Dorricott Racing Fontana Qualifying Notes

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 29, 1999) - - Oriol Servia and Philipp Peter nearly "stole the show" in Friday's Indy Lights qualifying by stepping up their pace and qualifying second and third place, respectively. Casey Mears was on a front...

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 29, 1999) - - Oriol Servia and Philipp Peter nearly "stole the show" in Friday's Indy Lights qualifying by stepping up their pace and qualifying second and third place, respectively. Casey Mears was on a front row pace until gusting heads winds slowed him to eighth fastest. The common denominator for all the qualifiers was "Santa Ana" winds that mercilessly blew throughout the Speedway all Friday afternoon threatening suspension of the afternoon's race activities. Westerly winds averaging 20 miles per hour with gusts approaching 35 miles per hour created a scaled down wind tunnel effect but absent the controls. At one point, Indy Lights officials announced that the 4:15 p.m. qualifying session would be scrapped in favor of a warm-up. Combined practices time would be used to fill the starting grid. Minutes after the decision was announced, series officials made an "about face" and announced single-car qualifying would commence immediately. Servia was 10th in the qualifying order among the 20-car field. His first green flag qualifying lap placed him on the pole but his second "counter" was faster yet at 0:39.259 = 186.057 mph. Peter, who was 15th in the qualifying order, ran his quickest lap on his first green flag lap to move into the outside pole at 0:39.343 = 185.659 mph. The suspense increased when Johnny Kane, who was 17th in the qualifying order, ran observably faster warm-up laps than most. He then recorded increasingly faster back-to-back green flag laps to move past Servia and Peter for the pole position at 0:39.198 = 186.346 mph. The drama reached a crescendo when Mears took the track as the day's final qualifier. Quick warm-up laps were followed by even quicker green flag laps but with one distinguishing obstacle. The westerly winds turned suddenly into his car as he was exiting the final turn of California Speedway's 2.029-mile oval and visibly slowed his Sooner Trailer/American Custom Racing Wheels Lola on the front straight-away. Mears ran hard and true but was forced to settle for eight on the grid at 0:39.518 = 184.837 mph. "I knew I was fast but I didn't know if my best times would be good enough," said Servia. "I ran my laps in fourth gear. It was surprising how the winds didn't affect my run or Philipp's. They really started gusting lower to the track, however, when Casey went out." The 20-car Indy Lights field is expected to take the green flag Sunday, Oct. 31, at 9:50 a.m. (PT) for 50 laps (101.45 miles), setting the stage for the CART FedEx Championship Series Marlboro 500 later that day. No track activity has been scheduled for Indy Lights on Saturday, Oct. 30. ESPN2 will telecast the Indy Lights season finale, Sunday, Oct 31, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT). An encore showing will air on ESPN2 on Monday, Nov. 1, at 2:00 a.m. ET (Oct. 31@11:00 p.m. PT).

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Series INDYLIGHTS