Carelli to return to track in Copper World Classic By Dave Rodman PHOENIX (Jan. 26, 2000) Rick Carelli, who was critically injured in an accident in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race last May at Memphis, will make his return to...
Carelli to return to track in Copper World Classic By Dave Rodman
PHOENIX (Jan. 26, 2000) Rick Carelli, who was critically injured in an accident in a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race last May at Memphis, will make his return to competition Feb. 6 in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring, event as part of the 23rd annual Copper World Classic presented by Bosch at Phoenix International Raceway.
Carelli is only the latest driver from one of NASCAR's top series to commit to the event. NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ken Schrader has already announced his intention to race in the Featherlite Southwest Series 50 presented by Penda Truck Accessories in a car from his own shop.
Fellow NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Kenny Irwin of Indianapolis will again "return to his roots" at Phoenix when he drives a No. 2 USAC open-wheel machine entered by Johnny Vance in the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series portion of the Copper Classic. Irwin will be teamed with NASCAR hopeful Ryan Newman of South Bend, Ind., in cars entered by Vance, a long-time Irwin ally.
The Copper World Classic is scheduled Feb. 4-6 at the "Desert Mile," with practice and qualifying for USAC Silver Bullet and Midget cars, Supermodifieds and the Featherlite Southwest Series stock cars preceding the feature events on Sunday, Feb. 6. Bud Pole Qualifying for the Featherlite Southwest Series cars is on Feb. 5 at 4 p.m. ET.
Carelli, of Arvada, Colo., will drive a No. 06 Arvada Excavating-RE/MAX Chevrolet entered by high school buddy Ed Belec of Lakewood, Colo. The pair will be teammates in Belec's cars.
"That's a race track I know so well -- I've raced the Copper Classic for so many years and I have always looked forward to it," Carelli said. "A friend of mine has two cars he's putting together and we're gonna go down there and have a blast."
Carelli isn't kidding. He won the 1991 Featherlite Southwest Series championship and the 1993 NASCAR Winston West Series championship. In the process he has scored four victories in Copper World Featherlite Southwest Series events. After winning in 1982, 1988 and 1996-97 he is the leader in an unofficial point table kept by track officials of career Copper World competitors. Ironically Schrader is second.
"Ever since I got hurt, Ed has said 'don't worry, you WILL run the Copper Classic,'" Carelli said. "Ed and I went to high school together and his equipment is excellent. He hasn't been to Phoenix in a long time but he ran at Pikes Peak last year and finished third. We've got engines from the guys who built the ones I won with in 1996 and 1997 so we're in good shape."
Carelli resumed testing trucks at the end of last year and has been hired by team owner Dale Phelon to drive his No. 66 Carlin Burners & Controls Fords in the 2000 season, which begins with the NCTS 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 18.
Carelli will compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevy Trucks NASCAR 150 at Phoenix on March 18. Following the recent NCTS test at Daytona, Carelli and his new team also tested at Lakeland, Fla. Carelli said the team also plans to test at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama before the season opener.