Race No. 10
1996 Pole Winner: Jimmy Vasser
1996 Race Winner: Gil de Ferran
1996 SpeedCenter Report
Cleveland Weather Forecast
Burke Lakefront Area Map
Warning - Low Flying Aircraft
CART returns to Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland
Round ten of the 1997 PPG CART World Series comes to Cleveland, OH this weekend. The race is scheduled for 90 laps around the 2.369-mile, ten turn temporary road course for a total of 213.21 miles. The race will be subject to the two-hour time limit rule. The event will be televised live on ABC TV at 2:00PM EDT.
The flat track, laid out on the runways and taxi lanes of Burke Lakefront Airport, is known for it's wide-open passing zones, but is also notorious for having too many drivers attempt to occupy the same space. The entrance to turn one invites three-wide racing, while the turn itself narrows to a maximum of two car-widths. As on all road/street courses, qualifying near the front of the field will be extremely important.
Gil de Ferran (Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda) comes to the race as the defending champion, and also with a strong record in the '97 season. De Ferran has three podium finishes in the last four races, and, on June 22, came in second by only .027 seconds in a final straight drag race with Mark Blundell for the closest finish in Indy car history.
De Ferran scored the first pole position in his PPG CART World Series career at this temporary road course in '95. In doing so, he set a record lap of 57.815 for a speed of 147.512, but, in view of the performance of the "de-tuned" cars and improved tire compounds this season, that record will be in jeopardy should conditions remain dry for qualifying and race-day.
Picking a likely winner of Sunday's race has no real scientific foundation. As I said before, qualifying position will play a great part in the equation, but keep in mind that qualifying times have repeatedly been within one-tenth of a second deep into the field.
The points battle is heating up, with Tracy in the lead with 100 points. Moore and Andretti are easily within striking distance with 95 and 91 points respectively. De Ferran, with 77 points going to Cleveland, could close the gap considerably with a pole and a win. Any of the top six drivers are still in realistic contention, and Pruett, in seventh with 66 points, could strike with a winning streak in the second half of the season.
Tasman Motorsports fields a Reynard chassis for Andre Ribeiro for the first time this year, and Lola claims to have made improvements after supposedly discovering ailments during recent test sessions. Could this pull Tasman into the list of possible competitors with Ribeiro and Adrian Fernandez?
And how about that Fittipaldi? Out for 75 days, then returns to a career-best qualifying (third), and a fourth place finish that was second until the final lap of the Portland race. And this while having to use crutches to walk. He doesn't have much of a shot at the title, but is still chasing that elusive first PPG CART World Series win.
We'll see on Sunday!
©1997 SpeedCenter Internet Publishing, Inc.