Dave Steele took pole position for tomorrow's 100 mile USAC Weld Silver Crown Series Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway. This is the sixth time in seven years that Steele has headed the field. His time of 25.317 seconds is a...
Dave Steele took pole position for tomorrow's 100 mile USAC Weld Silver Crown Series Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway. This is the sixth time in seven years that Steele has headed the field. His time of 25.317 seconds is a new record, beating the old record of 25.449 seconds set by (who else?) Steele in 2002.
"We cut a pretty good lap," Steele said. "We got pretty much everything out of our car. I've got to thank Ford - that Ford engine's just real drivable. It makes good power in a smooth power band. I've got to thank my crew. They gave us a good car. But two laps is a lot different than 100, and we have 100 to do tomorrow. Hopefully we can stay up there."
Steele does know how to stay up there at PIR, having won the event in 2002 and 2003.
Tyler Walker qualified second fastest, at 25.468 seconds. This is the third start at Phoenix for Walker, who is still looking for his first Silver Crown win. "That's the best Silver Crown car I've ever felt, by far," he said. "I've go to thank Willy and Gary and all. If it feels as good as that when we get the motor running a little better then we should be pretty good."
Serenity is Tyler's philosophy for tomorrow. "It's about being patient and trying to beat these guys. I haven't done it yet and I've been trying for quite a while."
Starting among cagey veterans, his plan for the race is to "just eggshell it. Never get sideways, keep it straight the whole time, and be right there at the end. I haven't won yet, but I'm going to keep trying. I've been in position to win a couple of times. All the veterans I talk to tell me don't get the thing sideways, and calm down. I need to be told to calm down more than some guys. I have to be calm and relaxed - not overdrive it."
J.J. Yeley, last season's USAC triple crown winner, put in a solid run for third fastest, at 25.642 seconds. "It was pretty good," Yeley said. "We weren't that great in practice, but we didn't change anything on the race car. We just went for it in qualifying. We changed tires at the last second and unfortunately the left rear tire grew a bunch, and we didn't have enough stagger. The car got real tight. That definitely hurt my second lap. But being in the top three's not too bad. I would have liked to be on the pole. I screwed up yesterday (midget qualifying) and screwed up today, so hopefully I got that all out of my system for the midget race later and for tomorrow's race."
A modest issue for the accompanying Indy Racing events has been the mismatch between the rubber in the tires on their cars and on the USAC cars. While this affects the IRL and IPS cars, the Silver Crown and Midgets do not appear to be bothered.
"I don't think it affects us," Dave Steele commented. "I think the track might have gotten a little better later in the run during qualifying, and maybe it was due to getting some of their stuff off. In my opinion, I think people make more of that than there really is. There probably is something to the rubber mismatch, but I think it's usually overstated."
Thirty cars earned their positions in tomorrow's 36 car field by their qualifying times. The remaining positions will be filled by a 15 lap qualifying race to be held at 4:45 PM today. The 100 lap Silver Crown Copper Classic will take the green flag at 11:30 AM local time on Sunday.