Greg Ray Entering Comfort Zone After First IROC Practice

RAY TAKES STOCK IN IROC CARS IN FIRST PRACTICE DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2000 -- Northern Light Indy Racing Series champion Greg Ray climbed into a True Value IROC Firebird Feb. 9 to turn his first laps on the high banks of Daytona...

RAY TAKES STOCK IN IROC CARS IN FIRST PRACTICE

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2000 -- Northern Light Indy Racing Series champion Greg Ray climbed into a True Value IROC Firebird Feb. 9 to turn his first laps on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, preparing for his debut in racing's all-star series Feb. 18.

Ray turned a few solo laps on the 2.5-mile oval before being joined by IROC test drivers Dave Marcis and Dick Trickle. It took Ray, a rookie in the True Value IROC Series, very little time to get up to speed as he adjusted to racing with a roof over his head for the first time.

"I really want to do well in IROC, and I want to practice as much as possible to gain the confidence of the NASCAR drivers so they'll work with me," Ray said.

Said Trickle to Ray, "You looked real good out there." Test drivers Jim Sauter, Andy Hillenburg, Marcis and Trickle will continue to work with Ray until race day, preparing Ray for as many race scenarios as possible.

Ray admitted that he still must make a few adjustments. The first is adjusting his vision to the bodywork of a 3,500-pound full-bodied stock car. Ray said he plans to switch to a stock car-style full-face helmet, which provides a clearer line of sight than his Indy-style racing helmet.

Hand signals, a vital part of drafting and racing at Daytona, also are something new to Ray.

"Right now you can signal me, and all I'm gonna do is wave back - hello," Ray said.

Ray is one of the three Indy Racing drivers in the 12-competitor field. 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. and Mark Dismore also will represent the Northern Light Indy Racing Series in IROC.

It's the first time that more than two Indy Racing League drivers will participate in the True Value IROC series in one season.

Other competitors in the four-event series are NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace. Dale Earnhardt is the defending series champion.

All 12 True Value IROC drivers compete in identically prepared Firebirds. The final round of the series is Aug. 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

-IRL/IMS-

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Series IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Greg Ray , Eddie Cheever , Mark Dismore , Andy Hillenburg , Dave Marcis , Mark Martin