CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Friday report

by David Reininger/motorsport.com Cleveland, Ohio (June 30, 2000) - Dario Franchitti earned the provisional pole in qualifying for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Franchitti drove his Honda-powered Team Kool Green Reynard around...

by David Reininger/motorsport.com

Cleveland, Ohio (June 30, 2000) - Dario Franchitti earned the provisional pole in qualifying for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Franchitti drove his Honda-powered Team Kool Green Reynard around the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport circuit at an average speed of 130.805 mph, taking the top position over Michael Andretti by .014 seconds.

"It wasn't a perfect lap, but it was better than the other guys managed" said Franchitti." The track is so bumpy that half the time you get a good lap by missing some of the bumps."

"The car isn't what we need yet, but it's obviously not too bad. I'm sure tomorrow will be a lot faster. When the rubber gets down, the track gets faster and faster."

With a season best sixth-place start at Homestead, Andretti was extremely pleased with his second place performance today. Andretti's car was fast as soon as the Newman Haas team unloaded the Big Kmart Havoline Ford-powered Lola off the transporter this morning. "It's been pretty good. This morning we were quickest, we felt pretty good about that. Then we went out this afternoon and couldn't get a clear lap on my first set of tires. The car wasn't really perfect, then we made two changes and I think we made it a little better. I got in a pretty good lap and then Dario had to go out and get us by a hundredth of a second."

After briefly mentioning the bumpy track surface, Andretti talked about the unique characteristics of the track, which is at least double the width of any other road course on the schedule. "I love this race. I think it's what this series is all about. It's a very unique race track. It's a fun track to drive. You drive it differently than you do any other track and it's great for fans. There's no better track than this one. You can see all the action everywhere around the race track. I think that's great for the fans."

"People realize that this is such a great race track, especially for a road circuit, to be able to see the whole track. So that's why a lot of people come from all over to come to this race."

Buddy Rice, who sits on the provisional pole for the Toyota Atlantic race, agreed with Andretti. "It's so wide and fast, there are a lot of different lines you can take. You want to set your car up to run a line you want to run, yet it's not hard to run a different line. I can run any spot on the track that I want. But another driver may have his car set up differently, to run a different line, so they may be faster in different sections. It's a really neat track and so unique. It's wide and fast and there is a lot of opportunity to pass.

Kenny Brack, driver of the Team Rahal Shell Ford-powered Reynard, saw the track this morning for the first time when he took a ride around the circuit with team owner Bobby Rahal. "It's been an interesting day. It's my first time at this track and it's a very nice track," said Brack after qualifying third. "I like it a lot, it's very challenging."

Brack expects lap times to drop tomorrow as the track takes more rubber and teams improve on their setups. "We're just trying to fine-tune the car to find out what the car likes to go even faster. I think we did a good job today, the Shell Rahal team has been a big help to me."

Marlboro Team Penske teammates, Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran were fourth and fifth fastest respectively in today's qualifying session. "We still need to find another couple 100ths (of a second) and we should be right there," said Castroneves, who earned is first CART FedEx win two weeks ago in Detroit. "We definitely made some gains today and we need to stay focused for tomorrow. Hopefully we'll improve our position be cause there's still more left in the car."

Although he qualified .015 seconds behind his teammmate, de Ferran was disappointed with his efforts this afternoon. "We had a tough qualifying session today. I made a mistake in the last chicane and put on a bit of an aerial display which resulted in damage to the left rear suspension. I was able to get into the 2X car, but we lost time to work on the setup. Overall, the team is looking pretty good for tomorrow with both Helio and I in the top five today."

Series points leader, Roberto Moreno, qualified seventh today, one position behind his Patrick Racing teammate Adrian Fernandez.

"We changed set ups from this morning to this afternoon so we still had to fine tune the car," said Moreno. We were able to do that between the first set of tires and the second set in qualifying. We started on the second set of tires with the pressures too low and they wouldn't come up. So I had to stay out longer and build the pressures up. I lost the best edge off the tire, but the pressures eventually came up and I was able to squeeze a lap at the end. I had to work extra hard to try and get that lap out of older tires. We know what we need to do tomorrow to go to the next level and I think we're going to be okay."

Qualifying for the CART FedEx series takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

NOTES: Tony Kanaan visited the Burke Lakefront Airport circuit today. Kanaan, who suffered injuries during qualifying for the Detroit Grand Prix, will return to Indianapolis on Monday to continue his rehabilitation program. Kanaan is hoping to return to competition at the Michigan 500 on July 23.

The official track length is 2.106 miles and the official race distance is 100 laps.

Thirty-six different cars were on track during this morning's practice session with secondary cars utilized by Moreno, Fittipaldi, de Ferran, Herta, Servia, Vasser, Fernandez, Jourdain, Marques, Kurosawa, Nakano, and Fontana.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Buddy Rice
Teams Team Penske