LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 11, 2000) - On the rebound after missing the last Dayton Indy Lights Championship race two weeks ago at Chicago Motor Speedway, Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) rebounded to win the provisional pole in Friday's first round qualifying...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (Aug. 11, 2000) - On the rebound after missing the last Dayton Indy Lights Championship race two weeks ago at Chicago Motor Speedway, Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) rebounded to win the provisional pole in Friday's first round qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This is the first appearance of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Mid-Ohio in five years.
Kane topped one of the closest qualifying sessions in series history with a lap around the 2.258-mile road course at an average speed of 107.554 mph (75.579 seconds). The top seven drivers are separated by 8/100ths of a second while the top dozen qualifiers all clocked times within one second.
Kane was uninjured in a qualifying accident at Chicago but his KOOL Lola was unable to be repaired in time for the race. Despite winning from the pole at Detroit in June, Kane is now 45 points - more than two races - behind championship leader Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) and ranks 10th in the championship with 32 points. Dixon, who leads the standings with 77 points, qualified 12th fastest Friday at an average speed of 106.231 mph (76.520 seconds).
"I think we are ready for a good run for the rest of the year and don't see any reason why we can't get back in the hunt," Kane said. "We have not use any new tires yet. We are on set one today and have two new sets for tomorrow."
Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing/Sooner Trailer Lola) was second fastest Friday, just .004-of-a-second behind Kane at an average speed of 107.583 mph (75.583 seconds).
"It's awesome to have Indy Lights back at Mid-Ohio," Mears said. "The entire time I've race Indy Lights, it's been a big gripe with many drivers that Mid-Ohio wasn't on the schedule. Mid-Ohio is one of the best road circuits in the United States. Regarding my comfort level on road courses, it has to be remembered that my background is in road racing. It's been my good fortune to have had good set-ups and some success on the ovals. Perhaps my oval success is more obvious but my heritage and foundations come from road racing. Mid-Ohio is a little rougher as tracks go and more physically demanding but that's part of the fun of racing here." Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) was third quick at an average speed of 107.507 mph (75.612 seconds).
Former Barber Dodge drivers Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola), Jeff Simmons (KOOL Lola), Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola) and Andy Boss (Cross Pens/Lacoste/ITIS Lola) completed the impressive top seven that all fell within .80 of a second. Bell ranked fourth fastest but crashed a lap after setting his quick time. He was uninjured and will be back in action Saturday.
"I made a mistake in turn 13 to start the session," Bell said. "I sheared off the front wing so I had to pit. We found a cut in the left front tire during the pit stop so we couldn't just replace the front wing and then wait for the end of the session to use 'stickers.' We decided to go with fresh tires right away and I set a pole time on my warm-up lap. We planned to make a pole run on the next lap. I had a great turn one and my exit speed was perfect when I caught Rodolfo Lavin coming out of the pits and heading to the keyhole. He didn't do us any favors like getting out of the way. I lost time in the keyhole and as trying to make it up when I became too anxious in turn 12. The back end swapped around and I ended up in the tire wall. The car wasn't badly damaged so we can come back tomorrow healed and ready to win the pole."
Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) was eighth quickest while Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) and Rodolfo Lavin (Corona/Modelo Lola) rounded out the top 10.
Bright is recovering from a lower back muscle injury suffered in practice at Chicago, but felt reasonably comfortable in his race car Friday. He expects to continue to compete for the rest of the weekend.
"I was expecting more problems from the injury than I experienced," Bright said. "The team fitted me in a new seat that's snug and does a good job at restricting my movement. I don't have any problems with my back rubbing against the support so it feels pretty nice so far. I was having some gear selection problems early. I couldn't get a clean lap without something going wrong with a gear. We pitted, made a few adjustments, and then I found I got used to the way it was. I had to work my way back into the set-up before I started running competitive times again. It was frustrating because I was so close to running in the top quarter of the field."
While Bright is back on track at Mid-Ohio, Todd Snyder (Outpost.com Lola) is on the sidelines. Snyder's main backer Outpost.com withdrew its sponsorship after Round Six in Chicago which has the rookie driver out of a ride this weekend and possibly the rest of the season. Snyder also injured his right foot in a late race accident at Chicago and aggravated the injury with a second accident three days later in a test at Gateway. His participation at Mid-Ohio may have been in doubt because of the injury, but the hit to his program's funding will definitely keep him out of action this weekend.
The Mid-Ohio Dayton Indy Lights Championship race will air in a one-hour show on ESPN2 in same-day coverage, Sunday, Aug. 13 at 11:30 p.m. ET. (8:30 p.m. PT). An encore telecast will be shown early Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 4:00 a.m. ET.