CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio Mercedes qualifying notes

Mercedes Powers Half of Top 10 in Mid-Ohio Qualifying Big Mo to Start From the Second Row Mercedes-powered cars hold five of the top-10 spots on the starting grid for tomorrow's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Hollywood ...

Mercedes Powers Half of Top 10 in Mid-Ohio Qualifying Big Mo to Start From the Second Row

Mercedes-powered cars hold five of the top-10 spots on the starting grid for tomorrow's Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes pilot Mauricio Gugelmin made the biggest improvement among the eight-driver Mercedes-Benz CART contingent, picking up 10 positions and nearly a full second over his performance during yesterday's provisional qualifying. He'll start the 83-lap race from fourth place, behind pole winner Dario Franchitti, Jimmy Vasser, and Bryan Herta.

Greg Moore, who scored his first 500-mile victory at the U.S. 500 two weeks ago, improved upon his provisional qualifying time by almost half a second and will start the Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes sixth. Marlboro Team Penske's Al Unser Jr. is seventh.

Neither PacWest Racing driver Mark Blundell nor Player's/Forsythe pilot Patrick Carpentier were able to improve upon their times from yesterday, but the two remained among the top ten. Blundell will start the Motorola entry eighth, and Carpentier will line up ninth.

Andre Ribeiro will start the second Marlboro Penske/Mercedes 14th, and JJ Lehto's Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes will start 17th. Rookie Helio Castro-Neves, who has been plagued by gearbox trouble all weekend, qualified 20th.

Sunday's 83-lap, 187.414-mile race will start at 2:00 p.m. EDT and will be televised on ABC starting at 4 p.m.

Mercedes Quotes

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Fourth - 66.003 sec.

"My biggest problem is I'm having a push in the medium speed corners. You can identify a problem, but that doesn't mean you can solve it right away. You need to build up a big database to have all the information you need. We are on the way to turning things around. We've made a ton of progress. I'm also struggling on braking in the low speed corners. The car is not consistent. Of course, I don't know if you can be consistent here. A lot of people are driving off the road. The car is quite nervous. With all the ups and downs, you don't have all four wheels on the road all the time. That makes consistency hard."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Sixth - 66.098 sec.

"I'd like to be first, but considering how we've been qualifying on road courses, I'm pretty pleased. Sixth isn't bad. We can win from there. It's going to be a long day tomorrow. I think you're going to see not only cars fading but also people because of the heat. If it rains, there's no way to know what'll happen."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: Seventh - 66.234 sec.

"The guys did a super job getting the car ready after this morning's practice session. The Marlboro Penske/Mercedes ran well in qualifying. We did better time-wise than expected. Track position and not making mistakes will be the key for the race. We need to work hard and be nice and smooth for a good finish tomorrow."

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Eighth - 66.372 sec.

"I'm really disappointed to be honest. We were quick all weekend until now. We changed back to yesterday's setup thinking it would be better, but it bit us. Qualifying eighth is no consolation. We should have been in the top spots. We knew it would take too long to change it back, so we couldn't. The car was extremely loose, and we couldn't overcome it."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Ninth - 66.425 sec.

"I just went into the corner too fast. The car was excellent. I think we had a pole position car this afternoon. It was so hooked up this morning, but I got a little carried away and crashed. Since it's only a half-hour session, we don't have enough time to get back out there in the backup car."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 14th - 66.501 sec.

"You have to work very hard here as a driver It is very important to have a consistent car here for the race. I was just getting into a good rhythm when the red flag came out. We're improving the car and learning more about it every day. Just setting a good rhythm is so important. We didn't make any crazy changes on the car. We didn't make any big steps. We had a good car from the beginning, and we just fine-tuned it. The car is up and down a lot here (elevation changes). The downs are hard when you land, and when you're up, the car is off the ground. If you don't land straight you have a problem."

JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 17th - 66.853 sec.

"I think it went pretty good, but we're still missing some time. I was expecting a little better time, but its hard to get it just right. I had some traffic on, but we're just not on top of the car at the moment. It's difficult to understand everything. We'll have to think about it for the race tomorrow. We don't have a bad car; it's just not the quickest."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16 Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 20th - 67.276 sec.

"We had another gearbox problem and lost most of the session. We didn't even get to use our second set of sticker tires. It's going to make tomorrow a really long race, but we'll do the best we can."

Miller Lite 200 Final Qualifying Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Aug. 8, 1998

Pos. Driver Chassis/Engine/Tires Time Speed 1 Dario Franchitti Reynard/Honda/Firestone 65.679 123.766 2 Jimmy Vasser Reynard/Honda/Firestone 65.834 123.474 3 Bryan Herta Reynard/Ford/Firestone 65.863 123.420 4 Mauricio Gugelmin Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone 66.003 123.158 5 Adrian Fernandez Reynard/Ford/Firestone 66.071 123.031 6 Greg Moore Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone 66.098 122.981 7 Al Unser Jr. Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear 66.234 122.729 8 Mark Blundell Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone 66.372 122.473 9 Patrick Carpentier Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone 66.425 122.376 10 Michael Andretti Swift/Ford/Goodyear 66.426 122.374 14 Andre Ribeiro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear 66.501 122.236 17 JJ Lehto Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone 66.853 121.592 20 Helio Castro-Neves Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear 67.276 120.828

Contact Scott McKee, Mercedes-Benz Sports Information Bureau, in Ohio at 419-884-8813 (track) or 419-525-6000 (hotel).

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto , Scott McKee
Teams Team Penske