Dixon retakes point lead at Chicago

CICERO, Ill. (July 30) - Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) recaptured the Dayton Indy Lights Championship with his third win of the season Sunday at Chicago Motor Speedway. Dixon passed early race leader Casey Mears (Dorricott...

CICERO, Ill. (July 30) - Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) recaptured the Dayton Indy Lights Championship with his third win of the season Sunday at Chicago Motor Speedway. Dixon passed early race leader Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola) on lap 27 of the 97-lap sprint and was never challenged on his way to the checkered flag. Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) finished second to match his career-best finish set last month in Portland while Dixon's teammate Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) rebounded from a disqualification (underweight) in qualifying to finish third.

Dixon, who won earlier this year at Long Beach and Milwaukee, now leads the points race for the second time this season after coming into the weekend one point behind Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) and Mears in the championship. Dixon now has 77 points, 12 points ahead of Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) who finished fourth Sunday. Bright missed the race with a back injury suffered in a Friday practice accident while Mears earned only three points for a 10th place showing after crashing with pole-winner Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola) in Turn 1 late in the race while battling for second place. Neither driver was injured although Menninga was sent to Loyola University Medical Center for precautionary x-rays and CAT Scan that were negative.

Menninga won his first career pole in Saturday's qualifying at an average speed of 142.587 mph (25.980 seconds) but outside pole-sitter Mears moved to the front at the race start to lead the first Indy Lights laps of his career. Menninga followed in second while Dixon maintained his third-place starting position.

Dixon passed Menninga for second place on lap 17 and then set his sights on Mears in front. The pair swapped the lead twice on lap 21 before Dixon passed for good on the backstraight six laps later. Menninga in turn passed Mears for second place on lap 32, but Dixon was quickly opening up to nearly a half-a-lap lead over the field. A caution flag on lap 88 for Todd Snyder (Outpost.com Lola) who was uninjured when he hit the Turn 2 wall bunched the field, but Dixon had six lapped race cars between him and the nose-to-tail train of Menninga, Mears and Bell in positions second, third and fourth. Mears made his move on Menninga three laps after the restart, but both drivers ended up in the wall, with Mears' race car coming to a stop on the nose of Menninga's machine.

Rodolfo Lavin (Corona/Modelo Lola) finished a career-best fifth. <pre> Light Look - Top Five Light Look - Top Five Points 1. Scott Dixon 1. Scott Dixon 77 2. Townsend Bell 2. Felipe Giaffone 65 3. Tony Renna 3.. Casey Mears 59 4. Felipe Giaffone 4. Townsend Bell(R) 59 5. Rodolfo Lavin 5. Jason Bright (R) 57 </pre> Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) - We've had a couple of bad races in Michigan and Portland so it sort of goes up and down in racing, but we are lucky that we had a great car this weekend. It just got better and better with the weight jacker in traffic, it really wasn't myself it was the car. It was very, very good. I'm pretty happy."

Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) - "It was a good day all in all. I was real unhappy with where we qualified, so for the race we set the car up as we had it in the Saturday practice. The car was really good in the warm-up today, we were second quickest. At the start of the race I felt pretty confident about running the high groove through Turns 1 and 2, and the yellow came out at the start of the race and I was able to get past Jeff and Felipe. We were just running green laps pretty much the whole time. The car was excellent. We were lucky at the end when Chris and Casey got together because it helped us out."

Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) - "The first corner was pretty hairy because the crash went down right in front of me. When I passed Simmons and Giaffone I knew that I was doing pretty good. I moved from seventh to sixth pretty quick. I'm very happy it was the best car I had all weekend. The crash at the end between Casey and Chris was very nice for us, and we went a long stretch without a yellow and I kept hoping for one. It was a very enjoyable race to drive. It was a very good day."

Special Awards

Dayton Tire Awards: Tony Renna receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Renna improved 13 positions to finish third. Townsend Bell receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient. Chris Menninga receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the top qualifier.

MCI Worldcom Fast Pace Award: Scott Dixon receives the $1,000 MCI WorldCom Fast Pace Award for his fast lap of 144.011 seconds (25.723 seconds) on lap 71.

Nation's Cup: The United States keeps its lead in the Indy Lights Nation's Cup with 88 points. New Zealand is second with 77 points while Brazil has moved to third with 65 points.

Racing for Kids Award: Scott Dixon wins the Racing for Kids Award of $500. An additional $1,500 was presented to Wyler Children's Hospital here in Chicago

Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge: Scott Dixon takes over the lead in the Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge with 43 points. Townsend Bell is second with 36 points and Felipe Giaffone is third with 35. The winner-take-all $10,000 Bosch award is paid to the driver that earns the most points in the year's five oval track races.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Chris Menninga , Townsend Bell , Rodolfo Lavin , Tony Renna , Jason Bright , Todd Snyder