Atlanta pre-race quotes

2005 Crown Royal IROC Series Finale Final Pre-Race Quotes Max Papis (2004 Grand American Road Racing Co-Champion) "This is my first time here at Atlanta Motor Speedway and it is a great track. I had a lot of fun running around here today, (Max...

2005 Crown Royal IROC Series Finale
Final Pre-Race Quotes

Max Papis (2004 Grand American Road Racing Co-Champion) "This is my first time here at Atlanta Motor Speedway and it is a great track. I had a lot of fun running around here today, (Max looks over to Lasoski standing by) except for when I was running with Lasoski. He was really in the way all day. No, I'm just kidding, Danny (Lasoski), the Sauter's and Dave Marcis really helped get me up to speed quickly here today. Atlanta is really a good track for me already and the cars are so stable. I am definitely more comfortable here than any other track we ran this year. It also says a lot for the IROC team who put together a car that would allow a rookie like me here at Atlanta to run at a very competitive pace so quickly." "The track itself seems to lend itself to very good racing, maybe even better than the race we had at Texas if that's possible. You can easily go side-by-side right into the turns with them being so wide, so I really think we will have a very competitive race."

Regarding his first Crown Royal IROC experience: "I'm just honored to be here. I just really enjoyed every lap I did this year and I hope I can get the call to come back. Overall it has been a very steep learning curve coming out of an open wheel car and jumping to something like this. As an overall experience, for any driver this is a rare opportunity. Very seldom in your life to you get to be on the track with 11 champion drivers. I realize how much we learn from each other out there and my goal is to maybe, have a top-three finish in the race -- that would be awesome. But also important to me is that no matter what, I have great memories of this IROC season to think about over the winter.

Buddy Rice (IndyCar Series, 2004 Indy 500 winner) "Just getting comfortable here at Atlanta. It's a nice high-bank, mile and a half speedway. The cars are good and running pretty close. It should be exciting, there's a lot of little things you can do to try to keep up, so hopefully, we'll be able to learn enough here in the next couple of days to get up front and keep it there on Saturday."

Regarding his first Crown Royal IROC experience: "IROC is something I grew up watching for so many years and seeing all the different drivers that get to run together I think it's super exciting and an honor to be invited and I hope to be invited back in the near future. I've had a great time running with these guys and I definitely learned a lot, and learned things that will definitely help me in the future to better myself in my own craft. It (IROC) offers an opportunity to run against some really great champions from outside our normal arena and I've really enjoyed working with all the people at IROC, it's been great."

Sebastien Bourdais (2004 & 2005 Champ Car World Series Champion) "It's a fun track. It's kind of a compromise between Texas and Daytona with the high banking similar to Daytona and the shape similar to Texas. Right now we working over the setup with the test drivers and trying to get a real feel for how the car is going to behave during the longer run as we wear the tires. So far, I think it's going to be pretty good."

Regarding his first Crown Royal IROC experience: "Well, it was obviously a great experience for me. My first time in the stock car and I just had a great time. Winning Texas was a great moment for me, and a great career accomplishment. So I learned quite a few things on ovals and there was a great ambience, thanks to Crown Royal and the IROC organization. I just had a blast and hopefully we could do it again next year."

Regarding his reception from the NASCAR drivers: "Obviously, I am from France and I have quite a different background and completely different culture so I really didn't know what to expect. I have to say they have been great guys, just huge respect between all the racers, you know, each way, and I was extremely pleased with the way that things went with Mark Martin. He's been extremely good to me, very complimentary and obviously a great opponent to fight against. I found it a little tough, to be very honest, but just the experience really was an enjoyable one and had a lot of fun altogether.

Danny Lasoski (World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series) "We've been running all over the track here and we've been mixing it up pretty good already, so it should be pretty good. The drivers that haven't been here before are catching on real quick. It's been a bit cool here, but it hasn't disturbed the performance of the IROC cars. There seems to be plenty of grip and several racing grooves, so it should be one heck of final show for Crown Royal and the IROC Series."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "As you know, this feels like my second home and I know I sound like a broken record, but to have been able to represent short track oval racing in this (IROC) series has meant more to me than anything else I've accomplished in my career. Of course I would love to be the guy winning the Crown Royal International Race of Champions, but my hat's off to Mark Martin. He is an unbelievable driver. Just when you think you can't pass, he passes and keeps on passing right up to the front. You've got to commend the guy (Martin) on everything he's won in IROC, he's proven himself over and over."

Steve Kinser (20-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Champion) "Every time I go out I feel better and better and I feel really great after that last run. I feel pretty comfortable, most comfortable I've been here, but you never know what's going to happen come race day. It seems we all become different animals once that green flag drops. But, I really like Atlanta Motor Speedway, it's got more than one groove, it's fast, and for me, a fun track to race on."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "It's always a great honor for me to compete in IROC and I've enjoyed every bit of it. It's quite a challenge hopping from what I do on a regular basis in the sprints cars to running all the different tracks we do in IROC, but it's always a good learning experience and a lot of fun to meet the other drivers and get a chance to compete against guys I wouldn't have an opportunity to race anywhere else. Having a win under my belt and seeing Danny get a win last year is a real boost for us representing the short track racers. The wins here (in IROC) are tough to get considering who you're up against but that's what makes them so special."

Scott Pruett (2004 Grand American Road Racing Co-Champion) "Well, I'm starting on the pole Saturday and hopefully I can keep it out front and win this thing. I think everybody's going to keep their nose clean through the pit stop at lap 40 and then I think all hell is going to break loose with everybody cutting and scraping for their piece of asphalt. There's still a win up here for grabs and when you get a bunch of drivers together like us, who are determined and at the top of their game, there's going to be a lot of excitement."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "It's always a lot of fun to run IROC and is as exciting for me as it was when I was first invited going back to the late 80's. The champions in this series are always fun and colorful and at the top of their game and that hasn't changed at all, except I'm getting older and they're getting younger. Overall, this year was a little disappointing being taken out of play in two of the races, but you do have a good time, even during the practice sessions with everybody out there running three and four wide. You're always learning about what to do and what not to do, just like in this last practice session, it was a blast."

Bobby Hamilton (2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion) "Dave (Marcis), Jim (Sauter), and Jay (Sauter) have these things driving perfect, it ought to be a heck of a race. You couldn't pick a better racetrack than Atlanta for the final IROC race. Daytona is such a drafting racetrack, but there's little forgiveness, where here, you can draft as much as Daytona, but still get out of the gas and still be able to suck back up and make a good time out of it. "

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "The competition level in IROC is amazing. There's a reason they're called champions, because they're tough. I learned a lot this year in IROC and I would love to do it again. The whole time I was chasing that championship last year IROC was my goal. I didn't publicize it, but that's the honest truth. I just came so close to getting here (IROC) over the years and I didn't want to jinx it."

Matt Kenseth (2004 Crown Royal IROC Champion) "The cars feel about the same as last year at Atlanta and we had a great race, so I'm thinking it should be good on Saturday. The cars are pretty even in all the different lanes and running out there just now was kind of crazy, I mean, you can run all over the place, side-by-side and there should be plenty of passing, It should be a good show."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "Obviously, I liked being in a position to win the championship, which I'm not this year, but it's been a great honor to represent the series championship this year and it's been a lot of fun again for me this year."

Kurt Busch (2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion) "Last year at Atlanta we had so much fun in the IROC race. It's a mile and a half here but it feels like a two and half mile track with the way these cars draft. It's like Daytona with a big draft yet it's a smaller racetrack so you're busy all the time and you have to always keep track of where the other guys are because even though it's every man for himself, you will want to work with the other guys to set up passing. It's almost too much fun, really."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience "Things went smooth for me the last race, and that's the only one I've really had go well for me. The first two (Daytona and Texas) I wound up out getting caught up in the wreck at Daytona and loosing a tire in Texas, but I was able to rebound after almost winning at Richmond and getting up to second place. It's been a lot of fun again for me. I really enjoy the battle with all the guys from the different series and maybe 2005 wasn't my best year in IROC, but no less fun."

Mark Martin (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup) "Dave Marcis, Jim and Jay Sauter have done a great job in setting up the cars for our final race here at Atlanta. Everything felt very good, I'm really looking forward to it and I think we're all set to go."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "The IROC Series as a whole means a lot to my career; more than you really probably comprehend. The success I've had in IROC, if you look at the numbers, has definitely been miraculous and although I know that I must have been lucky still yet, if you look at the numbers it's staggering. So to have that and hold these records, I think it is pretty special. And to get to meet and get to know, hang out with and race with the greatest drivers from all over the world, folks like Martin Brundle and Emerson Fittipaldi and just so many great people. It's been the coolest thing, you know, that I've ever done in my racing career, and I am so thankful to the Signore's for making that possible for me. It's something that I'll always remember."

"I have the photographs from every year - they do a photograph with all 12 drivers every year and all 12 drivers autograph the photograph. I have those framed on my wall from every year, because not everybody in their lifetime has the opportunity to hang out with, get to know and race with Sebastian Bourdias or Helio Castroneves and all these guys. It's just really cool and it's something that I'm really grateful to the Signore's for making that possible."

Helio Castroneves (IndyCar Series) "I wanted to be here sooner but was held up due to the problems with the hurricane. But, the good news is, we came through it okay, except for not having any power. But at least things are going good here today at Atlanta. I learned a few things in the session this morning and hope to be able to run a little longer in the race this year than last year. Last year I was tapped in the rear, which took me out of competition. Hopefully, this year will be different and I can move to the front and do what I have been waiting to do, win my first Crown Royal IROC race."

Regarding his Crown Royal IROC experience: "I was expecting a better performance for myself this year, but it's so amazing how tough the competition is in IROC. It's so competitive in IROC, if you are just a little bit off, or make a small mistake, that's it, and you only have four races. I wish we had a lot more races in IROC because, first off, I love it, I really have a lot of fun and I learn a lot. But I've been very happy with what I learned and the way I've been able to run like at Daytona second, Richmond second, and at Texas, I was starting to run good until I brushed the wall. But every year I learn a lot and I'm very happy with my improvement. I can only hope to get back again because I feel I'm close to getting the result that I want."

-iroc-

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About this article
Series IROC
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Matt Kenseth , Jay Sauter , Kurt Busch , Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Dave Marcis , Danny Lasoski , Sébastien Bourdais , Steve Kinser , Buddy Rice , Emerson Fittipaldi , Mark Martin