CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes-Benz Laguna Seca provisional qualifying

Helio Castroneves captured the provisional pole for Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterey in track record time on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca permanent road course. Castroneves' hot lap of 67.722 seconds (118.969 mph) edged his Penske...

Helio Castroneves captured the provisional pole for Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterey in track record time on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca permanent road course. Castroneves' hot lap of 67.722 seconds (118.969 mph) edged his Penske teammate Gil de Ferran by 0.101 seconds.

Mauricio Gugelmin, who has four points-scoring finishes in his last five starts at the circuit, put his PacWest Nextel Mercedes in seventh position on the provisional grid with a lap in 68.764 seconds (117.166 mph).

"The car was pretty good today," said Gugelmin. "It was reliable all day long. It doesn't feel the same as it did when we tested here, but it is different weather today. The car still has a little bit of understeer, but we can work on this for tomorrow."

The start of the second provisional qualifying session, which included Gugelmin, Castroneves and de Ferran, was delayed nearly two hours following Patrick Carpentier's incident at the end of the first qualifying session. Carpentier ran off course at Turn Four, and the car skidded backwards across the gravel run-off area. The car made hard contact with the tire barrier and vaulted over the fence, coming to rest upside down in front of a grandstand. Carpentier climbed out of the car on his own and was taken to the CART Medical Facility. The Canadian driver was released shortly afterward with no injuries, and is expected to return to action Saturday. CART officials and drivers conferred at length, and safety workers reshaped the gravel traps before the second group of qualifiers took to the race track.

Tony Kanaan was the fastest qualifier in the first group, posting a time of 69.389 seconds (116.111 mph) on his fourth lap before mechanical problems sidelined the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes driver. He ended the day in 12th place. Michel Jourdain Jr. turned in a lap of 70.027 seconds (115.053 mph) to qualify his Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes 19th on the provisional grid. Motorola Mercedes pilot Mark Blundell lapped the circuit in 70.197 seconds (114.774 mph) to qualify 20th, while Hollywood/Arciero Project Racing driver Luiz Garcia Jr. ran 25th (71.346 seconds/112.926 mph).

Final qualifying will take place Saturday at 1:45 p.m. PDT. The green flag for the 83-lap Grand Prix of Monterey waves at 12:00 p.m. PDT Sunday (3:00 PM ET, ESPN).

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Patrick Carpentier , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia Jr. , Mo Nunn