CHAMPCAR/CART: Loudon Pacwest notes

New Hampshire in Review At the final oval race of the '95 season which was held in New Hampshire, both PacWest cars took a day to get up to speed but ended Friday's practice sessions with encouraging signs for Saturday's qualifying. In just...

New Hampshire in Review

At the final oval race of the '95 season which was held in New Hampshire, both PacWest cars took a day to get up to speed but ended Friday's practice sessions with encouraging signs for Saturday's qualifying.

In just over two hours of practice on Friday, Mauricio Gugelmin struggled with a car that was both pushing and loose. Nevertheless, one lap prior to the end of the day's second and final session, Gugelmin gained .5 on his best time and closed the practice with the 10th fastest time of the season and 14th best of the combined sessions (22.530 seconds).

On his qualifying run, Gugelmin posted a fast lap of 22.022 seconds which put him in the 7th starting position for the race. This qualifying effort was his best ever on a one-mile oval.

Juan Manuel Fangio II, direct from his convincing Indy car debut at Mid-Ohio, was again behind the wheel of Danny Sullivan's VISA machine. In the first practice session of the weekend, Fangio was the faster of the two PacWest cars as he posted a best-lap time of 22.773 seconds. That time would prove to be his best of the day following the two practice sessions.

With perfect racing conditions on a sunny and mild Saturday morning, Fangio was .7 quicker in practice (22.079) that his best time from Friday and promptly carried that momentum into the qualifying session. The 26th car out in qualifications, Fangio turned a best lap of 22.178 seconds. That time was good for 12th in the starting field, placing him in front of such drivers as Raul Boesel, Paul Tracy, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al. Unser, Jr., and the IndyCar points leader, Jacques Villeneuve, on the starting grid.

Although starting five positions apart, the PacWest duo kept each other company all day, competing with each other as well as the rest of the 26-car field for much of the afternoon.

Both drivers fell a few positions in the early moments of the race but quickly settled into a consistent groove, keeping the race leaders in their sights until the second yellow flag of the race brought them both into the pits on lap 42.

After the 1st round of stops were completed, Gugelmin ran 12th with Fangio not far behind in 16th position. From there, Fangio began to close the gap on "Big Mo" and was only 3 seconds behind his teammate after Gugelmin's second and final stop on lap 131.

Fangio, who was running in 14th position, finally got by Gugelmin on lap 150 and began the hunt for his second consecutive finish in the points. However, Fangio's lead on Gugelmin was short lived as he found himself being passed by the Hollywood car 20 laps later. Gugelmin went on to finish the race 11th while Fangio, who was forced in the pits for an unscheduled third pit stop on lap 180, brought his VISA/Reynard home in 15th position.

"My car was good for the first three quarter of the race and then started to pick up a little push," said Fangio following the race. "I had to radio in to request a tire change (lap 180) because the car started to get high in the corners and I was running in the gray area. I know that cost us a few positions but we couldn't take a chance because the car became difficult to control."

Afterward, Gugelmin offered his insights on the condition of both PacWest cars.

"My car was poor on full tanks and slowly got better as we dialed it in and lightened our tanks. I think Juan's car was just the opposite. He was better full than light. Both he and I also experienced "push-loose" conditions in the corners and had to consistently fight that."

Miscellaneous Bits:

PacWest was host to 50 Concord-area United Way volunteers and contributors at its trackside hospitality area on Saturday......Gugelmin makes autograph appearances on behalf of VISA at Meijer stores in Carmel and Lafayette, Indiana on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

David Foote PacWest Racing Group dcfoote@en.com

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Raul Boesel , Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Danny Sullivan , Juan Manuel Fangio , Emerson Fittipaldi