Kansas race closest of the weekend

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 8, 2001) - Conquest Racing rookie Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) survived a late charge from Dorricott Racing teammates Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) and Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) to win the closest race...

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (July 8, 2001) - Conquest Racing rookie Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) survived a late charge from Dorricott Racing teammates Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) and Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) to win the closest race in modern motorsports history Sunday in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship Kansas 100 at Kansas Speedway.

Kolby led the final 19 of 67 race laps and survived a two-lap dash to the finish following a late caution period for the record victory, his first Dayton Indy Lights win in his fifth race start. As Faulkner made a final run on the high side of Kolby coming to the finish line, the duo appeared to take the checkered flag in a dead heat. Moments later CART Timing, confirmed that Kolby won by a scant .001 of a second. The record margin of victory beat the previous closest finish of .002 of a second that was set twice in the 1999 season. One of those races was a Dayton Indy Lights race at Michigan Speedway in July where Philipp Peter beat then teammate Casey Mears. Earlier that year, Terry Labonte beat Joe Nemecheck by the same margin in a Busch Grand National race at Talladega Speedway.

Kolby was the last of four different drivers to lead the race that was a typical Dayton Indy Lights superspeedway thriller, with nose-to-tail drafting and three abreast racing. Polesitter Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola), who established the Kansas Speedway track record of 180.881 mph (30.252 seconds) in Saturday's single car qualifying session, led the first 18 laps with Bell and Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) running second and third. The lead trio opened up a slight lead over the field in the early going, but soon a surprising Matt Halliday (Conquest Racing Lola), Faulkner, Cory Witherill (WSA Healthcare/Motors Lola) and Rolando Quintanilla (Telmex Lola) joined the fray.

Halliday, making just his third Indy Lights start and first race of any kind on a superspeedway, charged to the front to lead lap 19 while Bell took the top spot one lap later. Bell would go on to lead 26 of the next 28 laps, swapping the point two more times with Halliday before Kolby passed Bell on lap 49 to take a lead he would ultimately never lose.

With Faulkner, Bell and Wheldon dogging Kolby from all sides, the race's only full course caution came out on lap 59 when Rudy Junco (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) hit the wall after contact with Witherill. Junco was uninjured, but the six-lap caution period to clean up the accident scene made for the two-lap sprint to the finish. While Faulkner went to the high side, Bell dove low in his own bid for victory and finished just .213 of a second behind in third place. He was later dropped two positions in the final results, however, for unjustifiable risk during the race. Bell, already on probation following the Portland race, also had his probation period extended for two more races and was fined $1,000. His infractions Sunday included moving up on Halliday during the final lap and repeatedly moving down on other competitors during the race.

Wheldon was moved up to third following Bell's penalty and Halliday jumped to fourth.

After running competitively early in the race, Dominguez and Quintanilla fell of the pace with mechanical problems, the polesitter eventually retiring after completing 43 laps. Quintanilla finished eighth, two laps down.

Despite the penalty, Bell increased his championship lead to 82 points, 11 ahead of Faulkner who has moved to second with 71 points. Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola), who retired with a minor electrical fire early in the race today, is third with 68 points, Kolby has moved to fourth with 65 points and Wheldon is fifth with 61 points.

Driver Quotes #11 Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) "No, (expecting to win today), the engine gave up on the third lap of the first practice session of the weekend. I didn't work on drafting in the practice sessions and before qualifying we changed some things. We qualified better than we expected. I played with the weight jacker a little bit and the car ran pretty good to catch up with the group to draft. I started to take the outside groove; I saw some of the IRL drivers use it and it worked. The grip was there and we gave each other just enough room and we got by. The win is absolutely marvelous.

#31 Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) "Getting past Kristian was only going to happen on the last lap if it was going to happen at all. I think he made have hit the rev limiter because I started gaining on him for no apparent reason. I had enough momentum at that point top try the outside. I made my move quite early but it seemed like the best time to move. Townsend was close behind me. He dipped to the inside so Kristian looked a little squashed. I ended up touching Kristian as we were headed to the start-finish. His right rear and my left front touched. It wasn't a big deal but it may have cost me the two or three-thousandths of a second that mattered most. This is close racing. Kristian did a heck of job to win.

#1 Dan Wheldon (Gemstar/PacWest Lights Lola) "We brought it home, and that's the main thing. I'm happy to have finished in the top three from a points standing. It's too bad Mario (Dominguez) went out of the race early because I think we could have worked together to make a charge. I did try to pair up with Matt Halliday on the restart, but we couldn't get the jump we needed to make things closer.

#30 Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) "On the final lap, I held back in turns one and two. I caught a big tow and I jumped out going into turn three. Halliday and I jumped out at the same time. I thought he might tuck in and run the high line and we'd be able to push around him. That didn't happen. I was in top gear. Then I had to tuck back to make a run for the finish or else be stranded. Anyway, that's the way it goes. I was pleased to see no contact among the lead group. We all seemed to work reasonably together. In the past we've always managed to have some shunt or somebody bashing wings or tires. This is probably the first race we've had where we haven't had a major accident in the lead pack."

Special Awards Dayton Tire Awards: Kristian Kolby receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Kolby improved five positions to finish in first place from starting in the sixth position. Damien Faulkner receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient as the highest finishing first-year driver. Mario Dominguez receives a pair of Dayton Daytona racing tires as the fast qualifier.

Worldcom Fast Pace Award: Damien Faulkner receives the $1,000 Worldcom Fast Pace Award for setting the fastest race lap at 184.435 mph (29.669 seconds).

Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge Award: Damien Faulkner earned 16 points to extend his lead with 44 points for the Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge that pays $10,000 to the driver accumulating the most points in 2001's six oval track events.

Nation's Cup: Ireland continues on top in the Nation's Cup with 101 points. The United States follows in second place with 81 points and Mexico in third place with 76 points.

Racing for Kids Award: Kristian Kolby wins the Racing for Kids Award for $500. An additional $1,500 will be presented to the University of Kansas Medical Center-Pediatrics, Kansas City, Kansas on behalf on Racing for Kids.

Television Round 6 of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be telecast in same-day coverage on ESPN2 in a one-hour show at 10 p.m. PT. East of the Mississippi, the ESPN2 air times are early Monday morning (late Sunday night) at 1 a.m. ET and 12 Midnight CT. An encore telecast of the race will be shown on ESPN2 on Thursday, July 12th at 5 a.m. ET (4 a.m. CT/2 a.m. PT).

Next Event Round 7 of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will take place at the Molson Indy in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Sunday, July 15, 2001.

-Indy Lights

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Terry Labonte , Cory Witherill , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Derek Higgins , Mario Dominguez , Rolando Quintanilla , Damien Faulkner , Philipp Peter , Kristian Kolby , Rudy Junco , Matt Halliday
Teams Conquest Racing