ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Sept. 15, 2000) - - Sunny, balmy weather greeted Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell, Casey Mears, and Australian Jason Bright for Friday's 40-minute morning practice in preparation for round 10 of the 12-race Dayton Indy...
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Sept. 15, 2000) - - Sunny, balmy weather greeted Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell, Casey Mears, and Australian Jason Bright for Friday's 40-minute morning practice in preparation for round 10 of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Gateway International Raceway this Sunday.
Practice began on schedule at 9:30 a.m. (CT) with a steady breeze blowing from the north down the front straight-away of Gateway's four-corner, 1.27-mile oval. Dayton Tire engineers reported a track temperature of 83 degrees at the start of practice with an ambient temperature of 69 degrees.
Mears brought out the only yellow flag of the session. With three minutes gone in the session, Mears lost traction entering turn four and slid into the outside wall. The car ricocheted to a stop on the inside corner of the turn. Mears was uninjured and exited the car under his own power.
"We made a few changes from when we tested here with the hope of improving the front end set," said Mears. "I was working up to speed and not even close to pushing it when I pinned the nose driving over the bump in the last corner. Most of the other cars were running faster. The nose bit and I lost the rear. We stiffened the right rear spring and softened the front springs from the test but it obviously wasn't the right change. We're going to go back to the set-up we had in testing."
Practice was delayed short of six minutes with the green flag waving at 9:39 a.m. Series leader Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, was fastest after 10 minutes at 0.31:356 = 145.809 mph. Mears' time was second fastest at 0.31:359 = 145.795 mph.
Dixon was generally the fastest driver throughout practice except for a few minutes at the midway point when Tony Renna crept to the top.
Bright and Bell ran in the middle of the pack for most of the session with Bell hitting the top-five as practice ended. The checkered flag closed the session at 10:10 a.m. with Dixon fastest at 0.29:489 = 155.041 mph.
Bell was fifth fastest in the DirecPC Lola at 0.29:888 = 152.971 mph. Bright was eighth quickest at 0.30:119 = 151.798 mph.
"We experimented with a different set-up than when we tested earlier," said Bell. "We may have found something that's worth pursuing. We took it easy while working our way up to speed. This track has a greater disparity end-to-end. Turns one and two are tighter while turns three and four are more open. It's an extreme similarity to Phoenix. It's not a particularly tricky track. You have to pay attention to the bumps in turns three and four. They caught Casey off-guard this morning."