CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes in top six in Chicago practice.

Fellow Brazilians Tony Kanaan and Mauricio Gugelmin were fifth and sixth quickest respectively today during practice for the Target Grand Prix at the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval in Cicero, Ill. Kenny Brack, the 1999 ...

Fellow Brazilians Tony Kanaan and Mauricio Gugelmin were fifth and sixth quickest respectively today during practice for the Target Grand Prix at the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval in Cicero, Ill. Kenny Brack, the 1999 Indianapolis 500 champion, was quickest with a lap of 22.557 seconds (164.224 mph). Kanaan's fastest time was 22.722 seconds (163.031 mph), while Gugelmin was just a tick behind at 22.797 seconds (162.495 mph). The big challenge for Kanaan was that this is only his second race back after suffering a broken arm during qualifying for the Detroit Grand Prix in June. Last week, Kanaan returned to the drivers seat at the Michigan 500 at Michigan Speedway. The one-mile short oval here is more physically demanding than the two-mile Michigan Speedway because the drivers have to exert much greater steering effort to get around Chicago's tight turns. "My arm is okay, but it is a bit more difficult than last week because this is a tougher oval," said Kanaan, driver of the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing/Mercedes-Benz. "I did 600 laps in three days in my go-kart in Miami during the past week to prepare for this race. That helped a bit. "This was a good day for us, but today doesn't count," he said. "We need to be able to finish on Sunday. We're right where we want to be on power. The Mercedes engine is working well here. It's been a tough month for me. It's good to see my name in the top five." Both Kanaan and Gugelmin made big improvements from the morning practice to the afternoon session, as Kanaan moved up from the 13th position, and Gugelmin made the move from 17th. Now they will both be in the fast practice group tomorrow, rather than having to practice with the slower half of the field. "I wanted to get into the fast group so I would have a better gauge on where we were for qualifying compared to the competition, and how much we needed to improve," said Gugelmin, pilot of the Nextel/PacWest Racing/Mercedes-Benz. "We worked hard today. This is a hard place. We'll need better balance to improve. We are good in Turns Three and Four in qualifying trim. But in race trim the car is good in Turns One and Two. I think it's because of the way the wind is coming from your back out of Turn Four. Turn Four also looks tighter than Turn Two, but maybe that is just my Brazilian eyes."

Gugelmin's teammate, Mark Blundell, driver of the Motorola/PacWest Racing/ Mercedes-Benz, was 18th in practice today with a time of 23.175 seconds (159.845 mph). Close behind Blundell was the Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports/ Mercedes-Benz of Michel Jourdain Jr., who was 20th with a lap of 23.320 seconds (158.851 mph). Luiz Garcia Jr., driver of the Hollywood/Arciero Project Racing/Mercedes-Benz, was 25th with a 25.275-second lap (146.564 mph). Practice resumes Saturday at 9:45 a.m. local time (10:45 a.m. Eastern), and single-car qualifying will begin at 1:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. Eastern).

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn