Cleveland: Polestar preview

Sciuto Leads Polestar Into Hometown Cleveland Atlantic Race Chardon, Ohio (June 21, 2006) -- After nearly capturing his first Champ Car Atlantic podium finish of the 2006 season last weekend in Portland, Oregon, Alan Sciuto ( ...

Sciuto Leads Polestar Into Hometown Cleveland Atlantic Race

Chardon, Ohio (June 21, 2006) -- After nearly capturing his first Champ Car Atlantic podium finish of the 2006 season last weekend in Portland, Oregon, Alan Sciuto (#12 Sealy/PKV Racing/The RoomStore of Phoenix) has his sights set on moving the Chardon, Ohio-based Polestar Racing Group team up a couple of spots in this weekend's Gehl Atlantic Championship of Cleveland. Meanwhile, teammate Alex Barron (#21 The RoomStore of Phoenix) is no stranger to the Burke Lakefront Airport circuit, having tasted the champagne by virtue of finishing third in 1997's Cleveland Atlantic race to take his fourth of nine podiums en route to winning the series championship title that year.

"We've made a ton of progress in the last couple of weeks," said Sciuto, who jumped to fourth place overall in the series championship and third in the Rookie-of-the-Year standings after finishing fourth in Portland. "We have a much better understanding of the car now, and we've done a lot of testing under conditions that are very similar to the Cleveland track. Although this is my first time here, the team has had some great runs on this track and I'm looking forward to having a good showing at Polestar's home race. We'll also be doing our first standing starts of the season this weekend, which is going to be awesome!"

"Cleveland is a great track to race on," said Barron, who worked his way up to the podium after starting sixth in 1997's race. "It's so wide and there's plenty of room for passing, as long as you can get a good run on the guy in front of you. I think we'll have a good weekend in Cleveland. Our goal is to get closer to the front in qualifying and to put ourselves in a better position to run up front for the race. With two races this weekend, a lot can happen. It will mark a turning point for a lot of people, and I think it will turn out to be a good one for us."

The Polestar team is no stranger to Cleveland's 2.106-mile temporary airport circuit. Last year, they captured a second-place finish in the weekend's second race with driver Antoine Bessette, as well as a second-place finish in 2003 with Jonathan Macri. Polestar co-owner Jim Griffith also engineered Barron to his 1997 third-place finish, as well as Buddy Rice to victory in 2000's Cleveland Atlantic race.

Barron, of Menifee, Calif., is the only Atlantic series champion in the field this weekend. He captured the 1997 Atlantic Championship title with five wins, four poles, six fastest race laps and the Rookie-of-the-Year crown. Since then, he competed in the Champ Car World Series and Indy Racing League from 1998 to 2005 with such teams as Cheever Racing, All American Racers and Team Penske. Barron finished 15th in 1998's Cleveland Champ Car race in his rookie Champ Car season with Dan Gurney's All American Racers team.

Orange, California - native Sciuto, 18, was recognized as North America's top shifter kart racer in 2004 before competing in three Atlantic races last year. He finished fourth in his series debut on the challenging San Jose street course then, the following week in Denver, led both rounds of qualifying to capture his first career Atlantic pole position and establish himself as the youngest-ever Atlantic pole winner at just 17 years of age. He has never finished outside of the top-ten in all of his seven Atlantic starts.

Polestar co-owners Jim Griffith, Pam Griffith and Bruce Potter are all experienced Atlantic veterans, having been instrumental to the Atlantic championship-winning efforts of Barron, Patrick Carpentier (1996) and Rice (2000).

For 2006, the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, now in it's 33rd year, features an all-new made-in-the-USA Atlantic Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine. All competitors are vying for an unprecedented $2 million bonus designed for the series champion to use in securing a full-time Champ Car ride in 2007.

This weekend's first race is scheduled to begin Saturday, June 24 at 3:30 PM local, while the second race will take place at 12:00 PM on Sunday, June 25. The races will be televised back-to-back via SPEED Channel on Sunday, July 29 at 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM ET. The race will also air to U.S. service men and women in over 130 countries around the world through the American Forces Radio & Television Service. Further information is available on the team's official web site at www.polestarracinggroup.com.

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Jonathan Macri , Alex Barron , Dan Gurney , Buddy Rice , Antoine Bessette , Alan Sciuto
Teams Team Penske