CHAMPCAR/CART: PacWest Laguna Seca Friday notes

(Laguna Seca, Ca) -- PacWest driver Mauricio Gugelmin is seventh on the provisional grid after a spectacular and controversial opening day of qualifying for this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at the Laguna Seca Raceway in ...

(Laguna Seca, Ca) -- PacWest driver Mauricio Gugelmin is seventh on the provisional grid after a spectacular and controversial opening day of qualifying for this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of Monterey at the Laguna Seca Raceway in California.

Gugelmin, driver of the #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz, recorded . a best time of 1:08.764 to be the fastest Mercedes-Benz-powered runner in the fiel Mark Blundell, driver of the #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz, clocked a time of 1:10.197 in the first qualifying group and is currently 20th on the provisional gri

The first qualifying group had its session red-flagged with a couple of minutes on the clock after Canadian Patrick Carpentier was involved in a spectacular accident which saw his car go through a sand trap, hit a tire barrier and then leap and clear a 15-foot safety/signage fence. The car landed upside down, but Carpentier escaped uninjured and has been cleared to drive for the remainder of the weekend by CART doctor, Steve Olvey.

The accident saw a driver meeting called by Gugelmin, chairman of the Championship Drivers Association (CDA), and several discussions took place before the second qualifying group, due to start its session at 3:15pm, finally got on the track at 4:50pm.

Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran carried on from where they left off at a recent open test at Laguna Seca and fill the first two places on the provisional grid ahead of Dario Franchitti and Juan Montoya.

MAURICIO GUGELMIN - # 17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 7th
Qualifying: 1:08.764s

"My car was pretty good and actually very reliable all day," said Gugelmin.

"I am still experiencing a little push which is something we definitely need to work on tonight. My car is not the same as when we tested here a couple of weeks ago, but I suppose the conditions are different as well.

"There was a delay to the afternoon session because the drivers were upset about the accident involving Patrick (Carpentier). We had a meeting regarding track safety in Vancouver and it does not seem that we were taken seriously prior to that. We met with Bobby (Rahal) this afternoon to make sure that we reshaped the gravel trap where the accident occurred before we went back out. We want to work together to make improvements and Bobby is keen to do everything possible to make all race tracks safer."

MARK BLUNDELL - # 18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ -- 20th
Qualifying: 1:10.695s

"We basically never got a run," said Blundell.

"On each of our flying laps we got caught by a slower car and we just could not get a time down. We battled a little bit with balance and will do what we can to move forward tomorrow."

PROVISIONAL QUALIFYING TOP TEN: 1: Helio Castroneves 1:07.722; 2: Gil de Ferran 1:07.823; 3: Dario Franchitti 1:08.148; 4: Juan Montoya 1:08.544; 5: Christian Fittipaldi 1:08.627; 6: Jimmy Vasser 1:08.642; 7: Mauricio Gugelmin 1:08.764; 8: Oriol Servia 1:08.800; 9: Michael Andretti 1:08.818; 10: Paul Tracy 1:08.898.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Oriol Servia , Mark Blundell
Teams Team Penske