Sears Point "M&M's"(R) Racing Team Preview

Road Course Savvy Makes For Successful Career At Sears Point Raceway For "M&M's"® Racing Team Driver Ernie Irvan CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Turning left is natural for "M&M's"® Racing Team driver Ernie Irvan, but throw in a few left- and right-hand...

Road Course Savvy Makes For Successful Career At Sears Point Raceway For "M&M's"® Racing Team Driver Ernie Irvan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Turning left is natural for "M&M's"® Racing Team driver Ernie Irvan, but throw in a few left- and right-hand turns and he doesn't miss a beat. Twice a year Irvan gets to display his road course expertise at Sears Point Raceway and Watkins Glen International. When the Winston Cup Series returns to the Sonoma Valley Irvan on July 27, he is looking for his fourth road course victory. Irvan has amassed quite a record in road course competition. With wins at both Sears Point and Watkins Glen, Irvan positioned himself as somewhat of a road course expert. He has nine Winston Cup starts at the Sonoma, Calif., track and has finished in the top 10 on six occasions. He also has four top-five finishes and two wins. Irvan had his best performance to date at the track in 1994. Irvan was the class of the field in the event, capturing his second win after starting from the pole position. "I haven't had any more experience running road courses than any other Winston Cup driver in the last 11 years," Irvan said. "But I have had a lot of success there and I think it is attributed to a lot of things, not just the driver. "How I perform at Sears Point in the "M&M's"® Pontiac has a lot to do with the car I have under me and how well we get the chassis set up for the race. Since there aren't a lot of places to pass now, qualifying and pit stops will be critical, which makes the "M&M's"® Team a big factor in the race. We need to qualify up front and keep ourselves up front." In 1999, Irvan will pilot the No. 36 "M&M's"® Pontiac on the newly reconfigured Sears Point Raceway. The Winston Cup Series has only one start on the shortened track, and there are even more changes for this year's event. "Going to Sears Point this year will be a challenge because they've made some more changes from last year," Irvan said of the 1.95-mile course. "There aren't many places to pass now, so if you want to make a pass, you've got to do it in turn 11. The new configuration has the potential to be more of a follow-the-leader track." Racing in northern California is a favorite stop on the Winston Cup schedule for Irvan. Not only does he get to make his annual start at Sears Point, he also gets to spend time with family and friends from the area. Irvan grew up in nearby Salinas, Calif., before he moved to North Carolina to pursue a career in racing. "Going back to northern California is always a lot of fun for us because I get to see a lot of places and people that I haven't seen in a long time," Irvan said. "I'm also going to run a match race against my dad, who is a racing legend at home, at Watsonville Speedway on Friday night. That will be a lot of fun, not only for the fans, but also for me and my dad." Irvan has two wins and a pole position to his credit at the California road course and he's looking to improve on his record in the "M&M's"® Pontiac. With family and friends in town, Irvan plans to give the "M&M's"® Characters on his No. 36 Pontiac the ride of a lifetime at Sears Point Raceway.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ernie Irvan