FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Motorola 300, Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill. Date/Session: Friday, May 28, 1999 Qualifying 'Hometown' Helio Leads Mercedes Drivers=20 At Motorola 300...
FedEx Championship Series Report
Race: Motorola 300, Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill. Date/Session: Friday, May 28, 1999 Qualifying
'Hometown' Helio Leads Mercedes Drivers=20 At Motorola 300 Qualifying Three Mercedes V8s In Top Six
Helio Castro-Neves led a trio of Mercedes-Benz Champ Car drivers, including Patrick Carpentier and Greg Moore, to top-six positions on the starting grid for Saturday's Motorola 300 at the 1.27-mile Gateway International Raceway, round six of the FedEx Championship Series.
St. Louis-based Hogan Racing sensation Castro-Neves set the quickest time in practice this morning before posting the third-fastest qualifying time of 25.103 seconds (182.130 mph) in the afternoon. The young Brazilian's time was just 0.089 seconds slower than Juan Montoya's pole-winning time of 25.014 seconds (182.778 mph). It was Castro-Neves' third top-five qualifying performance this season. The Hogan Lola Champ Car carries a one-race sponsorship this weekend, displaying the logos of the three St. Louis-area major-league sports teams -- baseball's Cardinals, football's Rams and hockey's Blues.
Player's/Forsythe driver Carpentier will start next to Castro-Neves on the second row, lapping the Gateway oval in 25.187 seconds (181.522 mph). Teammate Moore, who is currently fourth in the driver's championship points standings, will start from sixth position (25.199 seconds/181.436 mph). Marlboro Team Penske rookie Tarso Marques recorded a lap in 25.666 seconds (178.134 mph), and qualified on the ninth row. Roberto Moreno, substituting for injured PacWest Motorola Mercedes veteran Mark Blundell, will start 19th (25.676 seconds/ 178.065 mph).
Brazilian veteran Mauricio Gugelmin, continuing to struggle with suspension problems, qualified 21st in his PacWest Hollywood Mercedes Champ Car (25.720 seconds/177.760 mph). Al Unser Jr. qualified his new Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes Lola in 24th position with a time of 25.899 seconds (176.532 mph). Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes rookie Shigeaki Hattori qualified on the 13th row (26.335 seconds/173.609 mph).
The green flag for the Motorola 300 will wave Saturday, May 29, at 2 p.m. (live, ABC-TV, 3 p.m. ET).
Mercedes Quotes Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing St. Louis Sports Mercedes/Firestone (Third/25.103 seconds) "I am a little disappointed. We had a very good car this morning, and we worked very hard. It gave me a lot of confidence heading into the qualifying. I may have been a little over-confident coming into turn three. But I proved at Nazareth that I can pass on these ovals, and I feel strong. The car feels really good. It's a long race, so we'll just need to take it easy tomorrow."
Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Fourth/25.187 seconds) "I gave everything I had, and the Player's/Forsythe team did a great job. This morning the car was pushing a little bit. I talked to the engineers and asked them to make the car a little bit looser going into the first turn. I actually was sideways a little, bit. But I didn't have to lift, and the car came back by itself. They did it just right. We were shooting for 25.1 (seconds), and we did that, so we are very happy."
Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Sixth/25.199 seconds) "We just didn't have the balance we needed. We were quick this morning, and we made some changes to improve the car, but we didn't go far enough in that direction. I am disappointed not to be first, but we've found some of our form since Nazareth. I have to be happy with how we've improved. Our team has worked really hard this weekend, and we will rally again tomorrow."
Tarso Marques, No. 2X, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (18th/26.666 seconds) "Although we improved the car a lot in this morning's session, we still had too much understeer in qualifying. I couldn't get off the corners with a good rhythm, which slowed us down on the straight. We'll have to make more adjustments to our set up for the race."
Roberto Moreno, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (19th/178.065 seconds) "We are playing catch up this weekend, but each time we go out we improve the car. I am honored to be driving the PacWest Motorola Mercedes."
Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (21st/25.720 seconds) "With the wing package and the lower downforce we run on these ovals, you have to rely on your mechanical grip, and we don't have the car where we want it. We have the balance in the car, but we are lacking the grip. There is a tendency for these cars to push in the corners, and it is a problem for me between turns three and four. When I go over the bump in turn three, I can see the tail on the car, and it is not that pleasant. We will have a tough day tomorrow."
Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (24th/25.899 seconds) "I lost the front end during qualifying -- it was a bigger push than we anticipated. This is the first time the Lola is being run with Goodyear tires. Therefore, finding the right set up is our challenge, and we're going to need more time with the car."
Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16, Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes/Goodyear (26th/26.335 seconds) "I tried my best, but the car had a pretty big push during my qualifying run. I am much more comfortable in the car now after completing two days of testing here last week. The extra seat time has helped us a lot."