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Posted on Thu, Jan. 20, 2005

Stellar IROC field set for 2005

By DAVID POOLE

The Charlotte Observer

Matt Kenseth, who won the 2004 International Race of Champions series title, will be joined by seven reigning series champions in competing in this year's four-race competition among drivers from various forms of racing.

Reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, who won the 2003 IROC title, will join 2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, NASCAR Truck champion Bobby Hamilton, NASCAR Busch champion Martin Truex Jr., World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser and Grand American Road Racing co-champions Max Papis and Scott Pruett in IROC this year.

Mark Martin, a four-time champion of the IROC series and a Roush Racing teammate of Kenseth and Busch in the Nextel Cup series, is the third Cup driver in this year's field. Martin is a four-time IROC champion who has won 11 races in the series in his career.

Buddy Rice, who won the 2004 Indianapolis 500, and Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner of that race, will join World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski, who won the IROC race at Richmond last year, in this year's 12-driver field.

"This is kind of like going to the go-kart track with your buddies," Kenseth said of IROC, in which the winning driver collects a $1 million first prize.

Papis said he has been after IROC series director Jay Signore for years about getting invited to participate.

"Jay said, 'Give me a call when you're a champion,'" so on the way to our banquet last year I called him up," Papis said. "This is racing with the best of the best."

This will be the 29th year for the IROC series. It will open with its 25th race at Daytona, on Feb. 18. The other races will be held at Texas Motor Speedway on April 15, Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 8 and Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 29.