CHAMPCAR/CART: Kanaan gives Mercedes best start of the year

Tony Kanaan and Mercedes-Benz earned the third spot on the grid today during qualifying for the Target Grand Prix at the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval in Cicero, Ill. Reigning CART FedEx Championship Series champion Juan Montoya...

Tony Kanaan and Mercedes-Benz earned the third spot on the grid today during qualifying for the Target Grand Prix at the 1.029-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval in Cicero, Ill. Reigning CART FedEx Championship Series champion Juan Montoya will start on pole thanks to a lap of 22.107 seconds (167.567 mph). Kanaan turned a lap at 22.137 seconds (167.340 mph), which is only three-hundredths of a second off Montoya's pole time (0.2 mph). "Mercedes-Benz has been working really hard on their engine program, and I appreciate that," said Kanaan, driver of the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing/Mercedes-Benz. He is competing in his second race after recovering from a broken arm he suffered during qualifying for the Detroit Grand Prix in June. "We had a new engine this weekend that got us up at the front of the grid. It's nice when you see improvements. That's why I was in such a hurry to get back into the car after my injury. I knew the engine was getting better." The PacWest Racing duo of Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell qualified in the 16th and 17th spots respectively on the grid due to poor-handling race cars during their runs this afternoon. Gugelmin had run as high as seventh this morning during practice, but his car felt different during qualifying. "I had a push in the middle of the corner that translated to a loose condition coming out of the corner," said Gugelmin, driver of the Nextel/Mercedes-Benz, who turned a 22.686-second lap (163.290 mph). "I didn't have that before. That was new. This place is hard. It will be a tough deal tomorrow." Blundell's car experienced problems similar to Gugelmin's. "We just had too much push out there," said the driver of the Motorola/Mercedes-Benz, whose quickest lap was 22.718 seconds (163.060 mph). "We added some front wing after this morning, but there was still too much push. It will be tough tomorrow. You'll have to have a stable race to stay in the hunt. You'll also have to have good fuel consumption." Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports/Mercedes-Benz driver Michel Jourdain Jr. qualified right behind Gugelmin and Blundell in the 18th starting position, thanks to a 22.827-second lap (162.282 mph). "I thought the wind was going to be bigger this afternoon," said Jourdain. The wind has been at the drivers' backs coming down the front straight and affecting the way the cars handle in the turns. "We took some front wing out, but we had too much understeer." Hollywood/Arciero Project Racing driver Luiz Garcia Jr. was unable to post a qualifying time.

The green flag will fly tomorrow at 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. Eastern), and the race can be seen live on ABC-TV.

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