Eddie Cheever Geared for IROC's Daytona Opener

Daytona Beach, Florida - Coming off a third place finish at the Northern Lights Indy Racing Series season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway, Eddie Cheever, Jr., is set for Round One of the True Value International Race Of Champions (IROC)...

Daytona Beach, Florida - Coming off a third place finish at the Northern Lights Indy Racing Series season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway, Eddie Cheever, Jr., is set for Round One of the True Value International Race Of Champions (IROC) Series this weekend. With the drop of the green flag at 2pm EST on Friday, February 18th, Cheever will shrug off his IROC rookie status to make a strong showing during the 180-mph battle.

"I love the atmosphere surrounding the IROC," said the Central Florida resident who is currently ranked 3rd in the Northern Lights Indy Racing Series point standings. "The cool thing about the IROC is that it allows the best oval racing drivers in the world to compete head to head. Flat out. Everybody races very hard and goes for every inch they can. It is very exciting and a lot of fun!"

Now in its twenty-fourth year, the True Value International Race of Champions matches twelve drivers in equally prepared Pontiac Firebird race cars. Cheever finished his 1999 rookie IROC season seventh overall after a spectacular third place finish at the series finale at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"The biggest mistake you can make is to go into this series thinking that all the NASCAR guys are going to gang up on you," said the 1998 Indy 500 winner now celebrating his 25th year in racing. "They are like any other driver in the world. They want to win. You are certainly not their focus. The checkered flag is."

For a second year in a row, Cheever will have the opportunity to bump fenders with NASCAR's finest as the 12-driver roster includes Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Rusty Wallace as well as Indy Racing compatriots Mark Dismore and Greg Ray.

Going into this year's 40-lap, 100-mile event at the famous 2.5-mile Daytona tri-oval, Cheever plans to capitalize on lessons learned last season.

"Last year, I went from the back to the front to the back to the wall," joked Cheever of his 7-lap debut at the historic Daytona Beach Speedway. "Daytona is very fast and narrow. I learned very quickly that you must stay in the draft and work the buddy system. You must be patient. Not chase every hole. If you get out of the draft, it is like you just had a cylinder plucked out of your engine. Before you know it, you are at the back of the pack with nothing but race track in your mirrors. That's not part of my agenda this year."

Round One of the 4-race IROC schedule for the 2000 season will air, taped delay, on ABC Sports on March 12th at 5pm ET.

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Series IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Mark Dismore , Mark Martin