Ernie Irvan Indianapolis Preview

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - NASCAR Winston Cup racing is no longer a novelty to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the teams and drivers have proven they know how to maneuver around the two-mile oval. Getting the most out of a lap at Indy is no problem for...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - NASCAR Winston Cup racing is no longer a novelty to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the teams and drivers have proven they know how to maneuver around the two-mile oval. Getting the most out of a lap at Indy is no problem for "M&M's"® driver Ernie Irvan. He has two poles at the track and currently holds the track record. Irvan first etched his name in Brickyard history in 1998 when he won the pole position. When he came back in 1999 and won the pole position for a second time, this time with the "M&M's"® Racing Team and a new car make, it proved him a natural at the Indiana landmark. Irvan's track record of 179.394 mph, 50.169 seconds, is up for grabs when the Winston Cup series qualifies on August 5. But with track record in hand and a new car in his stable, the "M&M's"® Racing Team headed to Indianapolis to test July 19-20. It was this same test one year ago where Irvan feels the season started to turn around for the "M&M's"® Racing Team. "We didn't really plan for the test last year at Indy to be a turning point for the "M&M's"® Team, but that is exactly what happened," Irvan said. "We gained a lot of knowledge at the test and then went on to win three pole positions and finish strong in the second part of the season. It seems like at that test last year everyone and everything with this team really started to gel. We really started performing better and make some huge strides as a team." The "M&M's"® Team's trio of top starting positions started at Indianapolis with Irvan's record-setting lap. He went on to finish sixth in the fourth Brickyard 400, one of his two best runs of the season. Two weeks later he matched that effort at Michigan, finishing sixth after starting from the pole position. With two pole positions and three top-10 finishes in four starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Irvan must have the key to the track. "I've won back to back pole positions there, but if there's a trick to getting around this place as quick as you can, I don't necessarily know that I have the answer," Irvan said. "But if I did, I doubt I would be sharing it. I'd like to be the first driver to win three pole positions in a row at Indy. "All the tracks we run on are tough to figure out, but Indy is still relatively new to the Winston Cup series so it has some tough characteristics. I really like running at Indy and I've been fortunate to have good cars under me and strong horsepower." Irvan and the "M&M's"® Racing Team have tackled the qualifying challenge at IMS, but coming away with a solid finish is nothing new for Irvan. His best performance at the track was a second-place effort in 1996. To be competitive at Indy, there is a certain line to run. "The passing zones are definitely coming off the corners," Irvan said. "At Indy, I really try to set up my passes coming off turns two and four. The front and back stretches are so long there that if you can come off the corner with a lot of corner speed, then you have a lot of speed going down the straight a ways. You've got to do that to be good." Irvan has passed the test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and has two pole positions to show for it. The next challenge for Irvan and the "M&M's"® Racing Team is a victory, and a win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be the best way to make the grade.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan