The Crown Royal International Race of Champions Series continued testing and driver practice on Tuesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway in preparation for the 2006 Race Four championship finale on Saturday. Tuesday's activities consisted of final testing of the racecars, driver practice and concluded with a blind draw for car assignments conducted by IROC President, Jay Signore among all of the drivers in attendance. Road Racing and Open Wheel ace, Max Papis joined fellow competitors, IndyCar champion, Sam Hornish Jr., Grand American Sports Car champion, Wayne Taylor and legendary dirt track Sprint Car legend, Steve Kinser for pre-race driver practice. Papis is tied with NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Ryan Newman for third in the points standings making up two of the four drivers in contention for the 2006 Crown Royal IROC $1million championship. The other two contenders are NASCAR Nextel champions, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, first and second, respectively.
Papis said, "It feels great to back in the saddle with IROC. The opportunity IROC offers the drivers by being here all week and making the cars available to get in as many laps as you need before the race really helps out a lot. I can tell you I'm very excited about this race knowing that I'm actually in contention for the championship.
I'm especially proud because I'm the only non-stock car driver in that position. I would really like to get that missing piece of the puzzle -- Celebrating an IROC victory in winner's circle. I know it's going to be tough but I'll give it everything I can."
Kinser said, "Actually, I feel pretty good. I've been pretty comfortable here in past IROC races, but my results haven't shown it. For the race this year, I'm just going to get out there, have a good time and give it my best shot. Like I said, I'm comfortable enough in the cars to race hard, so hopefully we'll have a good race and a good finish to the season on Saturday."
Kinser's racing son, Kraig was in attendance watching his dad practice when he suddenly went from spectator to participant. IROC President, Jay Signore surprised the 22-year-old with an invite to suit up and give the IROC cars a try.
"It was a lot of fun and very special for me to get a chance to drive an IROC car," said the younger Kinser. "The cars are very different than anything I've ever driven before -- the steering and just the way they draft. It was a lot of fun to get a chance to drive with my dad out there too. You really can tell how even the cars are and see why the racing is as close as it is."
About running with his son Kraig in the IROC cars, Kinser said, "This is something that is really fun for me as a father. Just to see Kraig get a chance to drive an IROC car, even though he's not racing in the series, I know it will be a memory he'll always treasure. I remember how I felt when I first climbed into an IROC car knowing what the series means to a driver. It makes me proud having the opportunity to get out there with my son and do a few laps with him in the IROC cars, it's something that means a lot to me, it's very special for both of us."