Townsend Bell Looks To Win Indy Lights Title At Laguna Seca Damien Faulkner Remains In Hot Pursuit! MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 11, 2001) - - It's not too soon to suggest that a season's worth of effort is riding on one race, but this...
Townsend Bell Looks To Win Indy Lights Title At Laguna Seca
Damien Faulkner Remains In Hot Pursuit!
MONTEREY, Calif. (Oct. 11, 2001) - - It's not too soon to suggest that a season's worth of effort is riding on one race, but this weekend's Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey is certainly the pivotal, if not deciding round, for Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell and Damien Faulkner.
This year's annual return to the picturesque central California coastline will celebrate the 16th overall and consecutive visit of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Monterey. The green flag is scheduled to drop Sunday, Oct. 14, at 10:30 a.m. (PT) for the 34-lap, 76.092-mile sprint around Laguna Seca's picturesque 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course. This will be the 11th round of the 12-race Indy Lights season, and will precede the CART FedEx Championship Series Honda Grand Prix later that day.
The situation is fairly simple. Bell leads the Indy Lights championship by 26 points over both Faulkner and Dan Wheldon, of England, 149-123. Mario Dominguez, of Mexico, is fourth with 107 points and the only remaining Indy Lights driver with a mathematical chance of winning the championship. Any combination of finishes that provide Bell a 23-point advantage over all other Indy Lights drivers by Sunday afternoon will hand the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship to Bell.
Bell has been a dominating force in Indy Lights this year. Bell has been in a figurative "class of his own" in three races by winning the pole, leading the most laps, and winning the race in his series leading four wins. Besides flag-to-flag victories at Milwaukee, Toronto, and Mid-Ohio, Bell also won at Long Beach in April. Bell has posted "fastest race lap" on five occasions this season.
Apart from his Indy Lights tour of duty, Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., recently competed in two FedEx Champ car events for Patrick Racing in Germany and England. Driving the Visteon Toyota Reynard, Bell finished both races and scored his first CART championship point with a 12th place finish in his second start at England.
Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, has modeled podium consistency throughout 2001 and has collected two victories along the way. He started third and finished third place last weekend at Road Atlanta but his tone for success actually surfaced in his Indy Lights debut at Monterrey, Mexico, where he 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 six podium finishes 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.
The return of Portola Valley, Calif.'s, Jon Fogarty at Road Atlanta last week has added spice to the Dorricott Racing formula. Fogarty qualified on the outside pole and finished fifth. He is currently in 12th place with 30 points.
The 26-year-old driver of the No. 32 Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola announced at Mid-Ohio during round eight that he did not foresee completing the 2001 race season due to a herniated disk in his cervical vertebrae. In fact, he had missed the three preceding consecutive races at Portland, Kansas, and Toronto, and subsequently did not race at Mid-Ohio and St. Louis. His recent medical clearance led to a flawless two-day, pre-Atlanta test session at Buttonwillow Raceway Park near Bakersfield, Calif.
Fogarty is a force to be reckoned. He caught the attention of many during his Indy Lights debut at Monterrey, Mexico, when he finished in third place finish. However, his next three races were frustrating. Fogarty suffered a race-ending accident on the opening lap at Long Beach when Faulkner was rear ended by Kristian Kolby, of Denmark, and pushed into Fogarty. Fogarty's disappointment continued at Texas Motor Speedway when he was pushed against the outside wall late in the race by Wheldon while running in second place.
Milwaukee's race started optimistically for Fogarty. He started on the outside pole and was completing the third pace lap when Derek Higgins, of Ireland, inadvertently accelerated into the rear of Fogarty's Lola. Both cars were seeking to warm their tires with Fogarty swerving left and right. Fogarty was able to continue to pit lane for repairs but he missed the first 20 laps of the race.
ESPN2 will provide a delayed telecast of the Laguna Seca Indy Lights race Monday, Oct. 15, from 2:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. ET (Sunday, Oct. 14, from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. PT). All times are subject to change.