WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 3, 2001) - On a day that ended before it started for some of his competition, Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) took the Dayton Indy Lights Championship points lead with a dominating and record-setting victory...
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 3, 2001) - On a day that ended before it started for some of his competition, Dorricott Racing's Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) took the Dayton Indy Lights Championship points lead with a dominating and record-setting victory Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile.
Bell started from the pole, lapped the entire field and shattered the 12-year-old race record by nearly 18 miles per hour to score his fourth career victory and second win of the 2001 season. He crossed the finish line one lap and 3.153 seconds ahead of Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa Lola) while Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications Lola) finished third, two laps down.
In addition to becoming the first driver in the series to lap an entire race field, Bell also earned the biggest winner's purse - $37,500 - in the 16-year history of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship. The payout was boosted by the new Simple Green Clean-Up Award that had rolled to $10,000 after not being claimed in the year's first three races. The award is paid to any driver that wins from the pole, leads the most race laps and sets the fastest race lap. Bell set today's fastest race lap of 153.381 mph (24.222 seconds) on lap 76.
Bell was the dominant driver all weekend, topped all practice sessions and was awarded the pole when official qualifying was rained out Saturday and the grid was set by practice times. He was joined on the front row by his Dorricott teammate Jon Fogarty (Dorricott Racing Lola) while championship leader Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) gridded third. Neither Fogarty nor Higgins were around to take the green flag, however, as a bizarre accident during the third pace lap knocked them from contention before the race even began. The two came together in turn four as Fogarty swerved to warm-up his tires and Higgins accelerated forward. Higgins spun into the pits where he retired on the spot with right front damage on his race car while Fogarty continued around to the pits and rejoined the race after extensive repairs. He finished in 10th place, 20 laps down.
With Fogarty and Higgins out of the picture, PacWest Lights teammates Dominguez and Wheldon gave Bell the most pressure, but it was far from enough. When the green flag finally dropped on lap 4, Bell steadily opened up his lead. He began lapping the field on lap 15 and caught and lapped Dominguez on lap 94.
Luis Diaz (Telmex Lola) finished fourth for the second straight race, completing 98 laps, and Rudy Junco (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) posted a career-best finish of fifth.
After trailing Higgins by 11 points coming into the race, Bell now leads the championship by 10 points over Higgins, 62 - 52. Dominguez is third with 49 points and Wheldon has moved up to fourth with 44 points.
#30 Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) "We worked hard to get our car properly set-up. My engineer, Gerald Tyler, created an awesome set-up. It made my job easy. I think we found some solutions when we tested here in mid-May. My teammates probably used a few of them too. We always share our information. As a race weekend moves on, we all try to navigate toward something that will work for all our cars. Sometimes it's the same set-up. Other times the set-up is more driver specific. Credit goes to the entire crew because the car ran flawlessly.
#17 Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa/PacWest Lights Lola) "I really like racing on ovals and I'm very happy to earn some points today for PacWest Racing. My team was worked very hard all weekend and with the problems we encountered on Friday, to come back and finish second is great. I think we drove a good smart race today, but we just couldn't catch Townsend. So we settled into a groove and accepted second place.
#1 Dan Wheldon (Gemstar/PacWest Lights Lola) "The car was really good the entire race, but I got caught up in a lot of traffic. The traffic really killed my momentum. If I didn't struggle with the traffic for most of the race, I really could have capitalized on the situation putting me up there to win.
* Special Awards Dayton Tire Awards: Luis Diaz receives four Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Move to the Front award recipient. Diaz improved 5 positions to finish in fourth place after starting in the ninth position. Dan Wheldon receives two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient as the highest finishing first-year driver. Townsend Bell receives a pair of Dayton Daytona racing tires as the polesitter.
Worldcom Fast Pace Award: Townsend Bell receives the $1,000 Worldcom Fast Pace Award for setting the fastest race lap at 153.381 mph (24.222 seconds).
Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge Award: Townsend Bell earned 21 points to take the lead for the Bosch Platinum +4 Speedway Challenge that pays $10,000 to the driver accumulating the most season points in 2001's six oval track events.
Simple Green Clean-up Award: Townsend Bell receives $10,000 for the race: winning from the pole, leading the most race laps and setting the fastest race lap. This $2,500 "rollover award" has not been claimed in the year's first three races and Bell is the first to claim the award.
Nation's Cup: Ireland still holds the lead in the Nation's Cup with 64 points. The United States follows in second place with 61 points and Mexico in third place with 53 points.
Racing for Kids Award: Townsend Bell wins the Racing for Kids Award for $500. An additional $1,500 will be presented to the Cook's Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee on behalf on Racing for Kids. Townsend Bell takes the lead the RFK points championship with a total of 62 points.
* Television - Tonight! Round 4 of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be telecast in same-day coverage on ESPN2 in a one-hour 10:30 p.m. ET (9:30 p.m. CT/7:30 p.m. PT). An encore telecast of the race will air on ESPN2 on Tuesday, June 5th at 4 a.m. ET (3 a.m. CT/1 a.m. PT).
* Next Event Round 5 of the Dayton Indy Lights Championship will take place at the Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon on Sunday, June 24, 2001.