HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - IROC stands for International Race of Champions. For the last couple of years, it has also stood for Impressive Representatives of the Craftsman Truck Series.
Drivers who first came to prominence in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series were tapped to compete in the Crown Royal IROC all-star series, and accounted for themselves quite well.
In 2002, three-time Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague and Nextel Cup standout Kevin Harvick, a former Craftsman Truck Series driver and current team owner, were among the twelve selected for the celebrity series. Harvick won one race of the four in the series and claimed the IROC championship.
In the 2003 IROC, two more former Craftsman Truck Series champions, Greg Biffle and Mike Bliss, were joined by 2000 points runner up Kurt Busch. Busch and Bliss each won a race; Busch took the championship.
Three victories in eight races, and two championships in two years. Not bad for some old truck drivers.
"The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was created in large part to give extra opportunities for aspiring drivers and crew members to participate at NASCAR's top level," said Sears Motorsports Marketing Manager Toure Claiborne. "The record of our drivers as they compete in the NASCAR Nextel Cup, the NASCAR Busch Series or IROC demonstrates that the Craftsman Truck Series has been successful."
The 2004 lineup of IROC drivers will again have a Craftsman flavor. Three of eight drivers are NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series alumni. Busch and Harvick return, and will be joined by 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil. Kvapil will be the first driver to compete in IROC while simultaneously defending his Craftsman Truck Series championship.
With two of the four 2004 IROC events run as companion races with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway and Sept. 9 at Richmond International Raceway), Kvapil, Harvick and Busch will have a truck garage full of drivers and crews rooting for their former classmates.