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IROC Notes: Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Andretti

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 15, 2005) - To borrow a phrase from the world of music radio promos - "And the hits just keep on coming." Everyday during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway something new or exciting has come about around the Crown Royal IROC garages.

Tuesday, the something new was the return of Scott Pruett to the Crown Royal IROC Series. Nearly a decade has passed since the Sacramento, California native hopped in an IROC Car. Pruett has two IROC race trophies on his mantle; Riverside, California in 1988 and the 1991 season opener at Daytona.

"It's really great to be back in IROC again," said Pruett. "I was very happy to get the call from IROC President, Jay Signore after Max and I won the Grand American Championship. I've always enjoyed the level of competition and challenge that IROC offers, and it's truly an honor for a driver anytime you get an opportunity to run in this series. It's an exciting line up of drivers, the cars driver better than ever, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get out there and mix it up with everyone this year."

Another great highlight on Tuesday was the something borrowed - as in a driver suit, shoes, helmet and gloves - for another returning IROC competitor. The big surprise of the day was a visit from the 1979 IROC champion, Mario Andretti who wondered out to pit road during the late afternoon practice session. Signore said, "When Mario came out I said, 'Hey kid, you looking for a ride,' and Mario said, 'yeah sure.' We said our hello's and I said, 'Mario, seriously, you're welcome to take one out if you want. I've got extra gear in the truck you can borrow,' and he didn't hesitate to say, 'yeah Jay, I would enjoy that,' and that's how it came about."

Andretti strapped in and was immediately flat out and up to speed, clocking the same lap times as the current series drivers. Andretti said, "Getting out in the IROC car was totally awesome. You know, I arrived here today with the idea in my head that I would ask Jay to let me suit up and take a spin. Well, sure enough, good old Jay was ready to accommodate and he really made my day."

Andretti continued, "I really wanted to see what the latest cars are like. It was awesome! Dave Marcis, Jim, and his son, Jay Sauter, they do a marvelous job at setting these cars up, they really, really drive well and this race will be loads of fun for the drivers in the IROC series."

Series competitors, Steve Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Helio Castroneves, Max Papis, Scott Pruett, and Sebastien Bourdais, along with members of the crew, all gathered around and had their pictures taken with the legendary Andretti. Signore said, "It was a great treat to have Mario with us here today, we all got a big kick out of it and I think Mario got a big kick out of it all too."

Oh, the something blue category - that would be Blue, the name of Castroneves' new blue-eyed puppy who also came to visit with the Crown Royal International Race of Champions for the first time today.


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