USSS Firebird I race recap

PHOENIX, Arizona -- With temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, Ken Petrie blazed to his fifth win of the season in the United States Speedway Series Firebird Indy Car Grand Prix, Sunday at Firebird International Raceway. The Parker,...

PHOENIX, Arizona -- With temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, Ken Petrie blazed to his fifth win of the season in the United States Speedway Series Firebird Indy Car Grand Prix, Sunday at Firebird International Raceway.

The Parker, Colorado driver first set a blistering pace on the 1.6-mile Firebird track in qualifying for his sixth pole this year in his Precision Industries March-Chevrolet. Yet when the green flag dropped, it was Phoenix' own Phil Erickson that scorched the start from the outside of the front row to take the early lead in his Erickson Companies Lola-Buick.

Petrie turned up the heat, though, as they fought back and forth through the track's twisting turns, leaving Erickson to settle for second-place, his third such finish of the season.

"Phil really did a good job on the start. I spun my tires and he took off cleanly, but I wasn't going to let him get away from me," said Petrie, "But it was my crew chief Arlon Koops that really won this one. The car was so easy to drive and the set-up was perfect right out of the trailer."

It was a three-way battle for third through much of the race, between John McDonald (Winchester, California), Eric Koselke (Indianapolis, Indiana), and Russell Reeves (Suwanee, Georgia). Each lap, the trio would drag race down the long front straightaway and fight for the first turn.

On lap 14, Reeves was finally able to take the position in his Precision Shooting Equipment Lola-Buick and he drove on to claim his first Indy Car podium finish. That is a spot Koselke would love to take, as he racked up yet another fourth-place finish in his Lennon & Associates Lola-Chevrolet.

Ted Hummell (Castle Rock, Colorado) brought his Jaguar Denver March-Chevrolet home in fifth, after McDonald was forced to retire in sixth, with a mechanical problem.

Greg Gorden (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Mark Swigart (Ridgecrest, California), and Mike Lee (Florissant, Colorado) were unable to start the race due to engine and gearbox troubles.

Petrie widened his lead in the 2001 USSS Driver Championship. He is now 29 points ahead of Erickson, with a total of 137 points.

The United States Speedway Series Indy cars next return to Pikes Peak International Raceway, October 14 for the "Spirit of America USSS Indy Car Grand Prix" and then come back to Phoenix on the Thanksgiving weekend for the season-capping "Thanks to America USSS Indy Car Grand Prix", November 25. Both will be held in conjunction with the National Auto Sport Association.

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Eric Koselke