CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Laguna Saturday notes

Helio Castroneves' track-record lap time from Friday's provisional qualifying held firm today at final qualifying for the Grand Prix of Monterey, round 16 of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Castroneves' time of 67.722 seconds (118.969...

Helio Castroneves' track-record lap time from Friday's provisional qualifying held firm today at final qualifying for the Grand Prix of Monterey, round 16 of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Castroneves' time of 67.722 seconds (118.969 seconds) on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca permanent road course gave the Brazilian driver his third pole position of the season. Penske teammate Gil de Ferran starts alongside Castroneves on the front row.

After struggling in the morning practice session, Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin rebounded in the afternoon and maintained the seventh-place position on the starting grid that he earned in Friday's provisional qualifying. The PacWest Nextel pilot posted a hot lap of 68.608 seconds (117.432 mph) and starts in the top nine for the seventh time in eight career appearances at Laguna Seca.

"My engineers did a great job and really improved the car from this morning," said Gugelmin. "At this track, you need a car that flows. The car still has some push in it, which means I have to be a little aggressive on corner entries, but as a team we are very confident for tomorrow."

Tony Kanaan saw limited qualifying time Friday due to a clutch problem on his Mercedes-powered Hollywood/Mo Nunn entry. In the morning practice, the Brazilian pilot was third fastest. But again, the fates were against Kanaan in the afternoon qualifying session, as red flags late in the period stymied his flyer laps. Kanaan's time of 68.857 seconds (117.008 mph) puts him 12th on the starting grid.

"We never got to use our second set of tires, which made for a frustrating session," said Kanaan. "Based on our performance this morning, we know we can run up front, so we should be in good shape."

Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports pilot Michel Jourdain Jr. qualified 20th with a time of 69.538 seconds (115.862 mph). Mark Blundell qualified his Motorola Mercedes 21st (69.638 seconds/115.695 mph), and Luiz Garcia Jr. was 25th (70.605 seconds/114.111 mph). The green flag for the 83-lap Grand Prix of Monterey waves at 12:00 p.m. PDT (3:00 p.m. EDT, ESPN).

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