Showing posts with label Phoenix Copper Cup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phoenix Copper Cup. Show all posts

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Santos Goes Back-To-Back In Phoenix Silver Crown Opener

#63 Kody Swanson and eventual winner #22 Bobby Santos battle for the lead
during Saturday's "Phoenix Copper Cup" at ISM Raceway
(Photo Courtesy Al Steinberg)

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Phoenix, Arizona.........Each year, it seems the ongoing tug-of-war for pavement supremacy on the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car circuit is waged between Bobby Santos and Kody Swanson.

In the 2018 season opener, the duo once again picked up right where they left off in a memorable stop at the tri-oval of ISM Raceway where the two fought tooth-and-nail during a side-by-side battle that lasted two laps at speeds nearing 150mph with both never turning a single wheel in the wrong spot.

Although the starring roles remained unaltered on this day, a plot twist had Santos trying to overcome a turbulent beginning in which he dropped to the tail of the field following an early-race pit stop.

Santos' precision was downright surgical as he rose up the scoring pylon, ultimately surging ahead on the inside of Swanson on lap 80, then rocketed away during the final laps to score his second-straight "Phoenix Copper Cup" victory.

Santos, of Franklin, Mass., became the first to capture a Phoenix Silver Crown victory in consecutive years since Dave Steele won five in a row between 2002 and 2006, something that doesn't stray too far from Santos' mind when he competes here in the Valley of the Sun.

"It's right up there," Santos exclaimed. "To win back-to-back is really cool. Although, for a minute there, I didn't expect to be sitting here. We had a good car all day today, but we kind of missed (the setup) at the start of the race. This means a lot. One of my idols is Dave Steele. He owned this place. I feel like he's pushing me a little bit."

Santos' early trouble commenced as he pushed up the racetrack between turns one and two on multiple occasions early in the going, dropping him from his second starting position to 10th by lap ten. Following a caution for a Kyle Robbins turn one spin on lap 17, Santos' crew chief and father, Bob, made the decision to pull him into pit lane for a few adjustments that seemed to do the trick.

Although Santos would have his work cut out for him, restarting 16th on the lap 22 restart with quite a few heavy-hitters serving as the rabbits that Santos would have to chase down, including a strong Kyle Hamilton who led a race-high 54 laps, plus Chris Windom, Swanson, David Byrne and Justin Grant. Meanwhile, Santos was lurking just behind in sixth by the midway point.

On lap 53, Windom got caught behind the lapped car of Breidinger toward the end of the back stretch. Windom dove low, flat lining his momentum while Swanson and Byrne chose the high road to cruise past them all to take second and third, respectively.

On lap 66, Hamilton was seemingly in control in his first series start since the 2015 season. Yet, exiting turn four, the pack freight-trained him on the inside as Hamilton slowed dramatically, eventually coming to a rest on the back stretch to prompt a yellow flag.

Thirty laps remained on the restart, leaving a full-out sprint to the finish. Running fourth, Santos quickly disposed of Windom on lap 73 with an inside move in turn three. Two laps later, Santos said adios to Byrne as he bagged second with just a quarter of the race remaining.

Patience was not in the cards at this moment as Santos immediately caught Swanson and pressurized the three-time series champ, putting them nose-to-tail just inches apart. Santos then dove to the inside of Swanson moments later, engaging in a full two-lap, clean, Ben Hur-style wheel-to-wheel war that Santos emerged victorious with on lap 80.

"Racing side-by-side at a place like this is really cool and lot of fun," Santos explained. "You never know what (Kody) has left. Last year, Kody made a late-race charge and, in another couple laps, he could've beat us. I had that in the back of my mind that, at that point, I needed to get past him and get away from him. Racing here, I've never had to try so hard and be so up-on-the-wheel for 100 laps. Ten years ago, I used to ride for 50 and race for 50. Now we're racing for 100."

From there, Santos had but a few lappers to overcome as a cloud of attrition cast itself over a few of the front runners in the final laps, including Windom and Byrne. But that cloud dissipated for Santos over the 100-miler, as he pulled away for a commanding victory over Swanson, Grant, Eric Gordon and hard charger/top Rookie finisher Cody Gerhardt.

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USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: April 6-7, 2018 - Phoenix, Arizona - ISM Raceway - "Phoenix Copper Cup"

QUALIFYING: (Held April 6) 1. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-25.326; 2. Bobby Santos, 22, DJ Racing-25.363; 3. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-25.438; 4. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-25.550; 5. Kyle Hamilton, 6, Klatt-25.623; 6. Chris Windom, 17, Nolen-25.653; 7. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-25.836; 8. Eric Gordon, 21, Armstrong-25.893; 9. Jerry Coons Jr., 20, Nolen-25.986; 10. Austin Nemire, 16, Nemire/Lesko-26.012; 11. A.J. Russell, 3, Finkenbinder-26.384; 12. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott/Gorman-26.569; 13. Cody Gerhardt, 60, Gerhardt-27.450; 14. Bill Rose, 66, Rose-27.466; 15. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR Racing-27.476; 16. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-27.624; 17. Toni Breidinger, 80, Breidinger-27.914; 18. Jesse Dunham, 126, Pierce-28.262.

FEATURE: (100 laps - Held April 7) 1. Bobby Santos, 2. Kody Swanson, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Eric Gordon, 5. Cody Gerhardt, 6. Travis Welpott, 7. David Byrne, 8. Chris Windom, 9. Matt Goodnight, 10. Aaron Pierce, 11. Kyle Hamilton, 12. Bill Rose, 13. Jesse Dunham, 14. Toni Breidinger, 15. Austin Nemire, 16. A.J. Russell, 17. Jerry Coons Jr., 18. Kyle Robbins. 58:07.875
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FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-11 Byrne, Laps 12-65 Hamilton, Laps 66-79 Swanson, Laps 80-100 Santos.

KSE RACING PRODUCTS HARD CHARGER AWARD: Cody Gerhardt (13th to 5th)

WILWOOD BRAKES 13TH PLACE FINISHER: Jesse Dunham

NEW USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Santos & Swanson-70, 3-Grant-64, 4-Gordon-51, 5-Gerhardt-48, 6-Welpott-45, 7-Byrne-42, 8-Windom-39, 9-Goodnight-36, 10-Hamilton-34.

NEXT USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP RACE April 29 - Terre Haute, IN - Terre Haute Action Track - "Sumar Classic"

Friday, April 6, 2018

Swanson Wins The Pole For Saturday's Phoenix Copper Cup



Phoenix, Arizona.........Kody Swanson set the mark in Friday's qualifying session to capture the pole position for Saturday's "Phoenix Copper Cup" USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series event at ISM Raceway.

Swanson, of Kingsburg, California, was the last car to make a qualifying attempt when he laid down the fastest lap of the session, defeating 2017 race winner Bobby Santos by just a tick under four-hundredths of a second with a lap of 25.326 seconds/142.146 mph around the one-mile tri-oval. Swanson's lap was just nine-thousandths of a second off the track's one-lap Silver Crown record of 25.317 seconds, set by the late Dave Steele in 2004.

Swanson, the three-time Silver Crown champion, has 19 career series victories (2nd all-time), but is eying his first win at Phoenix. In his last two visits to the track in 2009 and 2017, Swanson finished in the runner-up position.

Swanson will be joined on the front row by Santos of Franklin, Mass. In the ensuing rows lie Aaron Pierce (Muncie, Ind.), David Byrne (Shullsburg, Wis.), Kyle Hamilton (Danville, Ind.) and Chris Windom (Canton, Ill.) who occupy the first three rows for the 100-mile event.

Saturday's race begins at 3:15pm Pacific. Download the USAC app to listen to all the action live from the track's public address system and the voices of Pat Sullivan and Dean Strom.

Saturday's full docket is as follows: 1pm: Silver Crown Drivers Meeting. 1:55-2:05pm: Silver Crown Shake Down. 2:05-2:15pm: Silver Crown to Pit Road. 3:15pm: "Phoenix Copper Cup" 100-mile Silver Crown Race.

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USAC SILVER CROWN CHAMP CAR SERIES QUALIFYING RESULTS: April 6, 2018 - Phoenix, Arizona - ISM Raceway - "Phoenix Copper Cup"

QUALIFYING: 1. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-25.326; 2. Bobby Santos, 22, DJ-25.363; 3. Aaron Pierce, 26, Pierce-25.438; 4. David Byrne, 40, Byrne-25.550; 5. Kyle Hamilton, 6, Klatt-25.623; 6. Chris Windom, 17, Nolen-25.653; 7. Justin Grant, 91, Hemelgarn-25.836; 8. Eric Gordon, 21, Armstrong-25.893; 9. Jerry Coons, Jr., 20, Nolen-25.986; 10. Austin Nemire, 16, Nemire/Lesko-26.012; 11. A.J. Russell, 3, Finkenbinder-26.384; 12. Travis Welpott, 18, Welpott/Gorman-26.569; 13. Cody Gerhardt, 60, Gerhardt-27.450; 14. Bill Rose, 66, Rose-27.466; 15. Kyle Robbins, 7, KR-27.476; 16. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-27.624; 17. Toni Breidinger, 80, Breidinger-27.914; 18. Jesse Dunham, 126, Pierce-28.262

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Phoenix Copper Cup Race Preview

Photo Courtesy Al Steinburg

By: Richie Murray - USAC Media

Phoenix, Arizona.........With cold weather blanketing many parts of the U.S.A., the warm climes and picturesque scenes of Arizona are always a welcome sight for sore eyes, especially for the teams of the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, which begin its 2018 season at the newly-renamed ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway) this Friday and Saturday, April 6-7.

Practice and qualifying is set to take place on the one-mile tri-oval on Friday while the 100-mile finale is schedule for Saturday afternoon.

One year ago, it was Franklin, Massachusetts' Bobby Santos sweeping the pole and the race victory in his DJ Racing No. 22, becoming the first driver from the Northeast to capture a Silver Crown event at Phoenix in 23 runnings. In fact, 15 different winners have celebrated Silver Crown wins at Phoenix since the series' debut at the track in 1987. The only driver in this year's field who can claim that right is Santos.

Kingsburg, California's Kody Swanson finished second in last year's race following a late surge to the front. Phoenix remains elusive to the three-time series champ thus far. He's finished in the runner-up spot in his last two Phoenix Silver Crown outings in 2009 and 2017. He stands just four wins behind Jack Hewitt's Silver Crown record of 23 wins on the all-time list.

David Byrne of Shullsburg, Wisconsin led a race-high 69 laps during the 2017 contest. He aims to become the first driver from Wisconsin to win a USAC-sanctioned event at Phoenix since Stan Fox captured the Midget portion of the 1993 "Copper World Classic." The native Badger, Byrne's homeland of Wisconsin is one of seven states represented in the field alongside Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio and Indiana, which has a race-high six drivers in this year's race lineup.

The home state of Arizona is represented by USAC Sands Chevrolet Southwest Sprint Car veteran Brent Yarnal of Phoenix, who will make his series debut when he hits the track for practice this Friday. Tucson's USAC Triple Crown champ Jerry Coons, Jr., who aims to make his 10th career Phoenix Silver Crown start this weekend, has 165 starts in the series, placing him fifth on the all-time rankings.

The only driver with more Silver Crown starts at Phoenix than Coons is Greenfield, Indiana's Eric Gordon who returns to the series after a six-year hiatus. The first of Gordon's 12 Phoenix starts came all the way back in 1990! His best finish in the "Valley of the Sun" came the following year in 1991 when he grabbed second-place honors behind winner Jeff Gordon, no relation.

Chris Windom, the 2016 Silver Crown champion, and Justin Grant had less-than-desirable conclusions in last year's "Phoenix Copper Cup." Windom, of Canton, Illinois, escaped serious injury after pounding the backstretch wall in Friday practice. He returned to the track the following day, jumping into the car of fellow driver Patrick Lawson, which he moved up steadily through the field before the car went up in smoke. Ione, California's Grant met a similar fate as Windom, ending his afternoon against the SAFER barrier between turns three and four.

Like Windom and Grant, Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Indiana is a Silver Crown race winner and is, in fact, the driver who recorded the fastest official lap in Silver Crown competition during the 2006 season with a lap speed of 175.012mph at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.

Hillsborough, California's Toni Breidinger is the lone female and the youngest driver in the field at age 18 as she returns to the spot where she made her series debut a year ago, finishing eighth. She is one of nine drivers from last year's starting field returning to competition for 2018, including Byrne, Coons, Grant, Pierce, Santos, Swanson, Windom and Clovis, California's A.J. Russell, who finished one spot behind Breidinger in ninth at the 2017 race.

Seven drivers are making their Phoenix Silver Crown debuts, including Yarnal, Cody Gerhardt of Fresno, California, Matt Goodnight of Winchester, Indiana, Kyle Hamilton of Danville, Indiana, Austin Nemire of Sylvania, Ohio, Kyle Robbins of New Castle, Indiana and Pendleton, Indiana's Travis Welpott.

Bill Rose, a two-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car winner is the most "experienced" driver in the field at age 53 as he plans to make his first Phoenix Silver Crown start since a 24th place run in 1992!

Daily Schedule:
FRIDAY, APRIL 6: 10am: Silver Crown Drivers Meeting. 11-11:30am: Silver Crown to Pit Road. 11:30am-12:30pm: Silver Crown Practice #1. 12:45pm-1:15pm: Silver Crown Practice #2. 2:15-2:45pm: Silver Crown Autograph Session. 4:15pm: Silver Crown Qualifying.

SATURDAY, APRIL 7: 1pm: Silver Crown Drivers Meeting. 1:55-2:05pm: Silver Crown Shake Down. 2:05-2:15pm: Silver Crown to Pit Road. 3:15pm: "Phoenix Copper Cup" 100-mile Silver Crown Race.

Media:
Listen LIVE on the USAC app or following along on USAC's social media pages: USAC Racing on Facebook and @usacnation on Twitter and Instagram. Watch the full race on-demand within a day after the event is run at http://www.Loudpedal.TV/.

Entry List:
# / DRIVER / HOMETOWN / TEAM
3 A.J. RUSSELL/Clovis, CA (Ted Finkenbinder)
6 KYLE HAMILTON/Danville, IN (Klatt Enterprises)
7 KYLE ROBBINS/New Castle, IN (KR Racing)
16 AUSTIN NEMIRE/Sylvania, OH (Nemire-Lesko Racing)
17 CHRIS WINDOM/Canton, IL (Gene Nolen Racing)
20 JERRY COONS, JR./Tucson, AZ (Gene Nolen Racing)
21 ERIC GORDON/Greenfield, IN (Armstrong Racing)
22 BOBBY SANTOS/Franklin, MA (DJ Racing)
26 AARON PIERCE/Muncie, IN (Sam Pierce)
29 BRENT YARNAL/Phoenix, AZ (Yarnal Racing)
39 MATT GOODNIGHT/Winchester, IN (Goodnight Racing)
40 DAVID BYRNE/Shullsburg, WI (Byrne Racing)
60 CODY GERHARDT/Fresno, CA (Cody Gerhardt)
63 KODY SWANSON/Kingsburg, CA (DePalma Motorsports)
66 BILL ROSE/Plainfield, IN (Bill Rose Racing)
80 TONI BREIDINGER/Hillsborough, CA (Breidinger Motorsports)
91 JUSTIN GRANT/Ione, CA (Hemelgarn Racing)
118 TRAVIS WELPOTT/Pendleton, IN (Welpott Racing)