Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX NOTES

Bell Makes Winning Move on Sheldon in Indy Lights

April 09, 2001|MIKE KUPPER and DARIN ESPER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Veteran Townsend Bell of San Luis Obispo put a late move on series rookie Dan Wheldon of England on Sunday and won the Dayton Indy Lights race at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Bell, scoring his third series victory and his first over the 1.968-mile street course at Long Beach, dogged early leader Wheldon through much of the 38-lap race, to no avail. On Lap 34, however, Bell tucked his car right behind Wheldon's coming out of the hairpin and onto the main straight, worried the Englishman all the way down it, juked to the outside and then, when Wheldon moved out as well, ducked back to the inside and beat Wheldon into Turn 1.

"I had a little run on him coming down the straightaway and I thought, 'It's now or never,' " said Bell, runner-up in the Lights series last year. "We weren't really all that close but it was as close as I'd been coming out of the hairpin and I went for it. After I got by, I was able to pull away."

Wheldon blamed his own earlier lapse for allowing Bell to move into passing position: "Going into Turn 9, I made a couple of mistakes and [Bell] was able to move up on me in the hairpin. Even then, I didn't think he would [pass me] as easily as he did."

Wheldon had out-dragged pole sitter Mario Dominguez, his PacWest teammate from Mexico, and beaten Dominguez into the first turn at the start, while Bell was stuck back in the third row.

Hardly had Bell and Dominguez entered the turn, however, when right behind them, and in front of Bell, Bell's Dorricott Racing teammates, rookies Jon Fogarty of Portola Valley, Calif., and Damien Faulkner of Ireland, tangled, reducing the 13-car field to 11.

Bell made it through the mess, tucked in behind second-running Derek Higgins, another Irishman, got past him a few laps later when Higgins mis-shifted, then set his sights on Wheldon.

Bell averaged 78.412 mph. Wheldon hung on for second and Higgins, winner of the season opener in Monterrey, Mexico, finished third.

*

Lou Gigliotti of Dallas survived a war of attrition in the Johnson Controls one-hour Trans-Am series race.

Gigliotti, driving a Chevrolet Corvette, inherited the lead from defending series champion Brian Simo of Carlsbad on the 28th lap of the scheduled 50-lap event when Simo's Mangusta slid into the tire barrier in Turn 9. The race was called after 37 laps because of the time limit.

"Right at the end, the boys were catching up to me, so I had to soft-pedal it," said Gigliotti, who moved into second place in the standings after two of 10 races. "Maybe there was a little left at the end, but I wasn't wanting to take it out. I was braking a touch early and throttling a touch late."

Johnny Miller of Johnson City, Tenn., who finished second in a Jaguar XKR, took over the points lead from Boris Said of Carlsbad, and leads Gigliotti, 53-51. Said finished 21st and dropped to sixth in points after losing the rear bodywork on his Ford Mustang when he backed into the tire barriers while leading on the 14th lap.

Pole sitter and two-time series champion Paul Gentilozzi of Lansing, Mich., dropped to ninth in points after running his Jaguar XKR head-on into the Turn 9 tire barriers while leading on Lap 7.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|