LIGHT ROUNDUP - CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship Race Report: Round 2 - Long Beach, California LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 8, 2001) - Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) grabbed a share of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship points lead with his ...
LIGHT ROUNDUP - CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship
Race Report: Round 2 - Long Beach, California
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 8, 2001) - Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) grabbed a share of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship points lead with his first win of the season Sunday at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Bell, starting from sixth on the grid, passed Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Lola) on lap 34 of 38 and went on to take his third career win and the second in the past three seasons for Dorricott Racing at Long Beach. Wheldon finished second, 3.775 seconds behind the leader, while Monterrey winner Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) crossed the finish line in third.
Bell and Higgins are now tied for the Dayton Indy Lights Championship points lead with 36 points. Wheldon is third with 27 points.
Mario Dominguez (Del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola) won the pole on Friday at an average speed of 93.260 mph (75.968 seconds), but his PacWest teammate Wheldon got the jump on him and outside front-row starter Jon Fogarty (Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola) at the start. As the PacWest drivers led the field through Turn 1, Fogarty got caught up in a contact incident under braking with fellow Dorricott driver Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola), Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) and Cory Witherill (WSA Healthcare/Motors Lola). While Kolby and Witherill continued after pit stops for quick repairs, Faulkner and Fogarty retired in their Long Beach debuts without completing a race lap.
After a four lap caution period - one of three on the day for 11 laps in total - the race went green on lap five with Wheldon and Dominguez leading Higgins in third, Bell in fourth and debuting driver Andy Booth (Brian Stewart Racing Lola) in fifth. Higgins was the first to make a move and passed Dominguez, the only driver among the leaders running a low downforce package, on Shoreline Drive on lap seven. Bell in turn slipped by Dominguez at the end of the Seaside Way straight on the same lap and then set his sights on Higgins for second. He made his move on lap 13 when he passed Higgins going into Turn 1.
Wheldon was initially more than a second ahead of Bell, but the Dorricott driver, aided by the final two caution periods, closed the gap to .4 of a second by lap 33. One lap later, he slipped by Wheldon for the lead and the win in Turn 1. The win was the third of Bell's career, in addition to Mid-Ohio and St. Louis in 2000, and came in Bell's 14th race start. The victory was also the ninth career win for Dorricott Racing and second in the last three years at Long Beach where the team first won with Philipp Peter in 1999.
Dominguez finished fourth, Kolby crossed the line fifth and Booth recovered from a late-race trip down the Turn 1 escape road to finish sixth.
<pre> Light Look - Top Five Light Look - Top Five Points 1. Townsend Bell 1. Derek Higgins 36 2. Dan Wheldon Townsend Bell 36 3. Derek Higgins 3. Dan Wheldon 27 4. Mario Dominguez 4. Mario Dominguez 25 5. Kristian Kolby 5. Kristian Kolby 18
Townsend Bell (#30 DirecPC Lola) "It's awesome to win at Long Beach. I used to come here when I was in high school and racing go-karts. I wasn't serious about being a professional race car driver back then. I've worked hard the last two years so it's really special for me to win this race. Dan (Wheldon) and I weren't necessarily that close during the race. Getting out of the hairpin that last time was about as close as I had been able. I pulled to within three or four car lengths then decided to go for it. After I made the pass it seemed easier to pull away. I don't know if Dan had a problem with his car but once I got past him it was smooth sailing to the checkered flag. I knew the race start would be a little dicey going into the first turn. Mario (Dominguez) was running with high downforce and the rest of us were on low. I decided not to charge into the corner and see how the field played out once we went green."
Dan Wheldon (#1 Gemstar/PacWest Lights Lola) "The start of the race was great. I knew I needed to be aggressive and gain positions as quickly as I could, which is what I did. It was great to lead for most of the race and my crew gave me a great car. On lap 34 I struggled a little with my gearbox and wasn't concentrating when Townsend Bell passed me. I honestly didn't think he would pass me as easily as he did and the yellow flags allowed him (Bell) to close in on me. I'm thrilled to bring PacWest to the podium at such a prestigious race as Long Beach."
Derek Higgins (#16 Mexpro StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) "I'm very happy but a bit frustrated that I couldn't be a bit more part of the race. I was trying to catch Dan (Wheldon) at the beginning of the race but my car was a bit pushy and had oversteer and I didn't want to stick into the wall. When Townsend (Bell) got around me, I made a big mistake changing a gear in turn one, and then I knew he would catch Dan. I did the best I could with the car that I had."
* Special Awards
Dayton Tire Awards: Townsend Bell receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Bell improved five positions to finish in first place after starting sixth. It is the first time a race winner has won a Dayton Move to the Front Award. Dan Wheldon receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient as the highest finishing first-year driver. Mario Dominguez receives a pair of Dayton Daytona racing tires as the fast qualifier.
WorldCom Fast Pace Award: Townsend Bell receives the $1,000 WorldCom Fast Pace Award for setting the fastest race lap.
Simple Green Clean-up Award: The Simple Green Award was not claimed in today's race, which rolls $5,000 over to the next event at Texas where $7,500 will be posted.
Nation's Cup: Ireland and the United States are tied for the lead in the Nation's Cup with Townsend Bell's win today. Each country has 36 points. England follows in third place with 27 points following Dan Wheldon's second place finish today.
Racing for Kids Award: Townsend Bell wins the Racing for Kids Award of $500. An additional $1,500 will be presented to the Miller Memorial Children's Hospital in Long Beach, California on behalf on Racing for Kids. Derek Higgins and Townsend Bell share the lead the RFK points championship with a total of 36 points each.
An encore telecast of Round 2 of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be shown on ESPN2 on Sunday, April 15th at 5 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT).
* Next Event
Round three of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will take place at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday, April 28, 2001.