SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Sept. 13, 2000) - - Seven drivers including Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell, Casey Mears, and Jason Bright, remain in contention for the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship. However, one non-Dorricott driver could walk...
SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Sept. 13, 2000) - - Seven drivers including Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell, Casey Mears, and Jason Bright, remain in contention for the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Championship. However, one non-Dorricott driver could walk away from Gateway International Raceway this weekend with the title. That is the challenge facing Dorricott Racing as it prepares for round 10 of the 12-race series at the Motorola 300. The 79 lap/100.33 mile Indy Lights race around Gateway's 1.27-mile oval is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. CT, Sunday, Sept. 17. This will be the third overall Dayton Indy Lights appearance at Gateway and it is the featured support event for the CART FedEx Championship Series Motorola 300 later that day.
Remaining championship contenders will depend on two factors for Bell, Mears, and Bright. First, each driver must finish in the points. Second, series leader Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, cannot depart Gateway with a 44 point lead over any of the remaining seven contenders.
That makes for a hefty order on the Dorricott plate but not necessarily an unrealistic undertaking. Dixon leads by 42 points over second place Bell, 134-92. Mears is just one step behind with 91 points. Bright has more of a bridge to hurdle with 77 points, but Bright has already displayed this season an ability to "come through" under the most demanding circumstances. The highest point total a driver can achieve on any race weekend is 22 points. Their are multiple points possibilities but the number that matters most this weekend is 44.
Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., is looking to recoil at Gateway from a needless incident at Laguna Seca last weekend which cost him valuable points. Bell started 11th at Laguna Seca and had nudged into the top-10 by lap 10 after a slow start. His day fell apart on lap 15 when Derek Higgins attempted to pass him in Laguna Seca's 180 degree second corner. Instead of completing the pass, Higgins' right front tire struck Bell's left side tub and rear tire. Bell was jettisoned into the turn two wall while Higgins continued to a 14th place finish. Bell was uninjured but saddled with an 18th place finish.
Prior to Laguna Seca, Bell had a string of five consecutive top-four finishes dating back to round four at Portland where he won the pole and finished second place. Portland was followed by fourth place at Michigan, second place at Chicago, and a memorable career-first Indy Lights victory at Mid-Ohio. Bell didn't slow down at Vancouver either where he finished fourth place after starting fifth.
Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., is in a tie for third place with Brazilian Felipe Giaffone and coming of a pole position and second place finish at Laguna Seca. It was Mears second runner-up finish this season - a feat he also achieved at Michigan in round five. The nephew of four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rick Mears, Mears has six top-five finishes this year including third place at Detroit in round three, and a triplet of fifth place finishes at Long Beach, Milwaukee, and Mid-Ohio.
Mears has been a solid qualifier all year which is a key reason why he can't be counted out of a late season rally. He has qualified his Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola on the outside pole twice this season at Detroit and Chicago. He also qualified third at Milwaukee and fourth at Michigan. Furthermore, he is one of only three Indy Lights drivers who has scored championship points in every race this year. Mears consistency includes finishing races where he has completed 461 of 465 possible laps to date.
Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, had an uneventful race at Laguna Seca where he started ninth and finished eighth. What mattered most is he scored points and remained mathematically in the championship hunt.
Bright won at Portland in June following consecutive second-place finishes in the season opening events at Long Beach and Milwaukee. He has also been a consistently high qualifier. 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. He set a track record in winning the pole in round seven at Mid-Ohio before finishing third place.
Dorricott Racing has had success at Gateway. The last time the team visited the St. Louis area race track was in 1998 when Philipp Peter, of Monaco, artfully maneuvered to a second place finish.
Same-day television coverage of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship race from Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill, will be on ESPN2, Sunday, Sept.17, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. to 4:30 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.