Darlington Friday notes

TRUE VALUE DODGE IROC XIX PRESS CONFERENCE NOTE: The race distance for the 11 a.m. start tomorrow for Round Two of True Value presents Dodge IROC XIX will be 60 green flag laps with a yellow flag at the completion of lap 30 for a mandatory ...

TRUE VALUE DODGE IROC XIX PRESS CONFERENCE

NOTE: The race distance for the 11 a.m. start tomorrow for Round Two of True Value presents Dodge IROC XIX will be 60 green flag laps with a yellow flag at the completion of lap 30 for a mandatory four-tire change. Under IROC rules, laps run under yellow do not count. The tire changes will be done in two segments, with one half of the field pitting on each. The field will then reform in the running order they were in when the yellow flag came out for a restart and the final 30 laps.

NOTE: Al Unser Jr. has withdrawn from Darlington's IROC round. Unser, the defending CART PPG IndyCar champion, sustained a sprained right ankle at his home in Albuquerque upon his return from the second round of the CART Series in Australia last Sunday. Unser is deferring to doctor's orders that he rest the ankle and let it heal rather than race and risk reinjury. Unser will be credited with a 12th place finish, per IROC rules.

HURLEY HAYWOOD (#12 Powder Blue, Road Racing) -- (Haywood will start from the pole position) I'm feeling pretty comfortable on the track, but my eyes are still wide open. It may look easy out there, but it isn't. With one or two cars on track, it's not too bad. I can imagine what it's like with a lot of cars out there. I've watched Winston Cup practice and it's been helpful. My game plan on the start is to run as quick as I can. Jeff Gordon is starting alongside me. I'll just hang on and see what happens. I think following some of the Winston Cup drivers around to learn something might be the right move. That's probably what I'll end up doing.

STEVE MILLEN (#10 Salmon, Road Racing) -- It's a bit difficult, the transition from road racing at Sebring where it's a nearly totally flat road course to Darlington. When I first got here, I had heard all the stories about the track. It is a lot different than any track I've raced on. The big thing is to get consistent on every lap. The key is getting to where you're comfortable and consistent lap after lap. (ON DAYTONA IROC) Daytona was the most frustrating race I've been in. I lost the draft and just couldn't make up time and ground even though I was running wide open.

TOM KENDALL (#7 Lime, Road Racing) -- (ON THE NEW PAVING) I think it's like some of the Winston Cup drivers have said to me -- the paving might be new, but it's the same old Darlington and it can come up and bite you at any time. I think the road racers could have a chance to do well here. They say you race the track here at Darlington and not the other drivers. That's what road racers do pretty good. What we lack experience on is the restarts and on knowing how to conserve the tires. My limited Winston Cup experience has definitely helped me in understanding the way the cars move and the mass of the cars. I don't have to deal with that, but coming to tracks that I don't know is the problem. (ON HOW HIS DAY IS GOING) Well, I locked my keys in my rental car this morning. Fortunately, my crew guys are from New Jersey and they got them out in about 60 seconds. I also got to meet one of the South Carolina State Troopers this morning on the way to the track. I told him I was going to Darlington and he asked if I was racing. I said I was -- in IROC. He was a bit disappointed about that. It seems you need to make bail on the spot. I didn't have the money, but the Trooper was nice and followed me to an ATM machine so I could get the cash.

SCOTT PRUETT (#2 Medium Blue, Road Racing) -- (ON HIS SECOND PLACE FINISH IN THE DAYTONA IROC ROUND AND HIS TWO TOP FIVE INDY CAR PLACINGS) It's always nice to get the year started off strong, especially in IndyCar. I hope we don't peak until the Indy 500. It's added a lot of confidence within the team and things are coming together fast.

(DOES ANYTHING LEARNED AT DAYTONA HELP HERE AT DARLINGTON) I don't think so. I'm not getting it here yet. There's a blue spot on the wall in turn one where I backed the car into it during Wednesday's practice. I was running good and then the car just jumped out from under me. Really, I'm struggling right now. I'm starting the race alongside Dale (Earnhardt) so I'll probably try and follow Dale as he heads for the front. I think I'll learn a lot in the first half of the race and then put it to use in the second half. We'll see what happens.

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Series IROC
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Al Unser Jr.