Iindy Countdown:/Ibrdont Discount Dismore
May 23, 2001 | 8:00 A.M. EST
Scott Sharp. Tony Stewart. Gil de Ferran. Arie Luyendyk. They’ve all been mentioned as the most likely to put their face on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Inexplicably absent, however, has been Mark Dismore.
It’s hard to understand why.
Dismore starts on the inside of Row 2 after turning in the fourth fastest run in Pole Day qualifications at 224.964 mph. He was the first driver to knock Greg Ray out of the top spot in practice when he put together a 224.823 mph lap in Happy Hour on May 8. His teammate, Scott Sharp, is on the pole, and both are using the fuel friendly Ilmor-built Aurora engine with a Dallara chassis. Dismore’s Kelley Racing team is one of the best funded in the field, and the on-track crew is led by team manager Tim Bumps, who has five Indianapolis 500 victories, 49 CART FedEx Championship Series wins and one CART title to his credit.
All the ingredients are there for Dismore to be a runaway favorite. But he’s not, according to many experts. Maybe that’s because the 44-year-old Greenfield, Ind., resident hasn’t proved himself in the first three races of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series season.
His best finish is seventh at Homestead, but he’s also finished 25th and 26th.
"My luck hasn’t been that great anywhere,” said Dismore, the 20th-place driver in the points standings. “My season so far hasn't been as good as we planned, but I've been really happy with the setup of the car, so we have high hopes for Indy.
“Winning is absolutely a possibility.”
It was a possibility last year, too, he said, before he crashed on Pole Day and lost any real chance to qualify up front.
His desire to redeem himself for what he calls a lost opportunity in 2000 is perhaps the most important factor in Dismore’s favor.
"The one thing that I really pick on myself for is last year at Indy when I had such a great car and felt like I could go out and race against anyone, including Juan (Montoya, the winner),” Dismore explained. “Right at the very end of the day before Pole Day, we threw a new set of tires on and I had been in the car for about two hours and the temperature had come way down. I think we were like sixth fastest at the time, and I knew I could probably go out and burn one off and be as fast as anybody. Leaving pit lane, I just got on it, lit the tires up and crashed the car. The car was so good. I knew that it was an awesome opportunity for me to win Indianapolis, or be as fast and competitive as anyone.”
“And with Montoya having the reputation that he had coming in, I wanted it in the worse way to show that some guy from Greenfield, Ind., could do whatever it took to beat this guy, and I blew it. I haven't forgiven myself for that since.”
Clearly, the sting of that self-inflicted wound is still fresh in Dismore’s mind, but it hasn’t clouded his outlook.
“We are so far ahead of where we have ever been, and I’m really excited,” he said. "This is a team. Kelley Racing is a team. We get along great.”
Even if the race results don’t support his optimism, qualifying results do.
He started 15th in the first race of the season at Phoenix, ninth at Homestead and fourth at Atlanta. Had it not been for a crash at Phoenix and a blown engine at Atlanta, Dismore could be among the league’s championship contenders.
On Sunday, though, he’ll settle to be an Indy contender.
“If I win the race, you would probably have to call an ambulance,” Dismore said.
Hopefully not, but one thing’s for sure, the experts would have to call him a favorite.