Dave Steele took pole position for tomorrow's 25 lap USAC National/Western Midget Car Series Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway. His time of 26.049 seconds shattered the previous Midget qualifying record of 26.436 seconds, set...
Dave Steele took pole position for tomorrow's 25 lap USAC National/Western Midget Car Series Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway. His time of 26.049 seconds shattered the previous Midget qualifying record of 26.436 seconds, set by Steele in 2002, when he also swept all the USAC events at the Copper Classic. He nipped J.J. Yeley for the pole, bettering Yeley's 26.391 seconds.
Steele was surprised by the speed.
"Somebody told me he (Yeley) went out and put up that 26.1," Steele said. "I thought they were pulling my leg. I still didn't believe what that time was until they told me mine. Then I figured maybe he did run that."
Steele's speed comes in the face of changes: building a new team, and changes in the tire rules.
"We had a pretty busy winter, putting together a new team. We're pretty happy right out of the box - so far so good. But it's not just qualifying. The big deal is the race.
"We have a different tire deal this year. USAC outlawed the tire bleeders. Part of some inconsistencies before were due to the tire changing size. Everybody here is on a level playing field. We don't have the bleeders to relieve air in the tires as they get hot.
"Three and four lap runs are one thing, but going 25 laps will be new to everyone without the bleeders. So far, we've been pretty consistent. We'll see what happens in the long run."
J.J. Yeley, last year's pole sitter, almost had the top spot.
"I'd have liked to be on pole again," Yeley said, "but I made a mistake my first lap, and got the car a little bit loose. Midgets at this place are all momentum. I just cut too much speed and definitely hurt me on my second lap. But last year we sat on the pole, and it didn't do us any good for the race. We're looking forward to it. The car has been great. Hopefully it will stick behind me for 25 laps."
Yeley has cut back his open wheeler activity as his stock car career develops, and this is his first time back in a midget since the Chile Bowl. "It's easy to see how we were a little squirrelly in the midget," he said. "We were still fast, but after driving stock cars and the different steering ratios, it was a little bit of an adjustment getting back to the midgets. But the guys got the car working the best we've ever had here at PIR, and I'm looking forward to the race."
Third fastest qualifier was Bobby East, at 26.391, also under Steele's 2002 record. lap qualifying race at 1:45 PM local time tomorrow.
The 25 lap Copper World Classic Midget race will take the green at 4:00 PM local time tomorrow.