Making his 40th start in three years of Dayton Indy Lights Championship competition, Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) led every lap from the pole to win Saturday's Detroit News 100 Indy Lights race at Michigan Speedway. Giaffone withstood a ...
Making his 40th start in three years of Dayton Indy Lights Championship competition, Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) led every lap from the pole to win Saturday's Detroit News 100 Indy Lights race at Michigan Speedway.
Giaffone withstood a race-long challenge from Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer) and a late charge from Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) to score his first Indy Lights win. As Mears and Renna made late race charges, a caution for debris from Rodolfo Lavin's front wing in Turn 3 essentially ended the race on lap 48. The field circulated under caution for two laps and Giaffone took the checkered flag to average 146.866 mph for the race.
"It feels real good to win, especially with this team because we have been together for so many years," Giaffone said. "This car was just so good and ran great. I knew Casey was back there but I talked to his engineer Burke (Harrison) and we agreed we would run together. I knew my car was a little bit faster but Casey stayed right there. For sure, he was going to try something at the end but fortunately the yellow came out. I was letting up (off the accelerator) when Renna came past me so I knew it would be OK. I just hope they knew it was yellow and everybody did."
Mears held on for what originally appeared to be runner-up honors for the second straight year, but a post-race review later indicated Renna slipped by for second prior to the caution flag.
"When I drove by the debris, it looked mostly off line but somebody ran over it so safety was more important and CART had to do something about it," Mears said. "I was disappointed but at the same time, Tony Renna had a good run going.
Renna, the 1998 Michigan winner, actually passed Giaffone too as the final caution came out, but the winner had lifted off the accelerator by then. Still, the second place finish was his best of the season.
"We have been on a role with a fourth in the last race at Portland and now a second today," said Renna. "It took a long time to be decided, but obviously I believe the right ruling was made. I made my move when I was running third - I thought I passed Casey (Mears) and was right beside Felipe (Giaffone) when I saw the yellow. I really felt comfortable racing out there with Felipe (Giaffone) and Casey (Mears), they are two of the most professional guys out there and it was terrific racing."
The race also produced a new points leader as Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) finished out of the points for the first time this year after contact with Lavin forced a pit stop. Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) finished ninth but now leads Dixon by a point in the championship, 57 - 56. Mears is third with 54.