LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 10, 2000) - Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., felt he had a perfect car from the start and he proved it by sailing to the provisional pole at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Friday afternoon with a track record time of 1:13.809 = 110.133 mph.
Bell, who actually broke the record once before in the session, bettered that mark with less than five minutes remaining in the 30-minute qualifying session on his 13th lap. Bell's time broke the previous track record of 1:14.513 = 109.092 mph set last year by Bell's former Dorricott Racing teammate, Jason Bright, of Australia.
"The DirecWay car was totally hooked up," said Bell. "It was perfect from the get-go. We made an adjustment on the pit stop and then changed tires. The car was rock solid from that point. We started running track or near track record laps so I couldn't be happier."
Dorricott Racing's Damien Faulkner, of Ireland, also turned in a strong qualifying session with the third fastest time of 1:14.733 = 108.771 mph. Geoff Boss, of Narragansett, R.I., nearly broke into the top five in qualifying but finished a strong seventh at 1:15.295 = 107.959 mph.
"I felt much more comfortable with the circuit," said Faulkner. "It was something I couldn't seem to get my hands on in practice. Townsend had some good ideas from practice. We tried them and they worked well. I didn't get the best out of the tires, but it was a relief to get up to third. It was just a matter of hooking a lap together. The potential to run in the low 14's was there but I didn't hit the marks. This car should have been four to five-tenths quicker but I messed up a bit on the tires. We should be able to run quicker in final qualifying."
The green flag waved at 3:30 p.m. ET with Dayton Tire engineers reporting a track temperature of 105 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 84 degrees F. Bell was fastest from the opening laps and never trailed. The session's only caution occurred 12 minutes into the session when Matt Halliday, of New Zealand, made light contact with the tire barrier in turn 11 of the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. Kolby was uninjured but CART officials assessed an eight-minute penalty for stopping the session a little over seven minutes.
Final qualifying is set for Saturday, Aug. 11, at 12:15 p.m. ET.