TORONTO (July 14, 2001) - Dayton Indy Lights Championship points leader Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) set another track record Saturday to win a series-leading third Dayton Indy Lights Championship pole in final qualifying at the Molson Indy ...
TORONTO (July 14, 2001) - Dayton Indy Lights Championship points leader Townsend Bell (DirecPC Lola) set another track record Saturday to win a series-leading third Dayton Indy Lights Championship pole in final qualifying at the Molson Indy Toronto
Bell held the overnight pole with a Friday lap of 98.220 mph (64.325 seconds) and improved to 98.408 mph (64.202 seconds) Saturday to take his third pole in the last four races and his fifth-straight front-row start. Bell's Friday lap broke the previous track record of 98.049 mph (64.437 seconds) that was set by Geoff Boss who, ironically, returned to the series for his first race of the season this weekend as a teammate to Bell.
"I was looking for and really thinking I'd get one more clear lap after my fastest," Bell said. "I thought it might take a '.53' to win the pole. The track is very bumpy in a couple of spots and that makes it challenging when you're looking to knock off a hundredth of a second or two. This is the most bumpy circuit I've ever driven. It gets your attention and keeps you honest. Any time you're racing a track with sections that are really difficult, unpleasant to deal with, or there is a high risk factor involved, I think good drivers like it because it's a portion of a track where the better drivers can distinguish themselves."
Bell's previous poles this year were earned last month at the Milwaukee Mile and Portland International Raceway and he started second at Texas Motor Speedway and last weekend at Kansas Speedway.
Mario Dominguez (de Valle/Corona/Televisa/PacWest Lights Lola) will share the front row with Bell for the second straight race after qualifying at 98.117 mph (64.353 seconds). Dominguez won the pole at Kansas and also qualified first at Long Beach in April.
"I thought I could get the pole but I couldn't get enough grip on my last run to make it happen," Dominguez said. "My car is behaving a little better over the bumps and running high downforce is much better and quicker than low. Having raced here in 1999 will help me tomorrow. As far as my qualifying run is concerned, my crew improved the car a lot between sessions. Starting on the front row is not bad, and hopefully we can put on a good show for everyone Sunday."
Dominguez's PacWest teammate Dan Wheldon (Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights Lola) qualified third at an average speed of 98.139 mph (64.378 seconds).
"The PacWest team one again gave me another good car," Wheldon said. "The track seemed to change so much from the first session to the second, and it actually hurt us. The track was not as good for us, as I developed a lot of understeer over the concrete portions. Since I raced here in Atlantics, I have a pretty good feel for the place, so I know we'll be okay on Saturday and Sunday."
Damien Faulkner (Dorricott Racing Lola) was second fastest in Friday's provisional qualifying round but fell to fourth on Saturday. Faulkner clocked in at 97.887 mph (64.544 seconds).
"The only thing I struggled with was traffic," Faulkner said. "My fastest time was done with no traffic on older tires. When I switched to new tires, I never found a clear lap. I barely found a lap the rest of the session. We pitted with 18 minutes left, so I'm disgusted with the many (drivers) that carried on about the track. Many of them appear to be parking their cars around corners. It makes it difficult and sometimes dangerous when you have to go out and around them, or slow down to avoid them. I'm disappointed for me and the crew. We were pumped for qualifying. I was quickest at the beginning of the session. I should have been able to hold it. It's disappointing no being able to reward the crew with something better than fourth on the grid."
Boss, who led every lap from to win here in 1999, improved to eighth Saturday after being last on Friday in the Thomas Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola. He is replacing regular Dorricott driver Jon Fogarty who is sidelined with a herniated disk in his cervical vertebrae.
"I wish it was Friday," Boss said. "We made a lot of progress today. We started on low downforce yesterday which made sense under the circumstances but it set us back. We tried using the '99 set-up but it didn't apply anymore. We're playing catch-up. My being out of a car nine months hasn't helped. There was certainly a lot of rust flying out of the cockpit on Friday, but I think we progressed today. The problem is we're a day late. Our times today would have been good yesterday. That would have given us an opportunity to theoretically build on it Saturday morning and be ready for qualifying. Instead, we're still building on the tail of final qualifying. I really needed another day."
Sunday's Dayton Indy Lights Championship race from Toronto will be shown in same day coverage on ESPN2 in a one-hour show airing at 10:00 p.m. PT Sunday night. East of the Mississippi, the ESPN2 air times are early Monday morning (late Sunday night) at 1 a.m. ET and 12 Midnight CT.
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