Race: Miller Lite 200, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio Date/Session: Fri., Aug. 13, 1999 Provisional Qualifying Blundell Fast on Track But Slow Through Tech - Loses Third-Place Time to Technical Infraction Carpentier...
Race: Miller Lite 200, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio Date/Session: Fri., Aug. 13, 1999 Provisional Qualifying
Blundell Fast on Track But Slow Through Tech - Loses Third-Place Time to Technical Infraction Carpentier Out Until Next Race at Chicago Motor Speedway
Britain's Mark Blundell was impressive in provisional qualifying today at the Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as he and his PacWest Racing/Motorola Mercedes team posted the third-best time of the session with a 65.881-second lap (123.386 mph). Unfortunately, his time was disallowed when a post-qualifying technical inspection found that his car's ground clearance did not meet the two-inch minimum mandated by CART. Dario Franchitti was quickest with a lap record effort of 65.347 seconds (124.394 mph). This is only Blundell's second race back in the cockpit after missing eight races due to a mid-season testing crash that resulted in a neck injury for the former Formula One pilot. Brazilian Helio Castro-Neves earned a spot in the top 10 (seventh) during provisional qualifying with a 66.137-second lap (122.909 mph) in his Hogan Racing Mercedes. Castro-Neves struggled with understeer in today's session and was held up by slower competition during one of his quickest laps. Player's/Forsythe Racing/Mercedes pilot Patrick Carpentier, who suffered a minor neck-muscle injury in an accident during last week's Detroit Grand Prix, will not be driving this weekend. He is expected to return to the cockpit next week in the inaugural race at the Chicago Motor Speedway. Blundell's PacWest Racing teammate, Brazil's Mauricio Gugelmin, who pilots the Hollywood Mercedes, earned the 17th provisional spot on the grid with a lap of 66.930 seconds (121.452 mph). His team is working to find more grip on a slippery race track that was doused with rain throughout last night and this morning. Marlboro Team Penske veteran Al Unser Jr. is currently 22nd with a lap of 67.292 seconds (120.799 mph). Luiz Garcia Jr., in his first race as teammate to Castro-Neves in a second Hogan Racing/Tang Mercedes, had an off-course excursion during qualifying. His car was stuck in the gravel trap, and he was forced to sit out most of the session. His best effort was a 68.040-second lap (119.471 mph), good enough for the 24th spot in the field. Player's/Forsythe Racing's Greg Moore also went off course into the gravel early in the qualifying session, and as a result, he only completed three laps during the session. His best time was 68.086-seconds (119.390 mph). He is 25th on the grid. Practice resumes tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. EST, and final qualifying will be held from 12:45-2 p.m. The race begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m., and will be seen on ABC-TV beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST.
Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (26th/no time) "My guys did a great job changing the engine in a very short time this morning. It's just unfortunate that we caught some more bad luck today. We know we have a good car, so we'll give it another go tomorrow. We were just working hard out there. We changed from what we were doing when Roberto (Moreno) was in the car, and we've gone back more to my setup from earlier in the year. The guys are working hard, and I'm doing my bit as well. This track is tough. My neck is fatigued. I'm hurting. I can tell, though, that we've made great strides in the engine department since earlier in the season. I'm much happier now. It is showing in the way the car is balanced. We still have more work to do with the tires, engine and chassis, but that's always going to be the case when you ask a racing driver for his opinion."
Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh/66.137 seconds) "We did a good job in the morning session. I expected us to be better this afternoon. The car was not like I like it. It had too much understeer. We've got to sit down and figure out what we misjudged. We're on our way, though. We can go faster. We started with our test setup, then we changed. We should have kept the original setup. Sometimes you're right, and sometimes you're wrong."
Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (17th/66.930 seconds) "We made some small changes from this morning to this afternoon, and we didn't gain anything. We are lacking grip, basically. We started with the same setup we used here in testing a while back, but we had no grip. The track is a lot different now than when we tested. On our second set of tires, the pressures got higher than we like. We didn't know if it was going to rain or not, so we stayed out on the track to get as many laps in as we could. Then it stayed dry. The rain last night really washed the track. It is slippery."
Luiz Garcia Jr., No. 21, Hogan Racing/Tang Mercedes/Firestone (24th/68.040 seconds) "I've been fighting oversteer, snap oversteer, so far this weekend. We didn't get a chance to work on that, plus the tires were cold. I was on the fast kink on the backside of the course and the back end just came around on me. This morning we had clutch problems. We'll just have to do well tomorrow. There is a lot of pressure on us, but there is a lot of pressure on everybody at this level."
Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (25th/68.086 seconds) "We had an eventful session. I was running third quick at the time, and I was on cool tires. It started to rain just a bit, and the car bottomed out in the middle of a turn and got real loose. Then the back end just came around. Everyone thought it was going to rain, so they went out and tried to go fast as soon as possible to get in a good lap. Maybe we went out a little too hard."