Casey Mears had to go to his back-up ...
Casey Mears had to go to his back-up #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard to make the show for Sunday's 500-mile CART FedEx Championship Series season finale at California Speedway. Mears had to abort his initial qualifying attempt today due to mechanical problems. He jumped into his back-up car and put himself on the inside of the 11th row with a lap of 32.607 seconds (an average of 224.013 mph) around the 2-mile high-banked tri-oval.
Teammate Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard qualified on the outside of the seventh row with a fast lap of 32.432 seconds (225.222 mph). Alex Tagliani will start on the pole after a fast lap of 31.935 seconds (228.727 mph). He'll be joined on the front row by Cristiano da Matta, who recorded the second-fastest lap of the day at 32.009 seconds (228.188 mph). Kenny Brack qualified third at 32.060 seconds (227.8345 mph). Shinji Nakano was the fastest Honda qualifier. He'll start 12th.
Race time Sunday is 12:30 p.m. PST (3:30 p.m. EST) with a live broadcast set for ESPN. Today's qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 at 1 a.m. EST. The Sunday-morning warm-up show CART2DAY will be on ESPN2 at 12:30 p.m. EST Sunday.
"That was a little disappointing, to not even get a qualifying lap in with the primary car. But I've got to hand it to the Pioneer-WorldCom crew for getting my back-up car ready to go. We hadn't run it all weekend, so it turned out to have a little too much understeer. But I'll take it. We have 500 miles tomorrow to gain ground on the front of the pack. My goal is going to be the same as it was here last year - first and foremost to finish the race. There was so much attrition here last year and we did such a good job of staying out of trouble that we ended up with a fourth-place finish. First and foremost, I think it'll be everyone's goal to make it to the end. That means taking care of your car for as long as possible. I don't think you'll see anybody going flat out every lap here tomorrow. If they try, they aren't going to last very long."