Vasser Tops for 1st Day Qualifying

10 July 1998


Cleveland, OH-July 10, 1998-- The Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland for
the FedEx Championship Series arrived in this northern Ohio setting at
the Burke Lakefront Airport. Each year the downtown airport goes through
a transition from active runways for small commercial jets and civilian
aircraft to active runways for some of the fastest open-wheel racecars
on the earth.

Target driver, Alex Zanardi (134 points) arrives to this mid-point of
the season race with a healthy 38 point lead over Players driver Greg
Moore. Zanardi's teammate Jimmy Vasser follows closely in third place,
11 points behind Moore.

The Cleveland circuit is a 2.106 mile layout which combines the long
east-west runways interrupted by the runway crossovers as braking and
turning points. For road-course enthusiasts it is one of the more popular
venues since visibility of the racing action is so plentiful.

Clear skies and cool temperatures greeted the first practice session.
Bryan Herta finished  the 1 hour and thirty minute session with a fastest
time of  57.391 seconds for a lap of 132.104 mph.  Michael Andretti,
utilizing his back-up car, was second with a time of 57.918 seconds
for a speed of 130.902 mph. Mark Blundell finished third with a time of
58.283 seconds for a lap of 130.083 mph. In the first practice session
36 cars were utilized as many of the drivers practiced in both primary
and secondary cars.

The afternoon session of First Round Qualifying commenced promptly
at 3:05pm. Just like the earlier morning session cool temperatures
greeted the drivers in Group One.  The Group One drivers are selected
based upon the times posted in the last road course qualifying session
from last month at Portland. The thirty-minute session turned into a
multiple driver shoot-out between Zanardi, Andretti, Vasser, Herta and
Franchitti. During the session Zanardi took provisional pole for the
first 25 minutes. His time of 58.112 seconds for a speed of 130.465 mph
appeared to sufficient. However with five minutes left in the session
the battle for pole supremacy began in earnest. First Michael Andretti
grabbed pole position with a time of 57.222 seconds for a speed of
132.494 mph. Andretti had just posted that time when Bryan Herta blasted
his way to a new track record with a time of 56.927 for a speed of
133.181. Holding onto pole position became a game of "hot potato." No
sooner had Herta been radioed that he had pole position along comes
Jimmy Vasser with a lap of 56.417 seconds for a speed of 134.385 mph.

The final order of the top five in Group One was Vasser, Herta,
Franchitti, Zanardi and Andretti. The spread between first and fifth
was .7 of a second.

The Second Group was led by Mark Blundell with a time of 57.039 seconds
for a speed of 132.920mph. Paul Tracy was second fastest with a time
of 57.047 seconds for a speed of 132.901. When all was said and done
Vasser still held pole position. Bryan Herta was second, Franchitti
third, Zanardi fourth and Mark Blundell took home fifth. The top 20
drivers are separated by less than two seconds. Sentimental favorite,
Bobby Rahal participating in his last CART race at Cleveland took 11th
place in today's session. Rahal's first victory in CART was at this very
race track in 1982.

Saturday's competition for the pole position will no doubt be just as
tough as today. The weather forecast is supposed to be a repeat of  today.

David Treffer -- The Auto Channel

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