The True Value International Race of Champions began a two-day test session today in preparation for the July 12th IROC event at Chicagoland Speedway. Drivers testing this week include current IROC drivers Danny Lasoski (Word of Outlaws) and Felipe Giaffone (IRL IndyCar Series), as well as IROC test drivers Dave Marcis and Jim Sauter. Current NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps and NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta also stopped by to try their hand at turning left in an IROC car.

According to IROC president, Jay Signore, the focus of this week's test session is to continue on improving the set-up for race day. "Right now we are trying to get a chassis underneath us that will perform great for each of the drivers." "Today," Signore continued, "we are working on springs, shocks, aerodynamics and getting balance into the cars. We are always trying to improve and make the cars more drivable for these guys."

IROC made its debut at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001 to a sold-out weekend of racing that included the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series. Buddy Lazier, Al Unser Jr. and Helio Castroneves finished 1-2-3 to give open wheel drivers the best finish in the True Value International Race of Champions since 1996 at Talladega Superspeedway. Lazier ran away with his first IROC victory, leading all 67 laps.

IROC test driver, Jim Sauter, hopes to curb the leader dominating by working on several components in the car. "We are making some pretty big changes, just like we did at Indy last month." Sauter continued, "We took some aero package away from the car in order to help the leader from taking over the race too much. I think we are going in the right direction and the test is going very well."

Danny Lasoski, who represents the World of Outlaws in IROC for the second consecutive year, is working hard on his end to find success at Chicagoland Speedway in this year's IROC event. "I had my exhaust blow out on the first lap last year so I wasn't in contention during the race. But, coming here to Chicagoland Speedway is about hitting your marks and that is what I am working on." Commenting on Lasoski, Marcis said, "He is doing a great job in IROC this year and has a lot of enthusiasm when he comes to these tests."

IROC: The goal of IROC is to take 12 of the world's top drivers from different types of racing, put them in identically prepared IROC race cars, give them a set of rules which virtually eliminates the variables usually associated with racing (no pit stops, no qualifying, no driver set-up of the cars, etc.) and wave the green flag. Because IROC drivers come from a diverse background of racing series, IROC's goal is to equalize the ability of each car so the race winner is based solely on driver skill.

Click here for photos of today's IROC test session.


Fresh off competing in last weekends' Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Chicagoland Speedway's sister track, Route 66 Raceway (1/4-mile drag strip), NHRA Funny Car driver Ron Capps and NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta, both took to the track in the colored IROC machines. Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, owner of Ron Capps car, was also on hand at Chicagoland Speedway checking out the 18-degree banked speedway.

Marcis likes what he saw during today's test with Capps and Kalitta. "I think them coming here to the speedway is great. They are true racers, have the interest and are willing to come here and try this out. They are doing really good in these cars. Their lap times are coming down each time after we talk to them," said Marcis about their progression today. NHRA drivers joining IROC is something Marcis sees as a positive. "It would be great for NHRA drivers to join the IROC

series. It will be that much more interesting to the spectator having them there."

Capps, who was laughing about using his NASCAR racing video game last week as practice before coming to the track, has previously tested with IROC at Talladega Superspeedway. His oval track experiences also include racing go-karts and dirt tracks early in his career. "This is very exciting and pretty awesome to be here testing with these guys. This worked out perfect with the race being next door (NHRA National event at Route 66 Raceway last weekend)." As to the future of possibly getting the call to join IROC, Capps says he'll have to wait and see. "It's up to IROC, but I have my fingers crosses and I'm hoping for the phone call."

Lasoski took in the sites and sounds at Capps' and Kalitta's turf at Route 66 Raceway for Sunday's final NHRA eliminations, but today Capps and Kalitta were learning the line at Chicagoland Speedway from Lasoski. Kalitta, who was the first on the speedway between the two, said about his run, "We slowly progressed and got faster and faster, picking up speeds. It was fun and the car handled real well. The more laps I got, the more comfortable I felt." Commenting on the speedway, he said, "This is a nice track. Both (Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway) are first-rate facilities."

Commenting to those in the garage area during the test today, Lasoski reminisced about being a rookie and driving IROC for the first time. "When I showed up in Daytona the first year, I didn't have a clue." Laughing, Lasoski continued, "I was asking 9,000 questions in one minutes time.

"I know how they (Capps and Kalitta) feel, making the transition from their full-time racing careers to these IROC cars. I'm good friends with both Ron and Doug and I'm trying to bring them up in the cars like Dave (Marcis) and Jim (Sauter) did with me." Laughing, Lasoski said, "Heck, if I jumped into a top fuel, I probably couldn't go over 150 mph. Seriously, though, they are doing great today."

Click here for more information about this week's IROC test session at Chicagoland Speedway.

Click here for more information about the July 12th IROC event at Chicagoland Speedway.

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