Phoenix: Race report

Steele 3-Peats In Phoenix' "Copper World" 100-Miler Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. continued his dominance at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday with a wire-to-wire victory in the the 27th Annual "Copper World Classic", leading all...

Steele 3-Peats In Phoenix' "Copper World" 100-Miler

Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. continued his dominance at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday with a wire-to-wire victory in the the 27th Annual "Copper World Classic", leading all 100 laps in the USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series' opening event. It was his third consecutive victory in the event.

Steele, who started on the pole for the sixth Phoenix race in seven years, showed his power with his No. 9 Ford Power Stroke Diesel Beast/Ford at the start and on the restarts, pulling away and beating Tracy Hines to the checkered flags by 2.5 seconds. Chet Fillip equaled his best career finish with a third-place showing, and was followed by Aaron Pierce and Jason McCord. Pierce grabbed the race's hard charger award after starting 33rd, picking up 29 positions.

"Things went pretty well," Steele said after the race. "It wasn't easy. It was about as hard as it could get, especially there at the end. Car owner Bob East asked me what my strategy was. I just told him that I liked to lead, and we would try to stay out front.

"You know, the bad thing is that you don't know how hard to run," Steele continued. "You have to be careful not to overuse your stuff. If you run hard, then the guys behind you are going to run hard. It's kind of like a catch-22, which makes you run harder anyway. We just tried to set a pace without sliding the car, and that's what we did."

Steele set the pace but had to hold off Hines, who gained ground when the duo ran in traffic. But Steele was able to maneuver through traffic well enough to post a one-second advantage and built a lead that later reached three seconds.

"If a guy pulls out behind you to try to slingshot, you can almost feel it," Steele said. "I felt it a couple of times and said, 'Someone is getting ready to pass me.' But I just figured out that it was the wind, which was kind of a relief. We're just lucky the Ford Power Stroke Diesel went well on the restarts. That thing was good, and I think that was the key."

Steele won the pole at a record speed of 142.197 mph, pacing the one-mile facility in 25.317 seconds. Defending series champion J.J. Yeley fought Steele early in the event but succumbed to rear end problems, finishing 23rd.

John Heydenreich of Bloomsburg, Penn. won Saturday's 15-lap qualifying race. The 36-car field was the largest in series history at PIR and the total purse of $115,040 was an all-time series record.

WELD RACING USAC SILVER CROWN SERIES STANDINGS

1.-Dave Steele-66
2.-Tracy Hines-57
3.-Chet Fillip-54
4.-Andy Pierce-51
5.-Jason McCord-48
6.-Russ Gamester-45
7.-Michael Lewis-42
8.-Brian Tyler-39
9.-Carl Edwards-36
10.-Paul White-33

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Series USAC
Drivers Michael Lewis , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Brian Tyler , Carl Edwards , John Heydenreich , Chet Fillip , Russ Gamester , Paul White , Jason McCord , Aaron Pierce