Cleveland: Qualifying notes

Championship contenders Pruett and Miller take Cleveland front row CLEVELAND -- Scott Pruett's and Johnny Miller's quest for the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Drivers' Championship continued on Thursday at Burke Lakefront...

Championship contenders Pruett and Miller take Cleveland front row

CLEVELAND -- Scott Pruett's and Johnny Miller's quest for the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup Drivers' Championship continued on Thursday at Burke Lakefront Airport as they earned the top-two starting positions for Friday's Trans-Am on the Tarmac race. For Pruett, the one-minute, and 13.145-second effort earned the driver of the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR his fifth pole this season. Miller, driver of the No. 64 Eaton Cutler-Hammer Jaguar XKR, qualified second, his third top-three qualifying performance this season. Pruett leads Miller by just 19 points going into Friday's race.

For his efforts, Pruett won the Jaguar Pole Award, a performance-based initiative that rewards drivers who earn the pole at each of the Trans-Am Series' events this season. Polesitters will receive a key--regardless of what type of car they race--which, at the culmination of the season, they will use to attempt to open the door to a 2004 Jaguar XK8, during a formal ceremony. The driver whose key opens the vehicle will win a one-year lease on the car.

Stu Hayner (No. 2 Trenton Forging/GMAC Commercial Finance Chevrolet Corvette) was third quickest, ahead of Michael Lewis (No. 12 Westward Tools/The Crank Jaguar XKR) and Paul Gentilozzi (No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR).

"This track has always been good to me," said Pruett who also earned two bonus Championship Points for the pole. "It's one of those tracks you can be aggressive with. You can take chances. You can make those big, bold moves and slide off the race track and continue. That breeds just an awesome race."

"The fireworks are going to fly on the Fourth of July," added Pruett, who also earned his 25th career pole, tying Scott Sharp for third on the all-time fast qualifying list. "I've been here so many times. You think and plan how you're going to handle turn one, and when the green flag waves, that all goes out the window. It is what it is. You go into turn one. If it's a cat fight down there, then we'll get in there and fight. You just never know what to expect. Some guys are going to try to make some moves, and that could be a problem."

Miller, who's sponsor Eaton Corporation makes its home in Cleveland, hopes his second-fastest effort will translate into a victory on Friday.

"The car wasn't perfect by any means, so that's kind of a good thing," said Miller. "When you string it out there, your car is perfect and you're not on the pole, you really start asking questions. It gives you a little more confidence to make some changes. We're going to go some different directions in the morning. We should have a good car at the end of the race."

"We have 130 people from Eaton Corp. here today," added Miller. "Eaton's boardroom overlooks the track, so we have a lot of folks coming and we want to make them happy."

Hayner hopes his third-fast effort will continue a string of successes he's seen here.

"We tried some different things this year, that we haven't tried in previous years, and it seemed to work," said Hayner. "All in all, I think we have a good car. I'm normally pretty green after a qualifying run, but this one wasn't too bad. We're praying for rain. I love Cleveland. I've been here three times, I've been on podium twice and had a dead battery the third time. I love this track.

"We have about 80 people from GMAC Commercial Finance here this weekend, so we're looking to put on a good show on Friday."

The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, part of the U.S. Bank Presents Cleveland Grand Prix, is scheduled to start at 5:40 p.m., prior to Champ Car World Series practice on Friday, July 4. The race will air on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel, on Sunday, July 6 at 3:30 p.m. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and is celebrating its 38th anniversary this year.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Sharp , Scott Pruett , Paul Gentilozzi , Johnny Miller , Michael Lewis , Stu Hayner