CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston PacWest drivers hoping for blue skies

(Houston, Texas) – PacWest drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin are hoping the Texas weather is good to them tomorrow as they attack the final qualifying session for the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston. Both drivers struggled on...

(Houston, Texas) – PacWest drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin are hoping the Texas weather is good to them tomorrow as they attack the final qualifying session for the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston.

Both drivers struggled on the temporary downtown Houston street circuit today and will have to make some positive changes overnight to bridge the gap on the opposition.

Mark Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, improved greatly on his morning practice time to clock a 60.741-second lap, which was good enough for 17th place on the provisional grid.

Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz, was forced to his back-up after a mechanical failure on only lap two. Just as the back-up car was warmed-up enough to run, a red flag flew on track and Gugelmin total on track time for the session was reduced to three laps.

Team KOOL Green’s Dario Franchitti has taken provisional pole for Sunday’s race with a time of 59.434 seconds and was followed by Jimmy Vasser (59.631s) and Christian Fittipaldi (59.634s).

The five drivers in championship contention Gil de Ferran (59.692s), Roberto Moreno (60.450s), Michael Andretti (60.177s), Adrian Fernandez (60.717s) and Kenny Brack (59.650s) were 6th, 13th, 10th, 16th and fourth respectively.

MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ – 17th
Qualifying: 60.741s

“My car was improved over the morning session and I have to thank my Motorola crew,” said Blundell.

“We put on a new set of tires and were setting ourselves for a quick run when I was pinched in a turn and had to head into the run-off to avoid a tire barrier. I think that cost us several spots on the grid so we need to ensure we get a good run tomorrow.”

MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ – 24th
Qualifying: 62.189s

“That was probably our worst session of the season,” said Gugelmin.

“We not only had to go to the back-up car, but we just got hammered by red flags.

“It really was a total waste of a day.”

PRACTICE TIMES: 1: Dario Franchitti 59.434; 2: Jimmy Vasser 59.631; 3: Christian Fittipaldi 59.634; 4: Kenny Brack 59.650; 5: Helio Castroneves; 6: Gil de Ferran; 7: Juan Montoya 59.998; 8: Tony Kanaan 60.053; 9: Paul Tracy 60.163; 10: Michael Andretti 60.177.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell