MADISON, Ill. (Aug. 23, 2000) - Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner have proven they are the elite of the 2001 Indy Lights driver corps but podium finishes this weekend at Gateway International Raceway in round nine of the...
MADISON, Ill. (Aug. 23, 2000) - Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner have proven they are the elite of the 2001 Indy Lights driver corps but podium finishes this weekend at Gateway International Raceway in round nine of the 12-race series might possibly set the stage for a two-driver, down-the-stretch championship "race out" between teammates.
The 79 lap/100.33 mile Indy Lights race around Gateway's 1.27-mile oval is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. CT, Sunday, Aug. 26. This will be the fourth overall Dayton Indy Lights appearance at Gateway and it is the featured support event for the Indy Racing Northern Lights Series race later that day.
Bell and Faulkner are in first and second place, respectively, in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship with Bell leading Faulkner by 27 points, 126 to 99. The next closest challenger, Dan Wheldon, is another 17 points back with 83 points.
Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., is as hot a topic on the track as he is off. Away from the Indy Lights journey, Bell has caught the eye of Patrick Racing. Patrick Racing formally announced its agreement to provide him Champ Car tests at Mid-Ohio and Chicago Motor Speedway following round eight of the Indy Lights series at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Bell's Indy Lights title hunt has grown more determined. His four Indy Lights wins this year include back-to-back, flag-to-flag victories at Toronto and Mid-Ohio. Bell also won at Long Beach in April and the Milwaukee Mile in June. The first of Bell's five career Dayton Indy Lights wins came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year. His second career win was at Gateway International Raceway. Bell has also posted "fastest race lap" on five occasions this season.
Returning to Gateway will resurrect confident memories of one year ago when Bell won from the pole and Dorricott Racing finished first, second, and third place. Casey Mears was race runner-up and Jason Bright, of Australia, finished third place.
Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, is arguably the only driver realistically positioned to "rain on Bell's parade." Faulkner visits Gateway for his first time on the momentum of four consecutive podium finishes. He debuted at Monterrey and earned a deceivingly impressive seventh place finish. Faulkner excelled at Toronto and Mid-Ohio where he started fourth and third, respectively, and finished third place in each race. His five podium finishes this year also include wins at Texas Motor Speedway and Portland.
Faulkner's first career oval track win in April at Texas Motor Speedway was distinguishing because he had never previously raced on an oval let alone a superspeedway. His Portland triumph started from third on the grid. After leading 22 of 38 laps, Faulkner crossed the finish line an unchallenged 16.134-seconds ahead of runner-up Rudy Junco, of Mexico.
Faulkner became the Republic of Ireland's first European motor racing champion in 19 years by capturing the 2000 European Formula Palmer Audi Championship. The 25-year-old Moville resident dominated the EFPA's 20-race season behind six wins, seven poles, and 12 podium finishes. Faulkner was also named Ireland's 2000 International Motorsports Competitor of the Year.
Dorricott Racing's third driver, Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., announced two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio that he decided to forego hopes of returning to the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship due to a herniated disk located in his cervical vertebrae.
The 26-year-old driver of the No. 32 Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola had missed the previous three races at Portland, Kansas, Toronto. A full recovery is expected and Fogarty plans to resume his driving duties with Dorricott Racing for the 2002 race season. A replacement driver for Gateway has not been selected.
ESPN2 will provide a same day telecast of the Gateway International Raceway Indy Lights race Sunday, August 26, from 11:00 p.m. to midnight PT (Monday, Aug. 27, from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. ET). An encore telecast is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 30 at 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. PT ( 11:00 - 12:00 p.m. ET). All times are subject to change.