RICHMOND, VA (Sept. 3, 2004) The Crown Royal International Race of Champions began on-track race preparations Friday for race-three of four at Richmond International Raceway, which will be a double-header Thursday night September 9 with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 200. Both races will be broadcast live on Speed Channel starting at 7:30 p.m., EST.
The three-quarter mile D-shaped oval event will mark the first short-track race in the 28-year history of the series, which matches 12 championship drivers from major racing divisions in equally prepared Crown Royal cars.
The team initially tested at Richmond in May and has returned for the week-long process of qualifying and equalizing 12 racecars for the race leading into the final one million dollar championship finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 30.
Revered NASCAR legend Dave Marcis, a veteran test driver for the Crown Royal IROC series, is very happy with how things are shaping up for the event. Marcis said, "The cars are driving really good. They were good when we tested here in May and with the exception of a right rear spring we're set up the same way. I'm very happy with the cars; we're getting down in the low 23-second bracket after 90-laps of running and that will make for a great show. I think we're going to have a lot of surprises here."
Marcis continued, "The IROC mechanics have done a fantastic job with the cooling system for the brakes. We simulated a race today and I came in with right front temps at 670 degrees, which would have been 1200 degrees at the test (last May), so great improvements by the team and I don't think anyone is going to have a brake problem, which will add to the competitiveness of the race."
During a practice run on Friday test driver Jim Sauter said over the radio that his Crown Royal car felt beautiful. When asked what constitutes a "beautiful" feeling racecar at Richmond Sauter said, "That means all four tires are into the racetrack. When you turn the steering wheel, the car turns as much as your input with the steering wheel and we're close to having all (the racecars) that way."
Race three starts the tying points leaders, NASCAR stars, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman at the rear of the field. Getting to the front is going to be a bit tricky at Richmond according to IROC test driver Jay Sauter. "One word 0x2022 patience, " said Sauter. "Early on in the race the guys up front are going to try to jump out and get away, but getting too aggressive early on is going to hurt them in the end. That's why patience is going to be key."
Sauter continued, "As for passing, you've got to hope you can push the guy in front of you hard enough to where he will wear out his right front tire and you can make your move. I'm sure you'll also see a little contact happening from time-to-time to make it all happen, but that's just a natural part of racing at a short track like Richmond, which makes for an exciting race."