Bell wins championship

MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct 15, 2001) - - It's indisputable. It's a fact. Townsend Bell won round 11 of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Sunday, Oct. 14, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and IS the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Champion. ...

MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct 15, 2001) - - It's indisputable. It's a fact. Townsend Bell won round 11 of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Sunday, Oct. 14, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and IS the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Champion. He made it look easy yet he believed it wasn't. He was never seriously challenged yet he raced as if the entire world of motorsports was on his heels. He clearly etched his name into the annals of greatness yet sincerely credited Bob and Phyllis Dorricott as the true reasons why he won the championship. If there is a better example of a true champion than Townsend Bell, it hasn't hit the radar screens. Simply stated, Townsend Bell is not only the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Champion, he is arguably one of the most talented champions in the illustrious 16-year history of the Indy Lights series. Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., completed the 34-lap (76.902-mile) race in 44:34.521 minutes and an average speed of 102.423 mph around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course. His closest and only challenger of the day was teammate Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., who finished 2.963-seconds behind Bell for second place and his Indy Lights career best showing. "It's the right time and place to dedicate this championship to my team owner, Bob Dorricott. He and his wife, Phyllis, have made every difference for me. This is their race and their championship. When they took the chance to sign me two years ago, it set this day in motion. They surrounded me with the personnel, environment, and equipment to really have a chance at winning on the race track. My entire crew and engineer, Gerald Tyler, have been the best a driver could ever have." Bell started from the pole for his seventh time in the last eight Indy Lights races and essentially set his own pace. It was up to the rest of the field to catch him and they couldn't. It was his seventh career Indy Lights race win in his 23rd career start. Bell's other wins came at Mid-Ohio and St. Louis in 2000; and Long Beach, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Mid-Ohio this year. The race ran "caution-less" so it became more or less a non-stop "follow the leader" except for an exciting duel between Damien Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, and Englishman Dan Wheldon for fourth place during the last 10 laps. Faulkner, who started sixth, moved into third place on lap seven but had to give way to a faster Luis Diaz, of Mexico, in the first corner on lap 10. At the end of the race, however, Faulkner prevailed over Wheldon to move into second place in the Championship heading into the season and series finale at California Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 4. "I was able to pass Wheldon in turn two at the start and then fight my way to third place," Faulkner reflected. "I liked it when Dorricott Racing was running first, second, and third but I couldn't hold that position against Diaz. He was remarkably fast and highlighted his day when he set the fastest lap of the race. Nonetheless, I'm pleased to finish fourth and move back into second place." Fogarty's race was relatively simple because no other drivers could keep up with him. He was able to focus solely on keeping up with Bell. "Townsend and I briefly spoke about the race start but we didn't have a planned strategy," said Fogarty. "I took off when Townsend did. It was his start and he had the slight jump. I fell in behind him going up the hill and through turn two. I decided that holding my position was the best move and things worked out. I was able to run strong during the early laps but my tires started going away about mid-race before my fuel burned off. Once the fuel load lightened, I still had tires that were well matched to the car. I thought I was catching up near the end but the car started sliding around the harder I pushed it. I didn't want to throw away a second place finish. I'm happy for Townsend and his championship." Bonus awards to Dorricott Racing include two pairs of Dayton Daytona racing tires for Bell being the top qualifier, and Fogarty as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient. Bell also claimed the Racing For Kids Driver Performance Award of $500. An additional $1,500 will be presented to the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University on behalf of Bell and Racing For Kids. Faulkner's awards included four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the "Move to the Front" award recipient based on Faulkner improving two positions from sixth to fourth. Faulkner maintains a slim two-point margin over Wheldon for Rookie-of-the-Year, 135-133. The United States moved ahead in the battle for the Nations Cup with 170 points due to Bell's 22-point. Faulkner's 12 championship points combined with fellow Irishman Derek Higgins eight points (sixth place) helped keep Ireland in the hunt with 167 points. Mexico is in third place with 142 points. Bell is the 16th different Dayton Indy Lights champion since the series inception in 1986 and the first American to win the championship since current CART FedEx star Bryan Herta in 1993. Sunday's race was also the first time the Indy Lights title was decided at Laguna Seca since 1989 when Mike Groff edged Tommy Byrne for the title. This is the 10th year of competition in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship for team-owner Bob Dorricott. Laguna Seca was the team's 15th victory 228 Indy Lights starts. The series finale of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 4.

-Dorricott Racing- # # #

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Bryan Herta , Jon Fogarty , Townsend Bell , Luis Diaz , Dan Wheldon , Derek Higgins , Damien Faulkner , Tommy Byrne