TORONTO, Ont., Canada (July 12, 2001) - This weekend's Molson Indy Toronto marks a return of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship to eastern Canada after a two-year absence. Round 7 of 12 on the 2001 schedule, the 43-lap (75.465 miles) Dayton...
TORONTO, Ont., Canada (July 12, 2001) - This weekend's Molson Indy Toronto marks a return of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship to eastern Canada after a two-year absence.
Round 7 of 12 on the 2001 schedule, the 43-lap (75.465 miles) Dayton Indy Lights sprint at 10:15 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 15, will set the stage for the featured Molson Indy Toronto FedEx Championship Series race later that afternoon. Same day Pacific time zone television coverage of the race on ESPN2 will begin at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time zone telecasts are set for early Monday morning at 1:00 a.m.
Toronto race comes just one week after the Dayton Indy Lights Championship produced the closest finish in modern auto racing history on the new 1.520-mile Kansas track. Denmark's Kristian Kolby won in a three-way photo finish, edging Dorricott Racing's Damien Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, by a scant 0.001 of a second.
Equally impressive, Dorricott teammate and Indy Lights points leader Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., was also part of the historic moment and crossed the finish line in third place - 0.017 of a second behind the winner. The record margin of victory beat the previous closest finish of 0.002 of a second that was set twice in 1999. One of those races was the Dayton Indy Lights race at Michigan Speedway where Dorricott Racing's Philipp Peter, of Austria, beat then teammate Casey Mears. Earlier that year, Terry Labonte beat Joe Nemechek by the same margin in a Busch Grand National race at Talladega Speedway.
Bell, who leads the championship with 82 points, is a two-time winner in 2001. Bell won at Long Beach in April and last month on the Milwaukee Mile in the DirecPC Lola. His Kansas finish appeared to be his fourth top-three podium result of the year, but he was assessed a two-position post-race penalty and fined by Dayton Indy Lights Chief Steward Terry Dale for "unjustifiable risk" in that event.
Bell's Milwaukee win, his fourth career Indy Lights victory, was his from start to finish as he devastated the field by winning the poll, leading every lap, running the fastest lap of the race, setting a new track record for average race speed, and then becoming the first driver in Indy Lights history to lap an entire field during a race.
The first of Bell's four career Dayton Indy Lights wins came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year. He second career win was at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
Faulkner is in position to overtake Bell for the Indy Lights lead at Toronto but knows that won't come easy. Faulkner made his Indy Lights debut at Monterrey and earned a deceivingly impressive seventh place finish. He has been on an upward learning curve ever since.
Faulkner, who is second in the championship with 71 points, won in his oval track debut at Texas Motor Speedway in April. What distinguished his victory was he had never previously raced on an oval let alone a superspeedway.
Faulkner's next triumph was at Portland where he started third on the grid. After leading 22 of 38 laps, Faulkner crossed the finish line an astounding 16.134-seconds ahead of runner-up Rudy Junco, of Mexico. Simply stated, Faulkner has won two of his first six career Indy Lights races. A win at Toronto would place him among an elite few with three wins or more in their first year of Indy Lights competition.
Faulkner became the Republic of Ireland's first European motor racing champion in 19 years by capturing the 2000 European Formula Palmer Audi Championship. The 25-year-old Moville resident dominated the EFPA's 20-race season behind six wins, seven poles, and 12 podium finishes. Faulkner was also named Ireland's 2000 International Motorsports Competitor of the Year.
Combined, Bell and Faulkner have earned six top-three finishes in Indy Lights this season, including their four victories, Faulkner's runner-up in Kansas and a second-place finish by Bell in the season-opening race in Mexico.
Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., is having the most frustrating season of his career. He was forced to withdraw from rounds five and six at Portland and Kansas and will also sit out Toronto. The cause is a herniated disk located between his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae. It is hoped that he will recover in time for Mid-Ohio in August.
Dorricott Racing announced upon arriving in Toronto that it had come to terms with veteran Indy Lights driver Geoff Boss to drive Fogarty's No. 32 Lola at Toronto. Boss's addition to Dorricott Racing reunites with Fogarty's engineer and Canadian native Burke Harrison, who was part of the dominating 1999 effort at Toronto where Boss led every lap from the pole while at Lucas Motorsports.