WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 6, 2000) - - Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, ran an intelligent, error-free race to finish second place in round two of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the Milwaukee Mile, Monday, June 5. It...
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 6, 2000) - - Jason Bright, of Gold Coast, Australia, ran an intelligent, error-free race to finish second place in round two of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship at the Milwaukee Mile, Monday, June 5. It was Bright's second consecutive second place finish in the Indy Lights championship. He also scored runner-up honors in the season opener at Long Beach in April.
Teammates Casey Mears, of Bakersfield, Calif., and Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., also gained ground in their championship ambitions with fifth and sixth place finishes, respectively. The accumulated points among the three drivers places Dorricott Racing second, third, and 10th overall in the driver standings after two races.
Bright, who started on the outside pole, recovered from a shaky start but it didn't come easy. Tony Renna surprised Bright and polesitter Scott Dixon when he catapulted past them after starting fourth. Mears, who started next to Renna in third, opted to take the low side of the track but was forced to fall behind Dixon and Bright in fourth place. Renna led for the next 34 laps. Mario Dominguez, of Mexico, passed Mears on lap 19 for fourth place. Mears lost another position four laps later to Chris Menninga to slip to fifth place.
"I had an excellent run going on the race start," said Bright. "I was level with Scott (Dixon). If anything, I was a bit in front of him. I didn't see the green flag waving so I lifted for a fraction just to drop back into line then everybody got a run on me. I would have been in a better position on the start otherwise. Casey (Mears) slipped to the inside rounding the first corners but Tony Renna went outside and around everybody. My car was strong enough to stay wide in turn one and stick with Scott but the early peddle lift hurt."
Mechanical woes foiled Renna's race on lap 35 when he slowed enough for Dixon to re-take the lead. Renna was issued a black flag on lap 57 for a fluid spray from the rear of his car. He retired from the race after making a pit stop. This moved Bright back into second place. Mears remained in fifth place while Bell improved to seventh place after starting eighth.
A horrific crash on lap 78 with Jonny Kane, of Ireland, provided an unexpected opportunity for Dorricott drivers. Kane lost control of his Indy Lights Lola while exiting turn three propelling him violently sideways into the turn four wall. The car contacted the wall on the driver's right and skidded down the front straight-away upside down. Kane was uninjured but a caution period was called for the next 12 laps.
A green flag on lap 91 was quickly squelched when Todd Snyder spun into the turn four wall on the re-start. Snyder was uninjured but his crash set the stage for a five-lap "trophy dash" finish. Dixon got an early jump on the field when the race resumed on lap 95 of the 100 lap sprint. Bright tried to power closer but Dixon had already shot around two corners. Bell, however, charge through his immediate challengers and overtook Brazilian Felipe Giaffone on lap 97 for sixth place. Mears held steady in fifth place while Bright finished in second place behind Dixon.
A pre-race mini-drama nearly ended Mears race before it started. A broken gear shifter and a last minute gear change had Mears and crew on pins and needles moments before the car was to be moved out to the starting grid.
"Right before we were about to bring the car to the grid, LJ (chief mechanic John Martin Jr.) put the car in gear so it wouldn't roll forward," said Mears. "The gear shifter broke. We grabbed some super glue to quickly repair the shifter. Then I put the team through a last minute scramble when I requested a gear change. The change really helped in the race so I'm glad I made it. My crew are real pros. They always hustle and do a great job."
Bright earned 16 championship points for second place and trails Dixon for the series lead, 42-32. Bright, however, remains firmly in the lead for Rookie-of-the-Year with a 14 point margin over Jeff Simmons, of East Granby, Conn., 32-18. Mears earned 10 points to move into third place in the driver standings with 20 points. Bell scored eight points and moved to 10th place.
"I was a little too loose in turns three and four most of the race," said Bell. "The wind was blowing through the corners enough to upset the car so I couldn't peddle my way through like I wanted. Once I figured out the best line, the car became more stable so I was able to sail through the first two turns with a lot of confidence.
Bright was also awarded two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient for being the highest finishing Indy Lights rookie driver.
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.
Round three of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Sunday, June 18.