Laguna Seca Orilo Servia Aims for Indy Lights Title

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Sept. 6, 1999) - - Oriol Servia has traveled thousands of miles in pursuit of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, but his next 76 race miles may be the most important of his career. Servia could clinch the 1999 ...

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Sept. 6, 1999) - - Oriol Servia has traveled thousands of miles in pursuit of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, but his next 76 race miles may be the most important of his career. Servia could clinch the 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Laguna Seca Raceway this Sunday, Sept. 12, as only two other drivers remain in mathematical contention for the coveted crown. This year's annual return to the picturesque central California coastline will celebrate the 14th overall and consecutive visit of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Monterey. An anticipated field of over 20 cars will take the green flag at 2:45 p.m. (PT) for the 34-lap, 76.092-mile sprint around Laguna Seca's picturesque 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course. This will be the 11th round of the 12-race Indy Lights season, and will immediately follow the Honda Grand Prix's CART FedEx Championship Series Texaco Havoline 300. The 25-year-old Catalonian has forged an 18-point lead over his nearest challenger and Dorricott Racing teammate Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., 124-106. Servia's other nemesis and teammate, Philipp Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, is also still in the hunt although a distant third place with 93 points. Any combination of finishes for Servia at Laguna Seca which provide a 23-point advantage over Mears and Peter will assure Servia of being crowned the 14th champion since the series inception in 1986. Servia's overall formula for success, however can be directly attributed to an exemplary season in which he has consistently finished in the top-five in eight of 10 Indy Lights races in 1999 including second-place showings at Nazareth, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto, and Detroit. Combined with his most recent fourth place finish at Chicago and fifth place finishes at Milwaukee and Michigan, Servia has only finished out of the top-10 once this season (Long Beach, 12th). Servia's consistency is also distinguished with eight top-four qualifying starts, of which, four have been front row. His series leading three pole positions came at Nazareth, Portland, and Detroit. Laguna Seca has been good to Servia in the past where he started third and finished second place in last year's Indy Lights race. A veteran European F-3 driver, Servia is Indy Light's third most consistent finisher this year having completed 595 of 601 laps and 860.166 miles out of a possible 871.110 miles. Mears's championship hopes depend on finishing significantly higher at Laguna Seca than Servia. If anything this season, Mears has proven his capability of finishing strong. Besides runner-up in race seven at Michigan, Mears' has three other podium visits to his credit including third place at Nazareth in round three, second place at Milwaukee in round four, and a 10th round third place at Chicago. After scoring season opening back-to-back fifth place finishes at Homestead and Long Beach, Mears added fourth place at Portland in round five. His Sooner Trailer/American Racing Custom Wheels Lola has scored top-10 finishes in each race and hasn't finished lower than ninth place. Mears is the only driver in the series who has completed every Indy Lights race lap (601 laps) and every mile (871.110 miles) run this season. The task for Mears and Peter cannot be understated. They must ultimately draw to within 22 points of Servia going into the season finale at California Speedway (Fontana, Calif.) on Sunday, Oct. 31, to hold any chance of winning the championship. That said, it isn't a reach to believe that Peter could also do very well at Laguna Seca and perhaps inject himself into a literal down-to-the-checkered-flag decision at Fontana. Peter qualified on the outside pole in last year's Laguna Seca Peter's electrifying victory at Michigan in round eight combined with his second and fifth round victories at Long Beach and Portland made him the first Indy Lights driver to win three races in 1999. Furthermore, his overall consistency underscores the value of finishing races. He is second place in Indy Lights for consistent showings with 868.106 miles and 599 laps completed. A European road racing veteran, the Austrian-born Peter holds the distinction of winning the closest race in CART-sanctioned history. Peter's Red Bull/Remus/ESTEBE/Chicco d' Oro Lola literally battled nose-to-tail for more than 96 miles before Peter prevailed over Mears by an imperceptible 0.002-seconds - the closest race finish in the history of Indy Lights and CART-sanctioned events - in round eight on Michigan Speedway's two-mile superspeedway oval. The previous closest victory in Indy Lights history was when Calvin Fish defeated Mike Groff by 0.028-seconds at Nazareth Speedway in 1988. The former record for the closest victory in CART-sanctioned history was Mark Blundell's 0.027-second victory over Gil de Ferran at Portland in 1997. Dorricott Racing is a year-round professional motorsports organization based at Sears Point International Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Race results, team and sponsor information may be viewed on Dorricott Racing's web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com. ESPN2 will telecast the Laguna Seca Indy Lights race on Sunday, Sept. 12, from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET (8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. PT).

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Casey Mears , Gil de Ferran , Oriol Servia , Mark Blundell , Calvin Fish