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Newman to Start from IROC Pole, as Round Two Practice Continues

Talladega, AL (April 3, 2003) True Value IROC practice resumed Thursday with two practice sessions at Talladega Superspeedway in preparation for round two of the 2003 True Value IROC Series this Saturday.

The morning session consisted of IRL IndyCar Series driver Felipe Giaffone, O'Reilly World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski, NASCAR Busch Series Champion Greg Biffle and NASCAR Winston Cup driver Kurt Busch. Participating in the afternoon session were, Giaffone, Lasoski, and IRL IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves.

The practice sessions at Talladega this week have been structured to simulate race runs consisting of fresh tires, full fuel and 38-lap durations. IROC President Jay Signore said, "When we have the track time, we like to run these practice races to give the drivers a good sense of what they'll experience in the race on Saturday. The practice car radios are set up so the drivers can communicate with each other, if they choose, and they usually do. Once we signal them with five-laps to go, the radios suddenly get very quite as they start to set each other up for the finish."

Thursday was Castroneves' first time on the 2.66-mile, high-banked tri-oval. Castroneves' vibrant personality surfaced in his radio communications, which consisted of various versions of "yahoo." Castroneves was very impressed with the progress fellow Brazilian Giaffone has made since race one in February at Daytona.

Castroneves said, "Felipe has been practicing a lot. I tell you, he's learned a lot. Today he was giving me some tips. In fact we were actually running over Jim (Sauter) and Dick Trickle. It is the first time that I've been here. I'm enjoying it very much."

"It's (Talladega) wider than Daytona. You can go three abreast with no problem at all. In fact in the front straightaway even four abreast. I had a good time. It was a little tricky with drafting again, much more than Daytona. So it's going to be a real challenge. Actually in only one practice I learned a lot, especially having five cars (on track) towards the end. That was incredible."

Castroneves and Giaffone had some fun during the practice race when their strategy turned to stumping Lasoski and veteran test driver Dick Trickle by communicating in Portuguese. Giaffone said, "It was good. We were talking in Portuguese on the radio so nobody could understand (us). We were making some very good moves there."

Giaffone continued, "It was fun this morning as well with the Winston Cup guys. For sure they are going to work by themselves, so it's going to be very hard. We have to make our own team here because they are not going to give us any tips. They are very nice. I talked to a couple of them, Kurt Busch and Greg (Biffle). They explained to us (Giaffone and Lasoski) a little more about the drafting and everything, but at race time they're going to try to do everything to pull away from us."

Lasoski said, "Trickle and I didn't know what was going on there for a while, but you can talk Japanese, Polish, or Portuguese, we still got Castroneves at the end of that run -- it was a lot of fun, we've had a great time here with each other this week."

The following is the True Value IROC starting lineup for Saturday's 38 lap, 101.08 mile race. The start time is 3:30 p.m. Central Time. Initial Broadcast: ESPN - Saturday, April 12, 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Pos No Color        Driver            Residence         Representing
 1  12 Gold         Ryan Newman       Mooresville, NC   NASCAR Winston Cup
 2  11 Medium Blue  Helio Castroneves Miami IRL         IndyCar Series
 3  10 Rose         Felipe Giaffone   Orlando, FL       IRL IndyCar Series
 4   9 Evans Orange Mike Bliss        Milwaukee         Craftsman Truck
 5   8 Green        Sam Hornish       Defiance, OH      IRL IndyCar Series
 6   6 Dark Blue   *Kevin Harvick     Winston-Salem, NC NASCAR Winston Cup
 7   7 White        Steve Kinser      Bloomington, IN   World of Outlaws
 8   5 Lime         Greg Biffle       Mooresville, NC   NASCAR Busch 
 9   3 Red          Jimmie Johnson    Mooresville, NC   NASCAR Winston Cup
10   4 Dark Orange  Danny Lasoski     Dove, MO          World of Outlaws
11   2 Light Blue   Kurt Busch        Charlotte, NC     NASCAR Winston Cup
12   1 Silver       Mark Martin       Daytona Beach, FL NASCAR Winston Cup
*2002 True Value IROC Champion

 

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