Bright qualifies fifth at Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 30, 2000) - - Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., ripped through Houston's 1.527-mile, 10-turn downtown circuit in a track record blitz to capture the pole for Sunday's 11th round of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights ...

HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 30, 2000) - - Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., ripped through Houston's 1.527-mile, 10-turn downtown circuit in a track record blitz to capture the pole for Sunday's 11th round of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the Grand Prix of Houston. Mears captured the pole with the fastest lap of the weekend at 1:04.722 = 84.936 mph.

Dorricott Racing teammate Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., followed in suit and will start from the outside pole for Sunday's 50-lap, 76.35-mile Indy Lights sprint. Bell piloted the DirecPC Lola to a best lap time of 1:04.905 = 84.696 mph.

Provisional pole sitter, Australian Jason Bright, was running as high as third in qualifying before securing fifth on the starting grid at 1:05.066 = 84.487 mph.

Action for the pole became the most fast and furious as the 30-minute session approached conclusion. Mears took over the pole position with 10 minutes remaining at 1:04.943 = 84.647 mph.

Bell assumed the top spot with three minutes remaining, but Mears stormed back one minute later to capture the pole. This is Mears second pole of the season after taking the pole earlier this year at Laguna Seca. Mears also earned one bonus championship point bringing his total to 108 points - 26 points behind series leader Scott Dixon, of New Zealand.

"The difference between last year and this season is last year I was looking to score points for a solid season finish and qualify consistently well," said Mears. "This year is more knowing that each qualifying session is a good chance to win a pole and a better chance at winning races. I think the experience I gained last year is showing."

It was the third time this season that Dorricott Racing has taken the front row in qualifying. Bright and Bell started from the front row at Portland and Mid Ohio.

"I knew I'd have to run a faster lap than what I did to keep the pole," said Bell. "My throttle started to stick a bit. I don't remember what rev's we were stuck but it gave me understeer in turning. It makes street course racing more difficult if you have a little push because you can never quite get enough angle to get out of the corner properly.

"Getting taken out on the practice warm-up lap certainly didn't help the cause. The best thing with a three-car team is we have three great engineers and two fine teammates that are willing to share information. If we run into problems early in the weekend, we can track what the other two cars are doing and mimic. This weekend was another example where Jason and Gerald Tyler came up with something that worked well. We went with their set-up so all I have to do is go out on the track and step on it. It makes my job much easier."

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Townsend Bell , Jason Bright