Juan Montoya drove off to an easy win in the Medic Grand Prix of Cleveland, an event turned chaotic and then cut short because of a mid-race downpour. It was the fourth victory in nine starts for the rookie from Colombia, who was more than 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Gil de Ferran when the checkered flag was shown at the end of Lap 90 -- 10 before the scheduled finish.
The rain began on Lap 34 and intensified one lap later. Several cars, including those driven by Jimmy Vasser, Tony Kanaan and rookie Tarso Marques, slid into walls or tire barriers. The ensuing caution period lasted 15 laps and about 25 minutes. The race reverted from its scheduled distance to a two-hour time limit. Despite the long yellow for rain, Montoya averaged 93.931 mph.
Once the green flag came back out on Lap 51, the track was still wet enough that drivers remained on rain tires.
De Ferran, running on Goodyears, chased Montoya's Firestone-clad Reynard hard and finally passed him for the lead on Lap 58. At that point, the track was drying quickly and drivers began to pit for slick tires. When Adrian Fernandez hit a puddle and slid into a concrete barrier in Turn 8 on Lap 65, that caused the second and final full-course caution and bunched the field.
"I decided not to go to slicks too early," said Montoya. "You may be quicker [on slicks], but if you slide off, you don't get any points.
On the restart on Lap 69, Montoya blasted past the green flag, slipped inside de Ferran's Reynard and took the lead in Turn 1. De Ferran tried to come back, but Montoya fought him off and quickly began to pull away. De Ferran held on for second, followed by Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Al Unser Jr. and Brian Herta. Montoya now leads de Ferran by 25 points after nine of 20 races.