IRL: Indy 500 winners Rice, Castroneves to race in IROC 2005

Recent Indy 500 winners Rice, Castroneves to race in IROC 2005 INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 -- Buddy Rice and Helio Castroneves, winners of three of the last four Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, will compete in the Crown Royal...

Recent Indy 500 winners Rice, Castroneves to race in IROC 2005

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2005 -- Buddy Rice and Helio Castroneves, winners of three of the last four Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, will compete in the Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) this year, series officials announced Jan. 19.

Rice and Castroneves will represent the IRL® IndyCar® Series in IROC, which opens its four-race 2005 season Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway. IROC is racing's "all-star game," as 12 drivers from different forms of auto racing are invited to compete in equally prepared cars in 100-mile events.

The winner of the series earns a $1 million bonus. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Matt Kenseth is the reigning champion.

This will be the first IROC season for Rice, from Phoenix, who won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 in the Rahal Letterman Argent/Pioneer entry fielded by Rahal Letterman Racing.

"It's going to be exciting," Rice said. "It will definitely be something different, and I'm looking forward to the experience. I drove a Craftsman Truck late in 2003, and to drive something similar to a (NEXTEL) Cup car or a Busch car will be exciting. To be running with all those guys on those tracks is a bonus."

Castroneves, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, will compete in his fourth IROC season. He finished a career-best fourth in the IROC standings as a series rookie in 2002, the same year he earned his second consecutive Indianapolis 500 victory in a Marlboro Team Penske entry.

"I was very happy to be called again," Castroneves said. "The environment is again going to be difficult. It's my fourth year, so I know I have to do better because I have no excuses now. I'm just really, really pumped to start the first race at Daytona.

"But most of all, I'm just very honored to be among the champions."

Other competitors besides Rice and Castroneves are Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Mark Martin from the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Sebastien Bourdais from Champ Car, Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski from the World of Outlaws, Bobby Hamilton from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Max Papis and Scott Pruett from the Grand American Road Racing series and Martin Truex Jr. from the NASCAR Busch Series.

Nine of the 12 drivers in this year's IROC field have raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Indianapolis 500 or Brickyard 400. Rice, Castroneves, Kinser, Papis and Pruett have started in the Indianapolis 500, while Kenseth, Busch, Martin, Hamilton and Pruett each have made Brickyard 400 starts.

The final three Crown Royal IROC series races of the 2005 season will take place April 15 at Texas Motor Speedway, Sept. 8 at Richmond International Raceway and Oct. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Indy 500 tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for the 89th Indianapolis 500, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Danny Lasoski , Sébastien Bourdais , Steve Kinser , Buddy Rice , Martin Truex Jr. , Mark Martin
Teams Team Penske