Cleveland: News and pre-race notes

The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, Round 6 of the Trans-Am Series for the 2003 BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Championship Thursday and Friday July 3 and 4, 2003 Race: Friday, July 4, at approximately 5:40 p.m. Distance: 48 laps/101.088 miles or 75 minutes...

The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, Round 6 of the Trans-Am Series for the 2003 BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Championship

Thursday and Friday July 3 and 4, 2003
Race: Friday, July 4, at approximately 5:40 p.m.
Distance: 48 laps/101.088 miles or 75 minutes time certain, whichever comes first.

The race will be run on the 2.106-mile, 10-turn temporary airport course

Tire Talk:

Gary Blalock, tire engineer for spec tire supplier BFGoodrich® Tires, is bringing 560 g-Force T/A® tires to Cleveland in two dry compounds--200 (medium) and 75 (hard)--and a one full wet compound. This total is 100 less tires than Blalock brought to the last race, at Infineon Raceway.

"Tire compound choice will depend chiefly on how hot it is," said Blalock. "In prior years, a mixed bag of compounds were used. If it's 95 degrees ambient temperature, we're going to have high tire temperatures and we may have to go with the harder compound.

"The guys that are set up well to run the medium-compound tire, and the ones that are punishing the tires, need to react accordingly," added Blalock.

Because the race is run on the runways and taxiways of an airfield, Blalock said the surface looks like it will pose an interesting challenge. Blalock, addressing the transverse rain grooves on the runway, said, however, that looks can be deceiving.

"Although the rain grooves make the runways look like a cheese grater, really, tire wear is not that much of an issue," said Blalock. "Contrary to popular belief, those grooves have no adverse affect on tire wear. In fact, the grooves can help in some circumstances, especially if we have a wet race. The grooves help combat pooling of water, and make Cleveland a great place to have a wet race."

Interestingly, the Cleveland race marks a homecoming of sorts for BFGoodrich® Tires, as its primary U.S. manufacturing facility is located outside of Akron, Ohio, approximately 39 miles from Cleveland.

Cleveland Commentary:

* Trans-Am Series points leader Scott Pruett (No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR) seeks his second Cleveland Trans-Am Series victory. Pruett won in 1994 from pole in a McCall Chevrolet Camaro. Pruett is also after a record third Cleveland pole. Pruett won pole in 1988 in a Roush Mercury Merkur XR4ti and in 1994 in a McCall Camaro.

* Interestingly, Pruett has also made seven starts at Cleveland during his 10-year Champ Car World Series career. His best Champ Car finish here of fourth came in 1998.

* The Trans-Am Series first held its first Cleveland event in 1988. The Series returned to Cleveland from 1989 through 1991. After a two-season hiatus, the Trans-Am Series returned to Cleveland in 1994 and competed at the venue through 1998. After a one-year hiatus, the Series returned to Cleveland in 2000 and for subsequently in 2001 and 2002.

* The 12 Cleveland races have produced nine race winners, with only Tommy Kendall, a three-time victor (1990, 1996, 1997), and Paul Gentilozzi (2000 and 2001) winning more than once.

* Rocketsports Racing is the only team to win four Trans-Am Series races here (1991, Darin Brasfield; 1998, Bill Saunders; 2000 and 2001, Paul Gentilozzi), and seeks its fifth Cleveland victory. A fast time in qualifying will make Rocketsports Racing the first team to achieve four Cleveland poles. Seven entrants have scored Cleveland victories, with McCall Racing earning two (1994 and 1995), and Roush Racing two (1996 and 1997). Group 44 won in 1988, Irv Hoerr in 1989, C & C Racing in 1990, and Davis Racing in 2002.

* Three drivers have scored their career-first Trans-Am victories at Cleveland: Hans Stuck in 1988, Kendall in 1990, and Saunders in 1998.

* Six marques have won the 12 Cleveland Trans-Am Series races, led by Chevrolet's four victories (1990, 1994, 1995, 1998). Ford (1996 and 1997), Jaguar (2000 and 2001) and Oldsmobile (1989 and 1991) each have two victories. Audi (1988) and Panoz (2002) each have one victory.

* Eight nameplates have been victorious in the 12 Cleveland races, with Chevrolet's Camaro (1994 and 1995), Ford's Mustang (1996 and 1997), Jaguar's XKR (2000 and 2001) and Oldsmobile's Cutlass (1989 and 1991) each scoring two triumphs. Single victories have been posted by Audi's Quattro (1988), Chevrolet's Beretta (1990), Chevrolet's Corvette (1998) and the Panoz Esperante (2002).

* Ten drivers have won poles here, with only Kendall (1990 and 1996) and Gentilozzi (2000 and 2001) doing so twice. Among active competitors, Michael Lewis (1998) and Gentilozzi (2000 and 2001) have taken Cleveland poles. Butch Leitzinger took the 2002 pole.

* Ford's Mustang leads in Cleveland Trans-Am Series pole honors with three (1996 through 1998). Chevrolet's Camaro (1994 and 1995), Jaguar's XKR (2000 and 2001) and Oldsmobile's Cutlass (1989 and 1991) took two apiece with single honors to Mercury's Merkur (1988), Chevrolet's Beretta (1990), and Chevrolet's Corvette (2002).

* Eleven drivers have posted the 12 Cleveland Trans-Am fast race laps, with only Gentilozzi (1998 and 2002) taking two.

* Six (50.0%) of the 12 Cleveland Trans-Am Series races have been won from pole (1989, Hoerr; 1990, Kendall; 1991, Brassfield; 1994, Pruett; 2000 and 2001, Gentilozzi). Three have been won from third starting position (Stuck, 1988; Kendall, 1997; Boris Said, 2002), two from fifth (1995, Fellows and 1996, Kendall), and one from sixth (Saunders in 1988) for an average race winner's starting position of 2.58.

* Lead-lap finishers have ranged from 14 in 1997 to four in 2001 for an average of 10.0 per race. Eight of the 12 races have produced 10 or more lead-lap finishers with 2002 producing 13, one short of the event record.

* Eleven of the 12 Cleveland Trans-Am Series races have produced victory margins of less than 10 seconds, with the largest margin only 11.33 seconds in 1996. The record closest Cleveland Trans-Am Series victory margin of 0.193 of a second was posted in 1998 by Saunders. Said's margin of 0.266 of a second in 2002 ranks second with the 1997 margin of 0.719 of a second achieved by Kendall, ranking third. The 2000 margin of 1.593 seconds by Gentilozzi ranks fourth. Gentilozzi won by 4.405 seconds in 2001.

* The total victory margin for all 12 Cleveland Trans-Am Series races amounts to only 45.290 seconds, or an average of 3.774 seconds per race.

* Finishing percentages in the 12 Cleveland Trans-Am Series races have averaged 77.10%. The highest finishing percentage, 87.50%, was achieved in 1995 while the lowest, 64.29%, came in the 1988 inaugural.

-scca pro racing/trans am-

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Butch Leitzinger , Boris Said , Scott Pruett , Paul Gentilozzi , Michael Lewis , Tommy Kendall