SUNNYVALE, Calif. (August 31, 2000) - Townsend Bell and his Dorricott Racing teammates Jason Bright and Casey Mears are hoping to redefine the term "hot team" as they make their way to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, for the Molson Indy Vancouver...
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (August 31, 2000) - Townsend Bell and his Dorricott Racing teammates Jason Bright and Casey Mears are hoping to redefine the term "hot team" as they make their way to Vancouver, B.C., Canada, for the Molson Indy Vancouver and round eight of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
This year's event will be the ninth time since 1990 that Indy Lights has raced in western Canada, but the terms and conditions of the race may be graphically different than when Indy Lights last visited Vancouver in 1998. Gone is the familiar downtown street circuit through Concord Pacific Place. City expansion, which threatened the preservation of the race at one time, is on-going. A final circuit configuration may not be determined until later in race week. Regardless, an anticipated 18-car Indy Lights field is expected to take the green flag Sunday, Sept. 3, at 10:30 a.m. (PT) for 42-laps around the projected 1.781-mile downtown street circuit.
Vancouver offers a new opportunity for Dorricott Racing to continue asserting itself as Indy Lights' premier team. After finishing first, second, and third place in the 1999 Indy Lights championship, Dorricott Racing looks at Vancouver as an avenue to improve on its current hold on second, third, and fourth place in the driver's championship.
Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., is in the midst of a literal "podium" streak behind the power of his DirecPC Lola. The 25-year old Barber Dodge Pro Series alum jump-started his title hopes at Portland in round four when he won the pole and finished second place. He then scored a fourth place finish on the fast banks of Michigan International Speedway before earning second place on the treacherous short oval at Chicago Motor Speedway.
Bell's front-running tendencies matured in round seven at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when he qualified second and then went on to literally "run away" with a flag-to-flag victory - his first career Indy Lights win in only his seventh career Indy Lights start. Bell is postured to take the series lead at Vancouver should Indy Lights leader Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, falter. Dixon holds an uncomfortable 13-point advantage over Bell, 93-80.
Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, makes his Vancouver debut looking to mitigate recent misfortunes that have slowed his otherwise strong contentions and podium finishes. The biggest question Bright has been answering is how his recuperation from a severe crash at Chicago Motor Speedway less than a month ago has been going.
Bright captured his first career Indy Lights victory at Portland, but was forced to miss round six at Chicago due to injuries suffered in a practice session accident that also required him to spend a night at Chicago's Loyola University Hospital. He then spent the greater portion of the next seven days in Indianapolis receiving treatment and therapy for muscle injuries in his lower back.
He answered the cynics one race later by claiming a record-shattering pole position and third place finish at Mid-Ohio. It shouldn't have come as a surprise since Bright had qualified well all year. Besides starting fifth at Michigan in his first career superspeedway race, he opened his Indy Lights campaign by starting third at Long Beach, second at Milwaukee and Portland, and fifth at Detroit. The Australian "wild card" at Mid-Ohio proved he was not only tough enough to race so soon after disaster, but also healthy enough to win if a couple of breaks would have fallen his way. Bright is in third place with 72 points.
Meanwhile, Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., is coming off a fifth place showing at Mid-Ohio in round seven after a misleading 10th place at Chicago in round six. Mears started on the outside pole at Chicago and was in a near perfect position to make a race-winning move with nine laps remaining when Chris Menninga attempted an ill-timed outside pass of Mears. Menninga only accomplished bringing his left rear tire down onto Mears' right front tire sending both cars into the outside wall. Mears was uninjured but relegated to 10th place in the finishing order. Menninga was transported to a nearby local hospital where he was examined and released.
Mears is a proven front-runner as evidenced by his second place finish at Michigan in July. His eight championship points from Mid-Ohio pushed his season total to 69 points and fourth place in the driver standings going into Vancouver.
Same-day television coverage of Dayton Indy Lights Championship race from Vancouver will be over ESPN2, Sunday, Sept. 3, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET (3:00-4:00 p.m. PT) .