BRASELTON, Ga.. (Oct. 3, 2001) - - The 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship is far from decided, but Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner are engulfed in momentum that distinguishes key contenders on a championship mission. That ...
BRASELTON, Ga.. (Oct. 3, 2001) - - The 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship is far from decided, but Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner are engulfed in momentum that distinguishes key contenders on a championship mission. That said, round 10 of the 12-race Indy Lights series this Friday, Oct. 5, at Road Atlanta, may ultimately be the pivotal race of the Indy Lights season.
The 29 lap/73.66 mile Indy Lights sprint around Road Atlanta's 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. (ET). It is the featured support race for the Audi Petit Le Mans of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) that closes on Saturday with a 10-hour or 1,000-mile endurance race.
Road Atlanta represents two "firsts" for Indy Lights. It is the first time in the 16-year history of Indy Lights that the series is racing at Road Atlanta. It is also the first time the famed open-wheel training ground has run in support of a sports car race.
It is likely that the Indy Lights championship chase will be more defined for Bell or Faulkner at Road Atlanta. Bell and Faulkner are in first and second place, respectively, in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship with Bell leading by 22 points, 131 to 109. The next closest challenger, Dan Wheldon, is 28 points behind with 103 points.
Adding to a festive Atlanta weekend for Dorricott Racing is the return of Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif. Fogarty had announced at Mid-Ohio during round eight that he did not foresee completing the 2001 race season due to a herniated disk in his cervical vertebrae. The 26-year-old driver of the No. 32 Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola had missed the three consecutive races at Portland, Kansas, and Toronto to that point, and subsequently did not race at Mid-Ohio and St. Louis. A recent medical examination, however, cleared his return to racing. Before leaving for Atlanta, Fogarty participated in a two-day test session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park near Bakersfield, Calif., without feeling any adverse physical effects.
Apart from his Indy Lights tour of duty, Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., recently competed in two FedEx Champ car events for Patrick Racing in Germany and England. Driving the Visteon Toyota Reynard, Bell finished both races and scored his first CART championship point with a 12th place finish in his second start at England.
Bell could virtually secure the 2001 Indy Lights title at Road Atlanta with a 22-point sweep. It would require him to win the pole, lead the most laps, and win the race - something he has achieved three times this year in his series leading four wins. Besides flag-to-flag victories at Milwaukee, Toronto, and Mid-Ohio, Bell also won at Long Beach in April. Bell has posted "fastest race lap" on five occasions this season.
Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, is the most "positioned" driver to catch Bell. He debuted at Monterrey and earned a deceivingly impressive seventh place finish. Faulkner excelled at Toronto and Mid-Ohio where he started fourth and third, respectively, and finished third place in each race. His five podium finishes this year also include wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Portland.
Faulkner's first career oval track win in April at Texas Motor Speedway was distinguishing because he had never previously raced on an oval let alone a superspeedway. His Portland triumph started from third on the grid. After leading 22 of 38 laps, Faulkner crossed the finish line an unchallenged 16.134-seconds ahead of runner-up Rudy Junco, of Mexico.
Fogarty, the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series runner-up, has been out of service for five races but remains a force to be reckoned. He caught the attention of many during his Indy Lights debut at Monterrey, Mexico, when he finished in third place finish.
However, his next three races were frustrating. Fogarty suffered a race-ending accident on the opening lap at Long Beach when Faulkner was rear ended by Kristian Kolby, of Denmark, and pushed into Fogarty. Fogarty's disappointment continued at Texas Motor Speedway when he was pushed against the outside wall late in the race by Englishman Dan Wheldon while running in second place.
Milwaukee's race started optimistically for Fogarty. He started on the outside pole and was completing the third pace lap when Derek Higgins, of Ireland, inadvertently accelerated into the rear of Fogarty's Lola. Both cars were seeking to warm their tires with Fogarty swerving left and right. Fogarty was able to continue to pit lane where his crew repaired the car. He missed the first 20 laps of the race, however.
Fogarty earned 11 top-10 finishes in 12 Barber Dodge Pro Series races last year including seven top-three finishes, and wins at Lime Rock Park, Belle Isle, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He also won poles at Lime Rock and Belle Isle in scoring a season total of 155 points.
ESPN2 will provide a delayed telecast of the Road Atlanta Indy Lights race Monday, Oct. 15, from 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. ET (Sunday, Oct. 14, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. PT). All times are subject to change.