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CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Mercedes-Benz Sports Qualifying Review

CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana Mercedes-Benz Sports Qualifying Review
Oct 30, 1999, 5:35 AM

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Marlboro 500, California Speedway, Fontana, Calif. Date/Session: Saturday, Oct. 30, 1999 Final Qualifying Carpentier is Fastest Mercedes at Marlboro 500 Qualifying Moore Injured in Paddock ...

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Marlboro 500, California Speedway, Fontana, Calif. Date/Session: Saturday, Oct. 30, 1999 Final Qualifying

Carpentier is Fastest Mercedes at Marlboro 500 Qualifying Moore Injured in Paddock Collision, Status for Race Uncertain

Patrick Carpentier led the seven-driver Mercedes-Benz contingent at today's final qualifying for Sunday's season finale, the Marlboro 500, at California Speedway. While the showdown for the driver's championship between PPG Cup leader Dario Franchitti and rookie Juan Montoya will be decided over 250 laps, it was Scott Pruett who scored pole position with his qualifying lap of 31.030 seconds (235.398 mph) over the 2.029-mile super-speedway oval. Montoya and Franchitti will start third and eighth, respectively. Carpentier captured seventh position on the grid when he clocked a qualifying lap of 31.319 seconds (233.226 mph) in his Player's/Forsythe Mercedes Champ Car. Carpentier scored top-10 finishes in both super-speedway events earlier this season -- finishing seventh at Homestead, Fla., and 10th at Michigan.

Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes veteran Al Unser Jr. will start 10th after lapping the circuit in 31.363 seconds (232.899 mph). Teammate Alex Barron turned in a quick lap of 31.429 seconds (232.410 mph) to qualify on the seventh row.

Mauricio Gugelmin, third quickest overall after the morning practice sessions, qualified 17th with a quick lap of 31.462 seconds (232.166 mph). Gugelmin earned top-five finishes in two previous Marlboro 500 appearances. Teammate Blundell, who won this event in 1997, starts in 18th position (31.500 seconds/231.886 mph). Hogan Racing Mercedes driver Helio Castro-Neves turned a lap of 31.635 seconds (230.896 mph) and will start in 20th position.

Player's/Forsythe Mercedes driver Greg Moore sustained injuries early Saturday morning when a pickup truck collided with his scooter in the paddock. Moore was taken to the CART Medical Facility and treated for a minor fracture of the forefinger on his right hand, lacerations on the same hand and a bruised right hip. Moore did not drive during the practice or qualifying sessions, and a decision will be made Sunday morning whether or not Moore will be able to compete. He would start 27th.

The green flag for the Marlboro 500 waves Sunday at 12:00 p.m. PT (live, ESPN).

Mercedes Quotes

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh/ 31.319 seconds) "The car was good, and I think we have a good set up for a long run. The car has been stable all weekend. (on the announcement of his contract extension with Forsythe Racing) "I am very happy -- it takes the weight off my shoulders. Now I can spend the off-season concentrating on my physical conditioning."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (10th/ 31.363 seconds) "Even though this is my last race with Team Penske, I still look at it as a race I need to win. I'll miss everyone here from the CART officials to the people in registration. We'll be in different parts of the country at different times, but I'm sure we'll still keep in touch. I look at it like my career is only half over. I think I have a good 10-15 years to win as many races as I can."

Alex Barron, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (14th/ 31.429 seconds) "The car was perfect. I hope we can do well for Mr. Penske at his track. A good result here will do a lot for my career. It will look good to finish a 500-mile race up front."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (17th/ 31.462 seconds) "It will be very important to have a car that is consistent through the whole race. If the winds keep up, it will make running in traffic difficult. Drivers will have to know where they are when the wind changes."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (18th/ 31.500 seconds) "Even though it's the last race of the season and a year that's been particularly tough for me, it's still exciting to get in the car. We know we can do it. We've done it before. We just have to get back to our winning combination."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (20th/ 31.635 seconds) "I was expecting to do better. The car was set up for the big wind we had earlier in the morning, and then the wind went away. (on the news that Hogan Racing does not expect to compete in 2000) "I did my best. This is not easy, but when you put a helmet on, you forget about everything. Thank God I can get in the race car. Only God knows what will be."

Final Qualifying, Marlboro 500 California Speedway, Fontana, Calif. Oct. 30, 1999 Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Scott Pruett Toyota 31.030 235.398 2 Max Papis Ford Cosworth 31.143 234.544 3 Juan Montoya Honda 31.182 234.251 4 Jimmy Vasser Honda 31.207 234.063 5 Bryan Herta Ford Cosworth 31.227 233.913 6 Michael Andretti Ford Cosworth 31.315 233.256 7 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 31.319 233.226 8 Dario Franchitti Honda 31.326 233.174 9 Christian Fittipaldi Ford Cosworth 31.351 232.988 10 Al Unser Jr. Mercedes-Benz 31.363 232.899 14 Alex Barron Mercedes-Benz 31.429 232.410 17 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 31.462 232.166 18 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 31.500 231.886 20 Helio Castro-Neves Mercedes-Benz 31.635 230.896 27 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz No time --

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