(Motegi, Japan) -- PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin produced his best qualifying result of the season and will start from seventh position in tomorrow's Firestone Firehawk 500 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Gugelmin clocked a time of 26.633...
(Motegi, Japan) -- PacWest Racing's Mauricio Gugelmin produced his best qualifying result of the season and will start from seventh position in tomorrow's Firestone Firehawk 500 at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
Gugelmin clocked a time of 26.633 seconds around the 1.549km (2.478km) oval in his #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz after making a few minor adjustments between the morning practice and the afternoon qualifying session.
Gugelmin had previously qualified 18th (Homestead), 12th (Nazareth), 17th (Long Beach) and 21st (Rio) in the first four races of the FedEx Championship Series. Today's qualifying effort is also the best by a Mercedes-Benz powered car in the series this year.
His qualifying effort today supports his performance last season in Japan when he qualified on the front row alongside Gil de Ferran before finishing seventh.
Gugelmin's teammate Mark Blundell had trouble with gearing and balance in his #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz and will start tomorrow's race from 22nd position.
Defending Series champion Juan Montoya (26.237s) will start from pole ahead of Kenny Brack (26.393s) and Jimmy Vasser (26.455s).
MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ
Morning Practice Session: 26.518s -- 11th; Afternoon Qualifying: 6.633s -- 7th
"That's more like it -- the season starts today for us," said Gugelmin. "We made a few minor changes to the car from the morning session and the car had the best balance of anything I have had this year. "That is obviously our best qualifying result of the season and I really could not have gotten anymore out of the car. "We just need to make the most of this tomorrow during the race and get some points in the bank."
MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ
Morning Practice Session: 26.964s -- 18th; Afternoon Qualifying: 27.412 -- 22nd
"We just cannot get the balance right and we missed the gearing for the qualifying run," said Blundell. "We managed to collect some reasonable points (finishing 7th) after qualifying 23rd at Rio, but it is going to be a long day. The reliability of the Mercedes-Benz engine is one thing on our side."