Indianapolis, IN (Aug. 1, 2002) - There are four cars designated for driver practice. The series competitors never drive any of the cars that will actually be in the race. These four practice cars are the "mules" of the True Value IROC series and...
Indianapolis, IN (Aug. 1, 2002) - There are four cars designated for driver practice. The series competitors never drive any of the cars that will actually be in the race. These four practice cars are the "mules" of the True Value IROC series and Thursday the "mules" carried a heavy load.
Current True Value IROC points leader, Kevin Harvick representing his 2001 NASCAR Busch Series championship, joined NASCAR Winston Cup representative, Tony Stewart for their first practice sessions in the IROC cars at Indy. Returning for a third day of practice were Indy Racing League drivers, Buddy Lazier and Scott Sharp, who were later joined by fellow IRL driver, the current Indy 500 dominator, Helio Castroneves. This was also Castroneves' first day of practice.
What they are saying:
Tony Stewart, NASCAR Winston Cup Series
"Any time you can win a championship it's big. But the IROC championship to compete against so many different drivers from so many different disciplines and to beat them in a series where the cars are so evenly matched, that's big. It really is about driving the cars, and whoever does the best job driving their car is going to win the championship. If you can beat those guys on talent and not because you've got a better race car, that's a great honor. It would rank right up there with the rest of the championships I've won, that's for sure."
Kevin Harvick, NASCAR Busch Series Champion
"Winning the IROC championship would mean a lot to me. The coolest thing is that you are able to compete and then beat all of the guys from different racing series. Being that this is my first year I didn't expect to be in contention going into the final race. When you start in the back in these cars it's mentally hard to get up front. The first few laps are important because that's when most of the passes take place."
Buddy Lazier, Indy Racing League
"It's exciting to be in contention for the IROC championship. I am thankful for Chicago, it was a sweet victory and it helped me in the points. If the race went perfect for me here I would have a chance at the championship and that makes it exciting and it also makes me pay close attention in practice. I've been following IROC since I was seven years old. It is so exciting to be part of the series, and to be successful makes it more special. When I say we (IRL drivers) are at a disadvantage it's because we run cars half the weight. Maybe we're trying not to set ourselves up for failure. When you have a race like Chicago that went so well for the IRL guys, it gave us a big lift. That was fun.
Helio Castroneves, Indy Racing League
"A stock car - is not the way I like it here. It's totally different way of a learning process. It's definitely a hard time with the hot weather. It's cooler in May and the little things might be little, but it makes a lot of difference. When you strap into an IROC car, even though I have three races here in my background, I'm still learning. Indianapolis is certainly a challenging circuit. Don't count with my two-time winner here - don't count with that at all, it doesn't mean anything with these (IROC) cars. It's going to be tough and I need more time on the track. It's great to run some laps and have guys around who understand."
NOTE: The 1996 IRL co-champion, Scott Sharp took some time out of the racecar to do the honorary blind draw for car color assignments, setting the field for the championship crowning final event of the of the 2002 True Value IROC series. ESPN motorsports reporter, Mike Massaro hosted the draw, which was broadcast Thursday evening on RPM 2Night.