Cleveland: Round four preview

Motorock Trans-Am Series Ready To Rock Cleveland's Waterfront CLEVELAND (June 28, 2004) -- During this Fourth of July weekend, the rumble won't just be coming from the fireworks, as the Motorock Trans-Am Series rolls into the home of rock and...

Motorock Trans-Am Series Ready To Rock Cleveland's Waterfront

CLEVELAND (June 28, 2004) -- During this Fourth of July weekend, the rumble won't just be coming from the fireworks, as the Motorock Trans-Am Series rolls into the home of rock and roll ready to roar on the lakefront. The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, Round 4 of this year's championship, is scheduled for Friday, July 2.

The Trans-Am Series has a long history at Cleveland's 2.106-mile, 10-turn course, set up on Cleveland's Burke Lakefront airport. The Series has competed here 13 times since 1988. This year, America's oldest continuously running road racing series will continue the Cleveland legend, as part of the U.S. Bank Presents Cleveland Grand Prix. The list of Cleveland winners comprises an elite group of drivers who have made history in the Trans-Am Series and elsewhere.

Leading the Cleveland cavalcade of Trans-Am legends is the Series' only four-time champion Tommy Kendall. Kendall returned to the Series this year, after leaving competition in 1997. Kendall has a history at Cleveland, making it a special place for the well-known racer.

In fact, Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) began his run to second on the all-time Trans-Am win list at Cleveland. Kendall recorded his first of 26 career victories, here in 1990. The only driver to have won four Drivers' Championships, accomplishments include: being the only driver to win three-straight Trans-Am titles, a record for the most victories in a season, 14 straight in 1997, 40 poles, 53 podiums, 63 top fives, 72 top tens and 23 fast race laps.

"Cleveland is very special to me," said Kendall, who is driving a car powered by Jaguar's new stock-block, fuel-injected AJ-V8 engine. "I won my first race here and my brother lives here. They put on a great event, so whether it's difficult or intimidating, I don't care. I like Cleveland."

Meanwhile Tomy Drissi (No. 5 AVP--Only in Theaters Jaguar XKR) is on a mission this year. He won his first pole in Round 2 at Portland and is looking to continue his string of consistent finishes here, after a stumble at Infineon Raceway.

"This year, our program is really coming together," said Drissi. "Last year, we were fast, but we weren't consistent. This year is about consistency. Cleveland is a fast track. I'm looking forward to having the best result of my career here this year."

Local racer Randy Ruhlman is also seeking his first Cleveland victory. Ruhlman, who grew up here, is sponsored by Preformed Line Products, which has its corporate headquarters in the Cleveland metropolitan area.

"As always, we're looking forward to coming back to Cleveland," said Ruhlman, driver of the No. 49 Chevrolet Corvette. "We have a big contingent from our sponsor. We also have a lot of family come out. I grew up in Cleveland, so it's always nice to come home. The team has been giving me a great car. It gets stronger every race. We had a strong car last year and I think it will be even stronger this year."

Another local racer, Tim Cowen, is also looking forward to returning to Cleveland. Cowen (No. 75 Cowen Truck Lines Ford Mustang) lives in nearby Ashland, Ohio. The 2002 GT-1 National Champion is concentrating on competing in the Trans-Am Series this year, running at least five events.

"We're really looking forward to Cleveland," said Cowen. "Of the first three races we're running this season, we have the most experience at Cleveland. We've run well here, though our results haven shown that. We've just had some bad luck. One year, we didn't make it through turn one and last year we had radiator problems. This year, we're best prepared for that race as any. Coming into these first two races, with both Portland and Infineon being new tracks to us, we think we've done a pretty good job."

Another local favorite to watch is Bob Ruman. Ruman (No. 23 Cenweld/McNichols Chevrolet Corvette) returned to Trans-Am competition here last season after successfully beating cancer.

Meanwhile, B.K. "Kenny" Bupp and Jon "Chevy" Leavy will kick off their season as Trans-Am's only two-car GT-1 team. The two are competing this year under Trans-Am's new GT-1 Driver Development Program. The program will award the GT-1 Drivers' Championship, presented for the first time in 2003, and will further recognize the importance of GT-1 involvement in Trans-Am competition.

The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, part of the U.S. Bank Presents Cleveland Grand Prix weekend, is scheduled for Friday, July 2. The race is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport. The Trans-Am Series is part of a full weekend in racing, featuring the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, and also includes the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama and Formula BMW USA.

Fast Facts:

What: The Trans-Am on the Tarmac, Round 4 of the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series championship
When: Thursday and Friday, July 1-2, 2004
Race Day: Friday, July 2, at 5 p.m., following the Formula BMW race No. 1

Distance: 48 laps or 75 minutes, time certain, whichever comes first
Where: The race will be run on a 2.106-mile, 10-turn temporary airport course <pre> Schedule:

Thursday, July 1, 2004 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Formula BMW Practice 10:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Toyota Atlantic Practice 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Champ Car World Series Practice 1:15 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Trans-Am Practice 2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Formula BMW Practice 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Champ Car Qualifying 4:45 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Atlantic Qualifying 5:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Formula BMW Qualifying Session One 6:15 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. Trans-Am Qualifying 6:55 p.m. Trans-Am Post-Qualifying Press Conference

Friday, July 2, 2004 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Formula BMW Qualifying Session Two 9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. Atlantic Practice 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Champ Car Practice 11:30 a.m. - noon Trans-Am Final Practice 1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Qualifying 1:45 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. Champ Car Qualifying 3:00 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Trans-Am Autograph Session (Location TBA) 4:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Formula BMW Race One 4:45 p.m. Grid Trans-Am 5:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. Trans-Am Race (48 Laps/101.088 miles or 75 Minutes) 6:20 p.m. Trans-Am Winner Circle Activities 6:30 p.m. Trans-Am Post-Race Press Conference </pre> Cleveland Commentary:

NOTEBOOK

* Rocketsports Racing, which is already the only entrant to win five Trans-Am races here (1991, Darin Brassfield; 1998, Bill Saunders; 2000 and 2001, Paul Gentilozzi, and 2003 with Scott Pruett), seeks to score an unprecedented sixth Cleveland Trans-Am win.

* Leading all-time Cleveland Trans-Am race winner Tommy Kendall (1990, 1996, and 1997) is after his fourth Cleveland Trans-Am victory.

* A Kendall victory here would also be the first for Jaguar's new AJ-V8 engine.

* Jaguar is seeking its fourth Cleveland Trans-Am win in last five years, tying it with Chevrolet. Jaguar can also earn its fourth pole here.

* A victory by the bowtie brigade will end a losing streak for Chevrolet here, going back1998 (Bill Saunders, Rocketsports Chevrolet Corvette)

* Ford is also in the hunt for its first Cleveland Trans-Am victory since 1997 (Tommy Kendall, Roush Mustang)

* Rocketsports is the first team to win four poles here.

* Two-time pole winners Tommy Kendall (1990 and 1996) and Paul Gentilozzi (2000 and 2001)can tie Scott Pruett for all-time leadership in Cleveland Trans-Am poles.

RACE HISTORY

* The Motorock Trans-Am Series first held an event on Cleveland's Burke Airport course in1988. The Series returned to Cleveland from 1989 through 1991. After a two-season hiatus (1992 and 1993), the Series completed a five-year run here from 1994 through 1998. The series returned to Cleveland in 2000 and has competed there every year since.

* The 13 Cleveland races have produced nine race winners, with only Tommy Kendall, a three-time victor (1990, 1996, 1997), Paul Gentilozzi (2000 and 2001), and Scott Pruett (1994 and 2003) winning more than once.

* Seven entrants have won here, with Rocketsports taking five (1991, 1998, 2000, 2001, and2003); McCall Racing two (1994 and 1995); and Roush Racing two (1996 and1997). 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 in1988, Tommy Kendall in 1990, and Bill Saunders in 1998.

* Six marques have won the 13 races here, led by Chevrolet's four (1990, 1994, 1995, 1998).Jaguar has three wins (2000, 2001, 2003). Ford (1996 and 1997) and Oldsmobile (1989 and 1991) each have two wins. Audi (1988) and Panoz(2002) each have one victory.

* Eight nameplates have been victorious in the here, with Jaguar's XKR scoring the most wins with three (2000, 2001, 2003). Chevrolet's Camaro (1994 and 1995), Ford's Mustang (1996 and 1997), and Oldsmobile's Cutlass (1989 and 1991) each scored two wins. Single victories have been posted by Audi's Quattro(1988), Chevrolet's Beretta (1990), Chevrolet's Corvette (1998), and the Panoz Esperante (2002).

* Nine drivers have won the pole here, with only Scott Pruett (1988, 1994, and 2003) achieving three such honors. Tommy Kendall (1990 and 1996) and Paul Gentilozzi (2000and 2001) have two Cleveland poles apiece.

* Ford's Mustang(1996 through 1998) and Jaguar's XKR (2000, 2001, and 2003) lead in Cleveland Trans-Am pole wins with three apiece. Chevrolet's Camaro (1994and 1995) 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 13 fast race laps, with only Paul Gentilozzi (1998 and 2002)and Scott Pruett (1988 and 2003) setting more than one.

* The winning drivers in the first four Cleveland Trans-Am's (Stuck in 1988, Hoerr in 1989,Kendall in 1990, and Brassfield in 1991) each swept the race, winning the pole, setting the fastest race lap and winning the race. No other winner achieved the feat again until Scott Pruett did so in 2003.

* Seven (53.8%) of the 13 Cleveland races have been won from pole (1989, Hoerr; 1990,Kendall; 1991, Brassfield; 1994, Pruett; 2000 and 2001, Gentilozzi; and2003, Pruett). Three have been won from third 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 2.46.

* Lead-lap finishers have ranged from 14 in 1997 to four in 2001 for an average of 9.92 per race. Eight have produced 10 or more lead-lap finishers with 2002producing 13, one short of the event record. Nine cars finished on the lead lap in 2003.

* Twelve of the 13 Cleveland events have produced victory margins of less than 10seconds, with the largest margin of 11.33 seconds in 1996. The record closest Cleveland Trans-Am victory margin of 0.193 second was posted in1998 by Bill Saunders.

* The total victory margin for all 13 races here amounts to only 49.361 seconds, or an average of 3.797 seconds per race.

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Series Trans-Am
Drivers Boris Said , Scott Pruett , Tomy Drissi , Paul Gentilozzi , Randy Ruhlman , Bob Ruman , Tim Cowen , Darin Brassfield , Tommy Kendall