DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2006) The Crown Royal International Race of Champions returned to track action Wednesday for a four-hour session at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) with driver practice in preparation for the series' road race at DIS Thursday night, June 29.
Drivers getting behind the wheel for the first time were 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave along with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth. Musgrave, who is starting on the pole in the 20-lap, 71.2-mile road race, was grateful to get a few pre-practice tutored runs in a street car by David Donohue before embarking on the course in the IROC cars.
After his first run on the road course in the racecar, Musgrave said, "Thank goodness I was following David Donohue, he's the school teacher here on the road course for IROC. I've been in the IROC cars and I've road raced, but I've never been in the IROC cars on a road course, and I've never driven on the road course here at Daytona. The worst thing you can do is over drive it and wreck a car, so I'm just working up to it slowly. I haven't done this in probably six, or seven years, so slowly, but surely, I'm getting a little better. I think the best thing I can do tomorrow night is race my own race. There are some really good road racers in this deal and some of them have been down here practicing quite a bit, so all I can do is my best to keep my car on the course, don't make mistakes, or ruin the transmission, or brakes and see where it ends up. Mostly, I'm going to have some fun, but don't get me wrong, I'll race it really hard, I just know I'm up against some good aces out there."
After his initial run, Newman said, "Like some of the other guys, I've never been around the road course here at Daytona, so it's been a new experience for me here today, just getting used to the track, learning the corners with braking and things like that. I only went off the track twice in about 10 or 12-laps, so that's pretty good, I just need to get out there some more and get some more experience. It's a great opportunity for me to get out there with some of the champion road racers and see if I can learn something from them before tomorrow night."
The 2004 Crown Royal IROC Champion, and current points leader, Matt Kenseth said, "Just having raced on the road course at Sonoma may have helped a bit, but the IROC cars feel completely different than the Cup cars, especially the braking with carbon pads and rotors, which I haven't run before on a road course they just feel a lot different. I did run this course in a Daytona Prototype, so I'm familiar with the track. I can say, tomorrow night in the IROC cars is going to be fun it's going to be a real interesting race, and I'm just glad to have the opportunity to be a part of it."
Returning for more seat time after last week's practice sessions were Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series champions Max Papis and Max Angelelli, along with 20-time World of Outlaws Sprint Series champion Steve Kinser and seven-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel. Later in the day the Crown Royal IROC Series finally got a chance to test out the wet weather package after a downpour late Wednesday afternoon at DIS.
IROC's road race specialist, David Donohue strapped into the Crown Royal IROC cars, equipped with Goodyear Eagle Radial rain tires, and took to the 3.56-mile road course with headlights on, windshield wipers and defoggers going and all the creature comforts for running in wet weather. Donohue said, The Goodyear rain tires held up great. As far as I was concerned, the feel of the car remained very consistent. It's a raceable package and it was fun sliding around a little out there. They've done a lot with the racetrack in recent years with paving the infield track and the puddles that were there when I first went out receded very quickly. If we wind up running in the rain I'm confident everyone will be pretty comfortable."
IROC President Jay Signore said, Right now I think we're in pretty good shape from what David (Donohue) is telling us. The cars feel pretty stable in the wet conditions. It wasn't pouring when he went out, but the track surface was soaked pretty good. We did a quick suspension adjustment in back-to-back runs to see if it would help the wet conditions a little bit, but his (Donohue's) comments were that we could go either way with the set up. I feel better having had the opportunity to get out on the wet surface, but I do hope we get to run the race dry tomorrow night."