INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE DECIDED BETWEEN ORIOL SERVIA AND CASEY MEARS AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Oct. 26, 1999) - Three things are certain as the 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship faces its final ...
INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP TO BE DECIDED BETWEEN ORIOL SERVIA AND CASEY MEARS AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Oct. 26, 1999) - Three things are certain as the 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship faces its final and championship deciding race of the 20th century. Dorricott Racing's Oriol Servia, Casey Mears, and Philipp Peter will come and leave Fontana as close friends; the Indy Lights crown will be bestowed upon Servia or Mears; and Peter isn't the least bit as interested in which teammate wins the title as he is in becoming the series only four-time race winner in 1999.
This year's Indy Lights finale marks the third appearance of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship on the 2.029-mile oval at Fontana, Calif. An anticipated field of approximately 22 cars is expected to take the green flag at 9:50 a.m. (PT) for 50 laps (101.45 miles), setting the stage for the CART FedEx Championship Series Marlboro 500 later that day.
The 25-year-old Servia holds a 14-point advantage over Mears, 130-116, and can win the Indy Lights Championship outright with a fifth place finish or better. Peter, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, is in a battle for third place in the championship with Scott Dixon, but can secure the spot with a fourth place finish or better. Peter sports a 10 point lead over Dixon for third place, 98-88.
Servia's success can be attributed to eight top-five finishes in 11 Indy Lights races including five second-place showings at Nazareth, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto, and Detroit. Combined with his most recent seventh place finish at Laguna Seca (Sept. 12), fourth place at Chicago, and fifth place showings at Milwaukee and Michigan, Servia has only finished out of the top-10 once this season (Long Beach, 12th).
Servia, who hails from Pals, Catalonia, Spain, has also distinguished himself with eight top-four qualifying starts, of which, four have been on the front row. His series leading three pole positions came at Nazareth, Portland, and Detroit. A veteran European F-3 driver, Servia is Indy Light's third most consistent finisher this year having completed 629 of 635 laps and 936.258 miles out of a possible 947.202 miles.
Mears, however, is consistency's model. The Bakersfield, Calif.-native is the only driver in Indy Lights who has completed every Indy Lights race lap and every mile run this season.
After scoring season opening back-to-back fifth place finishes at Homestead and Long Beach, Mears added fourth place at Portland in round five. Besides runner-up in race seven at Michigan, Mears has three other podium visits to his credit including third place at Nazareth in round three, second place at Milwaukee in round four, and third place at Chicago in race 10. His momentum to Fontana hasn't faded as he finished ahead of Servia at Laguna Seca in fifth place. His Sooner Trailer/American Racing Custom Wheels Lola has scored top-10 finishes in each race and hasn't finished lower than ninth place.
Peter returns to Fontana seeking to finish in third place but to also be the first and only four-time winner on the Indy Lights circuit this season. His electrifying victory at Michigan in round eight proved his uncanny abilities on a superspeedway. His overall ability has been further validated through second and fifth round victories at Long Beach and Portland. Consistency describes his season too. Peter is second place in Indy Lights for consistent finishes with 944.198 miles and 633 laps completed.
A European road racing veteran, the Austrian-born Peter holds the distinction of winning the closest race in CART-sanctioned history. Peter's Red Bull/Remus/ESTEBE/Chicco d' Oro Lola literally battled nose-to-tail for more than 96 miles before Peter prevailed over Mears by an imperceptible 0.002-seconds - the closest race finish in the history of Indy Lights and CART-sanctioned events - in round eight on Michigan Speedway's two-mile superspeedway oval.
The previous closest victory in Indy Lights history was when Calvin Fish defeated Mike Groff by 0.028-seconds at Nazareth Speedway in 1988. The former record for the closest victory in CART-sanctioned history was Mark Blundell's 0.027-second victory over Gil de Ferran at Portland in 1997.
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 may be viewed on Dorricott Racing's official web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com.
ESPN2 will telecast the Indy Lights season finale, Sunday, Oct 31, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. PT). An encore showing will air on ESPN2 on Monday, Nov. 1, at 2:00 a.m. ET (Oct. 31@11:00 p.m. PT).