FONTANA, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2001) - - Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., showed why he is the undisputed champion of the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights series by winning the pole position at California Speedway for Sunday's season finale and the ...
FONTANA, Calif. (Nov. 3, 2001) - - Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., showed why he is the undisputed champion of the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights series by winning the pole position at California Speedway for Sunday's season finale and the final round of Indy Lights competition in history.
The qualifying order was based upon the driver point standings with the fastest drivers going out last. Bell was the 10th and final driver on the track and he didn't disappoint.
The green flag waved at 10:00 a.m. under sunny skies and an ambient air temperature of 77 degrees F. Dayton Tire engineers reported a track temperature of 89 degrees F.
The essence of qualifying was a wait to see not if Bell would win the pole but at how fast. He answered that question on his first official qualifying lap when he tuned his DIRECWAY Lola to a time of 0:39.148 (186.584 mph) around California Speedway's 2.029-mile oval. Teammate Damien Faulkner, of Ireland, was sixth fastest in qualifying at 0:39.593 (184.487 mph).
"It was great to come to this race with the championship wrapped up because anything can happen here," reflected Bell. "A guy who starts dead last could be in the lead within one lap. That's the way these races are. There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction for me and my team. Bob and Phyllis Dorricott have put so much effort into carefully putting the pieces in place this year to give me everything to win. I'm glad to deliver for them and my sponsors. DIRECWAY took a chance on me four or five years ago when I was starting in Barber Dodge. It's nice for everybody that we started to realize success as we worked our way up the ladder."
It was Bell's 10th career pole in 24 career starts with Dayton Indy Lights, and his eighth pole position in the last nine races. Bell's other pole positions came at Milwaukee, Portland, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Laguna Seca in 2001. He scored pole positions at Portland and St. Louis during his first year with Dorricott Racing in 2000.
Bell ranks third on the Indy Lights career records list and is tied with past Indy Lights champion Bryan Herta for earning the most single-season pole positions with eight.
"This pole is fitting because it's all about the team when you race at Fontana," shared Bell. "It's less about what I'm doing. I learned things from last year that help at this Speedway but I'd be less than fully competitive without my team. Winning this pole is a great way to celebrate the championship with an achievement the team is primarily responsible for."
The green flag is scheduled to drop Sunday, Nov. 4, at 10:15 a.m. (PT) for the final 50 laps (101.45 miles) in Indy Lights history. The series will end its 16-year reign as CART's primary support series at the California Speedway.
ESPN2 will provide a delayed telecast of the California Speedway Indy Lights race Monday, Nov. 5, from 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. ET (Sunday, Nov. 4, from 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. PT). All times are subject to change.