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Title chase wide open in fifth IROC at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 31, 2002 -- The fifth annual IROC at Indy on Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will decide the True Value IROC XXVI champion. And pinning down the contenders...

Title chase wide open in fifth IROC at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, July 31, 2002 -- The fifth annual IROC at Indy on Aug. 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will decide the True Value IROC XXVI champion.

And pinning down the contenders for the title is simple: Put a circle around 10 of the 11 drivers on the entry list for the race, which starts at 1 p.m. (EST).

The True Value IROC series is racing's "all-star game." Twelve of the best drivers from various series compete in equally prepared True Value IROC stock cars in a four-race series that concludes at the Speedway.

With just 21 points separating leader Kevin Harvick from 11th place Dale Jarrett, and the possibility that Jarrett could earn up to 26 points in the season finale, almost every driver in the field is a title contender.

Only 11 drivers will compete in the event as Al Unser Jr., who is second in points with 39, will not participate as he announced July 18 that he was entering a center immediately for treatment of a substance-abuse problem.

Harvick, the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion, is the series leader with 44 points, while NASCAR Winston Cup standout and 1996-97 Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart is now Harvick's nearest challenger with 38 points. Bobby Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, is tied with 1996 Indianapolis 500 and 2000 Indy Racing League champion Buddy Lazier for fourth place with 37 points.

Labonte is the defending True Value IROC champion and won last year's IROC at Indy. Labonte is the only driver in the IROC at Indy race who has claimed an IROC title.

Stewart captured the first True Value IROC race of the season in February at Daytona International Speedway while Harvick scored his first career True Value IROC victory in April at California Speedway. Lazier led an Indy Racing League 1-2-3 finish in July at Chicagoland Speedway when he led all 67 laps after starting on the pole. Unser finished second while two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves finished third.

Defending Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. sits in sixth position with 30 points, while 1996 IRL co-champion Scott Sharp is in seventh with 29 points. NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Sterling Marlin is tied with three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Jack Sprague for eighth place with 27 points. Castroneves is right behind in 10th place with 26 points. Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup champion is the final championship contender in 11th place with 23 points.

Danny Lasoski, 2001 World of Outlaws champion, was mathematically eliminated after Round 3 at Chicagoland and will not participate in the IROC at Indy after suffering a concussion July 28 in a World of Outlaws event in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Longtime NASCAR Winston Cup competitor Ken Schrader will replace Lasoski.

The total purse for the series is $1,025,000, with $250,000 going to the champion, based on points.

IROC AT INDY NOTEBOOK

Schedule: The IROC at Indy starts at 1 p.m. (EST) Aug. 3 Practice      .
sessions start at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. (EST) Aug. 2    .

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On the air: The IROC at Indy race will be televised at 5 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 11 on ABC.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast the IROC at Indy race live at 1:45 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 3.

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Tickets: Tickets for the IROC at Indy practices Aug. 2 and the race Aug. 3 are available. Call (317) 492-6700 for information.

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Series IROC
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Al Unser Jr. , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Jack Sprague , Danny Lasoski , Sam Hornish Jr.