CHAMPCAR/CART: PacWest has strong second day at Laguna Seca

(Laguna Seca, Ca) -- PacWest Racing's Mark Blundell finished in the top eight and youngster Scott Dixon again produced improved lap times in the second day of the CART open test at Laguna Seca Raceway today. Blundell, driver of the ...

(Laguna Seca, Ca) -- PacWest Racing's Mark Blundell finished in the top eight and youngster Scott Dixon again produced improved lap times in the second day of the CART open test at Laguna Seca Raceway today.

Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, produced a best lap time of 1:08.763 at an average speed of 117.168mph in what was one of the best testing performances for Mercedes-Benz campaigners this year. The experienced Englishman was setting himself for an even quicker lap in the afternoon session when he was caught out with an adjusted ride-height on the curb at turn five -- he was left a passenger as his car hit the wall and damaged the front left corner ending his day.

It was a solid two days of qualifying for the regular PacWest Champ Car drivers after Mauricio Gugelmin set the fourth-fastest time of 1:09.315 at an average speed of 116.235mph around the challenging 2.238-mile venue yesterday.

Dixon was 17th-fastest for the second consecutive day with a time of 1:09.582 -- 0.840 of a second than his effort from yesterday.

The 20 year New Zealander, who was driving in his first Champ Car open test did 40-odd laps in the morning before his car was given a scheduled engine change. The afternoon was plagued with red flag conditions and the youngster only got in another dozen laps before he ran out of track time.

MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 8th "I think we made some progress today and gave ourselves a reasonable baseline for when we race here in a couple of weeks time," said Blundell. "We worked on a combination of several different and new things. "I feel more confident about coming back here in a couple of weeks than I was before the test. I think we could have gotten down into the low 68s if the ride height had not caught me out."

SCOTT DIXON - # 17 PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 17th ""Basically I was pretty happy with the way everything went and really enjoyed myself," said Dixon. "It would have been nice to do a few more laps this afternoon, but that's the way it goes. "I managed to get up to speed reasonably quickly today and it was nice to improve my time, although track conditions would have had a bit to do with that. Physically I fell OK, I am a little sore in a few areas, especially around the shoulders where the belts came down. Everyone did a lot to make me feel comfortable and I think we actually got a lot achieved."

TESTING TIMES (combined over two days): 1 Helio Castroneves (Honda Reynard) 1:07.602; 2:.Gil de Ferran (Honda Reynard) 1:07.896; 3: Patrick Carpentier (Ford Reynard) 1:08.477; 4: Tony Kanaan (Mercedes Reynard) 1:08.576; 5: Michael Andretti (Ford Lola) 1:08.669; 6: Oriol Servia (Toyota Reynard) 1:08.707; 7: Christian Fittipaldi (Ford Lola) 1:08.734; 8: Mark Blundell (Mercedes Reynard) 1:08.763; 9: Juan Montoya (Toyota Reynard) 1:08.789; 10: Jimmy Vasser (Toyota Lola) 1:08.803.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Oriol Servia , Mark Blundell