TRUEX WINS IROC RACE, STEWART CLAIMS SERIES TITLE HAMPTON, Ga. (October 28,. 2006) -- NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. won Saturday's Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, while defending NASCAR NEXTEL...
TRUEX WINS IROC RACE, STEWART CLAIMS SERIES TITLE
HAMPTON, Ga. (October 28,. 2006) -- NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr. won Saturday's Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, while defending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart finished third to earn his first IROC series championship, his 11th championship title in his 27-year racing career.
Truex held off a charging crowd of Matt Kenseth (second), Stewart and Ryan Newman (fourth) in the closing laps to earn his second consecutive IROC win at Atlanta and complete the NASCAR sweep. NASCAR drivers took the top six positions, with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Ted Musgrave and NEXTEL Cup's Mark Martin finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
"I didn't know until I crossed the finish line that I had won," Truex said. "It was one of the better races I've been a part of."
Stewart stayed out of the fray most of the race, preferring to lay back and preserve his championship hopes. Entering the race, four drivers -- Stewart, Kenseth, Newman and Max Papis -- had a mathematical chance of winning the title.
"I was playing defense really, trying not to get into any situations that were going to cause us to have any problems," Stewart said. "I just needed to do what we did today and stay out of trouble and keep Matt (Kenseth) in sight. At the end there I thought we had a shot of running for it, they got a little wild and crazy up there. I was ready to go for it if we had a chance at the end, but (it was) one of those days where third was better than trying to run for the thing."
After the race, Stewart said he was just beginning to comprehend the honor of winning the IROC title.
"To know that my heroes -- Mark Martin, AJ Foyt -- have won this and all the other champions that have won this title, it's awesome to have this honor," Stewart said. "It's not a championship where you're racing 42 other guys every week, but when you're racing 12 other champions from other series -- there's a reason they've won their championships -- to be the guy that wins this four-race series, it's incredible."