CHAMPION TO BE CROWNED AT END OF"COPPER WORLD CLASSIC"
Defending"Copper World Classic" race champion Cameron Dodson of Greenfield, Ind. and USAC K & N Silver Crown Series point leaders Jerry Coons Jr. of Tucson, Ariz. and Dave Darland of Lincoln, Ind. are expected to grab the spotlight this Thursday when the 2008 series concludes at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway.
Dodson drives for NASCAR's Carl Edwards and Memphis businessman Roger Johnson, co-owners of his Ford/Red Line Oil C & R machine, and hopes to repeat the victory he scored a year ago in the 100-mile contest.
Coons and Darland are locked in a tight battle for the 2008 series title, only 20 points apart with 66 available Thursday. Third-ranking Brian Tyler of Parma, Mich. is also mathematically in the title hunt, 57 back of Coons.
Dodson passed J.J. Yeley with 17 laps remaining last year and the win vaulted him to sixth in the final standings and the series"Rookie of the Year" honors.
Thursday's field will be the strongest in the last three years at PIR, with NASCAR veterans Ryan Newman, Bobby East and Michael Annett entered, along with Indy Racing League and Indianapolis 500 vet Davey Hamilton.
Drivers will be aiming at Dave Steele's 1-lap track qualifying record of 142.197 mph, set in 2004. Steele also set the 100-mile race record of 105.760 mph that same year and until Dodson's victory last year Steele had swept five consecutive PIR Silver Crown checkered flags.