IROC Announces 1999 Drivers
5 February 1999
NASCAR, CART, AND IRL DRIVERS NAMED FOR 1999 TRUE VALUE IROC SERIES Tinton Falls, NJ – NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon, Pep Boys Indy Racing League Champion Kenny Brack, IROC Champion/Winston Cup driver Mark Martin, and CART’s FedEx Championship Series driver Greg Moore are the first four drivers to accept invitations to compete in the 1999 True Value International Race of Champions. For the 23rd time the historic True Value IROC series will deliver 4 of the most challenging, world class races in all of auto racing. The elite invitational series results in twelve championship caliber drivers from various forms of auto racing battling each other in equally prepared IROC race cars. At the end of the 4th race the points are tallied and an IROC Champion is crowned. All the IROC race cars are equipped with Goodyear Eagle radial tires and specially finished with brilliant DuPont ChromaSystem‘ colors. The series begins on Feb. 12 with race 1 at Daytona International Speedway, Race 2 on April 24 at Talladega Superspeedway, Race 3 on June 12 at Michigan Speedway, and raps up on August 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR Winston Cup driver Mark Martin broke his own record in 1998 by becoming the only four-time IROC champion. Although his dominance in IROC alone qualifies him for the series invitation, Martin’s performance in the1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Series was another testament of his championship caliber. On his way to finishing 2nd in Winston Cup points Martin collected a career-high seven wins. He also scored 26 top-10 finishes, 2 Busch Series wins, and two wins in IROC; California Speedway and the historic “IROC at Indy” win. The 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League (IRL) Champion Kenny Brack has accepted an invitation to participate in his first IROC series. The 32-year-old Brack hails from Karlstad, Sweden where he began his racing career. He carved his way through the European landscape collecting several wins and in 1992 captured the Renault Clio Scandinavian Championship. Brack continued winning and added a Zerex Barber Saab Series Championship to his achievements. In 1997 he found himself in the United States substituting for injured driver Davy Jones with Galles Racing in the newly formed Indy Racing League. In 1998 he switched to drive for the legendary (2-time IROC Champion) A.J. Foyt. The results of Brack’s 1998 season with A.J. Foyt earned him his IROC invitation: He led the IRL Series in laps completed, won 3 consecutive races at Charlotte, Pikes Peak, and Atlanta, which ultimately lead him to earnings topping $1.5 Million and the 1998 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship. “It’s an honor, definitely,” said Greg Moore, representing CART’s FedEx Championship Series, remarking on his first IROC invitation. The 23 year old Canadian is one of the “young guns” showing championship prowess. In 1997 Moore, at 22 years, one month and 10 days eclipsed Al Unser JR’s record by 19 days to become the youngest driver to win a CART race. Victory number-two followed in seven days. Moore continued to add wins in 1998 with a victory at Brazil and at Michigan Speedway in the prestigious U.S. 500. Being herald as CART’s “Ovalmeister” he is looking forward to mixing it up with the NASCAR boys. Ironically, the number three seems to have become significant in Jeff Gordon’s soaring career. Three Winston Cup crowns, three-time winner of the NASCAR True Value Man of the Year Award, and in his 3rd series attempt, Jeff Gordon won the IROC race opener at Daytona in 1998. The NASCAR Champion, some claim by nature, keeps qualifying for IROC invitations. His 1998 season was nothing less than spectacular. With 13 wins he tied Richard Petty’s modern-era record, not to mention 28 top-10 finishes. This will be Gordon's 5th IROC series and he his eager to add IROC victories to his trademark Winston Cup winning streaks. 4 MORE TOP DRIVERS TO DO BATTLE FOR ’99 IROC TRUE VALUE CROWN Tinton Falls, NJ – 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr., former IROC and Winston Cup Champ Rusty Wallace, two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Jarrett have accepted their invitations to compete in the elite IROC series. The 1999 True Value International Race of Champions series will challenge twelve of the world’s best drivers to compete against each other in a four race series. The IROC racecars are as equal as humanly possible. All IROC racecars are equipped with Goodyear Eagle radial tires and specially finished with brilliant DuPont ChromaSystem‘ colors. The drivers are awarded points for each race. At the end of the fourth race the points are tallied and an IROC Champion is crowned. IROC XXIII begins on Feb. 12 with race 1 at Daytona International Speedway, Race 2 on April 24 at Talladega Superspeedway, Race 3 on June 11 at Michigan Speedway, and on August 6th the Championship finale, “IROC at INDY,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The European raised, American born, Eddie Cheever Jr. won the 1998 Indianapolis 500. Add to that a long impressive resume and the result æ an invitation to race in IROC. Cheever started racing in Italy at age 13 where he became the Italian and European Go–Kart Champion. By age 19, Cheever joined the famous Ferrari racing test team. Before hitting the United States, Cheever spent over a decade in Formula One. He has driven more Grand Prix races than any other American, including Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney. In 1990 Cheever moved to the Indy circuit winning Rookie of the Year honors. In addition to his ’98 Indy 500 win, Cheever is in the history book for having the fastest recorded race lap in the Indianapolis 500, logging 236.103 on lap 78 in 1996. Rusty Wallace will be making his return to IROC after a two-year absence. This will be the eighth time the ’89 Winston Cup Champion has appeared in the IROC series, of which he was Champion in 1991. He has accumulated 48 career NASCAR Winston Cup victories and in 1998 finished up fourth in points with victories at Phoenix and Daytona in the Bud Shoot-Out. The St. Louis native began his career in 1973 at 17 years old and became the Central Auto Racing Association Rookie of the Year. In ’79 he won USAC’s Stock Car Rookie of the Year honors. In 1980 a storybook event took place: he was to compete in his first Winston Cup race at Atlanta, driving for the renowned Roger Penske, and finished second behind, current day buddy, Dale Earnhardt. Before going full-time Winston Cup racing, Rusty also was the American Speed Association series (ASA) Champion in 1983. Al Unser Jr. of Albuquerque, New Mexico joins the pack of twelve for his 14th consecutive IROC series. That itself is a testament of greatness. He is the IROC series all-time winningest driver with eleven victories. The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner started racing go-karts at nine years old. At 17 he sat on two phone books to race sprint cars. He won two consecutive titles for Galles Racing in the ’81 Super Vees and ’82 Can-Am series. He won his first Indy car event, appropriately, on Father’s Day in 1984. In 1986 he made his IROC debut, won two of the four events, and became the youngest IROC Champion in the history of the series. He went on to win two CART PPG Cup Championships in 1990 and ‘94, including the two Indy 500 victories (’92 and ’94) for Marlboro Team Penske. Also representing the NASCAR Winston Cup series is Hickory, North Carolinian Dale Jarrett. Dale also grew up with a famous racing Dad, the two-time NASCAR Champion Ned Jarrett. 1999 will be Dale’s fourth IROC series. The multi-talented athlete elected racing over football and golf. He became a NASCAR Winston Cup regular in 1987 and scored his first victory at Michigan in 1991 for the legendary Wood Brothers Team. He won his first Daytona 500 in 1993, ironically, for football great Joe Gibbs. In 1996 he took his second Daytona 500 victory, as well as winning the prestigious Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1997 he posted seven victories, finished second in Winston Cup points and was named NASCAR True Value Man of the Year. 1998 resulted in three wins, Darlington, Dover and Talladega. He finished third in Winston Cup points. EARNHARDT VS EARNHARDT, FERNANDEZ AND BURTON; FINAL 4 DRIVERS FOR '99 IROC TRUE VALUE SERIES Tinton Falls, NJ- For the first time on American asphalt, seven-time Winston Cup Champion Dale Earnhardt, and his son, '98 Busch Series Champion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will compete against each other for the 1999 IROC crown. Also joining the fray is CART FedEx Championship Series star Adrian Fernandez and NASCAR Winston Cup star Jeff Burton. The 1999 True Value International Race of Champions series will challenge twelve of the world's best drivers to compete against each other in a four race series. The IROC racecars are as equal as humanly possible. All IROC racecars are equipped with Goodyear Eagle radial tires and specially finished with brilliant DuPont ChromaSystem colors. IROC XXIII begins on Feb. 12, with Race one at Daytona International Speedway, Race two on April 24, at Talladega Superspeedway, Race three on June 11, at Michigan Speedway, and Race four, on August 6, the Championship finale "IROC at INDY" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The CART FedEx Champ star, Adrian Fernandez is making his debut in the IROC series this year. Fernandez, a Native of Mexico City, drove his first race at age 17 in the 24 hours of Mexico, in 1982. That same year Fernandez moved to Formula Vee and won Rookie of the Year. He won the Mexico Formula Vee Championship in 1983 and 1984. In 1985 he raced full time in Formula K, finishing second overall. By 1987 he moved to Europe, competing in various Formula Ford series. In 1990 he returned to Mexico to race in the International Formula Three series, finishing second in the championship with two wins. In 1991 he won the Formula Three Championship. In 1992 he moved to Indy Lights and was top rookie with four wins and third in points. He debuted in CART in 1993. Fernandez won his first CART race in Toronto in '96. He finished fourth in PPG Cup standings in 1998 with wins in Japan and Mid-Ohio. The 1998 Daytona 500 winner, Dale Earnhardt, is a two-time IROC Champion, 1990 and 1995. This will be the 15th time Earnhardt has appeared in the IROC series. The seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion still holds the record for being the only driver to win Rookie of the Year and the series Championship in the same year (1979) on the NASCAR Winston Cup level. His knack for acquiring championships is continuing in his role as a team owner. Earnhardt teams won the 1998 NASCAR Busch Grand National title with son Dale Jr. and the 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship with Ron Honaday. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will once again be a rookie _ in the IROC series. In 1998 the NASCAR Busch Grand National Champion scored seven races on his way to the title. But that's not all _ he also _ led the most laps (1488), led the most races (18), led the most miles (1437.71) and won the most poles (3). Previous to 1998, Earnhardt Jr., made eight Busch Series starts in 1997 (one top-ten result), drove in the street division at Concord Speedway and started racing the short tracks at age 17. He plans to stay in the Busch Series in 1999, plus will make five Winston Cup events in preparation for a full Winston Cup schedule in the year 2000 for his father's team. In February of 1998 Jeff Burton was an IROC rookie; by June he was an IROC winner, having won round three at Michigan Speedway. The South Boston, Virginia native caught the racing-bug watching his older brother, Ward, racing go-karts. Eventually, Jeff began racing and won two Virginia State go-kart championships. He advanced to short-track stock cars in the South Boston, VA. area and recorded 21 NASCAR Winston Racing Series wins. He moved up to NASCAR's Busch Grand National Series in 1989. After five successful seasons with four wins, 15 top-five finishes and three poles, he moved up to the Winston Cup division. He won Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors in 1994. Burton consistently and swiftly moved up through the ranks with numerous top- five and top-ten finishes. He nailed his first Winston Cup victory in 1997 at Texas with follow-up wins at New Hampshire and Martinsville. Burton finished up 1998 fifth in Winston Cup points with two victories, Richmond and New Hampshire. These four join previously announced Mark Martin, Kenny Brack, Greg Moore, Jeff Gordon, Eddie Cheever Jr., Rusty Wallace, Al Unser Jr., and Dale Jarrett in the 1999 lineup. IROC is sponsored by True Value, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co, and DuPont Automotive Refinishes.