Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tony’s Top 10 At PIR \\ No. 3

Phoenix Raceway remembers 10 of Tony Stewart's top moments in the Valley of the Sun before he takes his last full-time ride around the desert oval on Nov. 13, 2016 in the Can-Am 500, Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Semi-Final Race.

In our third Tony Stewart moment, we look back at his first-ever win at Phoenix Raceway – dominating the 1997 Copper World Classic USAC Midget Race by leading 20 of the 25-lap race.

After making a name for himself in Phoenix with his first start and runner-up finish in 1993, Stewart would go on to win the Copper World Classic race after qualifying first and starting from the pole.
Stewart drove his Ford to Victory Lane on Feb. 2, 1997, solidifying his name in both the Copper World Classic and USAC racing history.

Starting from the coveted first position, Stewart ended the race in the same fashion, beating out fellow competitors Kenny Irwin, Billy Boat and Ryan Newman, among others.

The resident “youngster” at the time, Stewart went on to win a total of four USAC races in the Copper World Classic at Phoenix Raceway (1997, two races in 1998 and 2000).

After his special first win in the Copper World Classic Tony said, “It’s a long time overdue. We’ve been so close for so many years. To finally get it this year with all the bad luck we’ve had with INDYCAR so far this year, it’s great. I’ve got to thank Bob Ease and Steve Lewis with Performance Racing Industries, Ford, PIR, Hoosier Racing Tire, everyone. Everything was just perfect all weekend. I didn’t test this car – Kenny Irwin and Tracy Hines drove the cars in testing. The first time I sat in it was the day before qualifying, so everything just worked out really well. I just wanted to get out front and get away from everybody. You know, this place is so fast I figured if I could get in my own groove and my own pace that I’d be alright.”

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