(Phoenix, AZ) -- Mauricio Gugelmin and his Nextel crew returned to Phoenix International Raceway Tuesday, as a final testing ground before the green flag flies for the start of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series on March 11, in Monterrey, ...
(Phoenix, AZ) -- Mauricio Gugelmin and his Nextel crew returned to Phoenix International Raceway Tuesday, as a final testing ground before the green flag flies for the start of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series on March 11, in Monterrey, Mexico.
Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Toyota, completed a total of 80 laps before rain moved into the Phoenix area and concluded testing two hours earlier than scheduled. Competing with the likes of Andretti, Fernandez, Franchitti, Fittipaldi and Castroneves, Gugelmin clocked a quick time of 20.99 seconds around the 1-mile PIR oval.
A brief rain delay earlier in the morning also caused a minor halt in the action, but after the track dried, Big Mo returned to the circuit and finished the day just two-tenths off of the leader, Helio Castroneves, who posted a fast lap of 20.78 seconds.
Gugelmin will conclude his winter testing program on Wednesday at PIR before his crew returns home to put the finishing touches on his car in preparation for Mexico.
MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST TOYOTA
"Overall we had a very good day," said Gugelmin. "Although we didn't run as many laps as we would have liked because of the rain, we've certainly made strides since our last testing session here. We're learning more and more about the car as we run, and the Toyota engine has been fantastic all winter. Personally, I think we still need to refine the car a little more, which we will do Wednesday, but overall, I'm pleased. I put up a competitive lap time today which is always good, but we'll continue to do some fine- tuning until the cars are loaded on the transporters for the trip to Mexico."
RUSSELL CAMERON -- PACWEST DIRECTOR OR RACE OPERATIONS
"We came into this final two-day testing session intending to make these last couple of days a dress rehearsal for the season, and that's what we've accomplished so far," said Cameron. "We still have one more day to go, which we will use to work on some fundamentals, but I'm pleased because we continue to gather useful information that we can carry-over into the season. Today we worked on finding more balance and speed on short ovals, and that's exactly what we did. Mo put up a quick time on limited running conditions, and, as a team, we're coming together at the right moment."