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Kenneth Dale Irwin Jr.
Born August 5, 1969(1969-08-05)
Hometown Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Died July 7, 2000 (aged 30)
Cause of death Racecar practice crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Awards 1993 USAC Sprint Car Rookie of the Year

1994 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year

1996 USAC National Midget Champion

1997 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year

1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series statistics
87 races run over 4 years
Best cup position 19th - 1999 (Winston Cup)
First race 1997 Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 (Richmond)
Last race 2000 Pepsi 400 (Daytona)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 12 3
NASCAR Nationwide Series statistics
First race 1999 Coca-Cola 300 (Texas)
Last race 2000 Carquest Auto Parts 300 (Charlotte)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 4 0
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series statistics
First race 1996 Chevrolet Desert Star 300 (Phoenix)
Last race 1998 GM Goodwrench/AC Delco 200 (Phoenix)
First win 1997 Florida Dodge Dealers 400K (Homestead)
Last win 1997 Pronto Auto Parts 400K (Texas)
Wins Top tens Poles
2 11 1

Kenneth Dale Irwin, Jr. (August 5, 1969 – July 7, 2000) was a NASCAR stock car driver. He had driven in all three major of forms of NASCAR and had two total victories. Before that, he raced in the United States Auto Club against Tony Stewart who was one of his fiercest rivals. He died as a result of injuries suffered in a crash during a practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Contents

Background

Irwin grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and was the 3rd youngest of four children. He began racing quarter-midgets before he was in the second grade. He graduated from Lawrence North High School in 1988 where he played varsity soccer, while continuing his career as a driver. Between 1988 and 1991, he raced for his father in the IMSA American Challenge stock car series, all while he was still a teenager.

Irwin then went on to race in USAC. He began open wheel racing in 1991. He had 7 career USAC Sprint Car Series wins, and was the series Rookie of the Year in 1993. In 1994 he was the USAC Silver Crown Series Rookie of the Year and finished second in the 1995 USAC standings. In 1996 he was the USAC National Midget Series champ. After his successful run in USAC, many open-wheel enthusiasts began comparing him to NASCAR's Jeff Gordon.[citation needed]

NASCAR

Irwin began his NASCAR career in the Craftsman Truck Series. He made his debut in that series in 1996 at Phoenix International Raceway, driving the #26 Ford F-150 for MB Motorsports. He started and finished 32nd after an engine failure. In his second start at Richmond International Raceway, he won the pole in the #62 Raybestos Ford and finished fifth.

He moved up to drive full-time in 1997, driving the #98 Ford for Liberty Racing. He had 2 wins, 7 Top 5, and 10 Top 10 finishes that season, on his way to a 10th place finish in the final point standings. He also won Rookie of the Year honors that season. Irwin also made his debut in the Winston Cup Series in 1997 with David Blair Motorsports at Richmond. He qualified on the outside pole and led for twelve laps, finishing in eighth place. He ran three more races with Blair that season, qualifying no worse than eleventh.

He won the 1998 Rookie of the Year award in the Cup Series driving the Robert Yates Racing #28 Texaco car, replacing Ernie Irvan. Irwin started the 1998 season by winning the Automobile Racing Club of America race in Daytona in February in a car owned by Yates. During that season, he had one pole, 1 Top 5, and 4 Top 10 finishes on his way to a 28th place finish in the final points standings. In 1999 he had 2 poles, 2 Top 5 and 6 Top 10 finishes and finished 19th place finish in the final points standings.

Irwin made his Busch Series debut in 1999 driving the #11 Rayovac Ford Taurus owned by his teammate, Dale Jarrett, and NFL quarterback Brett Favre. He had two fifth-place finishes in five starts, at Texas Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway, respectively.

He is also known for one incident where he bumped into USAC rival Tony Stewart's car into the wall in the Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Stewart exited his wrecked car and tried to enter Irwin's car as it was driving under the caution flag in a show of displeasure.

In 2000, he moved to Team SABCO to drive the #42 BellSouth car. He had a single Top 10 finish, 4th at Talladega Superspeedway, in his first 17 races. He made nine starts in the Busch Series for SABCO as well, finishing ninth at Talladega.

Death

During practice for the New England 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he slammed head on into the wall, causing his car to flip onto its side. According to fellow driver Brett Bodine speaking to CNN, the car slid along its side for a long time before rolling on its roof. Irwin likely died instantly of a basilar skull fracture. Fellow Indiana native (and rival) Tony Stewart would win the race that Sunday, and donate the trophy to Irwin's parents. [1]

Irwin's parents operate the Dare to Dream Children's Camp in New Castle, IN in his honor.

Quotes

  • "Everyone has been hoping to find the next Jeff Gordon, I think we found him"--owner David Blair after the season-ending race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

References

  1. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lG7yfdNarE CNN report on YouTube

External links

Preceded by
Mike Skinner
NASCAR Rookie of the Year
1998
Succeeded by
Tony Stewart
Preceded by
Rodney Orr
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Fatal Accidents
2000
Succeeded by
Dale Earnhardt
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Redirecting to Kenny Irwin, Jr.


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