CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Mercedes-Benz Provisional Qualifying Notes

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, Houston, Texas Date/Session: Sept 23, 1999 Provisional Qualifying Carpentier Leads Mercedes Contingent at Houston's Provisional Qualifying ...

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, Houston, Texas Date/Session: Sept 23, 1999 Provisional Qualifying

Carpentier Leads Mercedes Contingent at Houston's Provisional Qualifying

Player's/Forsythe driver Patrick Carpentier qualified fourth on the provisional starting grid for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston, round 18 of the 20-race CART FedEx Championship Series. The French-Canadian driver, coming off three consecutive strong performances, was the quickest of six Mercedes-Benz-powered drivers as Juan Montoya took the provisional pole for Sunday's 100-lap event.

Carpentier lapped the 1.527-mile temporary street circuit in 60.297 seconds (91.169 mph), 0.413 seconds behind Montoya's time of 59.884 seconds (91.797 mph). Since missing the race at Mid-Ohio in August with an injury suffered at Detroit, Carpentier has reeled off three consecutive top-10 finishes over three different types of Champ Car circuits -- Chicago Motor Speedway's oval, Vancouver, B.C.'s temporary street circuit and the permanent road course in Monterey, Calif. Defending pole-sitter Greg Moore qualified his Player's/Forsythe Mercedes 15th on the provisional grid with a lap in 61.096 seconds (89.976 mph). PacWest Racing Motorola Mercedes driver Mark Blundell was 16th with a qualifying lap of 61.261 seconds (89.734 mph).

Hogan Racing's Helio Castro-Neves battled mechanical problems before qualifying 18th (61.558 seconds/89.301 mph). Al Unser Jr. piloted his Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes around the tight-turned circuit in 61.766 seconds (89.000 mph) to place 21st, while PacWest Hollywood Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin qualified in 24th position with a time of 61.818 seconds (88.926 mph).

Final qualifying will be held Saturday afternoon, and the green flag for the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston will wave Sunday at 3:00 p.m. CT (live, ABC-TV).

Mercedes Quotes

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Fourth/60.297 seconds) "I'm happy with today's results. We've been in the top five all day. I jumped to second quickest on my first set of tires, and thought I could get the pole with the new set, but the car was pushing and there was some traffic so I couldn't get a clean lap. I drove hard today -- there was not much left in the car, but I think we're going to be able to get a little bit more tomorrow."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (15th/61.096 seconds) "We struggled with grip a bit today. The rear tires were going off. There's a bump at the end of the back straight that is right at the spot where you go for the brakes, and it throws the car off. We need to improve the car's traction off the turns. If we do that, we'll be all right."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (16th/61.261 seconds) "We had a pretty loose car in the morning, and we needed to improve the ride quality over the bump. In the afternoon, we picked up some understeer. Now we're working on stabilizing our entry to the corners."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (24th/61.818 seconds) "We made some minor progress since the morning but we're having difficulty finding the balance. We're lacking grip, and it's very hard to stop the car. Still we ran very well at the last two races and I'm confident we'll improve tomorrow."

Provisional Qualifying, Texaco Grand Prix of Houston Houston, Texas Sept. 23, 1999

Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Juan Montoya Honda 59.884 91.797 2 Christian Fittipaldi Ford Cosworth 59.965 91.673 3 Bryan Herta Ford Cosworth 60.098 91.471 4 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 60.297 91.169 5 Naoki Hattori Honda 60.342 91.101 6 Dario Franchitti Honda 60.369 91.060 7 Richie Hearn Toyota 60.464 90.917 8 Tony Kanaan Honda 60.570 90.758 9 Paul Tracy Honda 60.597 90.717 10 Gil de Ferran Honda 60.632 90.665 15 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz 61.096 89.976 16 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 61.261 89.734 18 Helio Castro-Neves Mercedes-Benz 61.558 89.301 21 Al Unser Jr. Mercedes-Benz 61.766 89.000 24 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 61.818 88.926

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Richie Hearn , Naoki Hattori , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske