Dare Of Old Returns

To say that Airton Dare has returned to form is almost ridiculous. After all, the second-year driver has only participated in 15 Indy Racing Northern Light Series events.

That description of Dare’s season is accurate, however.

The reigning Rookie of the Year, Dare collected his first top-five finish of the season Sunday at Pikes Peak. The fifth-place finish gave him his fourth Top 10 in six races this year, mirroring a strong stretch of races in the middle of last season that helped him earn the rookie title.

Dare finished runner-up to Eddie Cheever Jr. last year at Pikes Peak, giving the Brazilian his first career podium finish, so his success at PPIR shouldn’t have come as a surprise on Sunday.

"The 1-800-BAR NONE car was solid the whole way through,” Dare said. “After three-quarters of the race, we had positioned ourselves to place in the Top 5. We maintained our spot and worked hard to battle the heat and wind.”

Dare and the crew tinkered with the setup of the No. 88 car for much of the day, improving each time. In the end the car was nearly perfect, and Dare credits the success to a year of learning the hard way as a rookie.

“I think that myself and TeamXtreme, we are in another level right now from last year,” Dare said. “You know, we learned a lot of things. We made a lot of mistakes last year, and we learned from those mistakes, so we are going to be a lot more competitive than last year.”

Already, the statistics prove TeamXtreme is on another level. Dare has improved six positions in the standings from last season and he has been running at the finish in five of the six races. Last season, mechanical failures or crashes knocked the team out of five races.

Now that the team has a handle on it reliability, Dare can concentrate on tackling the meat of the 13-race IRNLS season. He likes the fact that the schedule has beefed up the summer racing.

“You can carry the momentum to one race to the other,” Dare said.

Next on the schedule is the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway on June 30, then the IRNLS heads to Kansas Speedway on July 8 and Nashville Superspeedway July 21.

John Lopes, TeamXtreme’s general manager, believes the time is right for Dare to make a move.

“We are in a good position going into the heart of the season,” Lopes said.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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