Cleveland Friday report

CLEVELAND (June 29, 2001) - Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) served noticed that the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship was far from over today at the Burke Lakefront Airport. After David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) swept the...

CLEVELAND (June 29, 2001) - Hoover Orsi (Hylton Motorsports/U.S. Print Swift) served noticed that the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship was far from over today at the Burke Lakefront Airport. After David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) swept the first two road course races of the season, the Hylton Motorsports team went back to the drawing board and came out today determined to leave Cleveland with the championship lead.

With temperatures hovering in the mid 90s, Orsi shattered the one-year old track record held by Alex Gurney by over 7/10ths of a second with a time of 1:07.763 seconds (111.884 mph). Orsi logged the lap with five minutes remaining in the session and other competitors were not able to shoot Orsi off of the provisional pole, after the session was cut short when Grant Ryley (Worldspeed Motorsports/Northwest Speedwerx Swift) made contact with the turn 8 tire wall.

The second year Brazilian driver was pleased with how the day went. "The track is great, better than this afternoon and we improved the car with some adjustments. We were struggling at first because I was stuck in traffic and I couldn't get a clear track." Orsi continued. "We did a small change on the setup and when I went back out, I had a clear track and I got some clean laps. The car is just so perfect. It makes my life a lot easier when the car runs this well. My team is just awesome. I've got the best team in the world."

Along with Orsi, three other drivers made it under the track record. First year driver, Joey Hand (DSTP Motorsports/BG Products Swift) was second quickest with a time of 1:08.361 seconds (110.905 mph). Hand was able to get under the track record while competing for the first time on Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport.

"The car was better with every change we made," said DSTP's Hand. "Our biggest gains came from me learning the track and figuring out where I needed to be. I'm stoked. The car feels great and our fastest lap didn't even count. I had to back off to avoid a car that crashed in front of me, and then the session was over. We're definitely going in the right direction and I'm getting more comfortable with each lap. Tomorrow should be fun."

Series veterans, David Rutledge (Lynx Racing Swift) and Martin Basso (Michael Shank Racing/3b Engine Valves Swift) also were under the previous track record. Rutledge, who leads the Championship with 64 points, turned a lap of 1:08.437 seconds (110.782 mph). Basso followed closely with a time of 1:08.472 seconds (110.728 mph). Tony Ave (P-1 Racing/Miller Genuine Draft Swift) rounded out the top-5 after Friday's qualifying session with a time of 1:09.300 seconds (109.403 mph).

Ryley, who had been running in the top-5 most of the day, brought out the only red flag after he spun in turn 8 and made contact with the tire wall. "This track is very fast, and you need to commit to the corners," said a frustrated Ryley. "I was fully committed, but I had some understeer. By the time I realized it, it was too late. That corner (Turn 8) is like a street circuit. You need to make a full commitment. If it doesn't work out, you lose it. I feel really bad for my guys. They're going to be here all night."

The final qualifying session of the weekend that will set the field for Round 5 of the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship takes place tomorrow at 1:00 P.M. EST. This will be preceded by the final practice session that starts at 9:00 A.M. EST.

The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship is one of the world's premier open-wheel development series and a key rung on CART's "ladder system". It is also noted for its long history of graduating its stars into CART competition. Among the drivers who have graduated from the Atlantic Series are CART Champ Car stars Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, Alex Barron, Memo Gidley, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Tagliani as well as former series champions Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Jacques Villeneuve.

-Atlantic

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Alex Gurney , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Martin Basso , Tony Ave , Hoover Orsi , Grant Ryley , David Rutledge , Joey Hand , Danny Sullivan , Michael Shank
Teams Michael Shank Racing