By Chris Speigner - Motorsport.com Houston, TX - Casey Mears stood center podium for the first time today as he and teammate Townsend Bell finished 1 - 2. Their finish blows the points battle wide open for the Indy Lights Championship.
By Chris Speigner - Motorsport.com
Houston, TX - Casey Mears stood center podium for the first time today as he and teammate Townsend Bell finished 1 - 2. Their finish blows the points battle wide open for the Indy Lights Championship. Felipe Giaffone posted his fifth podium appearance with his third place finish.
Mears, who lead from the green to the checkered flag, dominated the race. No one was able to even challenge Mears. The first caution fell on an incident in turn seven when the #27 car of Jonny Kane blew a gearbox and spilled fluid on the track. A chain reaction brought Derrick Higgins, Jason Bright, and Scott Dixon crashing in on Kane. All four drivers retired from the race with no serious injuries. Mario Dominguez retired after an aerial ballet that dropped him into the front straight wall. After forty laps, Mears leads followed by Bell, Giaffone, Boss, and Menninga. The last yellow came to rookie Jeff Simmons on lap 33 when he got into an altercation with the pit exit wall that left him with major damage to the left front suspension of his car. He retires for the day. The course stays green for the remaining eight laps. Mears finishes first 1.2 seconds ahead of Bell, followed by Giaffone, Boss, and Menninga.
Casey Mears was at a loss on describing his first win. "I don't have the words to describe how this feels. It's been a while since I've won a race. My first couple of years in Lights were tough. Things started to come together last year when I joined Dorricott Racing. We did well last year in finishing second place in the championship but we went into this season looking to win a race and the championship."
Bell finished the race happy to collect points after a weekend plagued with troubles. "I was very lucky to cross the finish line in second place. We had problems most of the weekend. It was one of those races where you're happy to score points and leave knowing you're still in the championship hunt. Maybe we can go to Fontana and win this thing. Once again, Bob Dorricott has been so supportive. I really wanted a good result for Bob but also for my chief mechanic, Kerry Dunn, who had a very tough weekend and problems in the family that required him to leave before the race today."
When asked about the incident that took Scott Dixon from the race, Felipe Giaffone had this to say; "Looking at it from far away, it looked kind of stupid with everybody in the oil at the same time. It was like something was wrong there. I got slowed down and it was still really slippery. I almost hit Scott (Dixon). I was really lucky there. My car was pushing more than it has been because we made a change before the race. I could have tried to drive the care harder but did not want to put it in the wall."
Dixon is still on top in the championship with 134 points but Bell and Mears have closed to within five points. Bell is second in the championship with 130 points and Mears is third with 129. The three-way championship battle is the closest in the 15-year history of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
The next CART Dayton Indy Lights event will be the final race of the season at the California Speedway in Fontana, California.