LIGHT ROUNDUP - CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship Race Report: Round 3 - Texas Motor Speedway FORT WORTH, Texas (April 28, 2001) - Rookie Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) scored an impressive win from the pole in his first career oval...
LIGHT ROUNDUP - CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship
Race Report: Round 3 - Texas Motor Speedway
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 28, 2001) - Rookie Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) scored an impressive win from the pole in his first career oval track race Saturday in the debut of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Texas Motor Speedway. Faulkner led all but two of the race's 67 laps and crossed the finish line ahead of Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) and Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) as the race ended under the second of the day's two caution periods.
Faulkner is the first Dayton Indy Lights rookie to win both the pole and the race in his oval-racing debut since Mario Dominguez at Homestead/Miami Speedway in 1999. Ironically, it was Dominguez who played a part in sealing Faulkner's similar first win on Saturday. As Higgins and Kolby pressured Faulkner on the last lap of the race, Dominguez and Rudy Junco (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) touched and hit the outside wall exiting Turn Two. Although both drivers escaped uninjured, the incident brought out a full course caution. The race was completed under yellow flag conditions, preventing Higgins and Kolby from making a final run on Faulkner in the final two corners of the race.
Faulkner won his first career pole in Friday's single car qualifying session, and led the field to the green flag alongside teammate and outside front-row starter Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola). The Dorricott teammates ran side-by-side for nearly the first three laps - with Bell officially leading lap one - before Faulkner moved out front with Bell and Higgins in close tow on lap three. Dominguez and his PacWest Lights teammate Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) also joined the lead-pack fray and, although Faulkner led the next 51 laps, the top-five frequently changed among Bell, Higgins, Dominguez and Wheldon who ran just inches apart. The pack was coming out of Turn Four on lap 52, when Wheldon and Bell came together while battling for second. Bell continued minus his DirecPC Lola's nose, but Wheldon spun and was collected by Jon Fogarty (Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola) who had moved into lead-pack contention just a few laps earlier after running at the back of the field in the early going. Wheldon and Fogarty both hit the wall but escaped uninjured. Bell continued despite three pit stops, including one to honor a black flag for a safety technical inspection. He finished the race eighth, two laps down.
After a caution period for the Wheldon/Bell/Fogarty incident, the race came down to a seven-lap dash to the finish. Higgins managed to edge by Faulkner on the outside to officially lead lap 64, but the Dorricott driver never really lost the top spot. He moved back in front and stayed there until the dual checkered and yellow flags three laps later.
Higgins, with top-three finishes in the year's first three races, has now built a strong 52-point championship lead. Bell is second with 41 points and Dominguez, despite the DNF, is now third with 33 points.
<pre> Light Look - Top Five Light Look - Top Five Points 1. Damien Faulkner 1. Derek Higgins 52 2. Derek Higgins 2. Townsend Bell 41 3. Kristian Kolby 3. Mario Dominguez 33 4. Luis Diaz 4. Kristian Kolby 32 5. Rolando Quintanilla 5. Dan Wheldon 30
</pre> #31 Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) "It's difficult to take the outside line so I stayed low. I know Derek made a stab on the outside midway through the race but then he settled in behind us. I was hoping to go the race without a caution. Derek had the lead briefly but only by five millimeters or so. It was only one official lap but it wasn't enough to make a difference in the race except for the electronic timer at the start-finish line. I knew it would be difficult for him to make a move from the outside. He was actually further ahead of me on the back straight heading into turn four. I wasn't going to back out and he gave me the room I safely needed. I thought the race was clean regarding the fellows that were up front.
#16 Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) "I got a very good start and actually got by Townsend (Bell) and got a good run on Damien (Faulkner), but Townsend got another run on me. I was happy just to sit behind Damien and Townsend to bide my time. We started racing at lap 10 and it was frustrating that people were racing too much and it was going to end up in disaster by the things that were happening and that's what happened with the accident. I'm happy with the end result. It's a track you have to treat with respect."
#11 Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) "In the beginning of the race, I didn't get a great start. After about the second lap, the car started with rev limiter problems and I would have to back off and started dropping further back and couldn't keep up with them in the draft. After the yellow, I got a really good start and began to challenge the front. We qualified third and definitely had the pace to run on our own."
* Special Awards
Dayton Tire Awards: Rolando Quintanilla receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Quintanilla improved five positions to finish in fifth place from starting in the 10th position. Kristian Kolby receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient as the highest finishing first-year driver. Damien Faulkner receives a pair of Dayton Daytona racing tires as the fast qualifier.
Worldcom Fast Pace Award: Jon Fogarty receives the $1,000 Worldcom Fast Pace Award for setting the fastest race lap at 188.483 mph (28.306 seconds).
Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge Award: Damien Faulkner earned 22 points to take the lead for the Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge that pays $10,000 to the driver accumulating the most points in 2001's six oval track events.
Simple Green Clean-Up Award: The Simple Green Award was not claimed in today's race, which rolls $7,500 over to the next event at the Milwaukee Mile where $10,000 will be posted.
Nation's Cup: Ireland takes the lead in the Nation's Cup with Damien Faulkner's win today with 58 points. The United States is in second place with 41 points and Mexico is in third place with 37 points.
Racing for Kids Award: Damien Faulkner wins the Racing for Kids Award for $500. An additional $1,500 will be presented to the Cook's Children's Hospital of Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas on behalf on Racing for Kids. Derek Higgins takes the lead the RFK points championship with 52 points.
Round three of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be telecast on ESPN2 in a one-hour show on Sunday, April 29th at 11:30 p.m. ET (10:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. PT). An encore telecast of the race will air on ESPN2 on Monday, April 30th at 10:30 a.m. ET (9:30 a.m. CT/7:30 a.m. PT).
* Next Event
Round 4 of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will take place at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wisconsin on Sunday, June 3, 2001.