IROC Field Set

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Tinton Falls, N.J. - True Value IROC officials announced today the field for the 2003 True Value International Race of Champions. The field will consist of representation from five major racing series and the returning series champion.

The four-race invitational all-star series, which matches 12 drivers from different forms of auto racing in equally prepared cars, on Goodyear Eagle radial racing tires, will open with race one at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 14. The series will continue with race two at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, April 5, race three at Chicagoland Speedway, Saturday, July 12, and conclude with race four at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 2.

Greg Biffle captured the NASCAR Busch Series championship for Roush Racing with an impressive record of four wins, five poles, 20 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes. He also became the first Busch driver to win more than $2 million in one season.

Mike Bliss had a stellar 2002 season winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship with five wins, 13 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. He had a 7.0 finishing average and earned more than $500,000 in prize money.

Kurt Busch showed no signs of a sophomore jinx in 2002. He finished third in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings with four wins, 12 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. Three of the four wins came during the final five races of the season at Martinsville, Atlanta and Homestead. His other win was at Bristol in April. He also had three second-place finishes in 2002 at Fontana, Pocono and New Hampshire.

Helio Castroneves won his second consecutive Indianapolis 500, becoming only the fifth driver to win consecutive times at Indy and the first since Al Unser in 1970-1971. He is the first driver in Indy 500 history to win the race in each of his first two starts. Castroneves finished second for Team Marlboro Penske in his first full Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

Felipe Giaffone finished a career-best fourth in the IRL IndyCar Series point standings driving for Mo Nunn Racing. His 2002 season included a win at Kentucky Speedway, five top-three and eight top-five finishes. He finished third in the Indianapolis 500 and surpassed $2 million in career IRL IndyCar Series earnings.

Kevin Harvick captured the 2002 True Value IROC championship, becoming the sixth first-year IROC driver to win the all-star series championship. He also became the first Busch Series representative to win the IROC championship. He won race two at California Speedway and finished ninth in race one at Daytona, fourth in race three at Chicagoland and fifth in race four at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In 2002, Sam Hornish Jr., established two IRL IndyCar Series records; he became the first two-time IRL IndyCar Series champion and the first to win consecutive titles. He clinched the title by defeating Helio Castroneves in the final race by mere .0096 of a second. He scored five-wins for the Pennzoil Panther Racing team, 11 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. He entered the final two races of the season in third place, behind Team Marlboro Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran.

Jimmie Johnson's 2002 rookie season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series was nothing short of spectacular. The Southern California native notched three victories - twice at Dover Downs and once at California Speedway in Fontana. Along with the three wins, he had six top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. He was the fastest qualifier four times - Daytona 500, Talladega (spring), Charlotte (spring), and Richmond (fall). He was the first rookie in the history of Winston Cup to lead in the point standings.

"Competing in IROC is going to be a lot of fun," said Jimmie Johnson, while taking part in NASCAR Winston Cup's "Preseason Thunder" at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. "Growing up I would watch classic IROC races with Earnhardt, Mears, A.J. Foyt, Richard Petty and my teammates Terry (Labonte) and Jeff (Gordon). To be able to race against some of the top drivers from various series is really appealing to me and should be a great challenge."

In 2002, Steve Kinser won his record 17th World of Outlaws championship, his 12th record Knoxville Nationals championship and along the way recorded 59 top-10 finishes, including 46 in the top five in 67 events. He won 20 "A" Features, increasing his career total to 471. He also won his 10th Gold Cup Race of Champions title. In 1994, Kinser was the first representative of short track racing to be invited to compete in the IROC Series and posted a win in only his third start at Talladega Superspeedway.

Despite missing four events due to injuries, Danny Lasoski finished second to Steve Kinser in the 2002 World of Outlaws Series final point standings. This is the second time in three years the 2001 champion has been the runner-up. He won a career-high 13 "A" Features, recording 52 top-10 finishes and 42 top-fives in 63 "A" Feature events.

Four-time True Value IROC champion, Mark Martin will make his 10th appearance in the series he dominated throughout the 1990's. In 2002, Martin finished second in NASCAR Winston Cup points for the fourth time in his career. He collected a win at Charlotte, three second place finishes plus 12 top-five and 22 top-10s. Martin's record four True Value IROC championships is shared with the late Dale Earnhardt. Martin also holds the record for winning three-consecutive IROC titles in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Ryan Newman joins fellow freshman, Jimmie Johnson as a 2002 rookie sensation in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He finished sixth in the final point standings with a win at New Hampshire, 14 top-five finishes and six pole awards. The former open-wheel star, and USAC champion, narrowly edged out Johnson to win the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year award.

Tony Stewart Declines 2003 IROC Invitation

Reigning NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Tony Stewart has declined an invitation to compete in the 2003 IROC Series. The driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing cited his commitment to successfully defend his Winston Cup title and the added responsibilities that are associated with being the sport's champion as reasons for his absence in this year's IROC Series.

"The Signore family has built a great series in IROC, and I know firsthand because I've been fortunate enough to have competed in IROC four times," said Stewart. "But with all that goes on during any given Winston Cup weekend, the time to focus on the main job - driving the Home Depot Chevrolet - becomes more and more valuable as our sport continues to grow.

"I've never been a Winston Cup champion before and I want to do it right - for my team, for my fellow competitors and for my fans. When you win one championship it makes you want to win a second that much more. That's our goal for 2003, and my decision to not race in IROC this year should be a pretty good indication of how much I want to repeat as Winston Cup champion."

Stewart's first IROC invitation came in 1998 as a representative of the Indy Racing League for winning the series championship in 1997. After winning the 1999 Rookie of the Year title during his inaugural Winston Cup campaign, Stewart returned to IROC in 2000. His third IROC appearance came in 2001, as Stewart substituted for CART driver Gil de Ferran, whose injuries from a pre-season testing accident prohibited him from competing in any of the four races. Stewart won his first IROC event in the season's third race at Michigan, helping him earn the runner-up spot in the IROC championship to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte. In Stewart's fourth IROC appearance last season, he won the series' first race at Daytona.

"While I may not be a competitor in IROC this year, I'll be a very interested spectator as my World of Outlaws driver - Danny Lasoski - enjoys his second year of IROC," added Stewart. "Last year was the first time he had ever driven a race car on a surface other than dirt. He went to every practice session and probably logged more miles than anyone else. He learned a lot last year and he's coming into this year with a lot of confidence. He should be fun to watch."


2003 True Value IROC Series Line Up (In alphabetical order)

Driver Series Representing
Greg Biffle NASCAR Busch
Mike Bliss NASCAR Craftsmen
Kurt Busch NASCAR Winston Cup
Helio Castroneves Indy Racing League
Felipe Giaffone Indy Racing League
Kevin Harvick NASCAR Winston Cup (2002 Champion)
Sam Hornish Indy Racing League
Jimmie Johnson NASCAR Winston Cup
Steve Kinser World of Outlaws
Danny Lasoski World of Outlaws
Mark Martin NASCAR Winston Cup
Ryan Newman NASCAR Winston Cup


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