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LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX / SPECIAL SECTION

Lights Will Go On Before the Main Event

Indy Lights: Second round of series will feature 47-lap, 73.9-mile race.

April 15, 1999|SHAV GLICK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Indy Lights series, considered the final rung in CART's driver development for its champ car program, will run its second round Sunday after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach's main event.

Officially called the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights championship, the race will be 47 laps (73.9 miles).

Mario Dominguez of Mexico had an auspicious debut in the series, winning the season opener at Homestead, Fla., with a wire-to-wire performance.

Dominguez, who won the 1998 Mexican Formula 3 championship with six victories and six pole positions, also won the pole with a speed of 179.623 mph. He drives for Team Mexico Quaker Herdez.

Trailing Dominguez in points are Airton Dare of Brazil, rookie Scott Dixon of New Zealand, Andy Boss of Narragansett, R.I., and Casey Mears of Bakersfield.

Ten Indy Lights graduates are entered in the CART FedEx race, among them last year's champion, Cristiano da Matta, who is driving for the Arciero-Wells team.

Da Matta is the latest in a line of young drivers who have moved up from Indy Lights since the formula was introduced in 1986 as the American Racing Series. It was re-christened Indy Lights in 1991.

When Paul Tracy, the 1990 Lights champion, won his first CART race six years ago at Long Beach, it paved the way for more Indy Lights graduates to move up to CART.

The cars are identical Lola T97/20s powered by leased, sealed General Motors V-6 engines. No engine modifications can be made, making for a series that showcases driver talent. All cars use Dayton tires.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Indy Lights

* Name: Texaco-Havoline PPG-Dayton Indy Lights championship

* Cars: Lola T97/20s, powered by General Motors V-6 engines, racing on Dayton tires.

* Qualifying: 11:15 a.m. Saturday

* When: 10:20 a.m. Sunday.

* What: 47 laps on 1.85-mile street course.

* 1998 winner: Cristiano da Matta.

* TV: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, ESPN2.

* Drivers to watch: Mario Dominguez, Derek Higgins, Scott Dixon, Cory Witherill, Casey Mears, and David Pook, son of Grand Prix founder Chris Pook.

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