CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca Mercedes Saturday Report

Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes-Benz driver Greg Moore shaved nearly two-tenths of a second off of his provisional qualifying lap time to keep the fourth spot on the starting grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Monterey. One of only a handful of...

Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes-Benz driver Greg Moore shaved nearly two-tenths of a second off of his provisional qualifying lap time to keep the fourth spot on the starting grid for tomorrow's Grand Prix of Monterey. One of only a handful of drivers to improve upon yesterday's times, Moore was .336 seconds slower than Bryan Herta, who qualified on the pole here for the second year in a row.

Moore's opportunity to set a faster time was foiled by an engine problem late in the session.

Marlboro Team Penske's Al Unser Jr. and PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin managed to stay in the top 10, despite being unable to improve upon their provisional qualifying times. Unser will start the Marlboro Penske/Mercedes seventh, while Big Mo will start the Hollywood car ninth.

Rookie JJ Lehto, who was seventh at the end of yesterday's activities, slipped to 11th, also unable to better his effort from Friday.

Motorola driver Mark Blundell improved by more than a tenth of a second but slipped back to 15th on the grid. Patrick Carpentier also trimmed his lap time, but continued to grapple with an understeering car and fell from 18th to 20th.

First-year CART driver Helio Castro-Neves suffered mechanical problems and will start the Team Alumax entry 21st. After running fourth in practice this morning, Marlboro Team Penske driver Andre Ribeiro had to settle for 22nd in final qualifying when a his Penske/Mercedes suffered gearbox trouble.

Tomorrow's 83-lap race will start at 12 p.m. local time and will be televised live on ESPN. Mercedes Quotes

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Fourth - 68.482 sec.

"It's unfortunate, but I think that's the first engine we've had break this year. Mercedes has worked really hard on their reliability, and it really has improved. I was looking forward to that last little bit in the session because I thought we had a shot at the pole. But it's definitely better to break today rather than tomorrow, and we managed to get a decent qualifying lap in. We'll have to stay out of trouble during the race tomorrow but be aggressive at the start because it's pretty tough to pass on this track."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: Seventh - 68.579 sec.

"Qualifying just didn't go well for us today. We didn't get the time we needed in this morning's practice session because the gearbox linkage cable broke. I really need time on the track to get my rhythm and I just didn't have the time I needed today. During this afternoon's qualifying session, I couldn't find an open lap to try to improve my time from yesterday. We'll get at it tomorrow and look forward to racing the Marlboro Penske Mercedes."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Ninth - 668.685 sec.

"We're back to the old push syndrome. We didn't start the session too badly. We were about a tenth of a second off of yesterday's time on the first set of tires. Then we made a change, and I thought it was going to be better when we put on sticker (tires). But I guess I just never really put a lap together. I went off at turn four and locked up at the corkscrew, probably found the limit of the car. Right now the front of the car is not going where I want it to, which is what we need to have here."

JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 11th - 68.735 sec.

"We lost time when we ran out of fuel on course.  The car felt
good, but it did not feel super good.  The (lap) time just wasn't there and
I don't know why.  We're just off the pace, basically.  At least we're with
the pack.  I'm just disappointed we didn't improve on the second day.  This
track is demanding and physically very hard.  Tomorrow will be tough."

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 15th - 68.845 sec.

"I'm suffering with a pinched nerve right now that is bothersome. Until I get a little rest it is an aggravation. During the session I think we could have been quick. But, the red flag towards the end of the session took away my momentum. We could have improved about 1/10th, which could have moved us up a couple of spots. It is so competitive out here that one little hiccup can cost you a lot."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 20th - 69.167 sec.

"We made an improvement from yesterday, but the car snaps loose at the exit of the corners, so I'm late on the power every time. The red flags didn't affect us much because we were in between sets of tires, but the track was slower today than yesterday, and it's still very different from when we tested here."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16 Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 21st - 69.194 sec.

"We had a pretty good car with a good setup. Then, as I was going through the corkscrew, the engine just exploded. It's a shame. I'm sure we could have improved our time. It will be tough tomorrow, but you can never give up. In the race I'll have to really be careful and watch for yellow flags. I'll wait for someone to make a mistake and when I see a chance I'll have to go for it."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 22nd - 69.304 sec.

"We had a good practice this morning, and we really had the Marlboro Penske/Mercedes working well. Unfortunately, just as I was getting my rhythm in qualifying, we developed a leak in the gearbox which ended our session. Because the car was running so well, we want to race it tomorrow, so we decided to stay with our qualifying time instead of getting into our backup car."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto
Teams Team Penske