SUNNYVALE, Calif. (July 4, 2001) - Kansas Speedway is new to Dorricott Racing but it doesn't take away the fact that Indy Lights' hottest team is hunting its fifth win-in-a-row in 2001 in the inaugural event of the Dayton Indy Lights ...
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (July 4, 2001) - Kansas Speedway is new to Dorricott Racing but it doesn't take away the fact that Indy Lights' hottest team is hunting its fifth win-in-a-row in 2001 in the inaugural event of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship around the 1.5-mile superspeedway, Sunday, July 8.
The 67 lap/100 mile Indy Lights race is scheduled to begin at 2:45 p.m. (CT) and follows the featured Indy Racing Northern Lights Series Ameristar Casino 200 that runs prior to the sixth round of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., is looking for his third win, third pole, and third podium of the year in his Kansas debut. The current Indy Lights points leader holds a five-point advantage over second place Derek Higgins, of Ireland, 71-66.
Bell opened with a solid second place finish in the season opener at Monterrey, Mexico. His DirecPC Lola then dominated the fast-pace street circuit at Long Beach to win round two.
Bell's next impact came at Milwaukee. It was more than just his second win of the year and fourth career Indy Lights victory. He literally devastated an entire race field. Bell started from the poll, led every lap, ran the fastest lap of the race (0:24.222 = 153.381 mph), and then became the first driver in Indy Lights history to lap an entire field during a race. In fact, he lapped all but race runner-up Mario Dominguez, of Mexico, twice. Bell also set a race record average speed of 142.481 mph, breaking Mike Groff's 1989 Milwaukee track race record of 124.883 mph.
All totaled, Bell's Milwaukee earnings totaled $37,500 - a new record for Dayton Indy Lights purse payouts. Bell's victory was the third consecutive win for Dorricott Racing in 2001 and 11th career victory in 201 starts.
The first of Bell's four career Dayton Indy Lights wins came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last year. He second career win was at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
Bell's hot streak continued through Portland qualifying where he won the pole. His good tidings turned, however, on the race start. As Bell entered Portland first of 12-turns, his DirecPC Lola began a slow rain induced slide toward the inside of the turn. As he slid into a gravel pit, PacWest Lights drivers Wheldon and Mario Dominguez struck each other nose-to-tail entering the corner and, in turn, struck Dorricott Racing's Damien Faulkner from behind. Faulkner was pushed through the corner and into the run-off where he maintained control his Lola Indy Lights car and rejoined the race in third place. Bell, meanwhile, became stuck in the gravel and needed an "up and out" lift before continuing.
"We're leading by 5 points but we're kicking ourselves a bit for leaving some points on the table at Portland," said Bell. "Regardless, I feel pretty good about where we stand at this point in the season. We're still learning more with each outing and we continue to improve the package we have."
Damien Faulkner, of Dublin, Ireland, is viewing Kansas in a different light than he thought he might a few races back. Strangely enough, it is possible for Faulkner to leave Kansas Speedway leading the championship. Faulkner is currently in third place with 55 points.
Faulkner made his Indy Lights debut at Monterrey and earned a deceivingly impressive seventh place finish. Long Beach proved disappointing, however, when he crashed on the opening lap with teammate, Jon Fogarty. It was not either Dorricott driver's fault. Fogarty was rear-ended by Danish driver Kristian Kolby in the first corner at Long Beach on the race start. Kolby plowed his nosecone into Fogarty's gearbox and diffuser and, in turn, pushed him into Faulkner. Faulkner, who started fourth at Long Beach, never saw the contact coming as he spun and stopped in the middle of the turn. Both Dorricott Racing drivers were unhurt but their cars were unable to continue.
Faulkner stunned Indy Lights followers at Texas Motor Speedway in round three when he extended Dorricott Racing's podium finishes in 2001 to three-straight by winning the pole and race. What distinguished his victory was he had never previously raced on an oval let alone a superspeedway.
The 25 year-old Irishman's next triumph was one race ago at Portland where he started third on the grid. After leading 22 of 38 laps, Faulkner crossed the finish line an astounding 16.134-seconds ahead of runner-up Rudy Junco, of Mexico. Simply stated, Faulkner has won two of his first five career Indy Lights races. A win at Kansas would place him among an elite few with three wins or more in their first year of Indy Lights competition.
"It was great to get my second win this early in the season but looking back, perhaps that should have been my third or maybe even fourth," said Faulkner. "Once the rain came I knew it was for me."
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 Dublin 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. This prestigious award is the same that had previously been won by Formula One star Eddie Irvine on two occasions.
"I came to America to further my career," said Faulkner. "I have a job to do and races to win and hopefully that will lead to a Championship. I aim to improve from third place in the standings this weekend in Kansas."
Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., is having the most frustrating season of his career and practically all is due to ill timing, poor racing luck, and a nearly recognizable injury that sidelined him at Portland.
Fogarty optimistically opened the season with third place at Monterrey. His problems began at Long Beach where he never made it to through turn one. Fogarty was a sure podium finisher at Texas Motor Speedway late in the race when Englishman Dan Wheldon nosed his car into him while was running in the second place. Fogarty slammed against the front straight-away's outside wall but was uninjured.
Milwaukee nearly had a happy ending. Fogarty started from the outside pole and was completing a final pace lap when Higgins accidentally accelerated into the rear of the Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola. Both cars were seeking to warm their tires with Fogarty swerving left and right. Fogarty was forced back to pit lane where his crew repaired the car. He missed the first 20 laps of the race, however. Fogarty is in 10th place with 22 points.
Fogarty was forced to withdraw from round five at Portland International Raceway with, according to Fogarty, a herniated disk located between his C-3 and C-4 vertebrae. It is hoped that he will have recovered enough for Kansas that he will be cleared to compete.
Kansas will be round three of the Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge Award that pays $10,000 to the driver accumulating the most points in 2001's six oval track events. Faulkner leads with 22 points. Bell is close behind with 21 points.
ESPN2 will telecast the Kansas Speedway Indy Lights race on ESPN2, Monday, July 9, at 1:00 a.m. ET (Sunday, July 8 from 10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. PT).
Dorricott Racing is a year-round professional motorsports organization with its race shop located in Bakersfield, Calif., and its corporate office based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Race results, team, and sponsor information are available on Dorricott Racing's official web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com.