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Phoenix: Jimmy Kite Copper Classic preview

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Phoenix: Jimmy Kite Copper Classic preview
Mar 13, 2002, 11:45 PM

PHOENIX, Monday, March 11, 2002 - 1997 Silver Crown Copper World Classic winner Jimmy Kite will be returning to the site of his greatest driving triumph this week at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). Kite, 26, will rejoin the USAC Silver Crown ...

PHOENIX, Monday, March 11, 2002 - 1997 Silver Crown Copper World Classic winner Jimmy Kite will be returning to the site of his greatest driving triumph this week at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). Kite, 26, will rejoin the USAC Silver Crown division for the Copper World Classic with Aviator Motorsports. The return to Phoenix with Aviator marks the first Silver Crown race Kite has driven in two years. The three-time Indianapolis 500-starter will contest all the 2002 USAC Silver Crown pavement events in the #50.

"I am looking forward to getting back in a Silver Crown car out there," offered the 1997 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year. "I haven't gotten to run in the Copper World since I won the race. That race changed my life then so I am hoping to go back out and try that again. Being back with an experienced team that I have a relationship with should make the transition pretty smooth so I think we should be competitive pretty quickly. Phoenix has played a major part in nearly every milestone in my career lately. Maybe this weekend we can open some eyes and turn my luck around."

The 1998 Indianapolis 500 "fastest rookie qualifier" awed the crowd in his first, and only, Copper World Classic Silver Crown effort with a charge from the back of a star-studded field that culminated in a last turn pass on USAC-great Chuck Gurney for the win in 1997. Though he could not drink the champagne at his own victory celebration, Kite became an immediate fan favorite as he ran on foot all the way down the front-straightaway celebrating the biggest win, to-date, of his career. That determined and skilled drive caught the eye of several Indy Racing and stock car team owners and led to Kite's signing an IRL contract later that season.

"I drove with the Aviator guys some back in 2000 and the car was always good," Kite continued. "The new engine program they have and a few more years under all of our belts should be a strong combination. Phoenix has always been one of my favorite tracks and I am batting 1000 at the Copper World. I am not saying that we'll go out there and win but getting back into a Silver Crown car at that track makes a pretty good combination of events for me."

Kite began racing quarter-midgets at the age of eight and worked his way up through mini-sprints, USAC midgets, sprint cars and Silver Crown cars to the Indy Racing League. He is a five-time national champion in various open-wheel series with countless victories. He has a career total of 22 Indy Racing events and $1,232,000 in career IRL earnings.

-km-

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Series USAC
Drivers Jimmy Kite