Phoenix: Season opener preview

East, Steele Headline "Copper World" Midget Field Defending USAC National Midget Car Champion Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind. and track record holder Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. headline the list of preliminary entries for this ...

East, Steele Headline "Copper World" Midget Field

Defending USAC National Midget Car Champion Bobby East of Brownsburg, Ind. and track record holder Dave Steele of Tampa, Fla. headline the list of preliminary entries for this weekend's 28th "Copper World Classic" Fast Signs Southwest 25 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.

East ran away with last year's National Midget title, scoring seven victories on his way to the championship, while Steele established the 1-lap track qualifying record at PIR at 138.201 mph. In last year's 25-mile feature, Steele led as late as lap 23 but succumbed to J.J. Yeley on the white-flag lap and had to settle for second.

Yeley, of Phoenix, returns this year to defend his race title and must contend with not only Steele and East, but a host of other top drivers. Former USAC Western Midget Champs Robby Flock, Steve Paden, Danny Ebberts and Jay Drake, who won USAC's 2004 National Sprint Car title, are all in the field, along with 2004 USAC National Midget "Rookie of the Year" Todd Beach and "Most Improved Driver" Davey Ray. Additional challengers include former USAC "Rookie of the Year" Aaron Fike and 2005 "Chili Bowl" Midget Champion Tracy Hines.

East, who was named to the 2004 AARWBA All-America First Team, hopes to pick up where he left off last year. He won the "Turkey Night Grand Prix" finale at Irwindale, Calif. and beat series runner-up Josh Wise by a whopping 472 points, the largest margin of victory in series history!

This weekend's 28th Annual "Copper World Classic" features not only the "Fast Signs Southwest 25" USAC National/Western Midget Car 25-mile feature but the "Fast Signs Southwest 100" Weld Racing Silver Crown feature, and two NASCAR stock car races, all on Sunday, following prelims on Saturday at the Desert Mile.

Saturday's timetable includes USAC practice between 8:30 and 11:30 am and USAC qualifying starting at 3:05 pm. A 15-mile Weld Racing Silver Crown "qualifying race" is the final track activity Saturday. On Sunday, the USAC warm-up sessions begin at 9:30 am. The USAC "Fast Signs Southwest 25" National/Western Midget race gets the green flag at noon, followed by a 75-lap NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series race, the "Fast Signs Southwest 100" USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown race and finally the NASCAR Grand National Division, West 100-miler.

--USAC--

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Series USAC
Drivers J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Dave Steele , Aaron Fike , Jay Drake , Bobby East , Steve Paden , Josh Wise , Davey Ray , Todd Beach , Robby Flock