Irwin Sees Dad as Big Part of Racing Career

IRWIN SEES DAD AS BIG PART OF RACING CAREER LONG POND, Pa. -- Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will be at Pocono Raceway this Sunday to compete in the Pocono 500, but he is the...

IRWIN SEES DAD AS BIG PART OF RACING CAREER

LONG POND, Pa. -- Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, will be at Pocono Raceway this Sunday to compete in the Pocono 500, but he is the first to admit that without the influence of his father, Kenny Irwin Sr., he might not be so lucky. "Sunday is Father's Day," said Irwin, the 1998 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. "Like most children, I don't take enough time to properly thank my parents for what they've done for me. Without them having given me the opportunities and support they did all the way through my career, I certainly would not have reached this level." Irwin, a second-generation racer, was handed the wheel of a go-cart when he was only six years old. His dad, who himself raced for several years, still builds open-wheel midget race cars and fields one as car owner in the Midget Series Midwest. "From the day he was born, I felt like I knew where he was headed," said Irwin Sr. "He was the third of our four children -- the only boy. I always dreamed Kenny would be a race car driver." Kenny Jr. says family outings with his dad were going to a race track. "It was my choice," he said. "I had the option of going to baseball or football games instead." However, being from Indianapolis, where the Irwin family still resides, stock car racing was not quite what the elder Irwin had in mind. "We had always talked about Kenny racing Indy cars and running the Indianapolis 500," said Irwin Sr. "The next thing I know, three or four years ago, I saw him being interviewed on television and he said, ‘Well, I think the real opportunity lies down South.' It surprised me he had a change of heart, but NASCAR is definitely the best place for him. To see him with a top-notch organization like the Texaco/Havoline Robert Yates Racing team and know he's a contender heading to a place like Pocono is very gratifying to a father." Kenny Jr. had a great race on the 2.5-mile Pocono track last spring, advancing to an 11th-place finish all the way from a 36th-place start. With consecutive top-15 finishes in the last three Winston Cup events, combined with having moved to 20th spot in the point standings, Kenny Jr. says the pieces are in place for this weekend's race to be a Father's Day his dad will not forget. "We'd love to score our first Winston Cup win this weekend," said Kenny Jr. "It would be for Dad. Both of my parents have made sacrifices ever since I can remember just so I would have the best equipment. Those are things you never forget."

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing