IRL: IRL drivers ready for Indy

Indycar Series drivers look for win in IROC at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, July 31, 2003 - Three of the top drivers in the IRL IndyCar Series, Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Sharp, will compete in the fourth and final round of...

Indycar Series drivers look for win in IROC at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, July 31, 2003 - Three of the top drivers in the IRL IndyCar Series, Helio Castroneves, Sam Hornish Jr. and Scott Sharp, will compete in the fourth and final round of True Value IROC XXVII Aug. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The True Value IROC series is racing's all-star game. Twelve of the best drivers in the world compete in equally prepared stock cars in a four race series that concludes at IMS. The 40-lap, 100-mile event starts at 2 p.m. (EDT).

Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Castroneves, two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion Hornish and 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Sharp have a combined 16 starts at IMS in the Indianapolis 500.

However, the IROC events utilize stock cars, and in the 2003 IROC season, the roofs and fenders have not been kind to the IndyCar Series drivers used to open-wheels and open cockpits.

Hornish is the eighth in points, trailing leader Kurt Busch 57-26, while Sharp is 11th with 15 points.

Sharp is substituting for Felipe Giaffone, who competed in the first two events before being injured in an IndyCar Series event July 6 at Kansas Speedway. Sharp filled in for Giaffone at the IROC event at Chicagoland Speedway and finished ninth.

Castroneves is 12th in points and will start on the pole for the IROC at Indy event based on IROC rules, which state the line-up is determined by inverting the points standings. He won the MBNA Pole for the 87th Indianapolis 500 in May. Since World War I, no driver has started on the pole for two races in the same year at IMS.

"I just hope I finish better than what my previous IROC finishes have been." Castroneves said. "IROC is a series that I've really fallen in love with. It's very different from what I'm used to, but I enjoy it so much with the friends and the people involved with the series."

Castroneves has two victories at IMS, scoring wins in the 2001 and 2002 Indianapolis 500. He would love to add an IROC at Indy victory to his resume.

"Obviously, I want to win," Castroneves said. "It's just such close competition. Indy is a difficult place to pass, but for those NASCAR guys, it's never impossible to pass, especially if you have fenders and those bumpers in front and behind. Last year, I finished second in the IROC event, so it looks like I know my way around the track."

Sharp competed in the IROC at Indy event in 2002 and finished eighth. He will start second in the race.

"I'm excited to be back at the Brickyard and representing the IndyCar Series in IROC," Sharp said. "This is my favorite track, and I'm glad to help out Felipe here. I hope to do well for him, but I do wish I was starting on the inside pole instead of the outside pole. The IROC races are a lot of fun, and I'm sure I'll have a good time."

Hornish knows that he is mathematically not eligible for the IROC championship, however, he would like to gain as many points as possible.

"This will be the last race of the year for the True Value IROC series," Hornish said. "Hopefully I'll run good and improve my points position a little bit.

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About this article
Series IndyCar , IROC
Drivers Kurt Busch , Felipe Giaffone , Helio Castroneves , Sam Hornish Jr.