CHAMPCAR/CART: NHR's Bourdais accepts IROC invite

McDonald's driver Bourdais to Become First Reigning CCWS Champ to Run IROC Since 1997 LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (January 19, 2005) --- It was announced today that reigning Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais will compete in the 2005...

McDonald's driver Bourdais to Become First Reigning CCWS Champ to Run IROC Since 1997

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (January 19, 2005) --- It was announced today that reigning Champ Car World Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais will compete in the 2005 Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) Series. Bourdais earned the invitation to be among the field of 12 by virtue of his 2004 championship title that saw him drive his McDonald's0x00ae Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car to seven wins, eight poles and 10 top-three finishes in 14 events.

"I am very honored that I was chosen to compete in the IROC series," said Bourdais, 25. "It will be a great opportunity to discover something new; new tracks, different cars and a different form of racing. I am looking forward to the experience and I will try to represent the Champ Car World Series as best I can."

Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) is auto racing's All-Star Game. It is an invitational racing series that matches 12 drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars. The Series consists of four 100-mile races with points awarded for finishing positions. At the end of the fourth race, points are tallied and a champion of champions is named and presented with the $1 million purse. Following the season-opener at Daytona (February 18), the series will compete at Texas Motor Speedway (April 15), followed by Richmond International Raceway (September 8) and conclude at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (October 29). The events will be televised on SPEED TV.

Bourdais' entry will mark the first time since 1997 that the defending series champion has competed in the invitational event. Jimmy Vasser was the last CART or Champ Car World Series champion to compete in IROC as the reigning champion after having earned four wins and four poles en route to his first Champ car title in 1996. It will be only the second time that a Newman/Haas Racing driver has participated in the IROC series. Mario Andretti competed in the series twice (1987 & 1988) while with the team and six times overall (1976, 1978, 1979, 1980) as well as earned the title in 1979. Mario's son Michael Andretti ran in the IROC series in 1987 prior to joining the team in 1989.J

Bourdais will be one of seven total reigning champions in the field. Those drivers include Kurt Busch (NASCAR Nextel Cup), Bobby Hamilton (NASCAR Craftsman truck), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Max Papis and Scott Pruett (Grand Am co-champions) and Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR Busch). Other competitors include Matt Kenseth (2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup and IROC champion), Mark Martin (4-time IROC champion), Helio Castroneves and Buddy Rice (both winners of the Indy 500) and Danny Lasoski (2001 World of Outlaws champion).

"We are proud to announce this elite group of drivers who will compete in the 2005 Crown Royal IROC Series," said Jay Signore, IROC President. "With seven reigning series champions and numerous individual victories among the remainder of the field, the driver who wins this year's championship will have certainly earned it."

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series. The team will begin their 23rd season in Champ Car competition in 2005 and will attempt to score their sixth overall title after winning 82 races and 86 pole positions. Current drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com, www.sebastien-bourdais.com or www.champcarworldseries.com.

-NHR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Paul Newman , Danny Lasoski , Sébastien Bourdais , Steve Kinser , Buddy Rice , Martin Truex Jr. , Mark Martin , Cristiano da Matta