Points Lead Gives Bell Dayton Indy Lights Pole In St. Louis Rain Washes Out Qualifying And Most Of Practice At Gateway International MADISON, Ill. (Aug. 25, 2001) - Series points leader Townsend Bell (DIRECWAY Lola) earned his third straight ...
Points Lead Gives Bell Dayton Indy Lights Pole In St. Louis
Rain Washes Out Qualifying And Most Of Practice At Gateway International
MADISON, Ill. (Aug. 25, 2001) - Series points leader Townsend Bell (DIRECWAY Lola) earned his third straight Dayton Indy Lights Championship pole with a little help from rainy skies Saturday at Gateway International Raceway. With qualifying and most of the weekend's practice sessions washed out, Bell was awarded the pole when the grid for Sunday's race was determined by point standings.
Bell, who leads the Dayton Indy Lights Championship with 126 points, will start from the top spot for the second consecutive year at Gateway and for the fifth time in nine races this season. In addition to Gateway, his pole run includes the most recent races at Toronto, July 15, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, August 12, as well as earlier poles this season at the Milwaukee Mile and Portland International Raceway. His Milwaukee pole also came after a qualifying rain out.
"It's a shame we didn't get a chance to qualify just like Milwaukee," Bell said. "These are the only two short ovals of the season. I love single car qualifying on these tracks or other ovals where you can take the car to its limit. It's fun and a challenge. It's disappointing I didn't have a chance to earn a bonus point if I could have won the pole. We have a decent car and we've been quickest both practices. As long as the track gets clean from the Silver Crown rubber tonight, we should have a good race tomorrow."
Bell won a $1,000 pole bonus and will be eligible for the Simple Green Clean-Up Award of $2,500 in tomorrow's race, but he will not be awarded the pole bonus point as per CART rules. Pole bonus points can only be awarded in official qualifying.
Bell's teammate and closest title challenger Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) will start second.
"It's obvious our track times aren't reflective of the times we're capable of recording," Faulkner said. "The weather took it out of our control. It's a shame because I was beginning to feel as if I was understanding the important techniques of running on the short ovals, so more track time was essential. We made progress from the morning session so I'm grateful we had at least one full practice. I think my times suggest I'll be competitive relative to Townsend. The fastest times from the afternoon practice are likely what we might be running during the race."
Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) and Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola) will fill row two while another set of teammates, Derek Higgins and Rudy Junco are in row three in their Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola). Junco is expected to start despite heavy contact with the Turn 4 wall late in the day's only full practice. Junco was uninjured but his race car was extensively damaged.
Luis Diaz (Telmex/Roquin Motorsports, LLC Lola) will start seventh. "We now have a good parameter of the car," Diaz said. "I think we can improve the car a lot before the next practice. Mother Nature was nice enough to give us one good practice today and I am looking forward to the next. We are ready to win."
Diaz's teammate Rolando Quintanilla (Telmex/Roquin Motorsports, LLC Lola) has missed what little track time the series has had this weekend and has struggled with mechanical trouble.
"After the second practice session today, the team found the problem with the engine," Quintanilla said. "Apparently, we have been struggling with a cracked cylinder head all day. We plan to change the engine before the third practice session and get some track time. I feel that my team will give me a good car for the race tomorrow and I am looking forward to a successful race."
The Dayton Indy Lights race can be seen late Sunday night in a one-hour show on ESPN2 at 2:00 a.m. (early Monday morning). Viewers on the West Coast can see the race at 11:00 p.m. PT Sunday night.
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