DORRICOTT- MEARS RACING TEAMMATES LEAD INDY LIGHTS TO THE DETROIT NEWS 100 DETROIT (June 22) - A championship-leading trio of drivers from Dorricott - Mears Racing will lead the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Michigan Speedway this ...
DORRICOTT- MEARS RACING TEAMMATES LEAD INDY LIGHTS TO THE DETROIT NEWS 100
DETROIT (June 22) - A championship-leading trio of drivers from Dorricott - Mears Racing will lead the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Michigan Speedway this weekend for The Detroit News 100, the first of first of two superspeedway races this season for CART's "Official Development Series."
Dorricott - Mears veterans Oriol Servia (Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola), Casey Mears (Sooner Trailer/American Racing Custom Wheels Lola) and Philipp Peter (Red Bull/Remus/ESTEBE Lola) are the first team drivers to fill the top-three spots of an Indy Lights championship since Tasman Motorsports Group teammates Steve Robertson, Eddie Lawson and Andre Ribeiro led the 1994 standings after that year's race at Mid-Ohio.
Round 8 of the 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, The Detroit News 100 (50-laps for 100 miles) is scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. local time on Saturday. The race can be seen the next day in a one-hour show on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET (2:30 p.m. PT). Practice sessions will be conducted today and Friday morning before single-car qualifying Friday at 4:20 p.m.
Servia, a second-year driver from Barcelona, Spain, leads the championship with 85 points, 13 ahead of Mears. Peter is third in the standings with 66 points. Their dominance in the points race is the result of series-leading consistency on both an individual and team basis. As a group, the Dorricott - Mears squad has finished all but one race (20 of 21 starts) while Servia and Mears have scored points in every race. Peter finished out of the points only in the Miami opener, but recovered to score his first of two race wins one event later at Long Beach. He also won last month at Portland. Servia has finished second four times in the last five races while Mears, who finished second at Milwaukee, is the only driver in the series to complete all 422 race laps (596.225 miles) run to date.
In addition to Peter, four other drivers have won races this season. Derek Higgins (Quaker State Mexico Lola) is the year's only other repeat race winner with victories at Milwaukee and Cleveland. He heads to Michigan sixth in the championship with 45 points. His rookie teammate Mario Dominguez (Herdez/Quaker "Viva Mexico" Lola) has also scored a victory for Team Mexico Quaker Herdez when he led every lap from the Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo pole at Miami, his very first race on an oval. He has finished only two races since then, however, and is ninth in the championship with 34 points.
Airton Dare, who joins Mears and Rodolfo Lavin (Corona/Modelo Lola) as one of three 21-year-olds in the series, out-dueled Servia to win on the Nazareth oval in April. The Brazilian is in his third-year of Indy Lights and second straight season with two-time defending champions Forsythe Championship Racing (formerly Tasman Motorsports Group). He is fourth in the championship with 63 points.
The year's final race winner stepped into the victory column just last weekend. Veteran Geoff Boss (Cross Pens/Powerware/Timba Lola) led every lap from the Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo pole to win in Toronto, his first Indy Lights triumph and the first for Lucas Place Motorsports. He heads to Michigan with his younger brother and teammate Andy Boss who drives an identical Cross Pens/Powerware/Timba Lola. Andy is the highest finishing returning driver from last year's Detroit News 100 when he scored a career-best finish of fourth after leading a partial lap. He has since matched that finish with a fourth place finish in Miami. Geoff Boss is eighth in the championship with 42 points while Andy Boss is 15th with 25.
Dominguez, Mears and Servia have all led the points race this season along with rookie Scott Dixon (Diagem/Speedbet Lola), who celebrates his 19th birthday today. Dixon is the youngest driver in the series but that did not keep him from moving to the top of the points battle in April after a second-place finish at Long Beach. He left that race co-leading the championship with Dominguez, but took sole possession of the top spot one race later at Nazareth where he scored his third-straight top-four finish in as many races. The New Zealander's early success, however, has been hampered by a recent a string of accidents that have prevented him from earning no more than two points since Nazareth. He is seventh in the championship with 44 points.
Dixon drives for Johansson Motorsports that captured 1998 Rookie of the Year honors with Guy Smith. Smith has moved to Forsythe Championship Racing this year, but his spot at Johansson has been filled by another Englishman, Ben Collins (Hays Home Delivery Services/Diagem Lola). A fifth-place finish at Nazareth is the best showing for Collins who is 13th in the championship with 28 points.
Smith, who drives the Swift Caravans Lola, has filled the spot vacated by reigning Indy Lights champion Cristiano da Matta, but he has not been able to duplicate the 1998 champ's performance. A third-place finish at Portland has been Smith's best result of the year.
Frenchman Didier Andre (Motorola/Playstation Lola) also had a rough time of it in the year's first six races, but he turned it around last weekend at Toronto where he placed a season's best third place with PacWest Racing Group. He is a distant 14th in the championship with 27 points but has traditionally come on strong in the second half of racing seasons.
Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood/Comet Lola) has also put together a pair of positive results recently. He finished third at Cleveland and fourth last weekend at Toronto and should be on form this weekend as well. Giaffone finished second in the 1998 Indy Lights race at California Speedway, Michigan Speedway's sister facility in Fontana, California.
Rookie Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) is another driver coming off a strong Toronto performance. He finished fifth in Canada, the best result of his rookie campaign.
On the strength of Mears' consistency and last week's victory by Geoff Boss, drivers from the United States lead the Indy Lights Nation's Cup, 96 - 94 over Brazil. In addition to Mears and the Boss brothers, other U.S. drivers entered in The Detroit News 100 include Cory Witherill (WSA Health Care Lola), Chris Menninga (MI-JACK Lola) and David Pook (Sage & Clay/Quickline Lola).
Defending race winner Tony Renna has run four races this year with PacWest Racing Group, but he is not running in this weekend's event. Renna was left rideless when Mattco Raceworks did not return to the series this year, but PacWest gave the 22-year-old Floridian a second Motorola/PacWest Lola for the four-race stretch from Milwaukee through Toronto. He is on-hand at Michigan Speedway but PacWest plans to focus exclusively on Didier Andre's entry.
The Detroit News 100 is also Round 4 of the 1999 Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge. This $10,000 winner-take-all bonus will be paid to the driver who earns the most points in the year's six oval track races. Dare leads the Bosch standings after the first three races of the year with 43 points. He is followed by Casey Mears (40 points) and Oriol Servia (35 points).