CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: PKV Racing Thursday report

CLEVELAND, Ohio. (July 1, 2004) -- Two-time U.S. Bank Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland polesitter (1996, '98) and 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser ( ...

CLEVELAND, Ohio. (July 1, 2004) -- Two-time U.S. Bank Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland polesitter (1996, '98) and 1996 Series Champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ran just short on methanol as he was in the midst of a flyer that would have qualified him in the top three for Saturday's 23rd annual Champ Car event on the runways of breezy Burke Lakefront Airport. His rookie teammate Roberto Gonzalez (#21 NII Holdings, Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Mexico placed 16th in the session in his first ever appearance on the North Coast.

Vasser, who holds the track qualifying mark at the 2.106-mile airport circuit from a record run in 1998, still managed to turn in a fast time of 58.782 seconds (128.987 mph) on his 12th of 15 timed laps, which was good enough to place seventh on the day. But the California native knows that his PKV Racing machine is well prepared and ready to take on the competition in final qualifying tomorrow.

"This is by far the fastest car we've had all year on a Thursday," said Vasser. "[On slowing with seconds remaining in the session] We were running a light fuel load to pick up some speed and just ran out and had to pull off near Turn 5. But the Gulfstream car is fast and I'm optimistic about tomorrow's session because the last lap we had was at least two tenths quicker and would have put us in the top three."

In 12 previous appearances, Vasser has six top-10 results at Burke Lakefront Airport and will be driving for his third top-10 finish in a row this season when the Green Flag drops on Saturday's 97-lap event.

Vasser's PKV racing teammate Gonzalez had his first shot at the demanding Cleveland circuit today and qualified 16th on his seventh lap with a top time of 1:00.419 (125.484 mph).

"I've been struggling with the setup of the car all day-- looking for the right balance mainly," said Gonzalez. "It's tough because the back end is stepping out and I lose a lot of time in the corners. It's a bit frustrating of course, but Jimmy's car is fast so we can use that information to help us progress going into tomorrow's final round of qualifying."

Watch Vasser and Gonzalez navigate the Burke Lakefront runways again tomorrow in the final round of Champ Car qualifying (1:45 pm, local time) in preparation for Saturday afternoon's 97-lap U.S. Bank Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland.

-pkv-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Roberto Gonzalez