Dorricott Racing Chicago Review

DORRICOTT RACNG CLINCHES INDY LIGHTS TITLE AT CHICAGO; STAGE SET FOR THREE DRIVER, TWO-RACE SEASON FINALE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP CICERO, Ill. (Aug.23, 1999) - When Bob Dorricott proposed a three-car Indy Lights program for 1999, cynics...


CICERO, Ill. (Aug.23, 1999) - When Bob Dorricott proposed a three-car Indy Lights program for 1999, cynics discounted the idea as ill-advised. Affirmation was low in supply. But after setting conventional wisdom aside, Dorricott proceeded with his "three car" idea anyway. Thus began a journey which started at Homestead (Fla.) in March. Ten races later, Dorricott Racing clinched the prestigious 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Chicago Motor Speedway, Sunday, Aug.22. Dorricott Racing didn't win the inaugural Indy Lights race at Chicago Motor Speedway. In fact, Chicago pole and race winner Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, and race runner-up Guy Smith, of England, are not Dorricott drivers. What Dorricott Racing did achieve was to place two of its three drivers in the other two spots of the top-four to ensure Dorricott Racing of celebrating a driver's championship following the season finale at California Speedway in October. The unanswered question is exactly which Dorricott driver will be the champion? All three are still in the running. If Chicago is any indication, it will likely go down to the wire. The toast of Dorricott Racing at Chicago was Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif. Mears dazzled a race hungry Chicago audience and once again surprised a competitive field by roaring from sixth place on the starting grid to nearly taking the lead on the opening lap. It isn't the first time this season that Mears has quickly gobbled loose space between him and the front runners. This time, however, what is becoming a Casey Mears trademark had major implications in his pursuit of the Indy Lights drivers championship. Mears was stunning on the opening lap when he passed five cars on the outside in a blink of an eye. Mears actually led at the start-finish line at the end of the first lap but had to give back his final pass of Dixon when a yellow flag was issued for an Airton Dare spin-out in turn one before Mears completed the pass. Mears held second place for the next 44 laps until Smith slipped past him on lap 45, only seconds before a second caution period was triggered by Andy Boss spinning and contacting the wall in turn four. A third and final caution occurred on lap 63 when David Pook backed into the wall in turn three. For his efforts, Mears earned third place - his fourth podium finish of the year - and 14 valuable points that propelled him into second place alone with 106 points. "We played catch-up all weekend," said Mears. "We missed the set-up from the start. When we finally had the car handling fairly well in open air, we found it handled very poorly in traffic. I knew I had to get a good race start and take advantage of any re-starts if I was going to have a hope of moving higher in the field. Everything went well from the drop of the green flag, but Dixon and Smith were just awesome. In all fairness, I couldn't really run with them." Meanwhile, series leader and teammate Oriol Servia, of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, was tactically sound throughout the race. Servia qualified fourth and finished fourth - only 0.440-seconds behind Mears. Servia also added 12 more points to his championship tender to improve to 124 points. "It was a crazy start," said Servia. "I thought for a moment that I was going to move into second place. I was more or less forced to run a low line. The tires touched the line and I felt the car lose its grip so I released. The next thing I knew, I was in fifth. I passed Mario Dominguez on the next lap just before the yellow flag to move into fourth place. Casey was in front of me, and I didn't want any big gap to form between us. I decided to stay as close to him as I could. I couldn't pass Casey because I felt a big push develop when I came too close." Dorricott teammate Philipp Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, figuratively ran his own race to stay in title contention and performed admirably under difficult circumstances. His 12th place finish belied the skill and timing he had to employ to overcome starting 18th. Peter was gremlin-struck most of the weekend as his car's handling became an unexpected obstacle. After relegating himself to the back of the starting grid when he decided to wave off his qualifying laps rather than take a chance of crashing, Peter knew he had little time to figure out how to pass on an unproven, fast-paced short oval. He didn't waste any. Peter scooted past Rodolfo Lavin and David Pook on the first lap to move into 15th. He was 14th after lap seven when he passed Cory Witherill. Boss's departure on lap 45 permitted Peter to improve to 13th. His daring pass of Didier Andre with two laps remaining moved him into the "points." "Scoring a point today after starting last was a shining moment," said Peter. "It was our race goal and we achieved it. However, now I know what it's like to drive a whole race with a loose car. You are constantly trying to stay off the walls and keep the car straight on course. It seemed impossible at times to stay with the car in front. It was frightening." Peter dropped to third place in the championship with 93 points but not out of title contention. He acknowledged his impending uphill climb but didn't hint that his title hopes were over. "I need to win another race or two this year to help me get where I want to be next year," said Peter. "The championship isn't totally out of sight, but I'll certainly need a few breaks along the way. Laguna Seca and Fontana will be better. We know how to create good set-ups to win." In addition to scoring one championship point, Peter received four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the "Move to the Front" award recipient by virtue of his six position climb during the race. After five of six rounds of the "winner-take-all" $10,000 Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge, Mears holds a 13 point lead over Servia, 70-57. Dixon is third with 48 points and remains the only other driver still in mathematical contention. The winner will be decided at Fontana, Calif., Sun., Oct. 31. ESPN2 will present an encore telecast of the Mi Jack 100 on Wednesday, Aug. 26, from 2:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. ET (Tuesday, Aug. 25, 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. PT). Dorricott Racing's next stop is round 11 - the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey - at picturesque Laguna Seca Raceway (Calif.) on Sunday, Sept. 12.

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Guy Smith , Casey Mears , Didier André , Airton Daré , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Rodolfo Lavin , Philipp Peter