Both PacWest drivers drivers struggled with a lack of grip on the opening day of the Detroit Grand Prix. In Friday's morning session, Sullivan and Gugelmin were 24th and 14th fastest respectively.
With a threat of rain for Saturday, Friday's provisional qualifying became very important. Gugelmin responded by jumping from 10th to 5th position with a time of 70.730. Sullivan had trouble with traffic and turned in a time of 72.096 to place him 18th in the provisional line-up.
Sullivan improved his time on Saturday clocking a lap at 70.690 seconds, good enough for 10th on the grid. Quite an improvement since few changes were made to the car.
"We didn't change many, or should I say we didn't make any drastic changes on the car. Alan (Mertens) made some small changes in the shocks, tire pressure and things like that. The car started to feel better during yesterday's qualifying session but it didn't show because we never got any clean laps" Sullivan said.
Gugelmin was unable to improve his provisional time and slipped to 11th on the grid.
During the race, both PacWest drivers got in the hole early in separate incidents. Gugelmin pitted on lap 14 and encountered problems with traffic on pit lane.
"I was going into the pits and Rahal shot out in front of me. I had to slow down a bit and Fabi hit me in the back and made me turn into Rahal. We made pretty good contact and I'm just glad nobody got hurt. On top of this, we had clutch problems as well... I'd lose the clutch, bleed it, lose it, bleed it, lose it... We tried to stay around to the end to see if we could get some points, but it was just a bad day."
Gugelmin finished 3 laps down in 15th after making 3 extra pit stops
Sullivan fought to stay on the lead lap for most of the race, finishing 12th after early tire problems.
"That was an awful lot of work for a 12th place finish. I think I worked as hard as I did two years ago but I had a better result then. I had a good race goingin the back with Stefan, Emmo and some other guys, and Alan told me we were running lap times with the leaders during the last twenty laps, but this place is pretty tough to make a pass so we didn't have much of a chance to improve our position."
The next race is in Portland where the PacWest team is hoping for a "home track" advantage. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN at 4:00 p.m. on June 25th.