CHAMPCAR/CART: Homestead Merecedes Saturday report

Race: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead, Fla. Date/Session: Saturday, Mar. 20, 1999 Qualifying Mercedes Powers Moore to Second Consecutive Pole in Miami Mercedes IC108E Powers Three of Top Four on Grid for Season Opener -...

Race: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead, Fla. Date/Session: Saturday, Mar. 20, 1999 Qualifying

Mercedes Powers Moore to Second Consecutive Pole in Miami Mercedes IC108E Powers Three of Top Four on Grid for Season Opener - Six Cars on the First Seven Rows

Mercedes-Benz and Greg Moore dramatically captured the pole position today for Sunday's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, the season-opening event in the CART FedEx Championship Series. As the final qualifier, Moore's Player's/Forsythe Mercedes posted a lap time of 24.886 seconds (217.279 mph) over the 1.502-mile Homestead speedway, just 0.048 seconds (less than one-half mph) ahead of Adrian Fernandez's Ford-powered Reynard.

Moore, who was quickest in practice both yesterday afternoon and earlier today, proved to be the best of a very competitive field, including two-time defending race winner Michael Andretti, who will start fifth.

Mercedes Engines Power Three of Top Four Slots on Grid

The Mercedes-Benz IC108E engine proved powerful and quick, placing three drivers in the first two rows. Moore's teammate, Patrick Carpentier, fastest at Spring Training here in February, turned in a third-best qualifying lap of 25.068 seconds (215.701 mph). Helio Castro-Neves was the surprise of qualifying, posting his weekend's best lap time of 25.082 seconds (215.581 mph) to earn fourth position in his Hogan Racing Mercedes Lola.

Norbert Haug, head of motorsports for Mercedes-Benz said, "Today's performance is a great pleasure for all of us. Greg's pole, Patrick's third-fastest time, Helio's fourth spot on the grid and the fact that all of our qualifying cars are starting between the first and the seventh row separated by just half a second clearly demonstrates that our hard work over the winter is paying off. "I would like to thank everybody involved for all the efforts made," Haug continued. "Of all the positive things from today, Helio Castro-Neves and the Hogan team showed a great performance with a brand-new Lola. To be that close to a proven polesitter like Greg Moore is a great achievement."

PacWest Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin posted a lap of 25.296 seconds (213.757 mph) and will start 10th, while teammate Mark Blundell turned in a 25.364-second lap (213.184 mph) for 13th place. Al Unser Jr., in his Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes will start alongside Blundell in row seven with a qualifying time of 25.418 seconds (212.731 mph).

Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes Rookie Shigeaki Hattori hit the fourth-turn wall in Friday's practice and will not participate in race activities this weekend due to a mild concussion.

The green flag on the Marlboro Grand Prix is Sunday, March 21, at 2:05 p.m. (EST) on ABC (tape delay, 4-6 p.m.).

Mercedes Quotes

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Starting First/24.886 seconds) "Now we've got one good thing out of the way (the pole). The big one is tomorrow. The question everyone wants to answer is what will the track be like tomorrow after the (NASCAR) trucks put down more than 200 miles of rubber. We knew coming into Spring Training we had a good oval car. We just needed to find out what the car liked."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Starting Third/25.068 seconds) "We made some long runs yesterday and again this morning. We have a good car to race. We made a few changes to fine tune the car and make it more comfortable to pass and follow. We went the right way with the adjustments, but not quite far enough. I got a little loose in the last corner and had to lift."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Starting Fourth/25.082 seconds) "We worked a lot on a change from the morning and it worked. We had the patience to go quick when it counted. We just have to keep our fingers crossed and keep our position until the end. We have experience now, and I know it will be a long race. We have to be careful and not make any stupid mistakes."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (Starting 10th/25.296 seconds) "We had great balance today. We knew we didn't have enough for the pole, so we were working on our race setup. There is still some work to be done in that area, but I'm happy. There are so many teams that can win the championship. It will be very competitive."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Starting 13th/25.364 seconds) "I'm a little disappointed. We made a little change and it didn't quite work out. Still, we ran strong throughout the course of the weekend. We are confident because we have really come together as a team this year. There are 15 guys that can win this race tomorrow afternoon. This is a tough championship."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (Starting 14th/25.418 seconds) "I'm not happy with our lap. The car pushed more than I thought it was going to. The conditions were good. The wind wasn't too bad. It's a long race and we just need to keep our nose clean and we'll be o.k. We've got to be there at the end. That's the goal."

Qualifying, Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Homestead, Florida March 20, 1999

Pos.    Driver          Engine          Time    Speed
1       Greg Moore      Mercedes-Benz   24.886  217.279
2       Adrian Fernandez        Ford Cosworth   24.934  216.861
3       Patrick Carpentier      Mercedes-Benz   25.068  215.701
4       Helio Castro-Neves      Mercedes-Benz   25.082  215.581
5       Michael Andretti        Ford Cosworth   25.108  215.358
6       Cristiano da Matta      Toyota          25.193  214.631
7       Dario Franchitti        Honda           25.202  214.554
8       Juan Montoya    Honda           25.285  213.850
9       Jimmy Vasser    Honda           25.294  213.774
10      Mauricio Gugelmin       Mercedes-Benz   25.296  213.757
13      Mark Blundell   Mercedes-Benz   25.364  213.184
14      Al Unser Jr.    Mercedes-Benz   25.418  212.731

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Norbert Haug , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske