Phoenix: Copper World Classic preview

Steele eyes Copper World repeat Sunday. Defending "Copper World Classic" Champion Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. hopes to repeat in this year's USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship Series opener at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway ...

Steele eyes Copper World repeat Sunday.

Defending "Copper World Classic" Champion Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. hopes to repeat in this year's USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Championship Series opener at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway Sunday.

Steele is one of many drivers with Indy Racing League starts or tests under their belt slated to compete in this weekend's Silver Crown activities at the 1-mile oval. Practice is slated Thursday and Friday, with qualifying Saturday and the 100-mile race starts at 11:30 am Sunday.

Steele established the all-time qualifying speed record for Silver Crown cars in 2001 at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, Mo (143.967 mph) and holds the 1-lap Phoenix track mark of 141.459 mph set last year. He has six Silver Crown wins to his credit, including wins last year at Phoenix and Richmond, Va.

Joining him in the entry list for the Phoenix Silver Crown opener are IRL veterans Jimmy Kite, J.J. Yeley, Brian Tyler and Tyce Carlson, plus Infiniti Pro vets Ed Carpenter and Aaron Fike. Former Copper World Classic Silver Crown Champions already entered include Steele (2002), Paul White (2001), Tyler (1999) and Kite (1997). White holds the 100-mile Phoenix race record of 90.818 mph set in 2001.

USAC drivers will join IRL and Infiniti Pro drivers for the Tempe Speedfest presented by PIR on Thursday night from 5-9:30 pm to kickoff the Copper World weekend. The function, at Tempe Beach Park, will include a driver autograph session, live entertainment, interactive games, a memorabilia auction and more.

A pole for Steele at Phoenix would tie him with Rich Vogler for third on the all-time USAC Silver Crown list with 10, behind Jimmy Sills (21) and Chuck Gurney (11).

Practice on Thursday, Friday and Saturday precedes Silver Crown qualifying at 10:45 am Saturday. A 15-mile Silver Crown qualifying race gets under way at 4:45 pm and Sunday's 11:30 am 100-mile Silver Crown race precedes the Purex/Dial Indy 200 IRL feature. Speed Channel will air Sunday's race at 9 pm on Thursday, March 27.

-USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Jimmy Kite , Tyce Carlson , J.J. Yeley , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , Aaron Fike , Paul White , Jimmy Sills , Ed Carpenter