CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca Mercedes Friday Notes

Player's/Forsythe racing driver Greg Moore led the nine-car Mercedes-Benz contingent during provisional qualifying today at the Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway. Bryan Herta is on the provisional pole with a 68.334-second lap ...

Player's/Forsythe racing driver Greg Moore led the nine-car Mercedes-Benz contingent during provisional qualifying today at the Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca Raceway. Bryan Herta is on the provisional pole with a 68.334-second lap (117.903 mph). Moore is fourth on the strength of a 69.050-second lap (116.681 mph). PacWest Racing/Hollywood driver Mauricio Gugelmin was fastest in the morning practice session, but wound up sixth in provisional qualifying with a lap of 69.134 seconds (116.539 mph). He was followed closely by Hogan Racing's Helio Castro-Neves, who turned in a lap of 69.357 seconds (116.164 mph) to grab the 10th spot as time was running out in qualifying. Player's/Forsythe racing driver Patrick Carpentier, who finished second last weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia, ran a 69.472-second lap (115.972 mph), good enough for 15th on the grid. PacWest Racing/Motorola pilot Mark Blundell, who was third-quick in practice this morning, was 20th this afternoon with a 70.062-second lap (114.995 mph). Marlboro Team Penske rookie Gonzalo Rodriguez is 24th with a 70.529-second lap (114.234 mph). In 25th place is Hogan Racing rookie Luiz Garcia Jr., who posted a lap of 70.691 seconds (113.972 mph). Marlboro Team Penske veteran Al Unser Jr. is 27th with a 70.762-second lap (113.858 mph). Bettenhausen Racing's Shigeaki Hattori is 29th. His best lap was 78.712 seconds (102.358 mph). Practice will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m. (PDT), while final qualifying will begin at 12:45 p.m. (PDT). The race begins Sunday at noon local time, and will be seen live on ESPN at 3 p.m. (EDT).

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Fourth/69.050 seconds) "There is some more time we can get out of the car, but it's not too bad. We learned some stuff today to improve. This is a fun course to drive, but it is not fun to race because it is hard to pass. That is why you must make sure you qualify near the front. This was a good way to start. Hopefully, we can improve tomorrow."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (Sixth/69.134 seconds) "This morning we ran better than we did this afternoon. It was really a funny session because there were so many red flags. It was hard to get anything done. We need to change the balance of the car. It was pushing quite a bit. The engineers say they have a good plan to fix that, so I'm really looking forward to it."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (10th/69.357 seconds) "We had problems in practice this morning. We ran the spare car, and it didn't have the same setup as our primary car. We ran the primary car this afternoon and it was much better. There is still more time to come. I lost some time in slow traffic. Tomorrow we can go for the fast time. I really am confident we can do it."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (15th/69.472 seconds) "On the first set of tires we ran today the car was very good. Unfortunately, I had a spin. On the second set of tires we made a change and the car was not as good. Plus, I was blocked by a slower car during my fast lap."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (20th/70.062 seconds) "We did a good lap this morning. We know what to do. We just didn't do it this afternoon. The balance was poor, and the tire pressures were incorrect. That is why I lost it and ran off course. That cost us time for making improvements. Everybody is working together better on our team now, though. We're doing a good job on Friday and Saturday, we just need to do better on Sunday."

Gonzalo Rodriguez, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (24th/70.529 seconds) "Today went okay for my first day on the track, although I thought we would have been quicker. I've only run 31 laps here, so I'm still trying to adjust to the circuit. Yesterday, I spent some time with Rick Mears driving the track, but it's not the same as in a race car. The track is very difficult to learn. It's unlike any track I've every seen-especially the banked corners.

"We made some changes to the Marlboro Mercedes Lola after the morning session. We improved the car in some corners. But, unfortunately we still have more work to do to balance the car. During qualifying we didn't get to run as many laps as we would've liked because of the red flags. Hopefully, we'll be able to improve for tomorrow."

Luiz Garcia Jr., No. 21, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (25th/70.691 seconds) "We made some improvements. I got blocked for several laps. I think we could have run a low one-minute, 10-second lap. The handling of the car is a lot better. We have good balance front to rear."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (27th/70.762 seconds) "We unloaded the Marlboro Mercedes Lola with a big understeer, which we struggled with all day. The car wouldn't turn in, which effects me through all the corners. At a circuit like Laguna Seca, that really hurts your lap times. Also, there were a number of red flags which seemed to catch us out on our hot laps."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Rick Mears , Greg Moore , Luiz Garcia Jr. , Gonzalo Rodriguez
Teams Team Penske