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IRVAN READY TO CALL IT QUITS

Winston Cup driver Ernie Irvan, who nearly died in a wreck five years ago and was injured again on the same Michigan track this month, is retiring from the Winston Cup circuit, sources close to the driver confirmed today.

Irvan scheduled a news conference today in Darlington, site of this weekend's Southern 500, to announce his retirement, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Irvan, 40, suffered head and lung injuries Aug. 20 in a practice session crash at Michigan Speedway. He spent several days in a Michigan hospital and has not returned to the wheel of his Pontiac since the accident.

Five years to the day before the most recent accident, Irvan had life-threatening injuries during a practice session at Michigan Speedway.

Irvan was hospitalized several weeks and made what many considered a miraculous recovery after being given a 10 percent chance of survival. He recovered, but missed 14 months of racing before returning to the circuit in October 1995.

Irvan has driven in the Winston Cup series since 1987, posting his first victory in 1990. He moved to Robert Yates Racing in 1993 and took over the No. 28 Ford following the death of driver Davey Allison.

He has won 15 times on the Winston Cup circuit.

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