Dorricott Racing Fontana race notes

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 30, 2000) - - Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., started 14th then put on a show that was "second to none" at California Speedway, Sunday Oct. 29, when he diced his way through an 18-car field to earn second place...

FONTANA, Calif. (Oct. 30, 2000) - - Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., started 14th then put on a show that was "second to none" at California Speedway, Sunday Oct. 29, when he diced his way through an 18-car field to earn second place in the Dayton Indy Lights 100, present by the Los Angeles Times, as well as runner-up honors in the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship. Although New Zealander Scott Dixon won the race and, in turn, clinched the Dayton Indy Lights Championship, the racing community had its eyes on Bell and teammate Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif. They weren't disappointed because there wasn't a dull moment. Dixon led 48 of the 50-lap race around the 2.029-mile superspeedway oval to set an Indy Lights track record average race speed of 183.672 mph. Bell, however, came within a 0.016-seconds of catching Dixon at the finish line. Mears had an "up and down day" after starting third but held on for a fourth place finish. Teammate Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, anguished to a season concluding 14th place. Bell entered the 12th and final round of the '00 Indy Lights season trailing Dixon by four points, 134-130. Mears was only one point more shy with 129 points. A variety of finishing possibilities could have brought the title to either Bell or Mears but Dixon's victory gave him 21 championship points including a bonus point for leading the most laps. Dixon's final count came to 155 points while Bell, who scored 16 points for second place, finished the season with 146 points. Mears held onto third place in the championship with 141 points. Bright secured sixth place overall with 91 points. Dorricott drivers had a difficult time early in the race but Bell and Mears were able to eventually weed through the problems and place themselves in competitive positions. The race started on a yellow flag for poor field alignment. Then Brazilian Felipe Giaffone, who won the pole in Saturday's single-car qualifying with a fast lap of 0:39.478 = 185.025 mph, lost his lead to outside pole sitter Dixon on lap two. Dixon's teammate, Tony Renna, started fourth but quickly followed Dixon's lead and tucked in nose-to-tail with Dixon for the next 36 laps. It made for an unholy alliance when Bell finally caught them. "The strategy coming into the race was to pick up a lot of positions during the first couple of laps and work my way into the top five," said Bell, who started 14th. "Then I wanted to lock into that position and wait till the end to sort it out. That's exactly what we did. Unfortunately, Scott and Tony Renna were the two waiting for me when I got to the front." Giaffone briefly regained the lead on lap 38, but Dixon quickly gathered himself to stay ahead of the field. Bell took advantage of Giaffone's slip and firmly grasped second place. Bell settled to within inches of Dixon's gearbox for the rest of the race before attempting a pass on lap 49. Bell looked low to "sling-shot" past Dixon in the final corner, but Dixon managed to fend off the assault by a mere fraction of an inch at the finish line. "It was a little dicey among the top four or five drivers on the back straight-away," reflected Bell. "Everybody was fighting for Scott's draft. You're not going to make any friends doing that and everybody realizes that going in. It's not fun for anybody because it's a game of chicken in fighting for that draft bubble. I was able to sneak in and lock behind Scott for the last 10 laps or so. I knew I had to hold tight because if I broke rank, I probably wouldn't get a lot of help from Renna and Giaffone. The best I could hope was to look to sling shot out of the last corner on the last lap." If ever a frustrating day of racing could be, Fontana would be it for Bright. Bright started 10th but fell apart from any "drafting" partners by lap three. He dropped four positions before he found a slot to hitch. The highest position he recovered after that was 12th place on lap 30. Bell was named the "Move to the Front" award recipient for improving 14 positions during the race and received four Dayton Daytona racing tires. He also clinched the Bosch Platinum+4 Speedway Challenge and its winner-take-all purse of $10,000 with a total of 74 points accumulated in this year's oval track races. Dixon was second place with 64 points. Bell had already clinched Rookie of the Year honors with his runner-up showing at Houston in round 11. ESPN2 will provide an encore telecast of the Indy Lights season finale from Fontana on Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. ET (1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. PT).

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Townsend Bell , Tony Renna , Jason Bright