CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland Sunday track notes

By Mark Tate • Good Morning from the City of Lights--Cleveland, Ohio, for Race Day in the Midwest! Today's Round Nine of the FedEx Championship Series takes the Green Flag at 1 p.m. to start the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented ...

By Mark Tate

• Good Morning from the City of Lights--Cleveland, Ohio, for Race Day in the Midwest! Today's Round Nine of the FedEx Championship Series takes the Green Flag at 1 p.m. to start the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar. Today's weather is chancy: the low pressure system to the northwest is coming in fast; strong southwest winds to 25 mph will change to the northwest around lunch and that starts the one-to-two hour countdown to a strong chance of showers, less scattered than yesterday. The Burke Lakefront Airport weather team estimates the squalls to present themselves from 1-2 p.m. So once again, weather will play a roll in the road course portion of the 2001 season!

• Championship Auto Racing Teams is joining with England's Rockingham Motor Speedway to sponsor the seventh annual Motorsports Industry Association Awards conducted in the Cholmondey Room and Terrace at the House of Lords in London Monday evening. CART Chairman and CEO Joe Heitzler will be one of the featured guests among the more than 300 attendees from all aspects of the worldwide motorsports industry. Also in attendance will be Rockingham's David Grace as well as Hans-Jorg Fisher, the head man from Germany's EuroSpeedway.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the final practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 91 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 83 degrees F. at the start of the session.

• At 9:10 a.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #3 CASTRONEVES with a lap of 123.943 mph (1:01.170; sixth lap), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (122.745 mph; 1:01.350; sixth lap) and #52X NAKANO (122.725 mph; 1:01.777; seventh lap).

• At 9:11 a.m., CART course observers report a spray of fluid from the rear of the car of #33 TAGLIANI while the car is at speed on course. TAGLIANI subsequently pits his car for inspection in the Pits.

• At 9:12 a.m., #5 TAKAGI slides off course at Turn 6 and breaks the right wing off before the driver can regain control. TAKAGI drives back to his Pit Box for repairs.

• RED FLAG waves at 9:14 a.m. after #18 DIXON stalls on course at the Turn 6 run-off and CART safety crews are unable to start the car. The car is towed back to Pit Road for inspection. The driver will receive the standard eight-minute delay-of-session penalty to be served upon the reappearance of the Green Flag.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 9:17 a.m. to resume the session.

• At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #32 CARPENTIER with a lap of 124.712 mph (1:00.793; eighth lap), followed by #40 VASSER (124.685 mph; 1:00.806; ninth lap) and #22 SERVIA (124.395 mph; 1:00.948; 11th lap).

• At 9:21 a.m., #22 SERVIA spins at Turn 4 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• At 9:23 a.m., #27 FRANCHITTI runs off course at Turn 4 but regains control and continues on course.

• RED FLAG waves at 9:28 a.m. after #7 PAPIS spins at Turn 4 and makes light contact with the tire barrier, stalling the car. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains light damage. The driver will receive the standard eight-minute delay-of-session penalty to be carried over to the next road/street course race, Toronto in two weeks.

• CHECKERED FLAG waves at 9:28:30 a.m. after CART Race Control determines that the car of #7 PAPIS is in a dangerous spot just off the track and the time needed to remove the car will exceed the scheduled end of the session. #3 CASTRONEVES is the fastest driver at the end of the session with a lap of 126.556 mph (59.907 seconds; 17th lap), followed by #77 HERTA (126.162 mph; 1:00.094; 19th lap) and #26 TRACY (126.125 mph; 1:00.112; 14th lap). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 27 cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #8X BRACK, #4X JUNQUEIRA, #52X NAKANO, and #18X DIXON. The top 18 cars are separated by less than one second in lap times at the end of the session.

• Trap speeds still show a close field with a few new faces making an appearance at the top of the charts. A three-way tie at the top for the Start/Finish line Trap features session-second-fastest #77 HERTA, 16th-fastest #33 TAGLIANI and 19th-fastest #5 TAKAGI logging a 168.350 mph trip. The Trap 2 features #77 HERTA all alone at 97.986 mph, followed by fourth-fastest #17 GUGELMIN (95.694 mph). The Trap 2 has #7 PAPIS up front at 114.431 mph, followed by #52X NAKANO (113.636 mph).

• Next up the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar!

• In the downtime between the morning warm-up and the start of the race, quite a few Champ Car fans are deliberating around the world on who their picks for today's winner will be. Without further ado, here's the skinny to keep the stats in your pocket instead of the competition's. Look for a full podium from the front three rows. Over the last six years, the winner has come from an averaged starting spot on the grid of 2.5; second from 5.2, and third from 6th flat. In fact, in the last five years, only one driver has come from farther back than seventh on the grid to stand on the podium: last year's 15th-place starter KENNY BRACK. The margin of victory has averaged 3.9 seconds, but that is impacted by a 10.604-second margin in 1999 and an 8.422-second margin in 1998. The rest of the margins are .826 to 1.281. The first Yellow should fly by Lap 25 with 11.3 laps run under the Caution and the Yellow flying an average of 2 times. There should be 3.8 cars retired due to contact and 16 cars running at the end of the race. Of course, today's impending weather could throw most of this baby out with the bath water so, as usual in racing, good luck will be needed by you all!

THE RACE"

• As the Green Flag approaches for the start of the race, large storms are approaching from the west with a tornado 50 miles to the west of Cleveland. The storms have tracked to the south as they approach the downtown area, but rain will still be a strong possibility early in the race. All drivers are presently on slicks for the start of the race.

• At 12:54 p.m., the National Anthem is sung.

• At 12:55 p.m., the command: “Gentlemen, Start your Engines!” is given.

• At 12:58 p.m., the CART Pace Car begins to roll with the entire field of 26 cars in tow for the first of three Parade/Pace laps.

• GREEN FLAG waves at 1:04 p.m. to start the 100-lap Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar! Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 78 degrees F. and an ambient temperature of 71 degrees F. on the dry track at the start.

• Polesitter #17 GUGELMIN crosses the line and leads the field into Turn 1.

• YELLOW FLAG waves as the track shrinks down for the Turn 1 switchback, side-to-side contact occurs between #22 SERVIA and #32 CARPENTIER. Multiple contact results in #55 KANAAN, #16 JOURDAIN Jr., #32 CARPENTIER, #20 MORENO wind up in the grass with JOURDAIN Jr. and CARPENTIER stalled. CART safety crews get CARPENTIER started but both CARPENTIER and JOURDAIN Jr. retire from the race due to contact. #25 WILSON leads the first lap under the Yellow Flag followed by #33 TAGLIANI, #12 GIDLEY, #51 FERNANDEZ, and #17 GUGELMIN.

• GREEN FLAG waves on lap 4 to resume the race.

• On Lap 5, the running order is #25 WILSON leading by .490 seconds over #33 TAGLIANI, followed by #12 GIDLEY (1.573 seconds back), #51 FERNANDEZ (2.224 seconds back), and #8 BRACK (2.669 seconds back).

• On Lap 7, #26 TRACY pulls off at the entrance to Pit Road after losing power. The driver subsequently retires from the race due to a mechanical problem.

• On Lap 10, the running order is On Lap 5, the running order is #25 WILSON leading by .893 seconds over #33 TAGLIANI, followed by #12 GIDLEY (1.307 seconds back), #51 FERNANDEZ (1.753 seconds back), and #8 BRACK (2.028 seconds back).

• On Lap 13, #12 GIDELY passes #33 TAGLIANI to take second place as the two drivers accelerate out of Turn 4.

• On Lap 14, both #51 FERNANDEZ and #8 BRACK get past #33 TAGLIANI to take third and fourth place, respectively.

• On Lap 15, the running order is #25 WILSON leading by .356 seconds, over #12 GIDLEY, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (2.537 seconds back), #8 BRACK (3.126 seconds back) and #33 TAGLIANI (5.005 seconds back).

• On Lap 20, the running order is #25 WILSON leading by .796 seconds, over #12 GIDLEY, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (1.232 seconds back), #8 BRACK (1.620 seconds back) and #33 TAGLIANI (6.121 seconds back).

• On Lap 21, #12 GIDLEY takes the lead from #25 WILSON, out-braking the leader on the inside at Turn 6. #66 ZANARDI passes #33 TAGLIANI to take fifth.

• On Lap 25, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading #25 WILSON by 3.830 seconds, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (5.186 seconds back), #8 BRACK (6.313 seconds back), and #66 ZANARDI (8.496 seconds back).

• On Lap 30, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading #25 WILSON by 7.961 seconds, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (8.772 seconds back), #8 BRACK (9.288 seconds back), and #66 ZANARDI (16.335 seconds back).

• On Lap 31, the leaders start to pit. #12 GIDLEY comes in first, dropping from first to ninth before the driver can return to the race. #25 WILSON retakes the lead.

• On Lap 32, #4 JUNQUEIRA rear-ends #11 FITTIPALDI as the two cars steer into the Pit Lane. JUNQUEIRA then breaks the left front wheel off against the Pit Entry barrier. JUNQUEIRA subsequently retires from the race due to contact.

• On Lap 33, race leader #25 WILSON pits but cannot get to his pit due to the entry being blocked by the car of #4 JUNQUEIRA. The driver heads back on track after losing 15 spots.

• On Lap 34, #25 WILSON pits again to retry his scheduled stop. The driver falls from 15th to 20th before he can return to the race. #20 MORENO takes over the lead.

• On Lap 35, the running order is #20 MORENO leading by 8.268 seconds over #12 GIDLEY, followed by #8 BRACK (19.832 seconds back), #51 FERNANDEZ (20.641 seconds back), and #66 ZANARDI (19.192 seconds back).

• On Lap 36, #20 MORENO pits and #12 GIDLEY retakes the lead.

• On Lap 40, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 14.454 seconds over #8 BRACK, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (15.359 seconds back), #66 ZANARDI (18.165 seconds back), and #27 FRANCHITTI (19.192 seconds back).

• On Lap 45, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 18.516 seconds over #8 BRACK, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (19.292 seconds back), #66 ZANARDI (19.605 seconds back), and #27 FRANCHITTI (21.555 seconds back).

• On Lap 50, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 22.131 seconds over #8 BRACK, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (22.998 seconds back), #66 ZANARDI (23.320 seconds back), and #27 FRANCHITTI (26.403 seconds back).

• On Lap 55, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 25.162 seconds over #8 BRACK, followed by #66 ZANARDI (26.426 seconds back), #51 FERNANDEZ (25.795 seconds back), and #27 FRANCHITTI (26.732 seconds back).

• On Lap 60, #25 WILSON makes contact with the rear of #66 ZANARDI's car and snaps off the right wing. WILSON subsequently pits for repairs.

• Also on Lap 60, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 23.718 seconds over #8 BRACK, followed by #51 FERNANDEZ (26.205 seconds back), #27 FRANCHITTI (26.812 seconds back), and #77 HERTA (27.502 seconds back).

• On Lap 62, #12 GIDLEY pits and hands the lead to #8 BRACK. GIDLEY returns to the race in eighth place.

• BLACK FLAG is shown on Lap 63 to #25 WILSON for a Pit road speed violation. WILSON subsequently pits to comply with the Black flag drive-thru penalty.

• Also on Lap 63, #8 BRACK pits and hands the lead to #51 FERNANDEZ. BRACK returns to the race in 10th place.

• On Lap 64, #51 FERNANDEZ pits and hands the lead to #27 FRANCHITTI. FERNANDEZ returns to the race in 10th place.

• On Lap 65, the running order is 327 FRANCHITTI leading by 1.359 seconds over #77 HERTA, followed by #20 MORENO (8.215 seconds back), #18 DIXON (8.549 seconds back) and #40 VASSER (15.065 seconds back).

• On Lap 66, both first-place #27 FRANCHITTI and second-place #77 HERTA pit. #20 MORENO takes the lead. MORENO and teammate VASSER are playing the fuel game, trying to finish the race on two scheduled stops.

• On Lap 69, #40 VASSER pits and falls from second to 11th before he can return to the race.

• On Lap 70, leader #20 MORENO pits and hands the lead to back to #12 GIDLEY.

• On Lap 70, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 10.607 seconds over #1 de FERRAN, followed by #20 MORENO (11.593 seconds back), #27 FRANCHITTI (12.131 seconds back) and #77 HERTA (14.370 seconds back). MORENO returns to the race in sixth place.

• On Lap 74, #5 TAKAGI makes contact with #18 DIXON and spins through Turn 6. Both cars continue on course but DIXON has sustained damage to the right front wheel. DIXON pits and loses four laps in the pits before he can return to the race.

• On Lap 80, #25 WILSON spins at Turn 1 but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• Also on Lap 80, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 19.313 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #77 HERTA (20.794 seconds back), #8 BRACK (21.130 seconds back), and #20 MORENO (23.304 seconds back).

• On Lap 85, #6 da MATTA spins but continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• Also on Lap 85, the running order is #12 GIDLEY leading by 21.525 seconds over #27 FRANCHITTI, followed by #77 HERTA (22.748 seconds back), #8 BRACK (23.393 seconds back), and #20 MORENO (23.686 seconds back).

• On Lap 89, #77 HERTA and #20 MORENO spin at Turn 8 with MORENO making light contact with the tire barrier and stalling the car. HERTA continues on course without apparent damage to the car.

• On Lap 90, leader #12 GIDLEY pits and #27 FRANCHITTI takes over. GIDLEY short-fuels and gets back out in second place.

• On Lap 91, #27 FRANCHITTI leads #12 GIDLEY by 3.800 seconds, followed by #8 BRACK (4.430 seconds back). BRACK cannot make it on fuel to the end of the race and will have to pit.

• On Lap 92, #27 FRANCHITTI leads a fast-closing #12 GIDLEY by 2.367 seconds, followed by #8 BRACK (3.149 seconds).

• On Lap 93, #27 FRANCHITTI leads #12 GIDLEY by 1.169 seconds, followed by #8 BRACK (2.045 seconds back).

• On Lap 94, #8 BRACK pits and hands third place to #77 HERTA. BRACK short-fuels and returns to the race in sixth place.

• On Lap 95, the running order is #27 FRANCHITTI leading by 2.426 seconds over #12 GIDLEY, followed by #77 HERTA (10.199 seconds back), #1 de FERRAN (12.462 seconds back) and #40 VASSER (23.952 seconds back).

• On Lap 96, #12 GIDLEY gets hung up in lapped traffic and falls to 3.498 seconds behind #27 FRANCHITTI.

• On Lap 97, #12 GIDLEY makes a move to pass lapped traffic at Turn 1 and gets pinched, allowing #27 FRANCHITTI to mount a 3.940-second lead.

• On Lap 98, #27 FRANCHITTI leads by 2.907 seconds over a once-again fast-closing #12 GIDLEY, with #77 HERTA a distant 8.871 seconds back.

• WHITE FLAG flies on Lap 99 for #27 FRANCHITTI, leading #12 GIDLEY by 1.549 seconds with #77 HERTA 7.963 seconds back.

• CHECKERED FLAG waves on Lap 100 for the winner of the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar, DARIO FRANCHITTI! FRANCHITTI comes home .305 seconds ahead of second-place MEMO GIDLEY. Third place goes to BRYAN HERTA, fourth to GIL de FERRAN, and fifth to JIMMY VASSER. FRANCHITTI averaged 118.007 mph in his win today, establishing a new track record, taking 1 hour, 47 minutes, and 4.723 seconds to log his victory. Six drivers took a turn at the lead of the field with ten lead changes. GIDLEY led the most laps with 57, followed by WILSON with 23, FRANCHITTI with 12, MORENO with six, and BRACK and FERNANDEZ leading one each. The Yellow Flag flew once for three laps. Nineteen cars were running at the end with 13 cars on the lead lap.

• DARIO FRANCHITTI wins his first race of the season and the seventh of his career today in his Team KOOL Green Honda/Reynard, triumphing in the closest finish in the Cleveland Grand Prix history. (The previous closest finish was an .826-second win by Roberto Moreno last year.) The last six of the Scotsman's wins have come on temporary race courses. This is FRANCHITTI's first win since his 1999 victory at Surfers Paradise. This is also the third win of the year for Honda and the engine manufacturer leads in the Championship by four points over Toyota. Honda has won five of the last six events here at Cleveland. This is also the sixth different winner in the first eight races of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series.

• MEMO GIDLEY logs his CART career-best finish today with his second place run in the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota/Lola. GIDLEY's previous best finish was a sixth-place effort at Elkhart Lake last year. The American also gets one Championship Point for leading the most laps, giving him 17 for the weekend.

• BRYAN HERTA logs his season-best finish today in his Zakspeed/Forsythe Racing Ford Reynard. HERTA's previous best finish this year was a tenth at Long Beach. This is also the American's first podium since his win at Laguna Seca in 1999.

• KENNY BRACK maintains his lead in the chase for the Vanderbilt Cup with 84 Championship Points, to 65 for CASTRONEVES and FRANCHITTI, 56 for de FERRAN, and 55 for da MATTA.

• Quotes from the top three finishers follow:

• DARIO FRANCHITTI: "On the first corner, I went to the outside, I thought, to stay out of trouble, and I think it was Tora (Takagi) who spun. I got into the grass, and it was wet, so I ended up in last. Then I came into the pit and stalled it, but it didn't matter because I was last anyway. From there we were just saving fuel and passing people when we could, and I could see we were going longer on fuel. They kept saying on the radio, 'it's you and Bryan, you and Bryan,' and then Memo showed up and he was coming like a rocket. Tony (Kanaan) and Michael (Andretti) were holding me up for a little while, but they got out of the way. My dashboard said there was one gallon on the last lap, and I knew I had to be careful, because I didn't want to lose it in the last chicane. I was kind of shocked when I crossed the finish line. The guys at Team KOOL Green did a great job today. We kept believing we could do it. We've qualified really, really well last year, and then we'd come to second lap and we were off. This season we've had great cars, and today was no exception, except that today everything went right. There's no point in giving up. Even at the most difficult point last year, I never thought about giving up. You might as well park the car if you're going to give up."

• MEMO GIDLEY: "This is all about chasing a dream. This is what it was all about for the last eight months, when I was getting up in the morning working out and driving my go-kart. Last weekend, people thought it was good, just because I was in the car. Passion keeps me going, and I've got a lot of support out here. It was a fun situation for me, when I was running flat out like I was every lap, it was like qualifying, I was pushing very hard every lap. I just focused on where I needed to place the car. You can only do what you can do. (Team manager) Mike Hull kept saying, 'keep pushing, keep pushing,' and he doesn't really know me because I'm going to push every time. The important part of what me and the guys did today really inspires people. I saw 'P1' once at Long Beach, but that was out of sequence, that wasn't really leading the race. Today, I really led the race. We were fast, and one of the cars that was going to win the race."

• BRYAN HERTA: "At the start, I went down the outside there and decided I wasn't going to lift until they did, and I was too late. I fell back to 11th there. We knew this was a race that could go green all the way, so we set our fuel mark at the get-go. It's huge, because it's the first year with the new team. We've struggled a bit this year, maybe not more than normal, but we were having more trouble on the road courses than the ovals. The car has been good on the ovals this year. We came here with a little different setup, and it worked a lot better, so I'm hoping it'll be good for the rest of the year."

• Firestone Racing served as sponsor of the Bobby Rahal Award of Excellence that was presented to broadcaster Paul Page during Saturday evening's Cleveland Grand Prix committee gala. The honor is presented annually to someone who has made significant contributions to motorsports.

• This concludes the Champ Car Pit Notes for the Marconi Grand Prix Presented by Firstar. The FedEx Championship Series next travels to visit our good friend north of the border in Toronto, Ontario, for the running of Round 10 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Molson Indy on July 15th. Keep up with the comings and goings in the fastest racing series in the world through the official CART website; CART.com.

-CART

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Roberto Moreno , Bobby Rahal , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Zakspeed