MONTERREY, Mexico (March 12, 2000) - - Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., showed how the experience he gained last year as an Indy Lights rookie began to pay dividends in his sophomore year by scoring a second place finish in the...
MONTERREY, Mexico (March 12, 2000) - - Townsend Bell, of Costa Mesa, Calif., showed how the experience he gained last year as an Indy Lights rookie began to pay dividends in his sophomore year by scoring a second place finish in the Dayton Indy Lights Championship season opener at the Tecate Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix, Sunday, March 11.
Bell, who started third, passed outside pole sitter Nilton Rossoni, of Brazil, on the opening lap then stalked polesitter Derek Higgins, of Ireland, for the entire 35-lap, 73.640-mile Indy Lights sprint around Monterrey's 2.104-mile, 12-turn temporary street circuit. When the checkered flag waved, Bell was 0.179-second shy of overtaking Higgins, who in turn won the race.
Bell artfully narrowed the gap with Higgins during the final eight laps making for an exciting race finish. Bell applied "start to finish" pressure on Higgins but was unable to find an open passing angle on the closing laps. Fogarty raced relatively uncontested for third place after taking advantage of ill-timed moves by Mario Dominguez, of Mexico, and a couple of others.
"Derek certainly had a good car all weekend," said Bell. "We were a little behind each session with our set-up. We made a few changes to the set-up during the morning warm-up and they paid off. I was able to stay with Higgins and pressure him the entire race. It's just a tough track to get a run so I hoped to force a mistake and sneak past him. We're thinking 'championship,' which means get the best car you can at the moment.
Meanwhile, teammate Jon Fogarty, of Portola Valley, Calif., gave the podium a distinctly "Dorricott Racing" feel with a third place in the Fogarty Winery & Vineyards Lola.
"We had a good start and kept a clean drive line," said Fogarty. "That predicated what happened throughout the race. Then Mario Dominguez tried something crazy on Townsend. It didn't work but it moved me into third place by lap three. Dominguez nearly took me out when he tried to re-enter the track after sliding off course. I could see that Townsend and Higgins had quite a race going on so it wouldn't have been intelligent to try to disrupt that action and sacrifice a solid finish."
Dorricott racer Damien Faulkner, of Ireland, made his Indy Lights debut and scored a deceivingly impressive seventh place finish. Although he started sixth, Faulkner dropped three positions early before storming back through the field.
Faulkner's troubles started on lap two when he slid off-course through a corner and permitted two cars to pass. One lap later, Mario Dominguez, of Mexico, went off-course as did a couple of other cars. By the time lap five rolled around, Faulkner had moved back into sixth place.
Off course problems plagued Faulkner again on lap 10 when he briefly slid off and on the track. One lap later, Faulkner had returned positions and stood ninth in the race order. Faulkner then put on a display of driving talent that was arguably second to none. He passed Cory Witherill for eighth place on lap 15, then passed Rudy Junco on lap 23 to move into seventh place.
Bell earned 16 championship points for second place and trails Higgins for the series lead, 22-16. Fogarty scored 14 points and assumed the lead for Indy Lights Rookie-of-the-Year. Faulkner earned six points and holds seventh place in the championship.
Fogarty was also awarded two Dayton Daytona racing tires as the Dayton Rookie Award recipient for being the highest finishing Indy Lights rookie driver.
Dorricott Racing is a year-round professional motorsports organization with its race shop located in Bakersfield, Calif., and its corporate office based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Race results, team, and sponsor information are available on Dorricott Racing's official web site, http://www.dorricottracing.com.
Round two of the 12-race Dayton Indy Lights Championship will be at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 6-8.