Indy Racing represented by five drivers in 2002

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2002 - The Indy Racing League will be represented by an all-time high of five drivers in the 2002 True Value International Race of Champions series. Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves and ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2002 - The Indy Racing League will be represented by an all-time high of five drivers in the 2002 True Value International Race of Champions series.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. recently accepted invitations to compete in the four-race series that puts 12 of the finest drivers in the world in equally prepared stock cars for each race.

Castroneves and Unser join reigning Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr., 2000 Indy Racing champion Buddy Lazier and 1996 Indy Racing co-champion Scott Sharp in the IROC field. The five Indy Racing drivers have combined for four Indianapolis 500 wins, three Indy Racing championships and 20 Indy Racing victories.

"I think it's great that the IRL is going to be strongly represented in IROC," Unser said. "It's always an honor to be invited to the IROC series. When I got the invitation, of course I accepted it. We will go out and have a good time with good ol' boys."

Unser is no stranger to IROC competition, having competed in the series from 1986-1998 and driving in two races for the injured Scott Goodyear in 2001. Unser won the IROC title in 1986 and 1988 and is tied with the late Dale Earnhardt for all-time IROC victories with 11. His 14 seasons of IROC competition rank second only to Earnhardt, who competed in 17 IROC seasons.

Castroneves, who will compete with Marlboro Team Penske full time in the Indy Racing League in 2002, will race in IROC for the first time this year.

"I'm very excited that this year's IROC schedule does not conflict with my schedule for Marlboro Team Penske in the IRL so that I can participate in these special races for champions," Castroneves said. "It will be a brand-new experience for me, and I think it will be something that I'll really enjoy."

This is the 26th IROC season, with races taking place Feb. 15 at Daytona International Speedway, April 27 at California Speedway, July 13 at Chicagoland Speedway and Aug. 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the fifth annual IROC at Indy.

-irl-

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