CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan fastest Mercedes at Gateway

Mercedes-Benz driver Tony Kanaan turned in another strong short-oval performance Friday during the opening day of practice for Sunday's Motorola 300, round 17 of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Kanaan was consistently near the top of...

Mercedes-Benz driver Tony Kanaan turned in another strong short-oval performance Friday during the opening day of practice for Sunday's Motorola 300, round 17 of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Kanaan was consistently near the top of the time sheets in the morning practice session, and was third quickest in the afternoon period with a lap around the 1.27-mile Gateway International Raceway oval in 25.995 seconds (175.880 mph). That time put him fourth on the day as Max Papis led the field with a circuit in 25.859 seconds (176.805 mph).

Kanaan and his rookie Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes team have seen success at the other short-oval circuits this season, finishing in the top 10 at Nazareth, Pa., and Milwaukee and qualifying third at Chicago.

"This is a very tough track because the corners on this oval are very different at each end," said Kanaan. "You have to find the right balance in the car for both ends of the track, and that sometimes means you have to give up speed on one end to get the maximum speed at the other end. "I'm not surprised that I had a good car today because Morris (Nunn, team owner) has been giving me a good oval car all year. It's great to be in the ballpark on the first day, and just making tweaks from there. And Mercedes-Benz is giving us all the support in the world."

The PacWest Nextel Mercedes crew worked hard to improve driver Mauricio Gugelmin's Champ Car for the afternoon session. As a result, the Brazilian pilot bettered his lap time by nearly one-half second, lapping the circuit in 26.400 seconds (173.182 mph) to earn 12th place on the day. Michel Jourdain Jr. posted a time of 26.864 seconds (170.191 mph), which put the Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes driver in 21st position. Luiz Garcia Jr. was 23rd for Hollywood/Arciero Project Racing Group with a lap in 27.145 seconds (168.429 mph) in his first career Champ Car appearance at Gateway International Raceway. Motorola Mercedes veteran Mark Blundell was 24th (27.365 seconds/167.075 mph). The green flag for the Motorola 300 waves at 1:30 p.m. CT Sunday (ESPN2, 2:30 p.m. ET).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Tony Kanaan , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn