CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Barber Dodge Pro Series preview

WHAT: Round 6 of 12 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland WHEN: Qualifying Friday, June 29 at 3:15 p.m. (30 Minutes); Final Qualifying, Saturday, June 30 at 11:30 a.m. (30 Minutes); RACE ...

WHAT: Round 6 of 12 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series in support of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland

WHEN: Qualifying Friday, June 29 at 3:15 p.m. (30 Minutes); Final Qualifying, Saturday, June 30 at 11:30 a.m. (30 Minutes); RACE START Saturday June 30 at 3:50 p.m. (40 Minutes)

WHERE: Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland , Ohio

WHO: 20 drivers from five different countries [entry list available at barberdodge.com]

TELEVISION:
ESPN2 Aug. 14 at 6:00 p.m. EDT
ESPN2 Aug. 16 at 5:00 a.m. EDT

Drivers who have used the Barber Pro Series as a steppingstone into the world of top level auto racing include: 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner and current CART driver Kenny Brack; 2000 Indy 500 winner and current driver for the BMW-WilliamsF1 team, Juan Pablo Montoya

All drivers compete in identically prepared single-seat, open-wheel race cars which are owned, maintained and transported by the Barber Dodge Pro Series.

In 1998, world famous racecar manufacturer Reynard Motorsport, was called upon to design an all new carbon-fiber monocoque chassis exclusively for the series. That chassis is mated to an all aluminum 3.5 liter V6 Dodge engine tuned to deliver 265 peak horsepower driven through a six-speed sequential Hewland gearbox. The Reynard Dodge 98E is shod with Michelin Pilot SX racing slicks.

Races are 40 minutes in duration with points allocated to the top-15 finishers (20 to the winner, then 16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1). A driver's ten best results count toward the championship total. An additional point is awarded to the fastest qualifier. $1 million in prize money is awarded over the course of the year.

All 12 rounds of the 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series will again be televised on ESPN2 as well as ESPN International.

It's Anybody's Race as Barber Dodge Prepares To Finish First Half of Season.

With five rounds complete, there have been five different winners in the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series. Though current points leader Nicolas Rondet and second place Ryan Hunter-Reay have sat atop the points lead for the majority of the season, it's difficult to single out a clear cut favorite as the Pro Series heads to Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport for round six in support of the CART FedEx Series Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland.

Both Rondet and Hunter-Reay can claim a victory each in 2001 and have been among the most consistent on the season. Rondet's average finishing position is fourth while Hunter-Reay's is fifth. Yet each has experienced a race that they would likely rather forget. Round 3 at Lime Rock for Rondet and round 5 at Detroit for Hunter-Reay produced less than desirable results though in each case, both drivers managed to salvage all-important points.

Three other 2001 race winners will be looking for win number two in Cleveland along with Rondet and Hunter-Reay. Alex Sperafico, who stood atop the podium at the opening race in Sebring is coming off of two consecutive podium finishes and trails Rondet by eight points in third overall. Like Sebring, the wide open runways of the Cleveland circuit could suit Sperafico well. Matt Plumb arrives in Cleveland on a high after a dominant performance two weeks ago in Detroit where he claimed the pole, the win and the fastest race lap. The resurgent Plumb began the turn around of his lack luster season with two solid performances at Lime Rock that have seen go from no points to 48 points and fifth overall in the standings. Sepp Koster has proven in 2001 that when he finishes races, he finishes at the head of the field. Of the five races he has scored a win and second place in addition to fifteenth and points paying position in a race where he was enjoying the lead until a punctured tire dropped him from contention.

Then there is Mr. Consistency. Roger Yasukawa, like Hunter-Reay, is also averaging a fifth-place finishing position. While he is yet to lead a lap this year, his consistent performances continue to pay dividends at the end of the day. His best finish came at the last round in Detroit, a second. A win can not be far off.

Will anyone then take charge of the chase for the $300,000 Barber-CART Career Enhancement Award? Might one of the aforementioned drivers stake a claim or might another add a name to the growing list of winners? With competition as tight as this, it's anyone's guess.

-Barber

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About this article
Series Barber Pro , IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Williams