Laguna Seca: Dayton/Field race report

Dayton and Field still tied for second in LMP 675 Points after finishing third in Class at Laguna Seca Sunday MONTEREY, Calif., Sept. 7 - Although Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y. and his teammate, Jon Field of Dublin, Ohio struggled to finish...

Dayton and Field still tied for second in LMP 675 Points after finishing third in Class at Laguna Seca Sunday

MONTEREY, Calif., Sept. 7 - Although Duncan Dayton of North Salem, N.Y. and his teammate, Jon Field of Dublin, Ohio struggled to finish third in the LMP 675 class Sunday in the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, they still gained valuable points. What's more, they are both still tied for second place in the LMP 675 drivers' point standings with only two American Le Mans Series (ALMS) races remaining in 2003.

Field qualified third in class and fifth overall Saturday and thus was very busy avoiding a tussle in turn two near the front of the field at the start of the two-hour-and-45-minute race. The class point leader, Chris Dyson, went off in the gravel after contact with a Ferrari in that one. Dyson eventually retired with engine problems, opening a door for Dayton and Field.

Unfortunately it was a door that the Intersport team couldn't fully take advantage of, as persistent electrical problems surfaced again with the Intersport Lola #37.

Before that occurred Field had a little altercation with Jeff Bucknum's Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam early in the event, damaging the Intersport Lola's right front wing.

Field persevered, however, despite the fact that the electrical problems were rearing their ugly head too. He brought the Lola EX257/AER MG into the pits 45 minutes into the race for tires, fuel, a new battery and to let Dayton take over the controls, but even that was not without its problems because Dayton got a stop-and-go penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit. "I had it set so that wouldn't happen, but apparently there was voltage drop in the electrical system and that wasn't working, so I was too fast on pit lane," Dayton said later.

Unfortunately the new battery didn't solve the electrical problem. Fifteen minutes later Dayton had to bring the car back into the pits because smoke was coming into the cockpit, which turned into a full-fledged electrical fire.

After the fire was extinguished the team took the car behind the wall to make repairs and also change the car's starternator, mirroring the drill they had to do at the last race at Road America.

Once that was done Dayton was back at it full-force, trying to make up for lost time. He pitted again at 1:15 p.m. for fuel only and nine minutes later he was third in class, 12 laps down to class leader Butch Leitzinger.

Dayton drove about an hour until he had to pause again for tires, fuel and to let Field drive it to the finish. Field continued to do exactly what Dayton had done, which is concentrate on getting to the finish line in one piece, and eventually took the checkered in third place in class and 27th overall.

The race saw very little attrition, as only four of the 34 starters dropped out.

It was broadcast live on NBC.

Although it wasn't pretty, the Intersport drivers did tally up valuable points here in California with their "Junkyard Dog," which is sponsored by Banana Joe's, Highcroft Racing and Goodyear. The point battle continues to be at the forefront of their minds heading into the last two races of the year. They are the Grand Prix Americas on a downtown street circuit in Miami, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 27, and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Motor Sports Park in Braselton, Ga. on Saturday, Oct. 18. Both of those races will be broadcast live on SPEED.

Unofficially the pair are 10 points behind Dyson in the LMP 675 drivers' standings.

"It was a frustrating weekend," Dayton said afterwards.  "We should have
finished higher up.  But we're glad to get the points and close the gap with
Dyson.  Hopefully we'll be there at the end."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Duncan Dayton , Butch Leitzinger , Jon Field , Jeff Bucknum , Chris Dyson