(CLEVELAND, Ohio) June 29, 2001-American Matt Plumb is on the verge of claiming his second consecutive pole in Barber Dodge Pro Series competition. To do so he will have to successfully defend his provisional pole time set today under sultry hot...
(CLEVELAND, Ohio) June 29, 2001-American Matt Plumb is on the verge of claiming his second consecutive pole in Barber Dodge Pro Series competition. To do so he will have to successfully defend his provisional pole time set today under sultry hot conditions in preparation for round 6 of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series at the Cleveland-Burke Lakefront Airport in support of the CART FedEx Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Plumb set a standard of 1:15.064 sec for an average speed of 101.002 mph in his Premier Nutrition Dodge Reynard around the wide runways of the 2.1-mile circuit. The 20- driver field will have another opportunity to better that time in a final 30-minute qualifying session on Saturday morning before the field takes the green flag for round 6 action later in the afternoon. Second quickest provisionally is Brazilian Alex Sperafico with third quickest and a career best qualifying position is second year driver Marc Breuers of Gladwyne, Penn. A scant tenth of a second separates the three drivers.
The provisional pole swapped hands four times throughout the 30-minute session. Ryan Hunter-Reay set the target time only to have Dutchman Sepp Koster eclipse the time shortly afterwards. Plumb was second quick just past the five-minute mark, only to strike an errant course cone resulting in a flat tire and an extensive pit stop. Meanwhile Sperafico began to show his hand among the Top-4. Twenty minutes into the session Breuers set the quickest time and the 26-year old then proceeded to reel off two more laps that would have been good enough for pole as well. The last four minutes of the session saw a flurry of activity with Plumb blazing round the circuit to establish the quickest time with Sperafico also putting in a flyer to knock Breuers down a notch.
"This is a very tough track, it's very bumpy and demands a lot out of the car and driver," said Plumb, 25. "I've always had to struggle here in the past so having to start on the front row will certainly make it easier. I just have to focus on staying in front and running away from the pack."
Sperafico, 27, for his part felt his Bauducco Dodge Reynard was well balanced but still feels he can extract a little more speed for tomorrow's final qualifying session. His best lap was clocked at 1:15.096 sec, just three-hundredths of a second slower than Plumb. Sperafico started on pole for round 1 of the 2001 series at Sebring International Raceway.
"It's very difficult to set-up the car here because there are a lot of transitions and bumps but it's the same for everybody so we'll try to get the best car we can and hopefully the conditions will be better for us tomorrow," said Sperafico.
Despite not finishing quickest in the session, Breuers was ecstatic to be in the Top-3 with a time of 1:15.178 sec. The Sunoco Special driver has steadily been improving throughout the season. In his rookie year, which he considered to be a learning year, Breuers took a conservative approach. This year a focused and more relaxed attitude has allowed him to drive more aggressively and take more chances.
"The No 94 Sunoco Special was very consistent today and that enabled me to push and put in some really good laps through the middle part of the session," recalled Breuers. "Knowing that I had a good lap in the bank, I pushed a little harder and perhaps I ended up pushing a little too hard in some of the wrong areas. I am confident though that I can find a little more speed in some of these corners tomorrow because clearly there is some available."
Koster ended the session fourth overall although he had set the fastest time in the morning practice, which was quicker than the provisional pole time. Peter Boss and points leader Nicolas Rondet were next in the order with Jon Morley, Roger Yasukawa, Chrisitan Szymczak and Ryan Hunter-Reay completing the balance of the Top-10.
Final Qualifying takes place Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. with the race to start later in the day at 3:50 p.m. EDT.