SBRS: Cleveland Qualifying

SNYDER RETURNS TO FORM IN CLEVELAND QUALIFYING CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 26) - A few clouds passing through at just the right time were all it took for Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. to reverse a spate of bad luck and claim his first pole of the...

SNYDER RETURNS TO FORM IN CLEVELAND QUALIFYING

CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 26) - A few clouds passing through at just the right time were all it took for Todd Snyder of Sheffield, Mass. to reverse a spate of bad luck and claim his first pole of the season in the Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying for the Medic Drug Cleveland Grand Prix Saturday afternoon.

Snyder, the runner-up in the 1998 Barber Dodge championship, lapped the 2.106-mile, 10-turn Burke Lakefront Airport circuit in 1:14.078 averaging 102.346 mph to best reigning series champion Jeff Simmons (1:14.452/101.832 mph) of East Granby, Conn. in a second-session duel for the top starting slot.

"I got my mojo back," Snyder laughed in a reference to the hit movie Austin Powers. "Yeah, baby!"

Snyder, who won three races last year, shook off his early season doldrums with one top-five finish (Lime Rock) and three DNF's in the first four races. A late-session sprint with a lighter fuel load gave Snyder the momentum he needed to top Simmons, who himself had his hands full with current series points leader Rocky Moran Jr. of Coto de Caza, Calif. Simmons ended up with a microscopic .009 second edge over third-place qualifier Moran (1:14.541/101.710).

"I didn't know how close Rocky was behind me," said a relieved Simmons. "I knew Todd was right there, but not that much faster." Moran found himself in a similar position, as Curitiba, Brazil native Nilton Rossoni, who had won the Cleveland pole in 1998, was just .012 seconds in arrears. Rossoni, who saw his 1998 track qualifying record (1:15.118/100.929 mph) smashed by Snyder and 10 other drivers, clocked in at 1:14.613/101.612 mph for fourth.

A light cloud cover that rolled off Lake Erie shortly before the start of the half-hour session helped cool the track and lower the times from the sweltering late morning first qualifying session, which had been topped by Switzerland's Iradj Alexander (1:14.626/101.595 mph). Alexander's time was still good enough for a season-best fifth spot on the grid.

"I'm really happy because we found the right direction in the setup," Alexander said. "I drove good - a little aggressive, but good. I had a little traffic and could only have one or two fast laps. In the race it will be different, because here you can pass anywhere." Peter Boss of Narragansett, R.I. snared sixth just behind Alexander at 1:14.707/101.484 mph, followed by Victoria, B.C.'s John McCaig (1:14.801/101.357 mph). Sepp Koster of the Netherlands (1:14.905/101.216 mph), Memo Rojas Jr. of Mexico City (1:14.986/101.107 mph) and Pella, Iowa's Jamie Menninga (1:15.023/101.057 mph) completed the top 10 qualifiers.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series race, a 40-minute timed sprint, will be held at 9:45 a.m. Sunday.

Notes: Barber Dodge grad Juan Montoya won the fourth pole position of his rookie season for the CART FedEx Championship Series race at the track. Montoya edged Portland winner Gil de Ferran for high honors.

"We've been changing the car a lot all weekend, trying to improve it over the bumps. We did a '58 and I was happy with that," Montoya said. "On my first run in (the second session) I did a 57.3 and thought that would be enough. It wasn't. Gil and Michael (Andretti) both went faster. Then I went out on new tires and pushed it as hard as I could. That did the trick."

Bryan Herta, the 1991 Barber Pro Series champion, will start fourth on the CART grid, while rookie Memo Gidley. who raced in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 1996, will start 21st in the Alpine/Walker Racing entry. "Well. that's a little bit better than last week (when Gidley qualified 25th in his first Champ Car race), but we never really got in a strong run today," Gidley said. "It seemed like every time we left the pits, the red flag came out."

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Combined Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying results from Burke Lakefront Airport on the 2.106-mile, 10-turn road circuit for Sunday's 40-minute race at the Medic Drug Cleveland Grand Prix.

Pos # Driver/Hometown Time/MPH 1 11 Todd Snyder/Sheffield, Mass. 1:14.078/102.346 2 1 Jeff Simmons/East Granby, Conn. 1:14.452/101.832 3 71 Rocky Moran, Jr./Coto de Caza, Calif. 1:14.541/101.710 4 36 Nilton Rossoni/Curitiba, Brazil 1:14.613/101.612 5 31 Iradj Alexander/Giubiasco,Switzerland 1:14.626/101.595 6 6 Peter Boss/Narragansett, R.I. 1:14.707/101.484 7 55 John McCaig/Victoria, B.C., Canada 1:14.801/101.357 8 7 Sepp Koster/The Netherlands 1:14.905/101.216 9 15 Memo Rojas, Jr./Mexico City, Mexico 1:14.986/101.107 10 2 Jamie Menninga/Pella, Iowa 1:15.023/101.057 11 52 Jon Fogarty/Portola Valley, Calif. 1:15.085/100.974 12 8 Roger Yasukawa/Santa Monica, Calif. 1:15.232/100.776 13 25 Townsend Bell/Costa Mesa, Calif. 1:15.250/100.752 14 85 Brian Pelke/Lansing, Ill. 1:15.276/100.717 15 49 Tim Bergmeister/Bergheim,Germany 1:15.298/100.688 16 12 Vanderlan Junior/Goiania, Brazil 1:15.385/100.572 17 14 Juan Jose Font/Caracas,Venezuela 1:15.508/100.408 18 17 Matt Plumb/Unionville, Pa. 1:15.520/100.392 19 13 R. B. Stiewing/Lime Rock, Conn. 1:15.868/99.931 20 16 Alexandre Sperafico/ToledoParana, Brazil 1:15.995/99.764 21 9 Rodrigo Bernardes/Sao Paulo, Brazil 1:16.235/99.450 22 3 Kip Gulseth/Manitowoc, Wisc. 1:16.646/98.917 23 4 Brent Sherman/ Northbrook, Ill. 1:16.919/98.566 24 77 Scott Mayer/Franklin, Wis. 1:20.853/93.770

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Peter Boss , Gil de Ferran , Memo Gidley , Bryan Herta , Jon Fogarty , Rocky Moran Jr. , Townsend Bell , Brent Sherman , Memo Rojas , Roger Yasukawa , Nilton Rossoni , Sepp Koster , Scott Mayer , Jeff Simmons , Todd Snyder , Matt Plumb , Rocky Moran , Tim Bergmeister , Alexander Iradj