BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 4, 2001) - - Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., led a three-driver Dorricott Racing charge in final qualifying for Friday's 10th round of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Road Atlanta to capture...
BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 4, 2001) - - Townsend Bell, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., led a three-driver Dorricott Racing charge in final qualifying for Friday's 10th round of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Road Atlanta to capture the top three starting positions.
Bell was unmatchable in the DIRECWAY Lola as he cruised the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course with record-setting, pole winning time of 1:14.711 = 122.392 mph.
It was Bell's eighth career Indy Lights pole in 22 career starts, and his sixth pole position in the last seven races. Bell's other pole positions are Milwaukee, Portland, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and St. Louis in 2001; and Portland and St. Louis in 2000.
"We fortunately had a test day last week at Buttonwillow," said Bell. "That helped me reacclimatize to my Indy Lights car from the Champ car of Patrick Racing. I ran two good races in the CART FedEx Championship in Europe and I hope to run in that series full time next year. Patrick Racing gave me a great opportunity in running me in Europe. I want to be in a situation to win races in 2002. It helps being with a good team like Dorricott Racing particularly since Dorricott gives me a great car each race.
"It's a bit of a switch going back and forth from Indy Lights to a Champ car. Much of it is the difference in horsepower. Regardless, Road Atlanta is a great track and that made a difference too. Road Atlanta ranks as one of my top two or three favorite tracks anywhere. I raced here in 1998 in Barber Dodge and finished third."
The biggest surprise in qualifying came from Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., who qualified on the outside pole. It was made more remarkable in that he won the outside pole in his first race back from a five-race absence due to an injured disc in his cervical vertebrae. Fogarty's time wasn't far from Bell's at 1:14.887 = 122.104 mph.
"The most important thing in coming back is being able to go one hundred percent," said Fogarty. "I had an injury to my cervical vertebrae but I still felt good when I was out of the car. The doctors didn't want to take any chances so I sat out for awhile. Physically I feel one hundred percent. Emotionally, and considering I placed my car 'P2,' I feel even more fantastic. I had a lot of time to think when I wasn't racing about what I needed to do when I finally got back into a race car. My time off seems to have been productive in retrospect.
"I've raced at Road Atlanta before in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. It's fairly straight forward as a track but there is a good mix of really fast corners and slower corners like coming off the back straight-away. It's challenging and a blast to drive. It's one of my favorite tracks. The experience I've had in the past here was invaluable today."
Bell added, "I really want to congratulate Jon. I think it's really impressive that he ran the time he did after coming off an injury and sitting out awhile. I'm really happy for him and think he's the real star today."
Damien Faulkner, of Moville, Ireland, was hoping for better than third on the starting grid but he certainly wasn't dismayed with his best lap time of 1:15.389 = 121.291 mph.
"I should have done better but I'm not complaining about third," said Faulkner. "This is a great track and my teammates had outstanding laps. It can't get any better than having your entire team on the front rows. I was better in provisional qualifying but we made a few changes afterwards that didn't work. However, and to echo Townsend's words, it's good to see Jon back."
This is the first time in Dorricott Racing history that the team has swept the top-three qualifying positions for an Indy Lights race. It is only the fourth time in the 16-year history of Indy Lights that a team has captured the top-three positions on a starting grid, and Dorricott Racing is only the second Indy Lights team to ever achieve the feat. Tasman Motorsports took similar honors on three previous occasions including Vancouver in 1993, and at Milwaukee and Portland in 1994.
The 29 lap/73.66 mile Indy Lights sprint around Road Atlanta is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. (ET), Friday, Oct. 5. It is the featured support race for the Audi Petit Le Mans of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) that closes on Saturday with a 10-hour or 1,000-mile endurance race.
ESPN2 will provide a delayed telecast of the Road Atlanta Indy Lights race Monday, Oct. 15, from 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. ET (Sunday, Oct. 14, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. PT). All times are subject to change.