CHAMPCAR/CART: Narazeth Mercedes Friday Practice Notes

Mercedes 1-2-3 in Nazareth Practice Race: Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth, Pa. Date/Session: Friday, April 24, 1998 Practice Session No. 2 Mercedes Runners One-two-three in Second Nazareth Session Castro-Neves Only...

Mercedes 1-2-3 in Nazareth Practice

Race: Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, Nazareth Speedway, Nazareth, Pa. Date/Session: Friday, April 24, 1998 Practice Session No. 2

Mercedes Runners One-two-three in Second Nazareth Session Castro-Neves Only Driver to Top 180 mph

Mercedes-powered cars filled the top three spots on the time sheets following this afternoon's second practice for the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix. Looking more like a seasoned veteran than the rookie that he is, Helio Castro-Neves led the way and was the only driver to post an average speed above 180 mph. The Team Alumax pilot's fast lap of 18.888 seconds (180.305 mph) was only .057 seconds off of the qualifying record set here last year by Paul Tracy.

Joining Castro-Neves in the top three were fellow Mercedes-Benz drivers Player's Forsythe Racing's Greg Moore, who enters this weekend ranked second in the championship standings, and Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes pilot Mauricio Gugelmin.

Moore's Player's Forsythe teammate Patrick Carpentier, last year's rookie of the year, was the fourth driver with Mercedes power among the top six.

Hogan Racing rookie JJ Lehto was 17th, while Motorola-backed driver Mark Blundell was 22nd. Marlboro Team Penske teammates Al Unser Jr. and Andre Ribeiro were 28th and 29th, respectively.

Morning practice is planned for 9 a.m. tomorrow followed by qualifying at 1:15 p.m. Sunday's 225-lap race is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN.

Mercedes Quotes Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16, Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear "Tom Brown (Chief Engineer) is amazing, not only him but Tony (Bettenhausen), too. The car feels great, very good and very fast. For today, we did a good job. But tomorrow we'll have to check the condition of the track and the car. It may be sunny, or it may be cloudy, so it could change. We'll have to see. Tomorrow is the important day."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone "I'm really pleased so far. We've done no short oval testing this year. We know where we want to be, and we only had to make minor changes (to the setup) to start getting there. Traffic is where you win these races. The track is so small that even when there isn't a lot of traffic, you're still affected by their air, so you have to have a car that works in traffic."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone "We're still chasing some push in the car, and around here that can cost you a lot of time. Turn two is almost flat, you just lift (off the throttle) only to adjust the rake of the car, so it's really how you come out of (turn) one that matters. If you get through there right, it allows you to carry speed all the way around. Then the engine is really right in the rev range you want, and it is just so sweet. I've basically forgotten about the first three races. We're back where we belong."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone "Most of that session we ran on full (fuel) tanks. We're trying to improve the car (on full tanks for the race), so we'll probably do some more of that tomorrow morning. Once the tank was (nearly) empty, the car was more stable, and it felt really good."

JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Leasing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone "The race balance is very good. For qualifying though we need a quick time. We still have to find a half a second.."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone "Frankly we didn't have a good session. A lot of problems were costly to us in terms of time. We can't seem to get a handle on getting over the bumps in the race track. That costs us traction.."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto , Tom Brown
Teams Team Penske