Long Beach Friday qualifying report

Dominguez Grabs Provisional Pole Friday At Long Beach Series Veteran Snags Top Spot After Joining PacWest Less Than A Month Ago LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 6, 2001) - Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola) joined the PacWest Lights team...

Dominguez Grabs Provisional Pole Friday At Long Beach Series Veteran Snags Top Spot After Joining PacWest Less Than A Month Ago

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 6, 2001) - Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola) joined the PacWest Lights team less than one month ago, but that didn't stop him from winning the provisional pole Friday in first round qualifying for Round Two of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship this Sunday at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Recent testing has helped Dominguez and PacWest gel as a team and it showed at Long Beach. The third-year driver from Mexico lapped the 1.968-mile Long Beach track at an average speed of 93.260 mph. In total, it was a good day for PacWest as the team's other driver Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Lola) qualified third at an average speed of 92.716 mph.

"My car has been good all day," Dominguez said. "I was second in the morning and the track improved a lot this afternoon with more rubber on the circuit, so I could really go for it. We made some good changes to the car between sessions, and our hard work paid off. I'm very confident with my car and team, and I think once we do a few more minor changes tonight, I can improve more tomorrow to stay on the pole. I'm ready to go."

The 30-minute session was slowed by two red flag periods, one for a hairpin tangle between Dorricott Racing teammates Jon Fogarty (Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola) and Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola). Both drivers continued with Fogarty second and Faulkner in fourth.

"I was on a really fast lap and pushing hard," Fogarty said. "I came up on Damien and closed fast approaching the final left-hander before the hairpin. The data on my pi system registered that I was running faster than my best lap earlier in the session. Damien pulled wide so I thought he was going to let me pass. What Damien was actually doing was taking an extra wide line through the hairpin so he could come across the start-finish line with more speed. I didn't know he too was looking to make that lap his best counter. I went to the apex when Damien curled wide. He turned in but didn't know I was already there. It was a miscommunication on both of our parts. The car has more in it and I'm getting a good feel for the circuit. It's interesting that the provisional pole and the third fastest car are running on high downforce. It's hard to tell right now what direction to take but I think a low downforce may be the best route for the race. We make our final decisions after reviewing the data."

"We were headed to a good session," Faulkner said. "The car was sticking to 'P2' and 'P3' most of the time. I wasn't looking to take any risks. I was backing off a bit to save the car and tires. Everything ran smoothly until I took a wide turn coming out of the hairpin looking for a sweet run into the straightaway. I think Jon thought I saw him coming when he started to set up for a pass. However, I didn't see him coming and I wasn't planning on letting him pass. We touched and I spun around."

Another stoppage occurred when rookie Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) was uninjured when he hit the wall in Turn 9. His race car is expected to be repaired by tomorrow.

Mexico winner Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com) rounded out the top five while Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) capped an eventful session with the sixth fastest time despite an small engine compartment fire in mid-session.

"We were stung with bad timing," Bell said. "We had an oil fire that brought me back to pit lane. It looked more spectacular than it really was but it cost me time. Two cars also crashed in front of me during the session. One was at the start then later Kolby crashed. The lap Kolby crashed was going to be my good lap. I think it would have been a pole lap but we got caught out and never found a clean line at the end of the session. That's street race qualifying for you. We'll come back swinging tomorrow."

Final qualifying is Saturday.

-Indy Lights-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Jon Fogarty , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Derek Higgins , Mario Dominguez , Damien Faulkner , Kristian Kolby
Teams Conquest Racing