(July 2, 2000) After an impressive qualifying session on Friday at the Burke Lakefront Airport located in Cleveland, Ohio, Leighton Reese (Minnetonka, MN) had placed the ...
(July 2, 2000) After an impressive qualifying session on Friday at the Burke Lakefront Airport located in Cleveland, Ohio, Leighton Reese (Minnetonka, MN) had placed the #66 Banner Racing/Phillips 66 Pontiac Grand Prix in ninth place on the qualifying grid with a time of 1:16.877. Pole position went to Paul Gentalozzi in the #1 Johnson Controls Homelink Jaguar with a time of 1:15.265. After the qualifying run, Jeff Altenburg, positioned in 6th place on the starting grid, did a late engine change, benefiting the Banner Racing entry by moving Reese up to 8th position while moving Jeff to 11th place.
Prior to sending the cars to tech inspection, the Speedvision Network, the network that will air all of the events, had approached Leighton about doing a television interview before the race. This interview would be about the "splitter" located in the nose of the car. The purpose and benefits of having the splitter at the right height would be the content of this interview. To find out the answers to the questions presented, tune in for the race when it is aired July 8 at noon on Speedvision.
Once the green flag dropped, racing became about survival. The Cleveland track is notorious for eating up transmissions, and overheating the cars. During a small off-road excursion through the tight esses on the track, Leighton had dropped a wheel and collected grass in the radiator, as did many race cars this day. While not a lot of grass, it was just enough to cause Reese to pit under green while running in 9th place. Reese re-entered the track in 12th place, only to make it back up to 9th very quickly with some clever passing moves.
"This track is very difficult to read," stated Reese, "there are virtually no visual references for braking, apex's, or even to assist in finding the right line. We stiffened up the springs last night as the car seemed to have a lot of roll, that helped considerably. We are pleased that we finished as well as we did. This track is brutal and took advantage of a lot of good cars."
Leighton Reese and the Banner Racing/Phillips 66 entry finished with a very admirable 9th place, with Paul Gentalozzi leading all 47 laps to take the victory. Be sure to watch the race when it is aired July 8 at noon, to see Leighton Reese with the #66 Grand Prix in an in-depth interview with Greg Kremer of Speedvision.