WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2001) - Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) will start on the pole for Sunday's Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at the Milwaukee Mile even though he and the 11 other drivers entered here this weekend never turned a lap in...
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (June 2, 2001) - Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) will start on the pole for Sunday's Dayton Indy Lights Championship race at the Milwaukee Mile even though he and the 11 other drivers entered here this weekend never turned a lap in official qualifying.
Steady rain showers hit the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds track soon after the completion of this morning's third Indy Lights practice session of the weekend. Along with all other CART activity, qualifying was officially canceled late this morning. Bell was awarded his third career pole position based on the top lap time he set in Friday afternoon's practice session.
Bell and his rookie Dorricott Racing teammate Jon Fogarty (Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola) will share the front row for Sunday's race, the second consecutive race in which Dorricott Racing has swept the top-two starting spots. Bell and polesitter Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) shared the front row one race ago in Texas where Faulkner went on to score his first win. Faulkner will start tomorrow's race seventh on the grid.
Although the championship pole point will not be awarded following CART rules, Bell earned the Dayton Pole Award and a $1,000 bonus. He is also eligible for the $10,000 Simple Green Clean-Up Award if he wins tomorrow's race, leads the most laps and posts the fastest race lap.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't have an opportunity to actually qualify on the pole and, most important, win a bonus point," Bell said. "I learned from my rookie season in Indy Lights that each and every point is extremely valuable and can easily make or break a season. We have a good car and we feel we have a good strategy. We were fortunate to have a morning practice to work out the details. We should remain fast and competitive for the race despite how the track will be washed clean after today's rainstorms. It's important we have no worse than a very good finish since we are already entering a part of the season where championship points mean more."
In addition to setting the pace this morning, Bell was the top driver in both Friday practice sessions. He set the lap that would eventually give him the pole in Friday's second session at an average speed of 153.166 mph (24.256 seconds). Fogarty's quick lap of 151.951 mph (24.450 seconds) was also set on Friday.
"It's good to be on the front row again," Fogarty said. "Now we have to turn it into a good result. The first couple of race laps may be most important for me because I'll have to protect my line and space particularly entering the corners. Not being able to qualify is disappointing because my car is strong and good on new tires. I think I would have had a good chance to win the pole and a point. If not me, then Townsend would have likely won the pole. Regardless, I'm glad to be on the front row with a teammate. It's the best way to start a race."
Derek Higgins (Mexpro/StarlightDiamonds.com/PrecioBase.com Lola) will start third tomorrow after posting the weekend's third fastest time this morning. Higgins trailed only Bell today with a lap at an average speed of 151.196 mph (24.572 seconds). Rookie Kristian Kolby (Conquest Racing Lola) also turned his fastest lap of the weekend Saturday morning and secured the fourth spot on the grid despite hitting the wall near the end of the session. Kolby was uninjured and is expected to be able start tomorrow's race in his repaired Conquest Lola.
PacWest Lights teammates Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) and Mario Dominguez (del Valle/Corona/Televisa/PacWest Lights Lola) will share row three in grid positions five and six, respectively.
Sunday's race will be telecast on ESPN2 in a revised time slot at 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. CT).