Zanardi had won the provisional pole Friday with a lap of 132.031 mph that
easily withstood the assault from the rest of the field 24 hours later,
in the final round of qualifying for the race Sunday.
But, moments after the checkered flag signaled the end of the 30-minute
session, Zanardi completed his final run around the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront
Airport with an even faster lap of 133.048.
``Obviously, we thought the time (from Friday) was pretty safe,'' said Zanardi,
whose lap time was seven-tenths of a second faster than his closest pursuers.
``At least it looked safe until everybody started getting closer and closer.
I wanted to do another fast lap to be sure we stayed in front.
``I had traffic in front of me on every lap until the last one. I was fortunate
enough to get past the flagstand with one second left in the session, and
I had nobody in front of me. I simply took out of the car what the car was
capable of doing.''
It was the Italian driver's series-leading third pole of the season and
the ninth of his CART career, which began last season.
Gil de Ferran, who held off Zanardi in a tense last-lap duel to win last
the race last year, set up another likely battle on Sunday by taking the
outside spot on the front row of the 28-car grid.
De Ferran, who moved up from fourth place on Friday, grabbed the runner-up
spot with a lap of 131.822 with just under three minutes left in the session.
It is his third consecutive front-row start.
It's the same front row as last year, except the positions are reversed.
``Alex and I have a good sportsmanlike rivalry,'' de Ferran said when asked
if there is likely to be a replay of last year's close finish. ``We've found
each other many times during races.
``Alex is going to try to make it as boring a race as he can, and I'm going
to try to make it as exciting as a I can.''
Zanardi said thoughts of revenge never entered his mind.
``Last year, we had a great race, both of us,'' he said. `` We made some
small mistakes in our (pit) strategy because we didn't know what Gil was
going to do. All we can do is run the race according to our plan and hope
it goes our way.''
In the furious finish to qualifying, Mark Blundell _ coming off his first
Indy-car victory two weeks ago in Portland, Ore. _ jumped from 11th to third
at 131.787, bumping former Cleveland winner Michael Andretti to fourth at
Christian Fittipaldi, Andretti's teammate, was next at 131.251, followed
by Mauricio Gugelmin at 131.190. Bryan Herta, second after qualifying Friday,
improved to 131.163 but fell all the way to seventh.
Paul Tracy, the PPG CART World Series points leader, qualified 10th at 130.760.
Greg Moore, who trails Tracy by five points, will start 13th after qualifying
The length of the track has changed from 2.369 miles to 2.106 since last
year, so Zanardi's fast laps each day have been qualifying records. Last
year, de Ferran won the pole with a fast lap of 147.512.