New pole winner at Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 24, 2000) - Dorricott Racing rookie Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) won the first pole of his brief Dayton Indy Lights Championship career Saturday in final qualifying at Portland International Raceway. Bell, who was sixth ...

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 24, 2000) - Dorricott Racing rookie Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) won the first pole of his brief Dayton Indy Lights Championship career Saturday in final qualifying at Portland International Raceway. Bell, who was sixth fastest in Friday's provisional round, survived a scare when he ran out of fuel a few minutes from the end of Saturday's session to take his second-straight pole at Portland. He was also the top qualifier for the 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series race at PIR.

Bell averaged a record 108.593 mph (65.275 seconds) around the 1.969-mile track to edge teammate Jason Bright (Dorricott Racing Lola) who recorded a 108.482 mph (65.342 seconds) lap. Overnight pole winner Jonny Kane (KOOL Lola) improved to 108.337 mph (65.429 seconds) but lost the pole and will start third. His Friday lap of 107.978 mph (65.647 seconds) stood as a track record for less than 24 hours.

Both Bell and Bright ran a high-downforce aerodynamic package in final qualifying. It is the second-straight year that Dorricott teammates will start on the front row at Portland. Last year, outside front row starter Philipp Peter slipped by pole-sitter Oriol Servia going into Turn 1 and went on to win the race. Servia finished second.

"We started the weekend running low downforce until final qualifying," Bell said. "Jason (Bright) started with high downforce and was having success. It's a huge advantage to have this much data available within the team so we can make comparisons with the cars. We could have been outside pole in provisional qualifying on low downforce but my gear lever snapped apart in the Festival Corners on my flying lap. That was a bummer. I didn't think my time today was going to hold when I ran out of fuel. My engineer Alec Purdy kept telling me my time was fine but I didn't believe it until I knew the last car had taken the checkered flag. It feels good to be back on a pole. Fortunately I have a friendly Australian (Bright) on the front row next to me. I have to thank Dorricott Racing and DirecPC for making it possible."

Kane and Team KOOL Green scrambled to switch to high downforce late in the session but lost valuable time when he was penalized for breaking the pit speed limit when he returned to the track.

"Everyone started to change to high down force before and during the session," Kane said. "We have been quickest all weekend until that session and that probably threw us a little bit. I knew I needed to do a really good lap in low downforce to get pole, but now high downforce seems to be the quicker of the two. I wasn't far off my best lap at the end even though the tires had already gone past their best and I'd only had three laps to figure out how the car would react to the high down force settings. I certainly think that if we had started in high down force with new tires we could've been on pole but we'll have to wait and see for tomorrow's warm up to see what people are going to do with wing settings."

Bell, Bright and Kane all topped the time sheets during Saturday's session and the Dorricott drivers swapped the top spot three times late in the 30-minute qualifying run. Bright also topped this morning's practice session in which he was followed by Dorricott's senior member of the team Casey Mears (Dorricott Racing Lola). The second-generation driver was set to make a run for the pole in qualifying but suffered a mechanical failure and will start seventh on the grid.

"I lost the input shaft," Mears said. "Three or four laps before the breakdown, I put in a good lap and was about to run a quick time when Jonny Kane slowed in front of me. I guess he wanted to cool off his tires but I lost that lap. I had to pass him and the slower cars. Then Simmons slowed down. I lost that lap. I figured three was the charm so I set up for a flyer for a third time and that's when Dixon was let out and naturally he ended up right in front of me. It wasn't anybody's fault. It was a matter of poor circumstances. I kept getting caught out on the laps I was most ready to fly. Then the input shaft gave out. I'm fortunate to be starting seventh considering the situation but I think we could have had this car challenging Jason and Townsend's time. It appears high downforce is the way to go."

Championship points leader Scott Dixon (Invensys/Powerware/PacWest Lights Lola) also struggled in qualifying and will start a season-low eighth on the grid. His race car stopped on course when the kill switch went off nine minutes into the session. He was given an eight-minute penalty for the resulting red flag and did well to crack the top-10 despite the minimal track time.

For a change, Dixon's teammate Tony Renna (Motorola/PacWest Lights Lola) enjoyed better fortune than the championship leader. Renna overcame his own eight-minute penalty that carried over from yesterday's session to nail down fourth on the grid.

Felipe Giaffone (Hollywood Lola) will start fifth with Jeff Simmons, (KOOL Lola), Mears, Dixon, Luis Diaz (Quaker State Mexico Lola) and Chris Menninga (Mi-Jack Lola) rounding out the top-10.

Sunday's race starts at 11:30 a.m. local time and will be telecast on ESPN2 Saturday, July 1 at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Felipe Giaffone , Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Chris Menninga , Townsend Bell , Luis Diaz , Jonny Kane , Tony Renna , Jason Bright , Jeff Simmons , Philipp Peter