Lewis Notches Runner-Up Finish In Copper World Classic PHOENIX, Arz (January 24, 2006) - - Noblesville Indiana's Michael Lewis arrived in Phoenix International Raceway last weekend as one of the pre-race favorites for the 29th Annual "Copper...
Lewis Notches Runner-Up Finish In Copper World Classic
PHOENIX, Arz (January 24, 2006) - - Noblesville Indiana's Michael Lewis arrived in Phoenix International Raceway last weekend as one of the pre-race favorites for the 29th Annual "Copper World Classic" and for good reason, he's a previous champion of the event. Back in 2001, Lewis hailed to victory in one of the most competitive "Copper World Classics" on record, he was looking to recapture that crown last Sunday.
Early in the weekend, Michael proved to entire United States Auto Club why he was a threat for the event after setting the fast time during practice. "I'm really happy with the way the car is handling," Michael Lewis, who pilots the No. 40 for Western Speed Racing. "We have a great setup underneath the car and I think we have a definite shot at the pole."
The team opted not to make any adjustments to their machine heading into time trials, as they were confident they had enough for the pole position. In qualifying, Lewis turned a lap of 26.605 seconds good enough for third place behind fellow competitors and friends Dave Steele and Bobby East. "I think not making any adjustments really hurt us," explained Michael following the session. "Both Dave and Bobby picked up during their qualifying runs and that pretty much halted our efforts for a pole. Still, I am happy with where we qualified, and we'll just have to go out there and try to win the event."
After taking the green flag, Lewis quickly began his battle towards the lead. But, both Steele and East weren't going to give Michael an inch, keeping him at bay in third for most of the 25-lap feature.J
On lap 14, while leading Bobby East had a severe mechanical failure which sent his machine hard into the wall between turns three and four. With East's misfortunate Michael climbed to second.
On the restart, Michael tried to maneuver his way past Florida's Dave Steele, but even a couple of late race opportunities wouldn't be enough with Michael crossing the line second behind Steele. "The handling was a little off, but I just really didn't have anything for Dave. He was good. Congratulations to him on the victory. I guess if we couldn't win the thing, a second place isn't that bad. I want to thank my Western Speed Racing team for their hard efforts this weekend; we've started our season off in the right direction."
Michael's teammate Billy Wease finished sixth in his No. 80 Western Speed Racing machine after starting alongside Michael thanks to a solid fourth place qualifying effort.
Western Speed Racing, Performance Trailers, Go Fast Sports, Red Line Oil, Team ASE, Hoosier Tire, Esslinger Engineering, ASA Speed Truck Challenge, and Loy Loy Restaurant all served as sponsors on Lewis's No. 40 last weekend. "We had a good finish for our sponsors, and that's important," continued Lewis. "I'm sorry we couldn't get them into victory lane on Sunday, but to start off the season on the right foot is what leads to more victories and eventually wins championships, we'll be in victory lane plenty this season, I have a good feeling about it."
Exiting Phoenix International Raceway, Michael Lewis stands second overall in both USAC National Midget Car Series Standings and USAC Western Midget Car Series Standings just a mere five markers from leader Dave Steele. "It's really early in the season, but this was one of my best finishes in the Copper World Classic since 2001, so I think I'm ahead of the game heading into the next race," he said.
The National Midget Car Series is idle until May while the Western Midget Car Series resumes March 25 at the Bakersfield (California) Speedway.
Currently, Lewis plans to stay put in the USAC ranks while continuing to see if other racing opportunities fall in place. I would like to go back into the NASCAR Busch Series or join the ARCA RE/MAX Series this season," added Lewis. But, I don't have anything definite plans in the future, just people trying to help me get there. My main focus right now is here in the USAC series with Western Speed Racing, if something else develops we'll worry about it then. I have a job to do and that's what I plan on doing."