FORT WORTH, Texas (April 27, 2000) - In his oval track racing debut, rookie Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) won the pole Friday for Saturday's inaugural Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is Faulkner's...
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 27, 2000) - In his oval track racing debut, rookie Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) won the pole Friday for Saturday's inaugural Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at Texas Motor Speedway. The race is Faulkner's first on an oval in any auto racing category and comes in just his third race in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
The reigning European Formula Palmer Audi champion, Faulkner established a track record average speed of 183.593 mph (29.060 seconds) in the first appearance of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the high-speed Texas track. He will share the front row with his Dorricott Racing teammate and Dayton Indy Lights Championship co-leader Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) who clocked in at an average speed of 183.55 mph (29.066 seconds). It is the first all-Dorricott front row since Houston last year where Bell gridded alongside polesitter and eventual race winner Casey Mears.
"Driving Indy Lights cars from a driver's point of view means understanding that they are much less powerful than the Champ cars," Faulkner said. "That makes this a 'flat out' track for us. It's much or more down to the team than it is the driver. Nonetheless, a driver still has to run a smooth lap or else the team's work is wasted. We worked well together on this.
"I guess the only thing I've done to prepare for a really fast oval like this was when I once flew in the cockpit of an airplane. It was a little space-framed plane. That's as close as I've come to running that fast. On a serious note, it's a lot different. The constant left turn and the high banks combined with a set-up that feels like you've already hit the wall makes this a different sensation. I'm enjoying it so far. Qualifying went well but I've got to keep my head down and prepare for the race. My obvious goal in coming to Texas is to win the race. Winning the pole is a good momentum builder event though I have my work cut out for me."
Bell qualified on the front row for the first time this season. He co-leads the Dayton Indy Lights point standings with 36 points, tied with Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola).
"It's pretty cool having an all-Dorricott front row," Bell said. "We've worked hard to make our cars quick on the superspeedways. It looked like PacWest had a better handle on the superspeedways than we did last year, particularly at Fontana. Now it looks like we've rebounded from that. I would have loved to score a bonus point but this track is pretty much about leaving the pits with your head and foot down. There isn't anything I can do with the car to make up time but Dorricott Racing prepared a great car for me so we have to left the chips fall as they may in the race."
Third on the grid went to another driver debuting on an oval in a race. Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) experienced an oval track for the first time just last week in an unofficial open test at Kansas Speedway.
As a circuit its not a lot different driving (than Kansas) to me," Kolby said. "My biggest problem is that I don't have a teammate to work with. The fact that this is my first oval experience is really hard, the team has data from previous ovals but we're coming here really fresh. All through practice I ran on my own, I tried to get a draft but I haven't gotten any teammates. The team gave me a great car and they did a great job to get me up to third quickest and it's really encouraging for the team. I will try to keep it smooth and it's all in the race, so tomorrow's where it's going to happen and I'm looking forward to it."
Higgins qualified fourth with PacWest Lights teammates Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) and Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola) filling out row six.
"We misjudged a little on the car, but no big worries," said Wheldon who qualified fifth. "Anything can happen in these types of races and there will be a lot of wheel-to-wheel action. I'll work with Ziggy Harcus, our team manager, and Steve Erickson, my engineer, on a race strategy for tomorrow. We have a competitive car and I'll have plenty of opportunity to pass, so we should come out on top."
"I don't know what happened out there, we were a half second slower that we've been all weekend," said Dominguez, who was the last driver to win a pole (and race) in his oval debut at Homestead in 1999. "I'm a little disappointed, but there will be a lot of movement and passing in the race tomorrow. I'm confident we'll have a strong car with a very good chance to be on the podium."
Saturday's race will be telecast on ESPN2 on Sunday at 11:30 p.m. ET (10:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. PT).