TORONTO, Ont. Canada. (July 16, 2001) - - Townsend Bell tamed a tough race track as he literally "swept" through the downtown street circuit of the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto, Ont., Canada, to claim his third victory in the...
TORONTO, Ont. Canada. (July 16, 2001) - - Townsend Bell tamed a tough race track as he literally "swept" through the downtown street circuit of the Canadian National Exposition in Toronto, Ont., Canada, to claim his third victory in the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship in round seven of the 12-race series, Sunday, July 15.
Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., completed the 43-lap (75.465-mile) race with a track record time of 51:18.593 minutes despite three yellow flags that totaled six laps. Bell also set a race record average speed of 88.246 mph around the 1.755-mile street circuit, breaking teammate Geoff Boss's 1999 track record of 76.441 mph (59:14.033).
After starting from the pole and leading every lap in the No. 30 DirecPC Lola, Bell also managed to run the fastest race lap on lap 13 (1:05.124 = 97.015 mph). Bell was never challenged at any point in the race while consistently maintaining a three-to-five second cushion between any of his nearest competitors. Bell's eventual margin of victory over runner-up, Mario Dominguez, of Mexico, was 7.002-seconds.
"I can't say enough about my crew and engineer, Gerald Tyler," said Bell. "They always provide me with all the tools I need to compete. Even those circuits where we had problems like Long Beach, they always have been able to get me through qualifying. It makes my job easy. I have so much confidence when I get into the car on race day because my crew takes care of the details. I know the set-up is going to be 'spot on.' My crew rarely makes mistakes so I can focus on driving."
Meanwhile, teammates Damien Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, and Geoff Boss, of Narragansett, R.I., each had excellent races with Faulkner clearly surfacing as Bell's primary contender for the Indy Lights championship.
Faulkner, who started fourth, finished in third place - his third consecutive and fourth podium finish of the year that includes wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Portland.
Boss, who returned to Indy Lights competition as a temporary replacement for Dorricott regular Jon Fogarty, recorded an impressive sixth place finish in the No. 32 Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola. Fogarty remained sidelined at Toronto due to a herniated disk between his third and fourth cervical vertebrae.
The race started under the yellow flag as the starter determined the field was improperly spaced. A green flag was issued on lap two and Bell immediately started to pull away from the field in opening a two-second lead.
Faulkner's start was less dramatic. Fifth place starter Derek Higgins squirted past Faulkner for fourth place. The remainder of the field settled into a "follow the leader" lay-out. The first of two racing cautions was issued on lap 14 when Cory Witherill, of Santa Monica, Calif., tapped the wall and stopped on course. The race re-started two laps later after Witherill's car was removed.
"I was surprised how slippery the first re-start was," said Bell. "It took about two laps to get most of the 'pick up' off the tires. First I thought I was having a problem when I entered the first braking zone. The car wouldn't slow down. It was very icy. Then I discovered after the first lap that it took awhile to get the rubber pick up off the tires. That experience helped me on the second re-start. It made things or predictable."
The re-start showcased Faulkner when he made what he termed "the pass of [his] life" to get around Higgins and regain fourth place. Faulkner "showed" in Higgins left wing mirror then abruptly cut back to his right to literally vault past Higgins. Moments later, Higgins lost control and slid into the turn three escape road. Higgins resumed after receiving help from safety officials but he had fallen to tenth place as a result of the mishap.
"The pass on Derek Higgins was the pass of my life and one of the best today," said Faulkner. "My car was running well through the last turn but Derek got a jump on me down the back straight. Then I got a run on him. I showed him, or so to say sold him a 'dummy.' He fell for it. It was sort of a do or die. I don't know how much thought I gave it because I might not have tried the pass otherwise. It paid off and I was able to slip right and around before he knew I was coming."
Bell increased his lead over outside polesitter Dominguez to more than four seconds at the halfway mark. Faulkner, meanwhile, picked up third place on lap 24 when Dan Wheldon, of England, fell from pace and returned to pit lane with mechanical problems.
"Mario was tough," said Faulkner. "One would think the straight-away by turn three would be a good passing area but I couldn't catch him. Mario was very good out of turn one so it was difficult to get a run. He covered the inside well. He may have given me room around the outside into turn three but its like a funnel there. I may not have made it out and I didn't want that high of a risk.
Denmark's Kristian Kolby hit the tire barrier in turn eight on lap 25 forcing the second caution period. Quick work by the safety crew assured the re-start on lap 28. The remainder of the race was a duel between Faulkner and Dominguez for second place. Dominguez withstood the challenge to score his second podium finish in 2001.
Bell padded his championship lead to 19 points over second place Faulkner, 104-85. Bell scored the event maximum of 22 points including one bonus point for leading the most laps, one bonus point for winning the pole, and 20 points for the victory.
Bell's purse included $7,500 from Simple Green Clean-Up for sweeping the race: winning from the pole, leading the most race laps and setting the fastest race lap. This "$2,500 roll-over" award had not been claimed since Bell won a $10,000 bonus for the same achievement at Milwaukee in round four. Bell is only driver to have claimed bonus money from Simple Green.
All totaled, Bell's Milwaukee earnings came to $35,000. Awards included in Bell's winnings are the winner's purse ($25,000), the WorldCom Fast Pace Award ($1,000), the Simple Green Clean-up Award ($7,500), the Dayton Indy Lights Pole Award ($1,000) and a pair of Dayton Daytona racing tires for being the fast qualifier.
Bell's final honor was the Racing For Kids Driver Performance Award of $500. An additional $1,500 will be presented to Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on behalf of Bell and Racing For Kids.
Faulkner's earnings included prize money and two Dayton Daytona racing tires for being the highest finishing Indy Lights rookie driver. Faulkner continues to lead all newcomers for Rookie-of-the-Year honors by virtue of a 17-point margin over his closest challenger Kolby, 85-68.
Faulkner's 14 championship points for third place kept Ireland in the lead for the Nation's Cup with 115 points. The United States is in second place with 103 points followed by Mexico with 92 points.
Race results, team, and sponsor information are available on Dorricott Racing's official web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com.
An encore telecast of the Toronto Dayton Indy Lights Championship race will be shown on ESPN2 on Saturday, July 21st, at 3:30 a.m. ET (12:30 a.m. PT).
Round eight of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Sunday, July 12.