Bell takes surprise Lights pole

Reigning champions Dorricott Racing returned to the top of the pile in Indy Lights at Portland today, securing both front row starting positions for Sunday's race

Bell takes surprise Lights pole

However, the polesitter was a surprise, rookie Townsend Bell outpacing highly-rated team-mate Jason Bright by 0.1s to take the position.

It was a fraught qualifying session for Bell. The first setback came when his gear lever snapped in the Festival Curves section, and then after getting back on track and setting a time good enough for pole his Lola ran out of fuel. The American was left to helplessly wait and see if anyone else could top his time.

"My engineer Alec Purdy kept telling me my time was fine but I didn't believe it until I knew the last car had taken the flag," he said.

"It feels good to be back on a pole. I have to thank Dorricott Racing for making it possible."

Bell's best grid position so far this season was eighth at Milwaukee. The Dorricott team swept to a one-two-three in the series in 1999 with Oriol Servia, Phillipp Peter and Casey Mears but has yet to win a race in 2000.

Detroit winner and Friday polesitter Jonny Kane slipped to third in his Team KOOL Green Lola after making a late change to his car's set-up.

"Everyone started to change to high downforce before and during the session," he said. "I knew I needed to do a really good lap in low downforce to get pole, but now high downforce seems to be the quicker of the two.

"I wasn't far off my best lap at the end even though the tyres had already gone past their best and I'd only had three laps to figure out how the car would react to the high downforce settings.

"I certainly think that if we had started in high down force with new tyres we could've been on pole."

Series leader and double winner Scott Dixon was only eighth on the grid after suffering mechanical problems, but Dorricott's Casey Mears, currently second in the series, is back on row four with Dixon after being delayed by both traffic and a broken input shaft.

Qualifying times from Portland:

1 Townsend Bell Dorricott Racing 1m05.275s
2 Jason Bright Dorricott Racing 1m05.342s
3 Jonny Kane Team KOOL Green 1m05.429s
4 Tony Renna PacWest 1m05.527s
5 Felipe Giaffone Conquest Racing 1m05.682s
6 Jeff Simmons Team KOOL Green 1m05.720s
7 Casey Mears Dorricott Racing 1m05.744s
8 Scott Dixon PacWest 1m05.749s
9 Luis Diaz Team Mexico 1m05.806s
10 Chris Menninga Conquest Racing 1m05.877s
11 Mario Dominguez Team Mexico 1m05.951s
12 Geoff Boss Lucas Motorsports 1m06.298s
13 Rodolfo Lavin Jr Brian Stewart Racing 1m06.440s
14 Andy Boss Lucas Motorsports 1m06.472s
15 Todd Snyder Brian Stewart Racing 1m06.753s
16 Rudy Junco Jr Mexpro 1m07.022s
17 Cory Witherill Genoa Racing 1m07.252s
18 Rolando Quintanilla Conquest Racing 1m07.509s

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