Dave Steele dominated tonight's Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Silver Crown Series race at Richmond International Raceway, starting from the pole and leading every lap. He took command at the green, and was never challenged on any of the race's...
Dave Steele dominated tonight's Richmond Times-Dispatch 100 USAC Silver Crown Series race at Richmond International Raceway, starting from the pole and leading every lap. He took command at the green, and was never challenged on any of the race's four restarts. Not only was this his third win in the past four years at the 3/4 mile Strawberry Hill trioval, but he has never finished out of the top ten and has now led 350 of all 768 Silver Crown laps run here.
"Winning never gets old," Steele said. "It's still hard to get a win. This time I had a small part to play. The car was great ever since we unloaded this weekend. Everybody on the crew did a good job. The car was good for 100 laps - that's what it takes. We ran here back in the late 1990s. Right off the bat it was one of my favorite tracks. When we see it coming up in the schedule we're pretty excited about it."
"It was pretty much car today," the pavement ace continued. "I was just along for the ride. Bob East is a great setup guy and great to have on your team. When you pair him up with Ed Pink with his engines under the hood - Ford power plant - it's just a tough combination. So I'm just excited to be able to drive that car."
Steele was followed home by Brian Tyler, who started third, and Michael Lewis, who started in back in eleventh. Neither one had as clear a run as Steele.
"My car was good in the beginning," Tyler said, "but as the race went on the car got looser and looser and looser. I got a bunch of knobs in there where I can jack weight around. I turned everything in there in all directions and never really got it together.
"Hoosier makes a pretty hard tire here - you might call it a hockey puck - but it's hard to get a car to hook up and make that hard tire work. We missed it just a little bit.
"I love racing at Richmond," Brian continued. "Usually it's two and three lanes out there. Today it seemed like it was a lane and a half wide. It was a little bit tough to pass. You kind of had to root a guy up off the bottom a little bit, get underneath him, and kind of get him out in the grey in order to drive by. A couple of restarts helped me more than anything. I was able to get under somebody, kind of root him out of the way getting into one. I picked up two or three spots that way.
"But I'll take second. We're chasing the points this year. You've got to be consistent to win a championship."
Michael Lewis was tonight's passing ace, moving up eight positions in a first class field while working on his car's handling.
"We started the race off really loose," Lewis said, "and like, man, it normally don't get better. Like Brian, I had knobs in the car - but they actually did something. I was able to adjust the car.
"Like Brian said the track was really narrow today. But I was able to get a lot of guys going into one. I'd get a run on them coming out of four, and shoot under them at the last minute and slide under and take the line away. It was very cool."
Michael worked his way forward from his sixth-row start, using his patented Turn 1 move and taking advantage of restarts. He reached fourth place after a restart on Lap 93, then set his sights on third place Bud Kaeding. Three laps later he took Kaeding - underneath in Turn 1, of course - but the yellow came out when Eric Gordon hit the Turn 1 wall seconds later. The pass did not count.
USAC Silver Crown rules specify that the final five laps will be run under green. The lap counter was reset to 95, and Lewis lined up in fourth, behind Kaeding. Michael stalked Bud for three laps, and made his moves during the final two laps of the race.
"After caution, he moved his line down a little bit," Michael explained as he retold the final shootout, "and I got beside him going into one. "On the next lap he kind of moved up a little bit on the straightaway and gave me a shot to get under him and that's all it took."
Bobby East's bad luck for the weekend continued tonight. Last night he finished first in the sixty lap USAC National Sprint Car race, dominating the event, but was disqualified when his car was underweight in post-race tech inspection. The missing weight was the cooling water he lost from a hot-running engine. Tonight he started on the outside pole and ran a solid second behind his teammate for the first 80 laps, but his run ended after 87 laps when he tangled with the lapped car of Tom Hessert in Turn 4.
"There was a lapped car," East said, "and he should have gotten out of the way. All four wheels were above the groove all the way around. We were getting slower and slower, and I got my wheel up underneath him, and he turned down on it. I don't know if he forgot I was there or what."
"We got behind the ball in qualifying," said Hessert, who started 17th. "We came up a little bit there through the field. About half way the car was getting pretty loose. I think Bobby and I got together going into Turn 3. I think he got into my left rear and spun it out.
"We got lapped, and we were struggling. If one of the leaders shows me a nose, I don't race them hard. Bobby and I know each other well. He knows that if he had shown me something I would have gotten out of his way. I don't try to hold anybody up. If I'm on the lead lap, and I'm trying to lap cars, I expect them to do the same for me. It's just the way it goes."
Dave Steele now leads the USAC Silver Crown Series championship, with183 points. Brian Tyler and Josh Wise are tied for second with 168 points, and Bud Kaeding is close behind in fourth with 167 points.
The next USAC Silver Crown Series race will be at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, CO, on July 3.