DETROIT (May 29, 2001, 2001) - Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) will return to the site of his first United States victories leading the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship point standings when the "Official ...
DETROIT (May 29, 2001, 2001) - Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) will return to the site of his first United States victories leading the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship point standings when the "Official Development Series" of CART makes its 16th consecutive appearance at the Milwaukee Mile this Sunday during the Miller Lite 225 event weekend.
Round 4 of 12 on the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship schedule, the Milwaukee race is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. this Sunday. The 100 lap (103.200 miles) sprint race will set the stage for the featured FedEx Championship Series Miller Lite 225 that takes to the legendary Wisconsin State Fairgrounds oval later that day. The Dayton Indy Lights race will be telecast in same day coverage in a one-hour show on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT/4 p.m. PT).
Higgins, an Irishman now living in Indianapolis, won the season-opening race in Mexico in March and is the only driver in the series to earn a top-three podium finish in each of the year's first three races. He backed up his Mexico win with a third-place finish at Long Beach in early April and crossed the line second one race ago at Texas Motor Speedway. The Mexico win was his fifth-career victory in Indy Lights and he earned his first two wins at Milwaukee with consecutive victories inn 1998 and '99. Higgins returns to one of his favorite tracks with an 11 point lead in the championship standings over Californian Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola), 52 - 41. Following the CART point system, the maximum points a driver can earn on a race weekend is 22, 20 for a win and bonus points for the pole and leading the most race laps.
Bell, the 2000 championship runner-up and Rookie of the Year, won at Long Beach from sixth on the grid and finished second to Higgins in Mexico. He was also running in the lead pack at Texas but dropped from contention after a contact incident with rookie Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola).
Bell's rookie teammate Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) won in Texas where he led all but two laps from the pole in his oval track racing debut. Faulkner, another Irishman, is the reigning European Formula Palmer Audi champion and now finds himself factoring in to the overall rookie race and the championship with 28 points.
In between Faulkner and Bell in the championship standings is Wheldon, Danish driver Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) and Mario Dominguez (Del Valle/Corona/Televisa/PacWest Lights Lola).
Dominguez is a former teammate of Higgins at the now disbanded Team GO Motorsports group. Higgins earned both of his Milwaukee wins and victories at Detroit and Cleveland in 1999 with GO while Dominguez earned a season-best third-place finish at Milwaukee last year with the team. Dominguez now partners Wheldon at PacWest Lights, the team that dominated Milwaukee last year with current CART Champ Car rookie Scott Dixon. Dominguez is third in the championship standings with 33 points on the strength of fourth-place finishes at Mexico and Long Beach.
Kolby, another rookie, is fourth in the championship with 32 points and is the only driver to join Higgins in completing every race lap run this season. The former British Formula Ford champion and Formula 3000 veteran will have a teammate at Conquest for the first time since the season-opening race at Mexico where Nilton Rossoni made his one and only Indy Lights start. New Zealander Matthew Halliday (Conquest Racing Lola) will run the year's final nine races with Conquest and steps up to Indy Lights after running the season opening Toyota Atlantic race at Long Beach.
Wheldon is fifth in the championship with 30 points and earned a season-best finish of second at Long Beach where he led the most race laps before Bell passed for the win. He finished fifth at Mexico.
American Cory Witherill (WSA Healthcare/Motors Lola) returns to the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Milwaukee after finishing this past weekend's Indianapolis 500, a race that was won by former Indy Lights star Helio Castroneves. Witherill survived a spin to finish a solid 19th after starting his first 500 in 31st position inside the last row. Witherill, a 100% Navajo, is the only Native American driver currently competing in the top levels of professional open-wheel racing. Milwaukee will be his 26th Indy Lights race.
Another American heading to Milwaukee for his debut is Californian Jon Fogarty (Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola) who is part of Dorricott's three-driver entry. The rookie Barber Dodge graduate earned a third-place finish in his Indy Lights debut at Mexico but has been taken out in accidents in the last two races.
Higgins teams with second-year driver Rudy Junco (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) at Mexpro Racing that is also in its sophomore season in Dayton Indy Lights. Junco joins Dominguez and Roquin Motorsports teammates Luis Diaz (Telmex Lola) and Rolando Quintanilla (Telmex Lola) in a strong group of four pilots from Mexico. Junco, Diaz and Quintanilla have each posted their career-best finishes on oval tracks, led by a fourth-place finish for Diaz one race ago in Texas.
BOSCH BATTLE, ROUND 2
The Milwaukee race is Round 4 of the overall Dayton Indy Lights Championship but it is Round 2 of the Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge. This $10,000 winner-take-all award is paid to the driver that earns the most points in the year's six oval track events. After the year's first oval race in Texas, Faulkner leads the Bosch standings with 22 points and is followed by Higgins with 16 and Kolby with 14. Other ovals on the 2001 Bosch lineup include Kansas, Chicagoland, Gateway and the season-ending event at California Speedway.
$10,000 OF GREEN
The new Simple Green Clean-Up Award has hit five figures in potential dollar payout for Sunday's Dayton Indy Lights race. This new "roll-over" award goes to any driver that sweeps a race: winning from the pole, leading the most race laps and setting the fastest race lap. Any driver who turns the trick this weekend at Milwaukee will pocket $10,000 in Simple Green bonus money as the award, that starts with $2,500 at each race, has been unclaimed in the year's opening three events. That makes the potential winner's purse a record $35,000.
The Simple Green program also awards any driver that qualifies in positions two through five that manages to win, lead the most race laps and set the fastest race lap. But any non-pole winners who meet the other criteria will only be eligible for $7,500 at Milwaukee