DETROIT (Aug. 8) - Derek Higgins took his Quaker State Mexico Lola from seventh on the grid to earn his third PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship victory of the year (and fourth of his career) Sunday in The Detroit News Challenge at the Raceway...
DETROIT (Aug. 8) - Derek Higgins took his Quaker State Mexico Lola from seventh on the grid to earn his third PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship victory of the year (and fourth of his career) Sunday in The Detroit News Challenge at the Raceway on Belle Isle. Higgins also won at the Milwaukee Mile oval and on the Cleveland road course earlier this year. Championship leader and Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo pole winner (102.554 mph = 82.353 seconds) Oriol Servia lost the lead to Higgins on lap 16 of the 32-lap event but held on to finish second in his Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola. Servia extended his championship lead to 20 points (112-92) over his Dorricott-Mears teammates Philipp Peter and Casey Mears, who finished eighth and ninth, respectively, and are now tied in the championship. Irish rookie Jonny Kane, who started second in the Team KOOL Green Lola, came home in third place, earning his first career Indy Lights podium. In total, Higgins passed Geoff Boss (Lap 1), Felipe Giaffone (Lap 5), Didier Andre (Lap 7) and Guy Smith (Lap 9) in addition to Kane (Lap 13) and Servia. The winner's average speed of 79.060 mph was slowed by four full-course cautions (for a total of 11 laps) caused by incidents involving Chris Menninga, debuting Boris Derichebourg, Ben Collins, 1998 race winner Airton Dare and a mechanical retirement by Higgins' teammate Mario Dominguez. All drivers were uninjured. Giaffone, Andre and Boss finished in positions four through six, respectively, while Smith dropped from contention after being assessed a drive through pit penalty for excessive blocking. He finished 13th. Higgins' first Indy Lights win was at the Milwaukee Mile in 1998.
The Detroit News Challenge will be televised later tonight in a one-hour show on cable sports network ESPN2 at 11:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. PT). An encore telecast will air on Tuesday, August 10 at 2:30 a.m. ET (11:30 p.m. PT on Monday, August 9).
* Derek Higgins, #88 Quaker State Mexico Lola (third victory of year, fourth of career) "This was certainly the best race I've ever driven. I had a very good car under braking but everybody made me go around the outside at Turn 3. The first time, I thought to myself, 'right, that worked - once' but then I had no choice but to try it again and it worked again. I can't say I ever got comfortable with that move but I certainly had more confidence every time it worked. "For me the championship has been a bit of a disaster this year, so when I was down to passing Oriol I really had the advantage. I had absolutely nothing to lose and he has to be concerned about the points. It's unbelievable that he's finished second five times this year and doesn't have a win - but it's going to come for him." * Oriol Servia, #32 Catalonia/RACC/Elf Lola (second place, extended points lead) "To finish second again is frustrating for sure. I definitely want to win at every race but I also must think about the end of the year. And today, honestly, I think Derek was just playing with the field. He was absolutely amazing in Turn 3. When he passed me, I saw him in my mirror, delayed my braking as long as I could, and still he just went right by me. At the time I felt like an idiot but then I realized that he had done the same thing to five other drivers and that made me feel not so bad. "We struggled early in the weekend but we had a very good car by the second qualifying. I took huge risks in qualifying, because there is still time to repair the car if you make a mistake, and it paid off. But in the race now I must also think about the championship, not just the win." * Jonny Kane, #27 KOOL Lola (third, first Indy Lights podium) "It's so good to finally put Team KOOL Green on the podium. It's been a long time coming for me and my guys. This was our third front row of the year and our first podium, so now we're headed in the right direction." Special Awards * Dayton Tire Awards: Scott Dixon receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Dixon improved eight positions to finish seventh. Jonny Kane receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient. Oriol Servia receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the top qualifier. * Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Awards: Oriol Servia receives $1,000 for earning his third Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Pole of the season and of his career. Since Servia did not go on to victory, the Sea-Doo/Ski-Doo Win From The Pole bonus money rolls-over, making it worth $3,000 at the next event - the Mi-Jack 100 of Chicago on August 22. * Nation's Cup: Felipe Giaffone's fourth place finish moves Brazil into a first-place tie with the United States, both with 120 points. Spain holds third with 112 points. * Racing For Kids: Derek Higgins wins the Racing For Kids Driver Performance Award. * MCI WorldCom Fast Pace Award: Felipe Giaffone receives the $1,000 MCIWORLDCOM Fast Pace Award for recording the fastest race lap of 1:23.856 (101.716 mph) on lap 28.
The next event on the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship schedule is the Mi-Jack 100 of Chicago at Chicago Motor Speedway on Sunday, August 22.