CLEVELAND, OH . . . A sudden thunderstorm during qualifying drenched the course at Burke Lakefront Airport and played havoc with the qualifying order for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland (1:00 PM EDT on ABC). Team Rahal's Kenny Brack, the...
CLEVELAND, OH . . . A sudden thunderstorm during qualifying drenched the course at Burke Lakefront Airport and played havoc with the qualifying order for Sunday's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland (1:00 PM EDT on ABC). Team Rahal's Kenny Brack, the CART points leader, qualified 17th and Miller Lite driver Max Papis claimed the 22nd spot on the grid.
Brack and Papis switched between slick (dry) tires and rain tires in a search for the best grip combination on the track. The session was red flagged (stopped) for 35 minutes when the rain and lightning grew more severe. The session resumed following the delay but none of the second session cars were able to improve on their pre-red flag times.
The Cleveland pole position was won by PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin who turned a fast lap of 132.185 mph in the first half of the qualifying session. In fact the top-13 spots for Sunday's race are all held by drivers who were in the first half of qualifying.
Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth/Lola) - "The rain is always tricky. Last week, we started on the pole for the race in the rain and this week we have to come from behind. It's tough because we worked so hard to get out of the slower (qualifying) session (due to the point standings) and now we wish we were in that group this week. God has a better plan for us on Sunday I guess. I'm very happy for Mauricio (Gugelmin). He has worked hard in this series both on and off the track. He deserves some good luck. Hey, I might like starting in the back and watching the crashes in turn one. Last year, I got hit in the first turn. If there is a track where the starting positions aren't as important, it's Cleveland. You can come from the back to the front like Alessandro (Zanardi) did a few years ago. (Zanardi came from last to first in 1997)."
Kenny Brack (Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola) - "There is nothing you could do about it (the rain). We might have been able to pick up three or four positions if we had gone out a lap sooner but who knows. I was on my fastest lap and I got slowed down in turn five by Helio (Castroneves). The race should be really interesting. A lot of things happened in the first turn last year. We were able to make it through that mess last year. I hope we do it again. We need to get back in the groove again."