(Laguna Seca, Ca) --.PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin finished with his sixth points-paying finish of the year and Mark Blundell was unlucky with a well-timed fuel strategy and finished 13th in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca ...
(Laguna Seca, Ca) --.PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin finished with his sixth points-paying finish of the year and Mark Blundell was unlucky with a well-timed fuel strategy and finished 13th in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway today.
Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz, worked hard on his fuel strategy all race and maintained his starting position of seventh to the checkered flag. Ironically, he ran out of fuel at the corkscrew on the "cool down" lap and rolled all the way back to the pits.
Mark Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, made his first pit stop on lap 26, his second under yellow flag conditions on lap 46 and then made a "splash and dash" just nine laps later in a revised race and fuel strategy.
The move gave him enough fuel for the remainder of the race and he set about running down the front-runners. Unfortunately the pace run by the leaders was not as quick as anticipated and few had to make their own late-race stops for a "splash" of fuel.
Marlboro Team Penske's Gil de Ferran took the lead in the championship when he finished second to teammate Helio Castroneves today -- Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti was third. De Ferran now leads the series with 132 points from Michael Andretti (126), Paul Tracy (122), Adrian Fernandez (118), Kenny Brack (116), Roberto Moreno (115) and Castroneves (102) with four rounds remaining.
MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 7th
"The handling of my car was good all day," said Gugelmin. "My crew did a great job with my fuel strategy as I was about half a lap from running out at the end of the race. "This is such a tough place to pass and the pit strategy became very important. "I am happy to get another top 10 finish for Mercedes-Benz and PacWest."
MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 13th
"It is disappointing not to get a point after all that work, but we pushed as hard as we could," said Blundell. "The guys called the right strategy and there is no doubt that we would have been in the top six if the pace at the front had been a little hotter. "I had a small balance problem at the start of the race, but we got that sorted out and got on with the job. I think we were certainly one of the quicker cars out there, apart from the leaders, for the second half of the race. Our problems in qualifying obviously hurt us."
TOP 12: 1: Helio Castroneves; 2: Gil de Ferran; 3 Dario Franchitti; 4: Bryan Herta; 5: Kenny Brack; 6: Juan Montoya; 7: Mauricio Gugelmin 8: Jimmy Vasser; 9: Patrick Carpentier; 10: Christian Fittipaldi; 11: Paul Tracy; 12: Adrian Fernandez.