LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 16, 2000) - - Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, showed how poise, tact, and intelligence will win over reckless abandon every time in scoring a second place finish in his Dayton Indy Lights Championship...
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 16, 2000) - - Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, showed how poise, tact, and intelligence will win over reckless abandon every time in scoring a second place finish in his Dayton Indy Lights Championship debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sunday, April 16.
Meanwhile, teammate Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., gave the finishing order a distinctly "Dorricott Racing" feel with a fifth place finish in the Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola.
Bright, who started third, craftily stalked polesitter Jonny Kane, of Ireland, and outside pole winner Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, for the first 34 of the scheduled 38 laps before opportunity knocked on lap 35. Kane overshot turn one of the eight turn, 1.968-mile seaside street circuit and slid into a runoff area. Dixon assumed the lead followed closely by Bright. Three more cars including Mears passed Kane before he was able to resume the race, dropping him to sixth place.
Dixon was able to build on more than a two-second cushion over Bright during the remaining four laps and crossed the finish line 3.753-seconds ahead of Bright to capture his second career Indy Lights victory. Brazilian Felipe Giaffone finished 1.172-seconds behind Bright to clinch third place.
"Dorricott Racing gave me a great car," said Bright at the post-race press conference. "It didn't miss a beat all weekend. I was a little rusty on the re-starts and the rear of the car stepped out a few times. Felipe (Giaffone) sneaked up on me a couple of times but I was able to stretch out the gap and stay in front of him."
Mears started sixth in the 19-car grid and quietly held his position as the field quickly spread out after the opening lap. The unexpected calm of this race offered few opportunities for Mears to challenge the front-runners but a couple of handling problems also affected his "edge" on three race re-starts following caution periods.
"We had a big push yesterday and today," said Mears. "We knew going into the race we'd have some push but we didn't know how much it would affect the car. We didn't get much track time on Saturday because of motor problems. The push turned out worse than we expected. Midway through the race I was trying to burn off the rear tires to gain more balance. That knocked my times down and the car got much quicker. I was starting to reel in Jeff Simmons but then a yellow flag was issued. My rear tires were burned off by then so I couldn't accelerate out of the hairpin (turn eight) as quick as I needed on the re-start. Overall it was a good day. We earned points and we're in the championship hunt as we head for our next race in Milwaukee (Wis.)."
Dorricott Racing's "hard luck kid" of the weekend was first-year Lights driver Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif. Bell, who started 10th, was running strong on a solid race set-up early in the race. Disaster literally struck him from behind on lap seven in the form of French driver Soheil Ayari.
Ayari, who was running 11th, misread his entry into turn six and struck the left rear side Bell's DirecPC Lola to literally "punt" Bell out of the race. Bell was able to avoid wall contact but the car stalled on the back straight-away. Ayari continued to pit lane with minimal damage but retired from the race nonetheless. Bell was unable to re-start the car and was saddled with 17th place finish.
Bright earned 16 championship points for second place and trails Dixon for the series lead, 20-16. Bright, however, assumed the lead for Rookie-of-the-Year with a four point margin over Jeff Simmons, of East Granby, Conn., 16-12. Mears earned 10 points and holds fifth place in the championship.
Bright was also awarded two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient for being the highest finishing Indy Lights rookie driver.
Dorricott Racing is a year-round professional motorsports organization with its race shop located in Bakersfield, Calif., and its corporate office based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Race results, team, and sponsor information are available on Dorricott Racing's official web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com.
Round two of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at the Milwaukee Mile and the Miller Lite 225, Sunday, June 4.