ve got so much downforce in an Indy car that you can’t compare. With the Grand Am I was pleasantly surprised. It’s very close to what I am driving now in the Rolex Series where you sit on the left side. There was a high-speed corner where we went testing yesterday at the track in Kershaw, North Carolina. I was impressed with the speed that these cars can take the fast corners. It’s unbelievable to carry that much weight around with the car and not a lot of downforce. The grip that the car had was unbelievable. For me, I really had a good time yesterday. We didn’t drive too long because it rained most of the day. We only drove like an hour but it was enough to see what the car felt like. Because I have done the Rolex and stuff it feels like a world apart now.”

Are you ready for the bumping and banging that comes with driving stock cars on a road course? “I was in the shop this morning having mirrors inside the car because you see nothing out of these things. Man, how do you know who is inside you and outside you and all of that stuff like that so we kept adding mirrors this morning. I know you have spotters, but I always feel more comfortable when you can see what is on your right side, so we kept doing that this morning. The guys were like, ‘Huh, that is the first time that I’ve seen that with mirrors.’ It’s good.”

Can you talk about the adaptability of race car drivers in general? “I think once you get to a certain level whether it’s a guy that comes from Indy or NASCAR, if you get to the ovals, I’ve done a lot of ovals in different series and the Rolex and CASCAR and this and that, then you end up getting an idea of what any car should pretty much feel like. For me what the concern is that it’s so competitive NASCAR now a days. For a race in Montreal I don’t know if the brakes, how you need to save the brakes because it is a very hard track on the brakes. The tires and stuff like that is my concern. To do a quick lap and stuff like that I think you can do it. Paul Wolfe, who is chief mechanic on the team, yesterday made some changes in the car and we gained over two seconds in one change and then we were right up there with the times that Robby Gordon did at the test last week at the track. I was pretty happy about that but my concern is the race. When you enter the race it’s always a different story. That is when experience comes into play a little bit. There are some guys there that really know their stuff. For me there is always a learning curve and right now I am trying to shorten it as much as I can, but we’ll see how it goes in the race.”

Do you think motorsports champions have common traits and abilities? “I think so. I think if you can see it with Montoya you know. He drove Indy cars, F1 and now with NASCAR. He did pretty well last weekend at The Brickyard. Tony Stewart was in IRL before he went to NASCAR. I think the guys that run fast, and are champions as you’ve called them, whatever series they do whether it’s F1 or anything, if they are in a good car surrounded with a good team they’ll do well in pretty much any kind of circuit. They’ll adapt to the track very quickly. It’s like Montreal, a lot of guys don’t know the track but come Thursday before lunch time everybody will know the track. Everybody will know the little tricks here and there. They’ll have caught up with the guys at the front. It’s guys that really can adapt very quickly that can do any type of car or race track that they are in to if the equipment is good of course.”

What is the response you’ve gotten from the people in Montreal? “It’s been fun. You know what we did for Zellers, one of the sponsors on the car, all last week we did pretty much all of the stores in Quebec trying to bring more attention to the race and bring people into the race. I was amazed. I would say that three quarters of the fans that came in and we signed autographs for, in a few places we signed for like two hours, and we had to stop the line at the end because we had more people coming in. I was amazed because most of the fans coming in were NASCAR fans, not necessarily a Carpentier fan but just NASCAR fans. They were happy that I was getting into the series and that. A lot of people follow NASCAR and I was really impressed with that. NASCAR brings a huge fan base with Montreal and that. I did a few races with Indy cars and stuff. I think if we put it together we’ll have a good crowd. You have guys like Robby Gordon, Carl Edwards and all these guys that are coming to Montreal. They’ll attract a lot of people. The response has been amazingly great.”

Who is the driver that you would most like to beat in the Busch Series? “There is probably going to be like 42 of them that I would really like to beat, (Laughs), in the series. To run in the top 10 or the top five with these guys I would love to but it’s so competitive. I’ll try and run up with these guys and just have a good time with the fans and the people. That is what I want. If I can do that it would be great. You always want to beat the best of them, so we’ll see who runs fast in Montreal. There is nobody in particular that I would like to beat. I would more like to run with the guys, battle with them and have fun and run. Whether you finish the race first, second, third, forth, whatever, or wherever you finish just being able to enjoy it and battle with these guys. That is what I would like.”

Are there some keys to the Montreal track that you think will help you based on your experience there? “Yeah, I thought it was going to help me, but then they went and put a test day on Thursday, so everyone will know the track. Before I knew they were going to put a test day on Thursday I was like, ‘Oh, this is good nobody will know the track and we will only have a couple practices.’ Now with the test on Thursday I think it is going to be pretty much a level playing field.”

You’ve raced some of the other open wheel folks before. What are your thoughts on them? “I am still racing them. They are all in the Rolex Series now. The prototype series. The Grand Am. I am going to race that on Friday also. I have raced a lot of guys. There is Michael Valiante that is going to be there. I don’t know if it’s finalized yet or not, but all these guys and Robby Gordon, who I raced in CART at the time. It’s quite a few guys. It’ll be good to talk with them and race with them again in a different kind of car.”

Do you ever see yourself running in the NEXTEL Cup Series? “I would love to. For me what I love the most is hopefully with the sponsors with Zellers and Dodge, hopefully we get a good race, a good showing and they love the crowd reaction and what’s happening there. Hopefully that puts us into the Busch Series. I think I need to do a few races and a few runs in the Busch Series just to learn the do’s and don’t’s of how the guys race on an oval and a road circuit. We’re already talking I might be back in a Busch car on an oval this year, so it’s looking a little bit better.”

Did any of the NASCAR fans that you’ve met say that they have ever attended a NASCAR race? “Yes, Watkins Glen and New Hampshire. A lot of guys have been to quite a few races. The most popular one that I saw, because there are a lot of people that go from Canada to Florida, is Daytona. A lot of people went to a Daytona race. They have their seats reserved there and they go every year. That is the one that I heard the most.”

Do you expect a lot of wrecks due to a small amount of run-off space on the road course? “A lot of people are thinking that there are going to be quite a few wrecks on the track in Montreal, but they had a race last year with NASCAR Canada and it was not to bad at all. The show was fantastic. The guys on the last four or five laps kept passing each other and they kept fighting all the way to the finish. It was one of the most exciting races that we’ve seen so in the Busch cars it’s going to be exciting. I don’t think that you are going to see as many crashes or things that people expect. There is only one place near the pit road, they call it the Quebec wall, where if you miss the corner you are going to be in the wall like a street circuit. The wall is right there by the track so I’m sure you have to be careful. The other corners you have a little bit of run off area and you can come back on the track.”

What is a realistic goal for this weekend? “I’d like to be a top 10. If I’m top 10 then I will be happy with that. That is a good goal. I’m aiming higher than that. I hope to be in the top five, but realistically a top 10 after this long race I’ll be happy. For me I really want to try to show well and do well. I’m hoping to a little bit. We tested well yesterday and our crew chief Paul Wolfe made some changes that were really encouraging. He told me that maybe in Montreal we’ll be able to set it up well and if I race well we’ll end up there, but top 10 I would be happy with that.”

Do you see NASCAR as being in your future? “I don’t miss the open wheel. I’ve gotten calls from Rahal and a couple other teams that have wanted me to get back into it. I said, ‘No, we are going to focus on Busch.” I would like to spend a couple of years, I really like driving this kind of car. For me I like the ovals, I always have. I don’t want to do the ovals in the IRL anymore for safety reasons and I want to do it with NASCAR. I think the cars are a lot of fun. When I did CASCAR, NASCAR Canada, last year on the oval I had a blast. We’re aiming for it. We already have talks about doing an oval this year in the Busch Series, so that would be great. There seems to be a lot of interest from the sponsors to come in for next year, so hopefully we go that route.”

How important is it to be the top Canadian in Montreal? And which Canadian is going to be the toughest to beat? “I don’t know. Michael tested last week and was very fast. He is in a good car. I think he is in Juan Pablo Montoya’s car that he had in Mexico when he won the race. He is going to be fast and you can not undermine the experience of a guy like Ron Fellows who is going to be very fast. Not only is he going to be very fast but he is very patient and he really understands these cars. He is going to save his car all the way to the end of the race. I think he is going to come in at the end of the race also. I don’t know, honestly it all depends on the teams that we have and how good of job they do on the track over the weekend. It’s going to be really hard to tell. I would say Ron Fellows with his experience is going to be tough.”

Have you talked to Paul Tracy about how to bump guys out of the way? “No, not very much. I know from Paul that he has bumped me a couple of times. I haven’t talked to him. I have talked to Robby Gordon. I have talked to a few guys and they kind of explained to me a little bit racing in the Busch Series. I am trying to get as much information as I can from the right guys who will tell me the truth.”

Is there a voice that tells you since Montoya won at Mexico with little experience that you can do the same in Montreal? “Yes, but I don’t say it to loud. I don’t want to pressure myself. It would kind of be a dream comes true for me. It would help us motivate the sponsors for us to keep running in the Busch.”

One step forward, two steps back...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 31, 2007) – NASCAR announced today that Tony Stewart has been fined $25,000 and penalized 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver championship points, as a result of using inappropriate language during a post-race televised interview following his victory Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Chevrolet, retains his fifth-place standing in the series points, with his total points reduced to 2,599.Stewart violated Section 12-4-A of the series rule book (actions detrimental to stock car racing) by using the inappropriate language.In addition, Stewart’s car owner, Joe Gibbs, has been penalized 25 car owner championship points because of the infraction.


Pollster Profile: Telephone Strategies Group

The NC Association of Realtors hired the Telephone Strategies Group to conduct its latest poll on the transfer tax. The Telephone Strategies Group was founded in 1998 and is run by Jaimey Sexton out of Chicago; however Jaimey and his company were located in North Carolina until a few years ago.

A large portion of the company’s clients are from North Carolina: NCAE, SEANC, NC Center for Voter Education and the NC Beer Wholesalers Association. Politically, the Telephone Strategies Group works for Democrats, including the DNC and North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller.

The company is mostly known for voter contact services, like robocalls and live person ID, GOTV, and persuasion calls. I can only find evidence of two polls they have conducted; one for the realtors and another in Tennessee.

Given that the poll had only 20 questions and none were open ended leads me to think it may have been an automated poll, but there is no documentation either way. If anyone knows, please correct me.

NASCAR MONTREAL PREVIEW: Trident Racing Doubling Up in Montréal

Trident Racing's owner-driver, Richard Durivage is pleased to confirm that the Saint-Eustache-based team will field two entries in the forthcoming 'NAPA AUTOPRO 100' at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montréal on Saturday 4th August - Round 6 of the 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Presented by Sirius Satellite Radio.

Durivage will return to the series behind the wheel of the #18 Chevrolet Monte-Carlo, enjoying primary support from Habitations Eric Alary with additional partners, CHOM 97.7 and La Ronde on-board for what is undoubtedly the highlight of the inaugural NASCAR Canadian Tire Series - this weekend's race supporting the first ever NASCAR Busch Series race in Canada, the 'NAPA Auto Parts 200 - Presented by Dodge'.

Habitations Eric Alary specializes in custom projects for new houses and renovations as well as hard wood flooring. Based out of St-Michel de Napierville, Québec, the company, run by 32-year-old Eric Alary, services Montréal and the surrounding area. Joining Habitations Eric Alary in supporting the #18 entry this weekend is CHOM 97.7 FM - better known as 'The Spirit of Rock' in Montréal, one of the most listened to radio stations in the city, and La Ronde, Québec's largest amusement park and part of the renowned Six Flags Family.

In addition to fielding Durivage, Trident Racing will run a second entry for the first time in its short history with France's Michel Disdier running the #46 Chevrolet Monte-Carlo in Montréal. The 33-year-old, a seasoned open-wheel racer and former French motocross champion, will make his stock car debut at the famed 2.71-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course.

While Disdier gets set for his maiden start, team boss Richard Durivage will be hoping to avoid the misfortune which blighted his race at the circuit last year. A blown clutch frustratingly ended his day early but the 38-year-old arrives this season armed with track knowledge and more seat time as he continues in his efforts to put together a full-time campaign for the 2008 season.

Having recently sold the team's entries in the NASCAR Whelan All-American Cummins Pro-Truck Series in order to concentrate further on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Durivage is determined to make the most of Saturday's hometown appearance in Montréal.

"I'm delighted that we've been able to attract companies like Habitations Eric Alary, CHOM and La Ronde for this race," stated Durivage. "I know Eric (Alary) is a huge race fanatic and we're pleased to partner with him for our home event. Additionally CHOM and La Ronde are Montréal icons so we're honored to represent them this weekend. I'm excited that Michel Disdier is joining us as well, he's got a ton of road racing experience in Europe and I'm hoping that we have a strong outing together. This weekend offers us a great showcase as we look to the future of the team!"

The 'NAPA AUTOPRO 100' - Round 6 of the 12-race 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, starts on Saturday 4th August at 10am with TSN broadcasting the Montréal race as a tape-delay on Saturday 18th August at 2pm EST.

ENDS - www.tridentracing.com
Partner Websites: www.chom.com / www.laronde.com
Racing Websites: www.nascarlocalracing.com / www.nascar.com / www.tsn.ca

Produced by Stuart Morrison Public Relations


John Ryan (J.R.) Fitzpatrick and the Milwaukee Electric Tools team are the hottest things on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series circuit scoring back to back victories. In addition to seeking their third straight victory this weekend in Montreal, J.R. will be behind the wheel of the Home Hardware sponsored #0 NASCAR Busch Series car at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The back to back wins out west by the Milwaukee Electric Tools team have tightened up the point standings and created a tremendous enthusiasm for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. The dramatic last lap pass by J.R. in Edmonton for the victory have also added to the excitement and we’re only reaching the halfway mark of the season. “This Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevy team is really riding the wave right now” said Fitzpatrick. “I made some mistakes early on and we had a mechanical failure that hurt us at Barrie but we are on our game now. We’ve just got to keep working the way we did at the western events and keep it going now that we’re back in the east”.

This weekend will mark the second time that Fitzpatrick will participate in the Home Hardware Chevy at a NASCAR Busch Series event. Earlier this season he traveled to the Mexico City road course event. “It was such a great experience for everyone to go to Mexico and get a taste of the atmosphere surrounding the Busch Series. We’ve taken a lot of information and used the time to build our own car for this race and I really think it’s going to be a tremendous weekend”

Fitzpatrick has been looking forward to the first ever Busch Series event in Montreal since the race was announced. “We’ve kind of had this one highlighted for a long time” he smiled. “Everyone thought it was a great opportunity for us to show what we can do and to be in this first race in Montreal at such a challenging track will be very special”.

Adding to the excitement of the NASCAR Busch Series event will be several Cup series regulars that will also join the field. 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick, RCR teammate Jeff Burton is entered and so to are Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. “I’m looking forward to seeing them on the track and talking with them in Montreal” said Fitzpatrick. “Anytime you can run with some of the best it’s positive and I think they’ll be pleased with how well all of the Canadian drivers perform this weekend in both races”.

After claiming their second straight victory JR Fitzpatrick and the Milwaukee Electric Tools team have jumped to second in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series championship standings after five events.

The Milwaukee Electric Tools look to make it three straight wins as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will race next at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on August 4th. JR will race the Home Hardware Chevy the same day in the NASCAR Busch Series event. More information can be obtained by visiting www.nascar.ca You can watch J.R. and the Milwaukee Electric Tools Chevy race to victory at Vernon & Edmonton and all NASCAR Canadian Tire Series events on TSN.

This release prepared by TL Sports & Entertainment


DJ Kennington and the Castrol Dodge Crew are aiming to continue their run of success in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series this weekend and hope that they can also run well in the NASCAR Busch Series event on the very challenging course at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

With support from Dwight Kennedy and Northern Provincial Pipelines DJ Kennington has participated in several Busch Series events already this season working with fellow Canadian Randy McDonald and had some very strong outings. We had a great run at IRP last weekend picking up at 25th place finish. That really helped a lot. It gave us a confidence boost and like every weekend we learned more about the car and the series”.

With this being the first ever NASCAR Busch Series race held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve it will also bring out several Cup series regular drivers like Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick, his RCR racing teammate Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Kennington is looking forward to participating this weekend with some of the best stock car racers in the world. “It’s always great to measure yourself against some of these racers” said the Castrol Dodge pilot. “It’s also a real opportunity to learn from them. Whenever I get the chance to see how they’re working a particular corner on the track and talk with them in the garage I make the most of it”.

Kennington also knows that running both races this weekend as well as other select Busch series events presents unique challenges to the Castrol Team. “The toughest part for us is that we’re not full-time participants in the Busch series and we have to get up to speed quickly at each race”. said Kennington. “The long days and nights that all of the crew put in is really something they should be proud of, I’m proud of their effort and they should be too”.

After five races DJ Kennington and the Castrol Dodge team sit fourth in the overall NASCAR Canadian Tire Series point standings.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire series race will precede the NASCAR Busch Series event this coming Saturday, August 4th at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre Dame in Montreal. The twelve race NCATS schedule features events from coast to coast in Canada including stops at the best ovals in the Country along with temporary street circuits in Edmonton and Trois Rivieres. Look for more information all season at www.nascar.ca All twelve races of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series will also be broadcast on TSN.

This release prepared by TL Sports & Entertainment