CHAMPCAR/CART: Gugelmin cleveland season best qualifying

(Cleveland, Oh) -- PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin produced his best qualifying result in more than a year when he put his ...

(Cleveland, Oh) -- PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin produced his best qualifying result in more than a year when he put his #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz on the second row of the grid for tomorrow's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland in Ohio.

Gugelmin was third fastest today behind fellow Brazilians Roberto Moreno and Gil de Ferran -- producing his best qualifying result since starting second in Japan last season.

A yellow flag late in the session forced everyone back into the pits and provided the chance to make car and fuel adjustments in preparation for one last flying lap.

Gugelmin was bumped from second to third early in this run by de Ferran and then missed a golden opportunity to take his first pole since Fontana in 1997 when he ran out of fuel in shadow of the start-finish line. Gugelmin will be having a record 117th consecutive start tomorrow and will be chasing his first win since Vancouver in 1997.

PacWest's Mark Blundell improved on an impressive morning practice session and has a strong race package with his #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz which will start from 15th position.

Qualifying: 57.538s

"We set ourselves up for one flying lap after we were forced back to the pits because of that last yellow (flag)," said Gugelmin.

"The lap was definitely my fastest and I think good enough for pole, but we ran out of fuel before I got to the line. Despite all that, I am very happy to be in the top three and I have to thank my Nextel crew for giving me a good car today.

"Mercedes-Benz have been working very hard and this is the first step to their reward.

"I am looking forward to starting at the front tomorrow and getting away to a good clean start. It will be nice not to have to think about fighting my way through the traffic."

Qualifying: 58.259s

"We certainly closed the gap on where we were yesterday, but we are still a step away," said Blundell.

"I lost a little time on my fastest lap at the last chicane, but it probably only cost me a 10th or so, nothing that would have improved my position. We probably loosened up the car a little too much for the qualifying run and could not match the progress made by everyone else.

"I think we are making definite progress with the new people (engineering staff) we have and everything is positive in that area. This is the kind of circuit which promotes plenty of hard racing and I think we have a good race package to attack this race tomorrow."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Roberto Moreno , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell