Phoenix: Season opener preview

Pollock Back To Defend Copper World Midget Title Aaron Pollock of Troy, Ohio scored a surprise victory in last year's "Copper World Classic" USAC National/Midget race at Phoenix International Raceway, but the surprise is now gone...

Pollock Back To Defend Copper World Midget Title

Aaron Pollock of Troy, Ohio scored a surprise victory in last year's "Copper World Classic" USAC National/Midget race at Phoenix International Raceway, but the surprise is now gone and he'll face a formidable challenge to repeat in this weekend's 25-miler.

Pollock only competed in four USAC National races last year but passed Michael Lewis six laps from the checkered flag and led the rest of the way to score his second USAC National victory. He had previously won at Winchester, Ind. in 2000. He'll pilot his father's Esslinger Engineering/Alisyn Lubricants Drinan/Esslinger in this weekend's event at the 1-mile paved oval.

Dan Drinan, who built Pollock's winning car, is also slated to compete in this weekend's event. He won the 1995 "Copper World" feature and has built at least three of this weekend's entered cars. Drew Fornoro, the multi-time Eastern Midget champion from Newton, N.J., is also entered in a Drinan machine. Danny still holds the 25-mile race record of 128.822 mph, which still stands as the fastest USAC Midget race ever run!

Defending USAC National Midget Champion J.J. Yeley and Western Midget Car Champion Steve Paden are among entries for this weekend's "Copper World" Midget event, along with two-time National Champion Dave Darland, former Western Midget Champs Danny Ebberts (2001), Wally Pankratz (2000) and Jay Drake (1996), plus 2003 Belleville Midget Nationals Champion Josh Wise (driving for Tony Stewart Racing), 2003 National Midget "Rookie of the Year" Ryan Durst, and 2003 Western Midget "Most Improved Driver Johnny Rodriguez.

USAC Midget practice is slated Thursday from 2-3:15 pm, followed by the "SpeedFest Drivers Party" at Tempe Beach Park, featuring an autograph session from 6-8 pm, open to the public.

Friday's Midget activity includes practice from 8:20-9 am and 12:40-1:10 pm and qualifying at 4:40 pm. A Midget warm-up on Saturday is scheduled from 1:15-1:30 pm, followed by the 10-mile Midget consolation race at 1:45. A 100-mile Infiniti Pro feature at 2:45 pm precedes the 4 pm start of the 25-mile USAC National/Western Midget Car main event.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Michael Lewis , Danny Ebberts , J.J. Yeley , Aaron Pollock , Jay Drake , Johnny Rodriguez , Dan Drinan , Steve Paden , Josh Wise , Wally Pankratz , Drew Fornoro , Ryan Durst