Brickyward 400 Irwin preview

IRWIN PLANS BUSY HOMECOMING FOR INDY Indianapolis, Ind. - Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Taurus and an Indianapolis native, has an action-packed schedule leading up to the Brickyard 400 on August 7, at the ...


Indianapolis, Ind. - Kenny Irwin, driver of the No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Taurus and an Indianapolis native, has an action-packed schedule leading up to the Brickyard 400 on August 7, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While the obvious focus for the week will be the Robert Yates Racing-owned Texaco/Havoline car and the Brickyard 400, Irwin will also run a USAC Silver Bullet Series race on Wednesday, August 4 and a NASCAR Busch Grand National Series race on Friday, August 6. Both events will be held at Indianapolis Raceway Park, just a short distance from the hallowed bricks that mark the start/finish line at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the track affectionately known as "Indy". "We're looking forward to an exciting week of racing in Indianapolis," said Irwin, the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year. "Racing in Indianapolis is awesome. Last year's Brickyard was without a doubt the neatest thing I've ever done in auto racing. I have that same excitement going back this year." Dennis Setzer will practice and is scheduled to qualify the Busch Grand National car for Irwin on Friday, August 6, since Irwin will be spending his day with the Texaco/Havoline team at IMS. But, once the final Winston Cup practice is finished, Irwin will depart IMS in attempt to arrive at IRP in time to qualify the Busch car himself. While many drivers would find such a busy week tiring, Irwin says he will enjoy it. "For one thing, I get to stay at my mom and dad's house," said Irwin. "My mom already knows my favorite dinner and is working on it. I enjoy getting to see all my family and friends. They'll all get to see me race while I'm here and will support me at every race I'm in all week. The Midwest fans know who I am and give me a lot of support. It's great to hear those cheers when they say your name at driver introductions." Irwin's confidence is high going into the Brickyard 400. He knows Robert Yates Racing has a good record at Indy with a win and three top-five finishes. Additionally, the team gave him a good set-up last year allowing him to qualify fourth and run in the lead pack. However, an accident on lap 116 forced him to the sidelines for a disappointing 38th-place finish. "We were running good but the car still wasn't how we needed it," Irwin said. "I thought we were going to have a top 10 finish and we ended up bringing home a crashed car. I know we can run well. I would like to prove that to myself and everybody else." Irwin and the Texaco/Havoline Racing team tested at Indy mid-July and were pleased to be fifth overall among Ford teams. They are very optimistic about their qualifying chances on August 5, which is also Irwin's 30th birthday. "Hopefully we can improve three positions over last year," said Irwin. "Winning the pole at Indy would be the best birthday gift I could get." As a native of Indianapolis, Irwin carries a unique perspective on the importance the Brickyard 400 has garnered in the motorsports world in a relatively short five-year history. "Growing up, my buddies and I always thought about the Indy 500 and how neat it would be getting to run in that race some day," Irwin said. "We never even thought about stock cars at Indy. They didn't even run here and there was no talk of them running here. When I think about the Brickyard 400, I get that little something in my stomach that lets me know that this is what it's all about." Irwin says he'd enjoy a win in the Brickyard 400 with the Texaco/Havoline Ford over any other race on the series' schedule. "For me that would be about the neatest thing I could accomplish," said Irwin. Irwin will drive the Rayovac Ford in the Busch Grand National race, co-fielded by his Robert Yates Racing teammate Dale Jarrett, current Winston Cup points leader, and Brett Favre, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. His USAC Silver Bullet race marks another homecoming of sorts for Irwin, driving a car fielded by Johnny Vance, one his of previous owners. Irwin returns to a series where he accumulated many honors before moving on in his racing career, having competed in the Silver Bullet Series, formerly known as the Silver Crown Series, for four seasons, posting six wins and claiming the Rookie of the Year title in 1994. In 1996, Irwin competed simultaneously in USAC's Silver Bullet Series and National Midget Series, finishing second overall in Silver Bullet competition and winning the National Midget championship. In addition to all the racing activities and appearances, Kenny celebrates his 30th birthday on Bud Pole qualifying day. He will have birthday dinner and cake with 10 fans who were randomly selected through a contest sponsored by Texaco/Havoline Racing and WISH-TV. Welcome home Kenny - happy racing and happy birthday.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Dennis Setzer , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing