Martin Truex Jr. makes it two in a row in Crown Royal IROC Atlanta race Tony Stewart captures his first Crown Royal IROC Series championship HAMPTON, Ga., October 28, 2006 -- NASCAR Busch Series driver Martin Truex, Jr. and NASCAR Nextel...
Martin Truex Jr. makes it two in a row in Crown Royal IROC Atlanta race
Tony Stewart captures his first Crown Royal IROC Series championship
HAMPTON, Ga., October 28, 2006 -- NASCAR Busch Series driver Martin Truex, Jr. and NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Ryan Newman took turns holding the top spot in the final five laps before Truex regained the lead for good with a little more than a lap remaining to win his second consecutive Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"It was just a lot of fun," said Truex. "Last year I was able to get out front, I think right after the competition yellow (Lap 40 of 65). Today was completely different. I didn't know until I crossed the finish line that I had won. It was one of the better races I've been a part of."
Matt Kenseth's (second place) push from behind allowed Truex to squeeze past Newman and take the checkered flag.
Truex, an IROC winner here last year, and Newman were among a pack of five drivers -- Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Ted Musgrave -- contending for the lead with 10 laps remaining, which also included some back and forth bumping between Newman and Martin.
Kenseth finished second, followed by Stewart, Newman and Musgrave, who rounded out the top five of the 65-lap, 100.1-mile race.
NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart, who entered Race Four with a 15-point lead over fellow Cup driver Kenseth, clinched his first Crown Royal IROC Series championship (77 points), as well as the $1 million first-place Crown Royal IROC purse. Kenseth, the 2004 series champion and a winner at Daytona in the IROC season-opener, finished second (65), followed by Truex (57) and Newman (54) and Martin (47).
"It's always a huge honor just to run in the IROC series," said Stewart. "When you get the invite you know you did something good the year before. Standing up there today, it really hit me to see all the past champions' names. To be on a trophy with that list of great names is something I'm very, very proud of. Anytime you can go out with that talent and then be the champion of champions is something that's pretty special."
The Indiana native, who claimed two of the first three Crown Royal IROC races at Texas in April and Daytona's road course in June, now holds six different major national motorsports championships, which include: NASCAR Nextel Cup (2002, '05), IRL IndyCar Series (1997), US Auto Club (USAC) National Midget (1994-95), USAC National Sprint Car ('95) and USAC National Silver Crown Car (1995).
Martin, a five-time series champion and IROC's all-time winningest driver with 13 race victories, dominated the early part of the race, including 32 laps before the mandatory competition yellow at the conclusion of lap 40. After the restart a fierce battle ensued at the front of the pack between Truex, Martin and Newman with Martin and Newman banging off the side of each other several times resulting in Martin getting shuffled back as far as seventh place.
Martin finished sixth, followed by eight-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel (seventh), Max Papis (eighth), 2006 IndyCar Series winner Sam Hornish, Jr. (ninth), 20-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser (10th), Grand American Road Racing co-champion Wayne Taylor (11th) and IRL IndyCar Series driver Scott Sharp (12th).
The conclusion of the 2006 IROC Series also concludes the term of Crown Royal as the title sponsor. The IROC Series is actively pursing a new title sponsor for 2007 and beyond.