By David Reininger - Motorsport.com In 2001, Mark Dismore enters his sophomore year in the IROC series, joining fellow Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers, Eddie Cheever, Scott Goodyear and defending IRNLS champion, Buddy Lazier. Also ...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
In 2001, Mark Dismore enters his sophomore year in the IROC series, joining fellow Indy Racing Northern Light Series drivers, Eddie Cheever, Scott Goodyear and defending IRNLS champion, Buddy Lazier. Also joining the open wheel ranks in IROC for 2001 is 1998 Indy Racing League champion Kenny Brack, who will represent the CART series.
"When I went into it last year, I had no idea of what to expect," said Dismore "That was the biggest thing, stepping into an unknown."
"Daytona started off great. The first handful of laps I was running seventh and then I found myself in third. I was behind (Terry) Labonte and (Dale) Jarrett and we ran third for about five or six laps. Everything was going great and the next thing I know, the guys are doing their deal and I got left at the bus station."
The open wheel drivers have been getting left at the bus station for years in IROC. Indy cars and stock cars take into account two completely different sets of driving skills. Since its inception 25 years ago, the series has consistently favored stock car drivers, mostly due to the competition car used in IROC.
"It's two different worlds," said Dismore, when asked to compare the IROC Firebird to his sleek Indy racer.
"The things that we do in Indy car racing and the things that we do in IROC racing are just so different. In IROC, you can run the nose of the car right up to the tail of the guy in front of you. There's a small effect, but it's nothing in comparison to the Indy car. If you got as close to the back of a guy with an Indy car as you can with a stock car, you'd find yourself sliding right up the track. You wouldn't be able to hold the car because the cars are so aero dependant."
"To plan a pass in an Indy car, you have to be very strategic about it. The timing has to be perfect. If you take the air off the car, the next thing you know you're sliding. Then you get out of the gas, you lose a ton of time and it takes you two laps to recover."
"As far as drafting goes, when we draft in an Indy car, we're drafting to pass. When you draft in a stock car, you're drafting to survive. When you want to pass, you don't have a chance unless the guy behind you goes with you."
Despite only four stock races under his belt, Dismore is looking forward to racing in IROC this season. "When I go back into it this year, I know a little bit of what to expect. I'm far from being an expert. Four races in a stock car hardly makes you a stock car driver. There are guys in (Winston) Cup racing that have run 300 races and have never won a race. I hardly feel bad about the performance I had last year in four races."
"I know what to expect now and it's a little more broken up. We have six open wheel guys and six stock car guys. It should be a little bit more exciting this year. It's tough when you go up against somebody that does this stuff every weekend and you're outnumbered nine to three. It makes it really difficult."
NASCAR drivers will outnumber the open wheel drivers seven to five this season, but Dismore does not view IROC as a rivalry between stock car drivers and Indy car racers.
"It's personal pride," Dismore said. "We just want to prove ourselves as good race car drivers. It's not about coming here to wave an Indy car flag, it's about waving the Mark Dismore flag, or the Scott Goodyear flag. That's really what it's about. Had they used open wheel cars and put stock car guys in open wheel cars, the results would be the same, only they would be the opposite. That's to be understood."
Dismore, who enjoys the idea of showcasing his talents against some of the best stock car drivers in the world, is optimistic about having more open wheel drivers in the series this season. "Whether it's CART or IRL, it really doesn't matter. I just hope we all keep our heads about us and remember that we have five (open wheel) guys and we can form our own line and not pull the rug out from under each other."
But as soon as the green flag drops in Daytona, pre-race plans, even between drivers from the same series, are not easy to execute.
"Eddie (Cheever), Greg Ray and myself, discussed this last year, but it seemed like when we got on the race track, all the discussions didn't mean anything," Dismore said. "We sure have an opportunity to go heads up and form our own line if we want to. It's easy to say that, but unfortunately, orchestrating it on track is two different things because you never find yourself in proximity to the guy you want to dance with."
Dismore looks forward to another year in IROC, but his goal for the season is to win the Indy Racing Northern Light Series with Kelley Racing. Testing for the Indy car program will take priority over the IROC series, limiting practice behind the wheel of the IROC Pontiac Firebird.
"I hope to get a total of two hours in the car," before Daytona, said Dismore. "Talladega conflicts with an Indy test, so I'm not going to get much at Talladega either. I'll be lucky to get an hour in the car for Talladega."
"And then for the Michigan race, I actually have to race at Texas on the same day. We jump on a plane, go up to M.I.S., do the Michigan race and come back and race at Texas that night. Maybe at Indy we can really focus on it but the other ones will be really tough."
"Hopefully our savior is the fact that we don't have nine Cup guys in there against us."
The 25th anniversary season of the True Value IROC series begins on February 16 with race one at Daytona International Speedway. The race will be broadcast on ESPN Sunday, February 18 at 5:00 p.m. EST.