Michigan Detroit News 100 preview

DETROIT (July 19, 2000) - The Detroit News 100 - an annual highlight on the Dayton Indy Lights Championship schedule - will be run for the third-consecutive year at Michigan Speedway during this weekend's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota. The 50...

DETROIT (July 19, 2000) - The Detroit News 100 - an annual highlight on the Dayton Indy Lights Championship schedule - will be run for the third-consecutive year at Michigan Speedway during this weekend's Michigan 500 Presented by Toyota. The 50 lap/100-mile Indy Lights sprint will close Saturday's racing activity on the two-mile superspeedway with the green flag scheduled to drop at 4:15 p.m. The race will be televised Sunday on ESPN2 from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. ET.

The Detroit News 100 marks the third straight appearance of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Michigan and the fourth appearance of CART's top-rung development series at the track in the past five years. Practice and qualifying on Thursday and Friday will precede Saturday's race.

American Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) won from the pole as a rookie at Michigan in 1998 and joins Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) as former superspeedway race winners entered in Saturday's race. Kane won the 1999 season-ending race at California Speedway from the pole and earned the top qualifying spot last season for The Detroit News 100. He also won from the pole in the Indy Lights race in Detroit last month.

Renna, who scored a season's best fourth-place finish at Portland one race ago, teams with championship points leader Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) on the PacWest Lights team. Dixon won the year's opening races at Long Beach and Milwaukee and led at California last season before a cut tire dropped him from contention.

Dixon has a three point lead in the championship (56 - 53) over rookie Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola), this year's final race winner who scored his first victory at Portland. Bright is one of two first-year members of Dorricott Racing, the team that produced the closest finish in CART history at Michigan last year - Phillip Peter edged Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola) by .002 of a second - and won the championship with FedEx Championship Series rookie Oriol Servia.

Mears is the senior driver on the Dorricott team and a veteran of five Indy Lights superspeedway races. He is third in the championship with 40 points and had a strong weekend in Detroit last month where he qualified a career-best second and finished a season's best third in the race.

Another veteran to watch is Brazilian Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) who finished third at Michigan last year and second at California in 1998. He and Rodolfo Lavin (Corona/Modelo/SportsYA.com Lola) are the only drivers in the series who have competed in each of three Indy Lights races run at Michigan, but only Giaffone has managed to finish in the points in each race. His solid Michigan record includes a 10th-place finish in 1996 and a ninth-place showing in 1998 in addition to the podium result last year. Renna and Mears lead a record group of nine drivers - half of the full-time starting field - from the United States in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship this season. The lineup includes Portland pole winner Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) who teams with fellow Californian Mears and Bright at Dorricott. Other American drivers include Cory Witherill (WSA Healthcare Lola), Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola), rookies Todd Snyder (Outpost.com Lola) and Jeff Simmons (KOOL Lola) and brothers Geoff Boss (Cross Pens/Lacoste/ITIS Lola) and Andy Boss (Cross Pens/Lacoste/ITIS Lola).

Witherill, who has finished fourth at California the last two years, has recently switched teams and will debut with the returning Indy Regency Racing outfit at Michigan. Menninga finished a career-best fourth at Milwaukee last month and will make his third career superspeedway start after running Michigan and California in his rookie season. Snyder and Simmons battled for the Barber Dodge Pro Series championship the last two years and have now taken their rivalry to Indy Lights. Simmons finished a season's best third at Portland and is fourth in the championship with 36 points. The Boss brothers are teammates for the second consecutive year at Lucas Motorsports Ltd.

Next to the United States, Mexico has the most drivers entered in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at five. The leader of the group is Mario Dominguez (Herdez/Pegaso/Quaker State Lola) who was the only driver in the series to finish in the top five in both superspeedway races last year, finishing fourth at Michigan and fifth at California. He joins points leader Dixon as the only drivers in the series who have completed all 208 race laps (285.830 miles) run in the year's first four races. Dominguez is fifth in the championship with 35 points.

Other drivers from Mexico include Lavin and rookies Rolando Quintanilla (Telmex/Prodigy Internet Lola), Luis Diaz (Quaker State Mexico Lola) and Rudy Junco (Mexpro Lola). Quintanilla ran as high as second before crashing in his series debut at California last year, Diaz teams with Dominguez at Team Mexico Quaker Herdez and Junco drives for the first-year Team Mexpro operation.

The Detroit News 100 is also the second round of the Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge. This winner-take-all award of $10,000 will be paid to the driver earning the most points in this year's five Dayton Indy Lights Championship oval track races. After Round One in Milwaukee, Dixon has moved of to an early lead with 22 points. He is followed by Bright (16 points) and Dominguez (14 points). In addition to Milwaukee and Michigan, other circle track races on the Bosch schedule include Chicago Motor Speedway (July 30), Gateway International Raceway (Sept. 17) and the season ending Indy Lights 100 Presented by The Los Angeles Times at California Speedway (Oct. 29).

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Casey Mears , Cory Witherill , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Chris Menninga , Townsend Bell , Luis Diaz , Rolando Quintanilla , Jonny Kane , Rodolfo Lavin , Tony Renna , Jason Bright , Jeff Simmons , Geoff Boss , Todd Snyder , Philipp Peter , Rudy Junco