Ryan Newman, whose 13 career USAC National Midget victories came on paved ovals, returns to USAC Midget racing Thursday at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway to compete in the 2007 "Copper World Classic."
Newman will pilot one of four cars entered by Keith Kunz Motorsports of Columbus, Ind. as a teammate to Bryan Clauson, Marc Jessup and Cameron Dodson in the program which includes a 25-mile feature for the Midgets on the 1-mile paved oval.
Thursday's race will be Newman's first in a USAC Midget since finishing third in a National race in July of 2006 at Columbus, Ohio, also driving for Keith Kunz and crew member Pete Willoughby. "I'm looking forward to having some fun Thursday," says Newman. "It's a nice coincidence that the Midgets are running there the same week as our NASCAR Nextel Cup Chase race. Maybe I can finally pick up a Phoenix victory. The Copper World is an important event and a win would be a nice addition to the resume."
Newman held the all-time USAC Midget qualifying record for nine years before Bobby Santos III eclipsed it last year at Iowa Speedway with a lap at 145.145 mph.
Newman, who finished second in the 1999 National standings behind Jason Leffler, last competed in the "Copper World Classic" in 2000, winning the pole and finishing second to race winner Tony Stewart. His last USAC National victory came in 2000 in a Midget at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.
USAC's 1999 Silver Crown Champion, Newman is the only driver ever to win "Rookie of the Year" honors in all three USAC National racing series.
Newman will face a formidable field in Thursday's race, including National Midget point leader Jerry Coons Jr. and Western Midget point leader Johnny Rodriguez, plus NASCAR drivers J.J. Yeley and Bobby East, defending USAC Sprint Car Champion Levi Jones and two-time "Copper World" Midget Champ Dave Steele.
Although he will be seeking his first P.I.R. victory Thursday, Newman has posted three poles and a pair of top-five finishes at the track in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing.