CHAMPCAR/CART: Mears Houston Saturday qualifying notes

Casey Mears and the ...

Casey Mears and the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard will start Sunday's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston from the inside of the 13th row. He toured the 1.527-mile downtown street circuit in front of the George R. Brown Convention Center in 1 minute, 2.789 seconds (an average of 87.536 mph). Sunday's race marks only the second career Champ Car start for Mears, who drove a Team Rahal entry and last season's finale at Fontana, Calif., to fourth place. He takes over for Alex Zanardi in the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom car this weekend after the two-time series champion's racing accident in Germany three weekends ago.

Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tony Kanaan qualified 10th with a time of 1:00.548 (90.791 mph). Gil de Ferran earned the pole with a fast time of 59.421 (92.513 mph). Bruno Junqueira took the outside-front-row starting spot in 59.943 (91.707 mph). Kenny Brack qualified third in 59.947 (91.701 mph).

Race time Sunday is 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for ESPN. Today's qualifying show will be shown on ESPN2 at 2:30 a.m. EDT Sunday. The Sunday-morning warm-up show CART2DAY is also on ESPN2 at 11 a.m. EDT.

"We're improving every session, and that's the way everyone was hoping it would be. It's still very early, but I definitely feel better and better every time we're out on the track. And I know if I got in again this afternoon, I'd go even faster. My last lap was going to be my best lap. I was three-tenths quicker about halfway through the lap, but I tagged the wall with my oustide rear tire at the end of the backstraight and that was the end of that. It might not have moved me up in the order, but it would have left me feeling even better. It's hard to get into a groove with so many people going off during our session and bringing out the red flag. Hopefully, tomorrow, we'll have a good, clean race and I can get in as many laps as I possibly can to get us ready for a real run for the money at Laguna. But you never know what can happen at a track like this. Most important will be to be there at the finish. That's how it worked out so well for me at Fontana last year."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Casey Mears , Gil de Ferran , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Mo Nunn