left.gif (848 bytes) main.gif (882 bytes)
News The Earnhardt Connection
Text links are located at the bottom of the page.

Earnhardts, Burton fill out IROC field
NASCAR Online - '99 News

TINTON FALLS, N.J. (Jan. 27, 1999)  The Earnhardts -- father Dale and son Dale Jr. -- and rising NASCAR Winston Cup Series star Jeff Burton were named Wednesday to complete the 12-man roster for the 1999 True Value International Race of Champions (IROC).

CART FedEx Championship Series driver Adrian Fernandez of Mexico was tapped as well, completing a group that consists of seven NASCAR drivers and five drivers from the North America's two premier open-wheel series.

IROC XXIII will begin with a 100-mile, 40-lap event on Friday, Feb. 12, at Daytona International Speedway. The event will be run in conjunction with the Discount Auto Parts 200 presented by ACDelco Rapidfire, the season opener for the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring. Both events are part of Speedweeks, the two-week festival of speed that leads up to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500.

The opening race will mark the first time that seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt and his son, the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division titlist, will compete against each other in the United States. They previously met in last November's exhibition race in Japan, the '98 NASCAR Thunder Special Motegi - Coca-Cola 500.

The 1999 True Value IROC will challenge 12 of the world's best drivers -- four-time and defending IROC champion Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Al Unser Jr., Dale Jarrett, Eddie Cheever Jr., Rusty Wallace, Greg Moore and Kenny Brack -- in a four-race series. The IROC cars are prepared as equally as humanly possible. All IROC race cars are equipped with Goodyear Eagle radial tires and specially finished with DuPont ChromaSystem colors.

The IROC series will continue April 24 at Talladega Superspeedway, June 11 at Michigan Speedway and Aug. 6 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt, the 1998 Daytona 500 winner, is a two-time IROC champion, winning the crown in 1990 and 1995. This will be the 15th time Earnhardt has appeared in the IROC series. The elder Earnhardt's championship legacy now is continuing in his role as a team owner. Dale Earnhardt Inc. teams won the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series title with Earnhardt Jr. and the 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship with Ron Hornaday.

Earnhardt Jr. will be a rookie in IROC, but he's making his debut after an impressive 1998 season in which he scored seven NASCAR Busch Series wins. But that wasn't all he accomplished. He also led the most laps (1488), the most races (18) and the most miles (1437.71) and won the most Bud Poles (three). Prior to 1998, Earnhardt Jr. made eight NASCAR Busch Series starts with only one top-10. He had primarily competed at several NASCAR Winston Racing Series facilities. He plans to stay in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1999, plus running five NASCAR Winston Cup Series events in preparation for a full schedule in that series in 2000 for his father's team.

Last year Burton was an IROC rookie, but by June he was a winner in the series, having won round three at Michigan. The South Boston, Va., native caught the racing bug watching his older brother and fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ward racing karts. Eventually, the younger Burton began racing and won two Virginia state kart championships. He advanced to short-track stock cars in the South Boston area and recorded 21 NASCAR Winston Racing Series wins. He moved up to the NASCAR Busch Series in 1989. After five successful seasons with four wins, 15 top-5 finishes and three Bud Poles, he moved up to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1994.

He notched his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory in 1997 at Texas Motor Speedway with follow-up wins at New Hampshire and Martinsville. Burton finished 1998 fifth in points with two victories, at Richmond and New Hampshire.

Fernandez is one of five drivers making his debut in IROC this year. Fernandez, a native of Mexico City, drove his first race at age 17 in the 24 hours of Mexico in 1982. He finished fourth in points in CART in 1998.