Irwin heads strong ARCA field NASCAR Online Staff STATESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 26, 1998) Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford and a candidate for NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year, will drive a No. 27 David ...
Irwin heads strong ARCA field
NASCAR Online Staff
STATESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 26, 1998) Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford and a candidate for NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year, will drive a No. 27 David Blair/Robert Yates Racing Ford in the Feb. 8 FirstPlus Financial 200 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series event at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks 1998.
Irwin, the 1997 Cintas Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series who showed plenty of speed in preseason testing at Daytona, will drive a 1997 Ford Thunderbird in the ARCA opener at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
"Right now, Robert (Yates) just wants to get Kenny some drafting experience to help get him ready for the Daytona 500," said Shorty Edwards, general manager for David Blair Motorsports, which ran Irwin in four NASCAR Winston Cup races at the end of last season in cooperation with Yates. "The ARCA race is a perfect opportunity for that. I'm sure Kenny's anxious to get in the car and go flat out."
Irwin said the prospect of running in the tight confines of a NASCAR Winston Cup drafting "train" has him a bit anxious.
"There's no question that working the draft is the biggest concern that I have heading into Speedweeks," said Irwin, who has not had any opportunity to test in the draft. "I have very little experience drafting, and to hear them talk, you don't ever know who your friends are when you're in line (drafting).
"I'm concerned about some of these guys maybe not wanting to go with me, whether we're running for second or 15th, because I'm the new guy and I don't have a lot of experience."
While Yates team of Irwin and Dale Jarrett was planning to test at Talladega Superspeedway at the end of this week, Irwin wasn't sure they'd have an opportunity to practice drafting there, either. So the ARCA entry may fill the bill for a crash course in the art of maneuvering in the draft.
Meanwhile, Irwin won't be the only driver with a NASCAR connection seeking some track time when the 35th annual Daytona ARCA opener runs following the NASCAR Winston Cup Series' annual Bud Shootout.
In addition to Irwin, Mike Wallace and Ron Barfield, both regulars in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, will also participate in the ARCA event, as will a couple of ARCA regulars who are trying to make some inroads into NASCAR racing.
Wallace will drive a No. 6 Ford Thunderbird he recently purchased from the former Kranefuss-Haas Racing organization. Barfield, who has become a superspeedway regular in the ARCA Series the past couple of seasons, will drive the No. 2 New Holland Chevrolet Monte Carlo owned by Ricky Craven.
Tim Steele, the two-time defending Bondo/May-Hyde Series champion, is entered in the FirstPlus Financial 200. Steele's primary concentration in 1998 will be on driving the Bud Moore Engineering's No. 15 Fords in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1998. Mark Gibson, one of Steele's chief rivals for the ARCA crown in 1997, will attempt to make the Daytona 500 in an Thunderbird that formerly belonged to Ranier-Walsh Racing after he participates in the Firstplus Financial 200.