Michigan Pre-race Quotes, Facts and News

WHAT: The 23rd running of the True Value International Race of Champions (IROC Series) race three of four. WHERE: Michigan Speedway, Brooklyn, Michigan - two-mile banked oval. WHEN: Friday, June 11, 1999 12:00 Noon local time BROADCAST:...

WHAT: The 23rd running of the True Value International Race of Champions (IROC Series) race three of four.

WHERE: Michigan Speedway, Brooklyn, Michigan - two-mile banked oval.

WHEN: Friday, June 11, 1999 12:00 Noon local time

BROADCAST: (Next Day) ESPN- Saturday, June 12, 1999 3:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.

WHO: 12 of the world's top drivers, representing different types of auto racing, competing at the invitation of IROC race organizers. The field includes defending IROC Champion, Mark Martin /NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Greg Moore/ FedEx Championship Series, Dale Earnhardt/ NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Dale Earnhardt Jr./NASCAR Busch Series, Kenny Brack/Pep Boys Indy Racing League, Bobby Labonte/NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Rusty Wallace/NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Eddie Cheever Jr./Pep Boys Indy Racing League, Dale Jarrett/NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Adrian Fernandez/FedEx Championship Series, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton/ NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

DISTANCE: 100 Miles, 50 Laps

PURSE: Total $760,000 with $225,000 awarded to the Championship based on points standings at the end of the fourth race.

LINE UP: Starting order determined by reverse order of point standings.

LAST RACE: June 13, 1998, Winner - Jeff Burton in the Gold car, beat Winston Cup team-mate Mark Martin by 0.229 second to claim his first IROC victory in his rookie IROC series

REMAINING SCHEDULE: Race 4 August 6, 1999 Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5 mile oval 100 miles (40 laps) Broadcast: (Next Day) ABC Time: 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Driver Quotes on IROC:

Dale Earnhardt: (15th IROC Season) "I've really enjoyed the IROC races this year, said Earnhardt. "How could I not, going two for two and winning them both with last lap passes has made it exciting. So far we've stayed out of trouble and have been in position to win on the white flag lap. As I told Dale Jr. after the Daytona win, you only have to lead one lap and that's the last one, it pays the most."

"It's been fun racing against Dale Jr. in the IROC series, but I've also enjoyed the other rookies in the series. Brack is going to be tough coming off his big win at Indy. Moore and Fernandez worked with me at Talladega, but after winning the first two races, I don't know if they will be as cooperative at Michigan."

"Mark Martin is the defending IROC champion and is right behind us in the points battle. I don't think he's going to give it to us, so I expect him to give us a tough fight at Michigan and Indy."

"It might be hard to believe, but I think Michigan will provide the best racing we've seen in the IROC series this year. The first two were on Superspeedways and some of those guys had never been on tracks of that magnitude. Michigan is more familiar with all of the drivers and should provide some of the tightest racing we've seen yet."

Kenny Brack: (IROC Rookie Season) The 1999 INDY 500 Winner wants to know - "I hope I qualified myself for next year's IROC Series! I need to beat Dale, Jeff, and the other boys…"

Adrian Fernandez: (IROC Rookie Season) "Michigan is a place I have always done well in CART, so I am really looking forward to going there with the IROC Series."

"I think I am getting more experience all the time I jump in the car, so hopefully, this third race will be a race where I can give all the NASCAR boys a run for the money! And, I am pretty excited about being part of the (IROC) series and this is a track where they have told me that you have to lift, so it will be different from Talladega, and Daytona where it was all the time flat out. Here you have to lift and you can drive a little bit more. Maybe the lines you take there are a little bit similar to the lines we take in our Champ Cars."

"I am excited to get back (to IROC) and improve our results from the last two races."

Eddie Cheever Jr.: (IROC Rookie Season) "I'm just happy to have a three point lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr.! It'll be the first track we'll have raced at this year where you can't go full throttle, so essentially the draft won't be everything. My schedule going back and forth to Michigan from Texas makes it difficult, but I'm still looking forward to the third IROC race."

Greg Moore: (IROC Rookie Season) "This is the first IROC race of the year on a track I have some experience on, so I am really looking forward to it."

Mark Martin: (8th Series) "I am really looking forward to the IROC race at Michigan. That is one of my favorite tracks. I'm thrilled that I made it through Daytona and Talladega and am only seven points out of the lead. They are both tough tracks for me, but I really enjoy racing at Michigan and Indy. I've only won one IROC race at Michigan, (1996) but I've won four Winston Cup races and two Busch races there. That track suits my driving style and the IROC mechanics give us such competitive cars that it really makes it fun to race there"

Fast Facts:

June 11, 1999 will mark IROC's Silver Anniversary event in the famous Irish Hills of Michigan. For the 25th time the appropriate green flag will drop to signify the start of an IROC race at Michigan Speedway. This will be the 91st IROC race.

The first IROC race at Michigan Speedway took place when IROC 2 came to town on September 14, 1974. Bobby Unser, representing USAC, became the first IROC race winner. The event was the first oval race for the IROC series, and the first time Chevrolet's Camaro hit the track as an IROC race car.

Al Unser Jr. is the winningest IROC driver at Michigan Speedway with four of his record 11 wins taking place here.

Only two other drivers have multiple IROC wins at Michigan: Neil Bonnett with three wins and Geoff Brabham with two wins.

The IROC Michigan race record of 176.910 mph set by four-time Champion Mark Martin on August 17, 1996. Race time was 35 minutes, 44 seconds.

Michigan Speedway still holds the IROC record for lead changes, 25 in IROC 4, Race 1, September 18, 1976, Race winner - Buddy Baker.

Also, the above race was Buddy Baker's first IROC series, his first IROC race, and his first IROC win. Only three other drivers have accomplished that: Mark Donohue, IROC 1, Race 1, 10/27/73, at Riverside; Geoff Bodine, IROC 11, Race 1, 2/13/87, at Daytona; Rusty Wallace, IROC 13, Race 1, 2/17/89 at Daytona.

Six IROC rookies will compete this year for the title: Kenny Brack, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Eddie Cheever Jr., Adrian Fernandez, Bobby Labonte and Greg Moore.

The IROC Series now has both, the 1998 and 1999 INDY 500 Winners - Eddie Cheever Jr. and Kenny Brack.

Three drivers offer International appeal: Kenny Brack, Karlstad, Sweden, Greg Moore, Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada, and Adrian Fernandez, Mexico City, Mexico.

THE SILVER ANNIVERSARY FOR IROC AT MICHIGAN SPEEDWAY

BROOKLYN, MI - Scheduled for June 11, 1999 at high noon, the green flag will drop at Michigan Speedway for the 25th time to signify the start of an International Race of Champions. IROC 23 will have eclipsed the halfway point in the 1999 season as that flag unfurls. Of the 24 previous Michigan IROC races, 18 different winners have prevailed, 12 from Stock Cars, 5 from Open Wheel Cars and 1 from Sports Car.

Only three drivers share the privilege of multiple IROC wins at Michigan Speedway; CART's Al Unser with 4 wins, the late NASCAR star Neil Bonnett with 3 wins and IMSA's Geoff Brabham with 2 wins.

The True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) organizers invite a dozen of the worlds best drivers from various auto racing series based on championship caliber performance.

The four-event series awards points for finishing positions in each race. At the end of the fourth event the points are tallied and an IROC Champion is named. The total purse is $760,000 with $225,000 being awarded to the series champion. All IROC race cars are equipped with Goodyear Eagle radial tires and specially finished with brilliant DuPont ChromaSystem colors.

Reverse order in the point standings determine the starting order for Race 3, the driver with the most points begins last and the driver with the least points starts first. The same method is used to determine the grid for the Race 4 finale.

So, what does that mean? The "Big E" (Dale Earnhardt) starts from the outside of the sixth row, other wise known as-last! He has to drive his way through the pack of 11 at strategic points in time throughout the 50-lap event and land himself over the stripe first-- his chances? Not that great according to Earnhardt's past Michigan IROC finishes. He has been in 13 IROC events at Michigan Speedway and has a finishing average of sixth, although, he won the event in 1990. One thing we have learned in IROC this season-don't count out Dale Earnhardt. But hey, it's not all about Dale Earnhardt!

Unfortunately, Jeff Burton starts on the pole, (first), for the second time in a row in IROC 23. Unfortunately because according to IROC's rules, you're starting up front in race two and three if you are last in points. Sitting next to Mr. Burton, on the out side of row one, is Dale Earnhardt Jr. He was involved in a wreck in race one and the victim of rare mechanical failure in race two. He has completed only 15 of the 78 laps run in IROC races this year.

Reining IROC Champion Mark Martin has finished third in both IROC races this year and has let Dale Earnhardt cut in line for the points battle but, he promises to be a threat at Michigan, he likes this track. Martin's average finish in IROC races at Michigan Speedway is third. He won here in '96 and holds the race record of 176.910 mph.

NASCAR Winston Cup drivers Bobby Labonte, Rusty Wallace, and Jeff Gordon are lurking behind Earnhardt and Martin to make it a NASCAR top five. But, '98 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Champion, and recent 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner, Kenny Brack is eager to break up the club, he follows in sixth. FedEx Championship Series driver Adrian Fernandez is seventh. Both have performed well in the first two events and have learned a lot about full-bodied cars and how to work the air.

NASCAR Winston Cup driver Dale Jarrett is in eighth followed by FedEx Championship series driver Greg Moore and Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Eddie Cheever Jr., ninth and tenth respectively. These three drivers, as well as, Burton and Earnhardt Jr., are the underdogs in the points shake down and have some ground to make up in this event if they are to have a good result. Their starting positions will hopefully pay-off for them and put them back in the hunt.

After Michigan, IROC will resume for the final time in 1999 on August 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Michigan event will be televised by ESPN: Saturday, June 12 at 3:00 p.m., and The Indy finale will be televised by ABC Sports on Saturday, August 7 at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Both events are next-day-air broadcasts.

IROC is sponsored by True Value Hardware Stores, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., and DuPont Automotive Finishes.

STARTING LINEUP - TRUE VALUE IROC RACE 3 - MICHIGAN

ROW ONE: 1. No. 12. Jeff Burton (NASCAR/Winston Cup), 7 points 2. No. 11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR/Busch Series), 8 points

ROW TWO: 3. No. 10. Eddie Cheever Jr. (Pep Boys Indy Racing League), 11 points 4. No. 9. Greg Moore (FedEx Championship Series), 16 points

ROW THREE: 5. No. 8. Dale Jarrett (NASCAR/Winston Cup), 17 points 6. No. 7. *Adrian Fernandez (FedEx Championship Series), 17 points

ROW FOUR: 7. No. 6. Kenny Brack (Pep Boys Indy Racing League), 22 points 8. No. 5. Jeff Gordon (NASCAR/Winston Cup), 24 points

ROW FIVE: 9. No. 4. Rusty Wallace (NASCAR/Winston Cup), 26 points 10. No. 3. Bobby Labonte (NASCAR/Winston cup), 27 points

ROW SIX: 11. No. 2. Mark Martin (NASCAR/Winston Cup), 35 points 12. No. 1. Dale Earnhardt (NASCAR/Winston Cup), 42 points Note: Starting order determined by reverse of point standings. Car numbers reflect driver's current position in IROC point standings. * Tiebreaker: Higher finishing position in most recent event.

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Series IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Adrian Fernandez , Kenny Brack , Bobby Unser , Geoff Brabham , Greg Moore , Buddy Baker , Mark Donohue , Mark Martin , Al Unser