CHAMPCAR/CART: PacWest drivers face tough race at Houston

(Houston, Texas) -- PacWest Racing's Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin are bracing themselves for another tough day at the office in tomorrow's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston after qualifying 20th and 21st respectively today. Mark ...

(Houston, Texas) -- PacWest Racing's Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin are bracing themselves for another tough day at the office in tomorrow's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston after qualifying 20th and 21st respectively today.

Mark Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, struggled with the handling of his car throughout the qualifying session and managed a time of 60.338 seconds around the tight temporary street course.

Gugelmin, pilot of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz, again battled mechanical problems through the course of today's official session and struggled to do 60.359-second lap.

Marlboro Team Penske's Gil de Ferran extended his lead in the championship by a point when he took pole position for the 18th round of the FedEx Championship Series with a time of 58.757 seconds.

Team KOOL Green's Dario Franchitti was second quickest with a 58.843-second lap and he was followed by Jimmy Vasser (58.844s) and Helio Castroneves (58.846s).

MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 20th
Qualifying: 60.338s

"We went back from early changes made to the car yesterday, but I am still not happy with the performance or handling of the car," said Blundell.

"We gave 100 percent today, but we just couldn't muster a better time.

"I have battled a lot of understeer all weekend, which then causes oversteer.

"It will be a long day at the office tomorrow, but one we are ready for."

MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 21st Qualifying: 60.359s

"We have had a pretty tough weekend," said Gugelmin.

"I have not been able to enjoy any consistency with my car and I have really struggled with the set-up since Friday.

"It seems as though we have endured problems after problem and that was certainly the case today.

"This track is not very kind to those who start at the back of the pack, but we will just have to stay focused and try and work our way through the field."

QUALIFYING TOP 10: 1: Gil de Ferran 58.757; 2: Dario Franchitti 58.843; 3: Jimmy Vasser 58.844; 4: Helio Castroneves 58.846; 5: Michael Andretti 58.909; 6: Juan Montoya 58.961; 7: Christian Fittipaldi 59.131; 8: Alex Tagliani 59.150; 9: Paul Tracy 59.223; 10: Tony Kanaan 59.228.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell
Teams Team Penske