CHAMPCAR/CART: Homestead Tony Kanaan Leads Mercedes Racers

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Fla. Date/Session: Saturday, March 25, 2000 Final Qualifying Mercedes-Benz driver Tony Kanaan, who...

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead, Fla. Date/Session: Saturday, March 25, 2000 Final Qualifying

Mercedes-Benz driver Tony Kanaan, who posted the quickest time at Friday's practice sessions, was the top qualifying Mercedes pilot for Sunday's Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami, the season-opening race of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Gil de Ferran took the pole position with a qualifying time of 25.942 seconds (208.434 mph) on the 1.502-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval. Kanaan's lap time of 26.486 seconds (204.153 mph) placed his Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Mercedes in the seventh row for Sunday's race.

Mark Blundell lost control of his PacWest Motorola Mercedes coming out of Turn Four on his qualifying run, and the car made heavy contact with the wall before sliding to a halt just past the start/finish line. Blundell climbed into his backup car and qualified in 16th position with a time of 26.616 seconds (203.156 mph).

Mauricio Gugelmin, 10th quickest at Friday's practice, lapped the circuit in 26.744 seconds (202.184 mph) -- good enough for 18th position. Bettenhausen Herdez Mercedes pilot Michel Jourdain Jr., posted a qualifying time of 26.791 seconds (201.829 mph) and will start 21st. The newly formed Arciero Project Racing Group and Hollywood Mercedes driver Luiz Garcia Jr., will start 25th (30.006 seconds/180.204 mph). The green flag for the 150-lap Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami falls Sunday, March 26, at 2 p.m. ET.

Mercedes Quotes

Tony Kanaan, No. 55, Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (14th/26.486 seconds) "Our set up was good, but we had a problem with the pop-off valve and I couldn't get the boost up. It's nobody's fault, but it's unfortunate because things went so well yesterday and the team is really working hard. But tomorrow is the race and it's a whole different day. We will do our best and see what happens."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (16th/26.616 seconds) "My guys did a great job and gave me a useable back up car. We didn't have new tires, so it was a sensible lap. With new tires, we surely would have been up at the sharper end of things. It's a huge disappointment. "For the race tomorrow, we'll be trying a new strategy. We've been doing a lot of testing with full tanks, and we'll look to move forward when the others are falling back."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Nextel Mercedes/Firestone (18th/26.744 seconds) "We've been fighting some push in the car all weekend. The wind is not as bad as it was, so we overcompensated and the car got loose. Coming out of Turn Four, the car went really loose and I had to catch it. It looks like the same thing happened to Mark. "With this new wing package, I don't get the predictable, free car that I like. It doesn't give you any warning before it goes loose. We have some learning to do there. We can set it up with some push and it's easy to drive, but then the car is not fast enough. We still have to find the right way."

Michel Jourdain Jr., No. 16, Bettenhausen Herdez Mercedes/Firestone (21st/26.791 seconds) "Our qualifying run was by far our best time of the weekend. We made some little changes since this morning and the car is much better, but it's not where we want to be yet. We will go back and plan for tomorrow's race and see what we can do to improve."

Luiz Garcia Jr., No. 25, Arciero Project Racing Group Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (25th/30.006 seconds) "We're using this race to gain experience as a team. We know where we're losing ground, but the guys did a great job getting the car ready. Tomorrow we're going to push as hard as we can, but we know our limitations. My job is to be cool and finish the race."

<pre> Qualifying, Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Homestead, Fla. March 25, 2000

Pos.    Driver                  Engine          Time    Speed   
1       Gil de Ferran           Honda           25.942  208.434 
2       Juan Montoya            Toyota          25.948  208.386 
3       Adrian Fernandez        Ford Cosworth   26.042  207.634 
4       Alexandre Tagliani      Ford Cosworth   26.114  207.061 
5       Kenny Brack             Ford Cosworth   26.146  206.808 
6       Michael Andretti        Ford Cosworth   26.175  206.579 
7       Roberto Moreno          Ford Cosworth   26.236  206.098 
8       Helio Castro-Neves      Honda           26.268  205.847 
9       Christian Fittipaldi    Ford Cosworth   26.275  205.793 
10      Jimmy Vasser            Toyota          26.283  205.730 
14      Tony Kanaan             Mercedes-Benz   26.486  204.153 
16      Mark Blundell           Mercedes-Benz   26.616  203.156 
18      Mauricio Gugelmin       Mercedes-Benz   26.744  202.184 
21      Michel Jourdain Jr.     Mercedes-Benz   26.791  201.829 
25      Luiz Garcia Jr.         Mercedes-Benz   30.006  180.204 

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia Jr. , Mo Nunn