Mario in surprise IROC test

US racing legend Mario Andretti made a surprise appearance in an International Race of Champions car in testing at Daytona on Tuesday

Mario in surprise IROC test

The 1978 world champion, who turns 65 later this month, was invited to take an impromptu run in the IROC stock car and duly lapped at a comparable pace to the NASCAR, IndyCar, sportscar and Champ Car stars who have been lined-up for this year's series.

"I really wanted to see what the latest cars are like," said Andretti. "It was awesome. They really, really drive well and this race will be loads of fun for the drivers."

Andretti, who beat Neil Bonnett, Cale Yarborough, Bobby Allison and Alan Jones to the 1979 IROC title, admitted that he headed for the Daytona pit lane in the hope of persuading IROC president Jay Signore to let him try out one of the cars.

"I arrived here today with the idea in my head that I would ask Jay to let me suit up and take a spin," he said. "Well, sure enough, good old Jay was ready to accommodate and he really made my day."

"It was a great treat to have Mario with us here today," said Signore. "We all got a big kick out of it, and I think Mario got a big kick out of it all too."

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