SUNNYVALE, Calif. (April 12, 2000) - This weekend's 12th running of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will unveil a fresh look for defending Indy Lights champion Dorricott Racing in that two new...
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (April 12, 2000) - This weekend's 12th running of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will unveil a fresh look for defending Indy Lights champion Dorricott Racing in that two new faces will adorn Dorricott Racing blue alongside one very familiar name and face for the 12-race 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship. The 38 lap/74.86 mile Indy Lights sprint around the newly configured 1.97-mile, eight-turn seaside street circuit is scheduled to begin at 10:20 a.m. (PT), Sunday, April 16, and is the featured support race to the CART FedEx Championship Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach later that day. Familiarity with Indy Lights competition and its race circuits may be the critical difference when fourth-year Indy Lights driver Casey Mears returns to Shoreline Drive as the pre-season Indy Lights championship favorite. The talented 22-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif., is the highest finishing returning driver from last season in Indy Lights. The sum of Mears talents can be capsulated in one word - consistency. Mears defines present day racing consistency. Besides finishing second place in 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Mears became only the fourth driver in Indy Lights history to complete every lap (685) and every mile (1,048.652) run in a single season. That placed him in the enviable company of past Indy Lights champions Robbie Buhl, Greg Moore, and Steve Robertson. It indelibly inked his name in the Indy Lights record book as the all-time single-season distance leader during a 12-race season. Mears isn't shy or short on speed either. The proverbial expression, "it doesn't get much faster," best describes when he ran the fastest official single lap in Indy Lights history at California Speedway, October 31, 1999, at 193.643 mph,. Count on Mears to look to beat his record should opportunity avail for his Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola T97/20. Long Beach is familiar and comfortable, but challenging enough to make him thirst for his first career Indy Lights victory. After starting 12th in last year's race, Mears showed his knack for moving through a tight field and finished fifth place. Mears recorded 11 top-10 finishes including eight top-five and four top-three showings. His season best second place finishes at Milwaukee and Michigan were accentuated by winning the $10,000 Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge. New to Dorricott Racing in 2000 are first-year Lights drivers Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia. Bell finished third place in the 12-race 1999 Barber Dodge Championship. His eight top-10 finishes included six showings in the top-five and highlighted by a third round victory at Lime Rock Park. Bell displayed tactical prowess on numerous road and street circuits including second place at Watkins Glen and third place at Laguna Seca. After winning the pole at Portland with a Barber Dodge Pro Series track record, he finished fourth in the race. His first career oval race at Nazareth was equally impressive where he finished third place. His first career race at Road America netted a fifth place finish. Bell will pilot the Dorricott Racing-prepared No. 1 Lola with sponsorship from DirecPC, of Hughes Network Systems. Bright is arguably Australia's most successful open-wheel racing driver of the current generation. The Australian native had a distinguished season in 1999 competing in Australia's Shell Championship Series. Six podium finishes were highlighted with a victory at Hidden Valley in Round Five of the 12-race series. The 26 year-old Bright, who was consistently the front running Ford in the 1999 Shell Championship Series, displayed his qualifying prowess in winning three pole positions. He claimed the highest qualifying average in the Shell Championship Series and was the first driver to qualify in the top-five for all 12 events. Bright isn't a stranger to open-wheel racing in North America. Two victories in the 1996 U.S. FF2000 series at St. Petersburg, Fla., and Mosport Park, Ont., Canada, quickly etched his name in American motorsport records. He closed his season with a second place finish in the U.S. National Formula Ford Championship, and was named Formula Ford 2000 and USAC Oval Crown Rookie-of-the-Year. ESPN2 will provide a same-day delayed telecast of round one of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship from Long Beach, Sunday, April 16, from 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. PT (Monday, April 17, from 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET).