Three Daytona Prototype Champions Selected to Compete in 2006 Crown Royal IROC Series Field Also Includes Three Drivers with Rolex Series Ties DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 19, 2006) -- Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC)...
Three Daytona Prototype Champions Selected to Compete in 2006 Crown Royal IROC Series
Field Also Includes Three Drivers with Rolex Series Ties
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 19, 2006) -- Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) officials have announced the driver field and race event schedule for the 2006 IROC Series, a field that includes defending Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype champions Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, as well as 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion Max Papis.
The four-race invitational all-star series, which matches drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars, will open its historic 30th season on February 17 at Daytona International Speedway. A total of five IROC Series competitors are also scheduled to compete in the opening round of the 2006 Rolex Series schedule--the Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28-29.
Angelelli and Taylor, fresh off a five-win 2005 Rolex Series campaign, become the first duo to compete in the IROC Series as a single entry as each driver will compete in two races. The defending Rolex 24 At Daytona champions will again be joined by Emmanuel Collard--with whom they co-drove to Rolex 24 At Daytona overall victory in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley a year ago--as well as Ryan Briscoe for this year's twice-around-the-clock classic.
"It's a great honor to be invited to compete in IROC," said Taylor. "They take the champions from every series and I'm looking forward to getting to drive around and just watch everybody else. I've never driven a front-engine car, so this will be a real challenge for me."
"Being able to compete in the IROC Series is very special to me," said Angelelli. "To be matched with Wayne as one team, competing against the best drivers in the world, is wonderful."
Papis drove to the 2004 Daytona Prototype crown with Scott Pruett, and both drivers competed in the IROC Series in 2005. The duo will be reunited in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, as Papis will share the cockpit of the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with regulars Pruett and Luis Diaz. Pruett and Diaz tied for third in the final Daytona Prototype standings last year.
"I'm extremely honored to be asked back to the IROC Series," said Papis. "Last year was a big learning curve for me in the stock car. In the first race at Daytona, I started on the second row, and by the end of the first lap, I was in last. In the third race at Texas, I began to feel more comfortable in the car, and helped Mark Martin get to the front of the pack."
"Driving a stock car on the Daytona road course will be great for me," continued Papis. "Bringing all of the best drivers in the world in equal cars on a road course--which I'm familiar with--will help me greatly. These drivers are the champions of champions, and I hope I can show to everyone that I belong."
Defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart is in the IROC field, and he will also co-drive the No. 4 The Boss Snowplow Pontiac Crawford for Howard-Boss Motorsports in the Rolex 24 with Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace. Additionally, 1996 Indy Racing League co-champion Scott Sharp--who will share the No. 12 Lowe's Pontiac Riley with Adrian Fernandez and Mario Haberfeld for the Rolex 24 At Daytona--will compete in the IROC Series.
Also in the field is 2003 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Matt Kenseth, who co-drove with Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Scott Maxwell to a 15th-place class finish in last year's Rolex 24 At Daytona. The IROC field will also include: NEXTEL Cup stars Mark Martin and Carl Edwards, two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr., sprint car superstar Steve Kinser, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave, ARCA Series champion Frank Kimmel and two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. A championship purse of $1 million goes to the series-winning driver.
The Crown Royal IROC Series will consist of four races on diverse race tracks. In an effort to return to its roots for this historic season, the Crown Royal IROC Series will compete on a road course for the first time in 14 years, traversing the 3.56-mile Daytona road course on June 29, in conjunction with the Rolex Series Brumos Porsche 250 and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup's Pepsi 400. Between the two Daytona events will be the second race at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, with the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway slated for October 28.
The Grand American Road Racing Association, which operates and sanctions the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and the Grand-Am Cup Series, is the premier road racing organization in North America. The 14-race 2006 Rolex Series schedule and the 11-race Grand-Am Cup calendar deliver professional sports car racing to key markets throughout North America in addition to being televised in the United States and Canada on SPEED Channel and distributed globally through ESPN International. With title sponsorship support from Rolex Watch USA, the Rolex Sports Car Series showcases emerging and legendary drivers from around the globe and thoroughbred racing machines from the industry's leading constructors and the world's top automobile manufacturers. Learn more about Grand American at www.grandamerican.com.