CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Motegi Thursday practice

Tony Kanaan's Mo Nunn Racing/Hollywood/Mercedes-Benz was among the fastest cars on the first day of practice for the Firestone Firehawk 500 at the 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval in Motegi, Japan. Kenny Brack led the field with a lap of...

Tony Kanaan's Mo Nunn Racing/Hollywood/Mercedes-Benz was among the fastest cars on the first day of practice for the Firestone Firehawk 500 at the 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval in Motegi, Japan. Kenny Brack led the field with a lap of 26.072 seconds (213.885 mph), while Kanaan's best time of 26.517 seconds (210.295 mph) was ninth quick for the day.

"It was a good-news, bad-news kind of day," said Kanaan, who was third-quickest in the morning session but lost time in the afternoon session due to an oil system problem. "We got off to a great start this morning and I definitely feel we are headed in the right direction. The unfortunate thing is we had our share of problems in the afternoon session, which is very frustrating after all the momentum we had going this morning. Hopefully our problems are behind us. The outlook for us during qualifying and the race is good."

PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin, driver of the Nextel/Mercedes-Benz, was relatively happy with his car's performance today as he finished 15th in the field with a lap of 26.657 seconds (209.191 mph).

"We have the car pretty well balanced," said Gugelmin. "There is a push in turns three and four, but there isn't much else wrong with the car. We ran in traffic a bit just to see the car's balance with the new wing package. It was tough. You tend to lose the rear-end a bit. We just need to find a bit more speed somewhere."

Gugelmin's PacWest Racing teammate, Mark Blundell, driver of the Motorola/Mercedes-Benz, was 19th today with a lap of 26.851 seconds (207.679 mph). He worked through handling problems during most of today's on-track action.

"We took a long time to get the aero balance sorted, and that lost us some quality running," he said. "Now we need to fine tune the mechanical balance in the car. Tomorrow we'll probably run various fuel loads and get ready to go qualifying."

Michel Jourdain Jr., driver of the Bettenhausen Motorsports/Herdez/Mercedes-Benz, was 23rd today with a lap of 27.286 seconds (204.369 mph).

"We are having problems with the gearing," said Jourdain.  "Every time I 
downshift I come close to over-revving the engine.  We're going to change the 
gears for tomorrow.  That is where we are losing the most time."

Luiz Garcia Jr., driver of the Arciero Project Racing/Hollywood/Mercedes-Benz, was 25th with a lap of 27.935 seconds (199.621 mph).

Practice resumes tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. and qualifying will begin at 1:15 p.m. here. The East Coast of the United States is 13 hours behind the local time in Japan.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn