CHAMPCAR/CART: PacWest find Portland a slippery track

(Portland, Or) -- PacWest drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell are 16th and 17th on the provisional grid for Sunday's Freightliner-G.I Joe's 200 at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon -- the eighth round of the FedEx...

(Portland, Or) -- PacWest drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell are 16th and 17th on the provisional grid for Sunday's Freightliner-G.I Joe's 200 at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon -- the eighth round of the FedEx Championship Series.

Both drivers got "caught out" on a slippery track in the first 30-minute segment of today's qualifying session and finished fourth and fifth respectfully in their group. Gugelmin and Blundell could only sit back and watch as the second group of drivers went out for their qualifying run on an improving track and slowly knocked their names down the time sheet.

The slippery conditions were mainly caused through leaking fluid from some cars that were practicing for a support event just prior to the Champ Car qualifying run. Amazingly, Adrian Fernandez, who was quickest in the first group, eventually finished 13th on the provisional grid.

Gugelmin battled his way to a time of 1:00.711 in his #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz while Blundell clocked a time of 1:00.730 in his #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz - All drivers will have a chance to improve on their positions in tomorrow's final qualifying session at 1.45pm.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 16th
Morning Session: 59.805s -- 14th; Qualifying: 1:00.711s

"The track conditions were simply terrible this afternoon, as indicated by our times," said Gugelmin, who was the quickest of the Mercedes-Benz runners.

"It is very slippery and we are basically running two seconds off our times from the morning session.

"There is just less grip than this morning and it has effected the running of the cars. We lost a lot of time in the morning with a few frustrating mechanical problems."

MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 17th
Morning Session: 59.925s -- 16th; Qualifying: 1:00.730s

"At the beginning of the session the grip level of the track was very, very poor," said Blundell.

"The track kept improving and we tried to stay out to take advantage of the conditions, but at the same time we were fighting increasing tire pressures.

"We made some encouraging progress with the Mercedes-Benz engine package today."

PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING TOP TEN: Gil de Ferran 58.586s 1; Christian Fittipaldi 58.813s 2; Patrick Carpentier 58.993s 3; Michael Andretti 59.041s 4; Dario Franchitti 59.103s 5; Helio Castroneves 59.137s 6; Juan Montoya 59.171s 7; Roberto Moreno 59.334s 8; Kenny Brack 59.709s 9; Cristiano da Matta 59.810s 10.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell