Photo Caption: "Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig, right, and IROC President Jay Signore, center, pair up the identically-prepared cars with drivers in a random draw held on Friday in the Busch Series garages at 'The World Center of Racing.' ¿
Crown Royal International Race of Champions wrapped up three days of testing and driver practice Wednesday on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.
Race three, of the four-race, All-Star series is scheduled to go green following the Brumos Porsche 250 on Thursday, June 29. The 20-lap, 71.2-mile contest will be the first road course event in 14-years for the series that matches a dozen diverse champions in equally prepared cars equipped with Goodyear Eagle Radial race tires. The Crown Royal IROC crew and drivers spent three days and nights re-acclimating themselves to the demands of preparing the IROC race cars for a road race.
"I'm very happy with the progress we've made over the past three days", said IROC President, Jay Signore. "It¿s been a long time since we had to prepare the fleet for a road course race and I¿m very proud of the entire crew for doing such a good job back at the shop with preparations. The cars came out of the box running very well and very close in speed. According to the drivers with plenty of road racing experience, like, Max Papis, Scott Sharp and Max Angelelli, they¿re very happy with the balance and handling of the IROC cars. That doesn¿t happen without our test drivers, Dave Marcis, David Donohue, and the father/son team of Jim and Jay Sauter."
The 2005 Grand American Sports Car Champion, Max Papis said, ¿I feel the IROC cars are performing awesomely well on the road course, as they do on the ovals. Considering the weight and power these cars have, they¿re very raceable on the road course here at Daytona, which I consider to be my home track. I really think you will see a great IROC road race here with a lot of passing, because the braking zones are so long, therefore, there will be plenty of opportunity to use different braking techniques to set up passes."
Scott Sharp, a two-time Sports Car Club of America, Trans-Am Champion and IndyCar co-Champion said, ¿I can tell you the IROC cars are really much better than I ever expected on the road course here. The cars are very drivable and you can really run a variety of lines and try different styles, so you don¿t have to drive them only one way to do well. I¿m anticipating you¿ll see guys run hard at the beginning and fade away a little, while the other guys who conserved will start charging. Guy¿s will be on the track, off the track, and there will be plenty of good racing and a lot of excitement for everyone.¿
The 2005 Grand American Sports Car Champion, Max Angelelli said, ¿As you know, I¿m not experienced in this style of car, which was great on the oval at Texas Motor Speedway, but I wasn¿t sure what to expect with this car on the road course. I expected the first night here for me would present some problems and a lot of adjustment for me, but I was surprised to find the IROC cars on the road course to be a very good racecar, very well balanced, and no issues at all.¿
Other 2006 Crown Royal IROC drivers getting in practice were, 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner, Sam Hornish Jr., 2005, seven-time, ARCA champion, Frank Kimmel and 20-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion, Steve Kinser. Hornish Jr. is an accomplished road racer, while Kinser and Kimmel are admitted neophytes to the discipline.
Hornish said, ¿Everything went really well the first couple of runs, but then I started to overdue it a little bit and wound up in the grass a couple of times. I¿ve never driven in this style of car on a road course, and I can tell you, the guys that are going to do well are the guys that keep the car on the racetrack. The cars are a lot of fun to drive, it¿s just going to be a matter of getting a little better with each lap.¿
¿I¿m just trying to
learn how to get around here¿, said Kinser. ¿I started out messing up at least two corners per lap, but by the end of the last session, I was running more consistently and getting the hang of it. Whatever I wind up hashing out of this race will be fun, I can tell you that. This type of racing is completely new and different for me - I enjoy it. I definitely have a new respect for road racers, it¿s a lot of hard work out there, every lap, with timing and developing rhythm -- it¿s a whole other set of skills.¿
Kimmel said, ¿The cars are great, it¿s just I¿m all over the track - and off of it, which is how I expected to be at first. The road racers, Max Papis, (Max) Angelelli, Scott Sharp, and David Donohue have really taken me under their wings and are helping me along - I really think they want to help me get better just so I don¿t wreck them during the race ¿ a little self-preservation on their part. The (IROC) crew has done a great job, the cars really are fun to drive on the road course, but I¿m butchering them up. It will be a fun race for me, that¿s for sure.¿
NASCAR participants, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr., and Ted Musgrave are expected to practice when the IROC cars return to track activity next Wednesday at DIS.