Casey Mears and the ...
Casey Mears and the #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard qualified 18th for Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey. The 23-year-old nephew of three-time CART champion Rick Mears, who is replacing the injured Alex Zanardi for the second race in a row, clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 10.425 seconds (an average of 114.403 mph) around the the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca Raceway road course. It was the sixth-fastest time in today's first of two qualifying groups, and the 18th-fastest time overall.
Mo Nunn Racing teammate Tony Kanaan and the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard qualified seventh today after a fast lap of 1:09.515 (115.900 mph). Current points leader and defending series champion Gil de Ferran grabbed the top spot in 1:08.596 (117.453 mph) with fellow Team Penske driver and defending race winner Helio Castroneves alongside on the front row after a lap of 1:08.678 (117.313 mph). Rookie Scott Dixon qualified third in 1:08.972 (116.813 mph).
Race time Sunday is 1 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT) with a live broadcast set for ESPN. The Sunday-morning warm-up show CART2DAY are set for ESPN2 at 11 a.m. EDT. Today's qualifying highlights can be seen on ESPN2 at 2 a.m. EDT Sunday.
"This feels great. We're making progress. It's starting to sound like a broken record, but it's happening right before our eyes. We're a long way from being all the way there, but every time we go out, we all learn something. I'm learning how to improve the car, and I'm getting more and more comfortable all the time. I thin, for sure, that we have a lot more work to do. We repeated our times with both sets of tires during the qualifying session, so that means we're consistent. Considering where we are on the grid compared to last weekend (25th in Houston), I'm a little more in the mix, so we can use a different strategey. I can make my charge earlier since I'm not starting so far back. Hopefully we'll be able to make some improvements to the car overnight, and then more during the race, and bring home a good result. I'm not here to run in the back. I'm here to run up front. But I do realize I'm still learning, and we're all learning about each other, and things will take time. But we're definitely closing the gap on the front of the grid. That's where we're seeing our improvement."