(Fontana, California) -- Mark Blundell did not finish today's Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway, but he did go out in style in his last race for the PacWest Racing Group. Blundell, driver of the ...
(Fontana, California) -- Mark Blundell did not finish today's Marlboro 500 at the California Speedway, but he did go out in style in his last race for the PacWest Racing Group.
Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, started in 21st place, but had just worked his way into the lead with a stunning pass on lap 128 of the 250-lap contest when he suffered a major mechanical problem which ended his day.
The elation in the Motorola pit as Blundell took the lead lasted only a few seconds before a plume of smoke came gushing from the back of car and the Englishman was forced to find a line which would not leave any oil in the line of his opponents.
Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz, also led the race on lap 92 when his Nextel crew decided to keep him out under yellow flag conditions after a major accident in turn one which eliminated three cars. The Brazilian eventually made a stop six laps later, but just three laps further into the race he was again forced back into the pits with a mechanical problem which also saw his race go out the window.
The race was won by Christian Fittipaldi from Roberto Moreno and Marlboro Team Penske's Gil de Ferran who also clinched his first FedEx Championship Series. Rookie Casey Mears, Adrian Fernandez and Tarso Marques where the only other drivers to finish the race which finished under yellow flags after Alex Tagliani crashed with two laps remaining.
- # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 15th
"Well I guess that's the way you go out in style," said Blundell, of his spectacular exit.
"We proved today what we have been trying to do all season and that is that we all want to race and race as hard as possible. I have to thank Motorola and all my sponsors for sticking with us and my crew, which has done a tireless job this season. We have had success in my five years at PacWest and it is nice to have those memories."
- # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 17th
"The car was handling very good, but we were down on power from the start," said Gugelmin.
"We made the pit stop at the right time, but so many times this season we have had such a mechanical problem only a few laps after a stop. I guess I kept my record intact when it comes to leading at least one lap here. It was a frustrating end to a frustrating season, but we need to put it behind us and re-group for next season."