Texas Motor Speedway pre-event notes

CROWN ROYAL IROC TEXAS SHOWDOWN SET America's Leading Drivers To Put Their Pride On The Line Friday Night FORT WORTH, Texas (April 13, 2005) - The premise for the Crown Royal International Race of Champions is simple. Place 12 championship ...


America's Leading Drivers To Put Their Pride On The Line Friday Night

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 13, 2005) - The premise for the Crown Royal International Race of Champions is simple. Place 12 championship drivers from different racing disciplines in equally prepared cars and after four races, a true champion of champions will be crowned determined by driving skill. Texas Motor Speedway fans get the opportunity to witness the second round of this year's Crown Royal IROC Series Friday night at 6 p.m. CT as the closing segment of The Dallas Morning News Qualifying Day.

Danny Lasoski, the 2001 World of Outlaws sprint car champion known on the circuit as "Danny the Dude," took the lead on the opening lap of last year's inaugural Crown Royal IROC race at Texas Motor Speedway and led the entire distance. Lasoski's win was only the second time in the 29-year history of the series that a short-track driver scored an IROC win, the other being fellow World of Outlaws driver Steve Kinser at Talladega in 1994.

The Crown Royal IROC Series offers fans the most diverse field of racing stars in the country. Seven different American-based racing series will be represented Friday evening.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup: Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch
NASCAR Busch: Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Bobby Hamilton
IRL IndyCar Series: Helio Castroneves, Buddy Rice
World of Outlaws: Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski
Champ Car: Sebastien Bourdais
Grand-Am Road Racing: Scott Pruett, Max Papis

The number five may ring magical for Mark Martin Friday night. Martin will be shooting for his fifth victory at "The Great American Speedway" in the Crown Royal IROC 100-miler. His season-opening IROC win at Daytona put him in the point lead, a Texas triumph would put him well on the way to a fifth Crown Royal IROC title, worth $1 million. Martin's Daytona win was the 12th of his IROC career, breaking a tie with Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr. for the career top spot.


The 2005 Crown Royal IROC champion will once again collect a $1 million prize. Matt Kenseth was the initial recipient of the $1 million champion's check in 2004.

Martin Truex Jr. made his Crown Royal IROC debut a successful one at Daytona, finishing second behind Mark Martin. "The king of IROC (Martin) won the race, and I'll finish second to him any time he wants," Truex said.

The Crown Royal IROC 100-mile race caps a busy day for race fans. One ticket allows the fans to watch all aspects of The Dallas Morning News Qualifying Day, including NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice and qualifying for the Bud Pole Award in addition to the Crown Royal IROC race. Discount coupons for The Dallas Morning News Qualifying Day are available in the newspaper.

The open-wheel and road-racing contingent descended on Texas Motor Speedway Monday and Tuesday for IROC test sessions, seeking any small advantage that may put them in Victory Lane Friday night. The testers included Bourdais, Rice, Castroneves, Papis, Lasoski and Kinser.

Quotes from the early-week test sessions:
Bourdais: "It's quite different than what I've been doing over the last week, that's for sure. The IROC cars are about twice the weight, or more, of my Champ Car, the suspension, the movement and the seating position is so different, but it has four wheels and a steering wheel, which means I'm having a great time. . This is my first time here at Texas. For me it's a bit like a mini-Daytona, it's quite fun and a pretty smooth race track. We did some side-by-side racing with Buddy (Rice) and it was enjoyable."

Rice: "It's great to get to drive in the Crown Royal IROC cars. I really enjoy getting the chance to drive in a different style car, especially at an awesome facility like Texas, and I always like running under the lights, so it's definitely going to be one heck of a ride for me."

Castroneves: "The cars feel like they may have a bit more downforce this year. I know the IROC team tried a few different things at the test and it seems to have helped. I think - no, I know this is going to be a great race so nobody should miss this."

Papis: "It feels like two completely different race tracks going from an IndyCar to a stock car here in Texas. The biggest learning curve for the open-wheel guys is learning to close the distance between cars. When you're running with the open-wheel guys they don't get quite as close as the IROC test drivers with their NASCAR experience, they're right on your bumper which makes the car feel different."

Lasoski: "I'll tell you what -- the open-wheel guys are doing a great job. They're getting up to speed pretty quickly. I'm the one that's a bit rusty with all the dirt driving I do, it takes me three or four days to get used to the IROC cars again. From the way things look, we (open wheel drivers) may have a little something for the Cup guys."

A trio of NASCAR veterans from Wisconsin, Dave Marcis, Jim Sauter and son Jay Sauter, are heading up the Crown Royal IROC tutoring of new series drivers and the test equalizing of the 17 IROC cars on the speedway grounds. Long-time NASCAR Cup competitor Marcis was adorned in his customary blue Goodyear cap and wingtip shoes. The younger Sauter was a 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victor at "The Great American Speedway." "It is a combined effort, Dave is kind of the leader," Jay Sauter said. "He has been doing it the longest." Marcis finished second in the 1975 NASCAR Cup point standings behind Richard Petty and has been an IROC test driver since that watermark season. Jim Sauter joined friend Marcis testing IROC cars in 1986. And not one yellow cheesehead adornment was spotted in the garage.

LAST LAP. The starting lineup for Friday's race will be in reverse order of the current point standings, placing Sebastien Bourdais and Steve Kinser in the front row..The inaugural IROC season in 1974 featured identically- prepared Porsche Carrera RSR machines that raced three times on the now- defunct Riverside International Raceway and a single outing on Daytona's 3.81-mile road course. Stock cars have been utilized since 1975.


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Series IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Bobby Hamilton , Matt Kenseth , Jay Sauter , Kurt Busch , Helio Castroneves , Max Papis , Scott Pruett , Dave Marcis , Richard Petty , Danny Lasoski , Jim Sauter , Sébastien Bourdais , Steve Kinser , Buddy Rice , Martin Truex Jr. , Mark Martin