Fontana Race and Championship Report

Kane Wins Indy Lights Finale As Servia Takes PPG-Dayton Title FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 31) - The anticipated battle between championship contenders Oriol Servia and Casey Mears never materialized Sunday as Team KOOL Green's Jonny Kane stole the ...

Kane Wins Indy Lights Finale As Servia Takes PPG-Dayton Title

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 31) - The anticipated battle between championship contenders Oriol Servia and Casey Mears never materialized Sunday as Team KOOL Green's Jonny Kane stole the spotlight and Rookie of the Year honors with his first PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship victory at California Speedway. Kane started from the pole and never strayed far from the lead pack as he led fellow rookie Ben Collins (Hays Home Delivery Services/Diagem Lola) across the finish line by .049 of a second. Didier Andre (Motorola/Playstation Lola), who led a race-high 23 of 50 laps, finished third.

Servia clinched the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship title, but both he and Mears failed to score points for the first time this year. After the first attempt to start the race was waved off, Servia edged Kane from his outside front row starting position and led the first two race laps. The engine in Servia's Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola soon went flat, however, and the 25-year-old driver slipped all the way to 15th place by lap seven.

Mears, needing to finish second or better, quickly moved up from eighth at the start and was in a position to win the championship until he was forced to pit with a suspected flat tire. He returned after that pit visit and one other stop a lap later revealed nothing more than rubber build up on the tires. Mears was mounting a final charge to the front when he hit the race car of Chris Menninga (Cambridge Health/Mi-Jack Lola) three laps from the finish. Both drivers continued but Mears lost the front wing on his Sooner Trailer/American Racing Custom Wheels Lola and never challenged again. He crossed the line in 13th place, one spot ahead of Servia.

The debris from Mears' wing brought out the day's fifth and final yellow flag, which included the waved off start. The field circulated under caution for two laps and then Kane, who took the lead for good on lap 44, received double green and white flags. The race ended with a one-lap dash to finish, but neither Collins nor Andre could get by the leader.

Kane's win was the first for Team KOOL Green in four years of Indy Lights competition and the first in North America for the 1997 British Formula 3 champion. He averaged a non-record 129.902 mph.

Collins also had the best run of his rookie Indy Lights season. His teammate Scott Dixon (Diagem/Speedbet Lola) ran up front in the beginning of the race, leading four of the first 11 laps, but fell from contention when he suffered a cut tire on lap 16. Dixon finished two laps down in 16th and saw his 20 point lead over Kane vanish along with the Rookie of the Year title.

Philipp Peter (Remus/Red Bull/ESTEBE Lola) finished 10th which gave Dorricott-Mears Racing a 1-2-3 finish in the series. Servia won with 130 points, Mears finished second with 116 and Peter earned 101 as the only three drivers to break the 100-point mark on the season. It's the first time one team has swept the top-three spots in the 14-year history of Indy Lights.

Light Look - Top Five Light Look - Top Five Points 1. Jonny Kane 1. Oriol Servia 130 2. Ben Collins 2. Casey Mears 116 3. Didier Andre 3. Philipp Peter 101 4. Cory Witherill 4. Jonny Kane (R) 89 5. Mario Dominguez 5. Scott Dixon (R) 88 Post-Race Quotes

* Jonny Kane, #27 KOOL Lola (first Indy Lights career victory, first for Team KOOL Green) "I'm absolutely elated, more so for the team than myself. This team has never won before and the boys worked so hard they really deserve it. "I had a pretty good start. I wanted to get a train going but everyone decided to go for it. That made it a better race for the fans. I tried to work with Casey but fell back. On one of the restarts I got a really good run and went form seventh to second. There were not too many laps remaining at that point and I knew I was in a good position then. I'm glad we went green at the end. I've won races under yellow before and it's not the same feeling."

* Ben Collins, #2 Hays Home Delivery Service/Diagem Lola (second place, Indy Lights career best finish) "This is a bit of a surprise, but it's good. My last podium of any kind was in 1997. I had a few buddies I was working with but they all seemed to drop out of the race. I was looking to make some new friends out there."

* Didier Andre, #18 Motorola/PlayStation/PacWest Lola (third) "We started back in the pack but I knew if I got in the top five we had a chance. I tried to work with Guy Smith and Derek Higgins but something happened to them so I was all alone. Jonny pushed me near the end then the yellow came out. We only had one lap left to come up to speed and it's very difficult to pass in that position."

* Casey Mears, #30 Sooner Trailer/American Racing Wheels Lola (13th after two pit stops) "We're not quite sure yet what happened with the tire. At one point I started to weave. The steering wheel got real heavy and we decided to come into the pits and make a change. I got back on pace and had a really good run going. In fact, I was so quick it was hard to judge and I came up on Chris really fast and clipped him. We thought about coming in but I really wanted to finish this race. It's been an awesome year. It's been so much fun. Oriol really deserves the championship, he's had a great year."

* Oriol Servia, #32 Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola (14th) "It was the most frustrating race of my life, probably the most frustrating moment. My engine was bad in low revs but it was working in high revs. Then on the fourth or fifth lap it went bad. I saw people going by me but there was nothing I could do. I almost got out of the car. I'm very happy about the championship, it's been a great year."

Special Awards

* PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Rookie of the Year: Jonny Kane earned 21 points this weekend (one for the Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Pole and 20 for the victory), moving him one point ahead of Scott Dixon in the final Rookie of the Years standings (89 points to 88).

* Dayton Tire Awards: Dayton Tire Awards: Mario Dominguez receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Dominguez improved 14 positions to finish fifth. Ben Collins receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient. Jonny Kane receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the top qualifier.

* Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Awards: Jonny Kane receives $1,000 for earning his second Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Pole Award. Kane also received an additional $2,000 in the "Win from the Pole" bonus from Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo, bringing his total race pay-out to $23,000. Oriol Servia wins the season-long Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Pole championship. Servia earned three Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Pole Awards (Nazareth, Portland and Detroit).

* Nation's Cup: Cory Witherill's fourth-place finished cemented the season-long Nation's Cup championship for the United States with 156 points. Jonny Kane's victory moved Ireland into the runner-up spot (139 points) with Brazil taking third (131).

* MCI WorldCom Fast Pace Award: MCIWORLDCOM Fast Pace Award: Casey Mears receives the $1,000 MCIWORLDCOM Fast Pace Award for his lap 45 speed of 193.643 mph (37.721 seconds).

* Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge: Casey Mears wins the $10,000 winner-take-all Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge with a total of 70 points, 13 points ahead of Oriol Servia.

* Racing For Kids Driver Performance Award: Ben Collins is today's Racing For Kids Driver Performance Award winner. Didier Andre wins the season-long competition for the second-straight year, overtaking Oriol Servia by a single point.

CART

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Series INDYLIGHTS