2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Ryan Newman has tried to make the best of his first-ever competition in the True Value International Race Of Champions (IROC), but hasn?t had a top finish like he?d expected.

Newman?s first two battles in the all-star series weren?t his best showings. His IROC race car finished last in the season-opener at Daytona and seventh at Talladega.

?The first two IROC races were fun, but I didn?t pull off the finishes I was looking for,? said Newman. ?I don?t have much time left to get a win and finish the year with a respectable stat sheet. I don?t know if I?ll have the chance to run in IROC again, so I want to leave with some good finishes.?

Newman?s struggles are the same as the 11 other drivers in the series. IROC cars are prepared so equal, they leave no room for adjusting. The entire race is based solely on driver experience and talent - that?s what makes it so interesting and disappointing.

?The IROC cars are different than my ALLTEL Dodge I drive on Sundays.? said Newman. ?There?s less horsepower and more aero drag and downforce with IROC cars. They?re as equal as they can be and you can?t go adjusting them like on our regular race cars. You need to adapt to the car and how it?s handling in order to drive it.

?The way I drive the IROC car has a lot to do with how well it was set up. IROC cars drive great and they give you a ton of confidence. But, on the other hand, if you don?t know how to work the draft, you?ll sink like a rock. The rear spoilers on the IROC cars are so high that they pull a lot of air. You need to take advantage of the help that?s on the track in order to get to the front. The car at Talladega didn?t suck up that good, and I lost the lead draft early and never got it back. That?s what I mean about adapting to the set-up and feeling things out and then making a run if you can.?

With the starting field established by reversal of the previous IROC race finish, Newman will start Saturday?s 100-mile race from the sixth position.

?I started from the pole at Talladega and that didn?t get me a win, so starting sixth isn?t that bad,? said Newman. ?It?s right in the middle, so I should be able to hook up with someone early and make a run to the front. I enjoy racing at Chicago, so it should be a fun day and some extra seat time for Sunday?s race.

?I liked the idea that I got to start from the pole, but I didn?t particularly care for the reason I got to,? said Newman who is 10th in the IROC point standings. ?I hate that I haven?t won yet. Heck, I haven?t even had a finish I?m proud of. I?d like to finish the year with some sort of respectable stats. Chicago might be the place for me to get an IROC win. I love the track and have been looking forward to another race there ? now I get two in one weekend.?

Saturday?s third of four 2003 True Value IROC Series races will be taped and aired that same day at 9:00 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN.

Click here for more information about the Saturday, July 12 IROC race at Chicagoland Speedway.

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