Phoenix, AZ -- PacWest Racing made use of one of its vital pre-season testing days by utilizing Mauricio Gugelmin for a 200-mile marathon session at Phoenix International Raceway today. New testing rules in the FedEx Championship Series mean...
Phoenix, AZ -- PacWest Racing made use of one of its vital pre-season testing days by utilizing Mauricio Gugelmin for a 200-mile marathon session at Phoenix International Raceway today.
New testing rules in the FedEx Championship Series mean that two-car teams get just 20 days of pre-season testing which must be completed two weeks prior to the opening round of the season at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24-26.
Gugelmin ran almost 200 laps on the desert one-mile oval and set a quickest time of 20.3 seconds in what was his first experience with the new 2KI Reynard chassis and Mercedes-Benz IC108F engine combination on an oval.
It was also the first time "Big Mo" was in the car since December 21 when he ran on the Sebring road course in Florida.
"The entire road and oval package from Reynard and Mercedes-Benz is very encouraging," said Gugelmin. "The work never stops, but I feel very good about where we are at this stage of the year. "There are a lot of people working very hard to make this a competitive package this season and there is a good vibe about the whole deal."
Gugelmin ran most of the day with heavy fuel loads and missed a chance at a late "flyer" due to a minor suspension problem.
"We got up to speed real fast and that continued through the day," said Gugelmin. "We ran pretty heavy (more fuel) for most of the sessions. "We did one long 50-lap stint on full tanks and the car was very consistent. "The crew gave me a well-balanced car out of the box and that allowed us to continue on from where Mark (Blundell) left off yesterday."
PacWest's Vice-President of Racing Operations, John Anderson, left the track with a smile on his face for the third consecutive day.
"We ran two cars back-to-back a couple of times today," said Anderson. "Basically we came to the same conclusions as we did yesterday when "Billy" (Mark Blundell) was in the car, which indicates we are heading in the right direction. "We had a small problem with a suspension unit we were experimenting with late in the day, but we got on top of that straight away."
Reigning series champion Juan Montoya set the quickest time of the day, according to PacWest's timing, with a 19.7-second lap, but blew an engine late in the day.
PacWest will continue testing at the Firebird East road course on Saturday with Gugelmin while Blundell will jump back into the seat on Sunday.