Michigan is last race before Indy

ROAD TO INDY HEADS THROUGH MICHIGAN FOR IROC DRIVERS INDIANAPOLIS, June 12, 1998 -- The road to the 1998 International Race of Champions series title goes through Michigan International Speedway on June 13 before heading south to ...


INDIANAPOLIS, June 12, 1998 -- The road to the 1998 International Race of Champions series title goes through Michigan International Speedway on June 13 before heading south to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for what promises to be a dramatic finale.

Mark Martin, who's won three IROC championships since 1994, heads into Saturday's race with just a seven-point lead on Jeff Gordon. Martin, from Daytona Beach, Fla., hopes to use Round 3 of 4 at the two-mile oval as a springboard to another IROC crown.

"There's a lot of good drivers," Martin said in the days leading up to Saturday's 50-lap race. "I've had a world of good luck already. I couldn't tell you what's going to happen. I don't know when my luck is going to run out."

The IROC pits 12 of the world's top drivers, representing different types of motorsports, in identically prepared Pontiac Firebird Trans Ams. The series, which carries prize money of $760,000, makes four stops a year.

This season, the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway was added to the race track lineup. The championship will be decided over Indy's spectacular, 2.5-mile course July 31.

As a prelude to the finale at Indy, the final IROC test session this year at the Speedway will take place June 15-17. Test drivers Dave Marcis, Jim Sauter and Dick Trickle will help the IROC team determine race setups for its fleet of Pontiacs.

IROC's "Dazzling Dozen" hope to improve their standing at Michigan to make a run for the title at Indy.

Gordon won the 1998 opener at Daytona International Speedway, while Martin won Round 2 at in May at California Speedway. Gordon and Martin placed third in their other start. Martin leads the points because he earned the five-point bonus for leading the most laps in both races.

It's no surprise Martin and Gordon are tied for most wins (three) and hold solid top-five point positions in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition this season.

If Martin has an advantage Saturday, it's because of the track. Last year he won the IROC championship at MIS, located in Brooklyn, Mich.

"That's the best track we could be going to for me," said Martin, who wheels a Roush Racing Ford in Winston Cup. "I'm starting last like always, and we'll see what we can do. I've been real fortunate. With all those great drivers, there's no way of knowing how it's going to turn out."

The field is inverted based on the point standings. Martin leads in points, and will start shotgun, with Gordon next to him.

"I found new motivation to do well in IROC this year," said Gordon, a two-time Winston Cup champion. "When we won the race at Daytona, we took a step toward winning the championship. We led a few laps in California, and finished third and got some more points to be second behind Mark."

Row 1 shows Tom Kendall and Jimmy Vasser. They're followed by Randy LaJoie, Arie Luyendyk, Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Al Unser Jr. and Jeff Burton.

Luyendyk and Stewart represent the Pep Boys Indy Racing League this year. Luyendyk captured the 1997 Indianapolis 500, while Stewart earned last year's IRL championship. Luyendyk finished fifth and 11th, respectively, in the first two races; Stewart ninth and seventh. Both are tied with 14 points, but Stewart earns eighth place ahead of Luyendyk because he had the better finish at California, the most recent event.

LaJoie became the first NASCAR Busch Grand National driver to win an IROC round when he captured this Michigan round last year. He's the two-time defending champion of NASCAR's Busch Series.

"When we get back there I'll be thinking, 'Hey, this is where I won in IROC last year,' said LaJoie. "We got the lead on the third lap and never looked back. It was a great race for myself and a great confidence booster. I need to go back and win another."

But he'll likely have to battle the likes of Martin and Gordon to do it.

"I can't believe how lucky I've been in the IROC series," said Martin. "For a long time it was a goal of mine just be in it because that's an honor in itself. The success I've had in IROC means a lot to me, and I hope we can keep it going at Michigan."

        The Michigan IROC round will be televised by ABC Sports at 5 p.m.
(EDT) July 5.  ***

IROC test at the Speedway: The last of two IROC test sessions this year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will take place June 15-17 on the 2.5-mile oval. IROC test drivers Dave Marcis, Jim Sauter and Dick Trickle will be behind the wheel from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.

Media wishing to cover the IROC test must call the Indianapolis Motor Speedway public relations department at (317) 484-4780 for credentials. *** IROC tickets: General admission tickets for the IROC event July 31 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are available for $25 from the IMS ticket office. Ticket forms can be obtained by calling (317) 484-6700.


Media Contacts: Mai Lindstrom, IMS/IRL Public Relations Director, (317) 484-6780 Nancy Doan, IMS Public Relations Manager, (317) 484-6753 World Wide Web: http://www.indyracingleague.com E-mail: imspr@brickyard.com Fax on demand: (303) 804-1883

From imspr@brickyard.com Fri Jun 12 17:59:43 1998 Received: from mail.brickyard.com ([]) by omega.metrics.com (8.8.8/8.8.8) with SMTP id RAA01674 for <ras-info@motorsport.com>; Fri, 12 Jun 1998 17:59:43 -0400 (EDT) Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 17:59:43 -0400 (EDT) Received: from IMSC_MAIN by mail.brickyard.com via smtpd (for mail.metrics.com []) with SMTP; 12 Jun 1998 22:01:18 UT Received: from imsc-firewall.BRICKYARD.COM by MAIL.BRICKYARD.COM with SMTP (Microsoft Exchange Internet Mail Service Version 5.0.1458.49) id L2XT89CC; Fri, 12 Jun 1998 16:56:38 -0500 Message-Id: <> Received: from slip-129-37-71-164.ga.us.ibm.net ([]) by imsc-firewall.brickyard.com via smtpd (for IMSC_MAIN []) with SMTP; 12 Jun 1998 22:01:08 UT X-Sender: imspr@brickyard.com (Unverified) X-Mailer: Windows Eudora Light Version 1.5.4 (16) Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii" To: pkelly@brickyard.com From: IMSPR <imspr@brickyard.com> Subject: Pep Boys IRL: Teams prepare for Dover Open Test Status: RO X-Status:

For Immediate Release


DOVER, Del., June 12, 1998 - The last time an Indy-style car raced at Dover Downs International Speedway, Richard Nixon was president and The Beatles sat firmly above the pop music world. So as the Pep Boys Indy Racing League prepares to make its Dover debut next month in the Mid-Atlantic 400K, most teams are scrambling for secrets of speed as they get ready to race on the 1-mile, high-banked concrete oval known as "The Monster Mile." It will be the first Indy-style race on the track since August 1969. This race represents a trip into the unknown for Pep Boys IRL teams. There are no notebooks or computer disks filled with past setup data. There are no pearls of wisdom to be shared from past races on the track, as the Offy-powered machines that competed in the USAC race at Dover in 1969 have long been replaced by sleeker, more powerful cars. Teams have many questions. The answers will start to flow June 15-16 during the Pep Boys IRL Open Test at Dover Downs. At least 10 Pep Boys IRL drivers will turn test laps for two days at Dover, trying to get a feel for the challenging track before the inaugural Mid-Atlantic 400K on July 19. Among the drivers testing will be two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Arie Luyendyk, defending Pep Boys IRL champion Tony Stewart, Robbie Buhl, Scott Goodyear and Jeff Ward. Possibly the biggest challenge facing drivers could be adapting to the concrete surface of "The Monster Mile." Pep Boys IRL cars have never raced on a concrete track, which has different characteristics than the asphalt used to pave most speedways. So team chief mechanics and tire engineers from Goodyear and Firestone will be busy trying to devise fast qualifying and race setups. And it's almost certain that testing and race speeds will be fast at Dover. Rusty Wallace set the track record of 155.898 mph in a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car last month during qualifying for the MBNA Platinum 400. That speed broke the previous record of 155.259 set by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser in his turbo Offy-powered Eagle in 1969. Pep Boys IRL cars are nearly a ton lighter, more aerodynamic and just as powerful as a NASCAR Winston Cup car, so unofficial test speeds could be nearly 30 mph faster than Wallace's track record. The steep, 24-degree banking in the turns at Dover Downs also will push speeds upward. That's the same degree of banking as the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, where earlier this month Tony Stewart turned the fastest lap ever by a new-formula Pep Boys IRL car.


Media Day: Media are welcome to cover both days of the Dover Open Test. Media Day will take place June 16 at the track, with a luncheon scheduled from 11-11:45 a.m. Drivers will be available for one-on-one interviews during the luncheon. *** The lineup: Pep Boys IRL drivers scheduled to participate in the Dover Open Test: Tony Stewart, Robbie Buhl, Arie Luyendyk, Scott Goodyear, Buzz Calkins, Sam Schmidt, Stan Wattles, John Paul Jr., Marco Greco and Jeff Ward. *** For the fans: An autograph session with Pep Boys IRL drivers is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. June 16 on the track at Dover Downs International Speedway. *** Mid-Atlantic 400K schedule: The inaugural Mid-Atlantic 400K starts at noon July 19. Pep Boys IRL drivers will race 250 laps on the 1-mile "Monster Mile." PPG Pole qualifying starts at noon July 18. Practice sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. July 17, and 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. July 18. *** Mid-Atlantic 400K tickets: Tickets for the Mid-Atlantic 400K are available by calling Dover Downs International Speedway at (800) 441-7223 or (302) 734-7223.


Media Contacts: Mai Lindstrom, IMS/IRL Public Relations Director, (317) 484-6780 Lisa Sommers, IRL Public Relations Manager, (317) 484-6552 Al Robinson, Dover Downs Director of Public Relations, (302) 674-4600, ext. 212 World Wide Web: http://www.indyracingleague.com E-mail: imspr@brickyard.com Fax on demand: (303) 804-1883

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Series IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Buzz Calkins , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Jeff Ward , Arie Luyendyk , Scott Goodyear , Jimmy Vasser , Sam Schmidt , Dave Marcis , Bobby Unser , Jim Sauter , Tom Kendall , Stan Wattles , John Paul Jr. , Mark Martin