Michigan Kenny Irwin Preview

IRWIN MAKING GAINS AS SEASON PROGRESSES BROOKLYN, Mich. -- With 13 of 34 points events completed on the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup schedule, Kenny Irwin and the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline race team are quietly, yet steadily, moving up in ...

IRWIN MAKING GAINS AS SEASON PROGRESSES

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- With 13 of 34 points events completed on the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup schedule, Kenny Irwin and the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline race team are quietly, yet steadily, moving up in the point standings. Entering this Sunday's Michigan 400 at Michigan Speedway, Irwin is 21st, having gained four spots in the last three races. "We're certainly getting more consistent," said Irwin, the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. "In three of the last four points races, we've finished in the top 15. There has never been any question that consistency is what it takes to get the job done in Winston Cup." With a 10th-place finish at Dover last week and a 15th-place in the 600-miler at Charlotte the week before, Irwin and company have a shot at three straight top-15's this weekend. With an average start of 14.5 and average finish of 16 at Michigan in 1998, the sophomore driver of the Texaco/Havoline car needs only to improve one finishing spot to keep his "streak" going. "We like Michigan," Irwin said of the 2.0-mile oval. "First of all, it's a real nice facility. And we feel like we know that track well. Probably more so than any other track we run, this track is loose in and tight off (the turns). This Robert Yates Racing team has some really good notes on this track and that's helpful." With four wins at Michigan, Yates is tied for fourth on the all-time win list at the track, having enjoyed victories with Irwin's current teammate, Dale Jarrett, and former drivers Ernie Irvan and the late Davey Allison. Irwin, a native of Indianapolis, says returning to the Midwest is a bonus because he gets to visit with family and friends who make the four-hour drive from Indianapolis twice annually for the Michigan races. "That's always good," said Irwin. "With the hectic schedule we keep these days, it seems it's easier for them to get to me than me to them, so when they make the effort, I really appreciate it. I've got a full house in my motorcoach this weekend. We spent a lot of time racing in this area over the years in the sprint cars, so it's good to see all of the fans who have followed my racing career." Irwin's mom, Reva Irwin, a resident of Indianapolis who has attended many of the races with her son since his early racing career, plans to make the trip to Michigan this weekend. "I'm always glad when he's closer to home," she said. "We all want to support his career as much as we can, but with the way the series travels we can't always get there. Being this close is surely a help. My phone is ringing off the hook with friends looking for tickets and hotels and all of that. Everybody is seeing how well he's been doing lately, and they don't want to miss the chance to see him race in this league. They were all there as he was growing up on the tracks in this area." Proud words from a proud mother, yes, but also supported by numbers. Since 1991, Irwin has posted 23 wins and earned numerous awards, including the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year, the 1997 Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year, the 1996 USAC National Midget Series Championship, the 1994 USAC Silver Crown Series Rookie of the Year and the 1993 Stoops Freightliner/USAC Sprint Car Series Rookie of the Year. Add to these titles the fact that, compared to the same time period in 1998 (after 13 races), Irwin is an impressive 12 spots better in the point standings, and there is no doubt that the 29-year-old is making gains. "We've been saying we've got better cars and better notes and that the entire Texaco/Havoline team is getting better," Irwin said. "Knowing that our statistics support that fact only gives us more confidence." Enough confidence that Michigan could be the breakthrough track for Kenny Irwin in the Winston Cup Series? "It could be," Irwin said. "We keep getting closer and closer each week. If we can just keep that momentum going, well, we're due for a race -- a winning race."

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Robert Yates , Davey Allison
Teams Yates Racing