Some have suggested that IROC is geared more toward NASCAR drivers because all the tracks are traditional Winston Cup venues. Cheever agrees.
“I think guys like me could be good if we had a race at a track with rights and lefts and starts and stops,” Cheever said. “And the IROC cars are similar to the ones the NASCAR guys race every weekend. That being said, my driving has improved because of being on the track with those guys.”
IROC is a stark contrast to what Cheever is accustomed to in open-wheel competition. In Indy-style racing, competitors don’t have to worry about drafting and simply hope to work their way to the front and stay there.
“In IROC, you have to have a drafting buddy,” Cheever said. “You can’t win a race if you’re by yourself on an oval. The biggest thing to get used to is driving a car with a roof on it and taking advantage of what you can learn from the guys who drive cars with roofs all the time.”
Meet the Drivers
Hometown: Trinity, N.C.
Drives Sprint Dodges for Petty Enterprises. Son of “The King,” Richard Petty, Kyle entered Winston Cup racing full-time in 1981, and has since won eight races, although he hasn’t visited Victory Lane since 1995.
A singer as well as a racer, he is now CEO of Petty Enterprises and sponsors the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, which benefits children’s charities.
‘Soft wall’ technology may be used at more tracks in the future
After successful trial runs at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in 2002, “soft wall” technology is now finding its way to other tracks across the country. More tracks on the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series circuits will use the technology this season.
SAFER is the brainchild of Dr. Dean Sicking of the University of Nebraska. After years of development, it was used for the first time at the 2002 Indianapolis 500.
At Talladega, the SAFER system has been installed on the inside retaining walls at the exit of turn 4 and the entrance of turn 1.
“We appreciate the efforts of Dr. Sicking’s group in helping us implement this system on the inside walls,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch. “Talladega will continue its ongoing commitment to safety improvements. We’re hopeful the technology will be available for the high-banked walls in the near future.”
At Indy, the SAFER system consists of foam pads at all four turns of the 2.5-mile track, thickened from 16 inches to around 26 inches. Basically, the SAFER system is four steel tubes welded in 20-foot sections and bolted to the concrete walls.