CHAMPCAR/CART: Tony Kanaan leads Mercedes Nazareth qualifying

Mercedes-Benz driver Tony Kanaan was eighth quickest in qualifying today for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, round two of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Kanaan, driving the Mercedes-Benz-powered Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Champ...

Mercedes-Benz driver Tony Kanaan was eighth quickest in qualifying today for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, round two of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Kanaan, driving the Mercedes-Benz-powered Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Champ Car, posted a qualifying lap of 19.498 seconds (174.664 mph) on the 0.946-mile Nazareth Speedway oval, 0.243 seconds behind polesitter Juan Montoya (19.255 seconds/176.868 mph).

Kanaan had a "moment" during his qualifying run when the shiftknob cover on his Reynard Mercedes became loose as he was downshifting entering Turn Three of his second qualifying lap. The Brazilian pilot realigned the shifter and maintained control of his race car to nab the fourth-row spot.

Windy conditions in the afternoon affected most of the drivers, including PacWest Racing Nextel Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin, who qualified on the sixth row with his run in 19.656 seconds (173.260 seconds). Teammate Mark Blundell struggled with understeer on his Motorola Mercedes during qualifying and will start 19th (19.969 seconds/170.544 mph).

Michel Jourdain Jr. posted a qualifying lap of 20.083 seconds (169.576 mph) for 21st position on the grid. Arciero Project Racing Group's Luiz Garcia Jr. will start 23rd (25.903 seconds/131.475 mph).

Weather permitting, the green flag for the 225-lap Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix will drop at 1 p.m. EDT.

Tony Kanaan, No. 55, Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (Eighth/ 19.498 seconds) "This is the first time I've had a good car on a short oval. It was the fastest lap I've ever had here, even though I did lose some time on my second lap with the shiftknob problem. We have a good, consistent race car for tomorrow. It is tough to pass here, but not impossible. We're going to be patient and wait to see what happens."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Nextel Mercedes/Firestone (12th/ 19.656 seconds) "My car was pushing a lot through all three turns, and I think it's caused by the wind, so the other guys will probably have the same problem. We brought a good car here, so as long as we can race tomorrow, we'll be okay. Nazareth doesn't have much straightaway, so you are very busy all the time on a track like this one. There is never any relaxing in racing * and especially not here."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (19th / 19.969 seconds) "I'm very disappointed. We made some changes this morning that should have made the car better, so we were sort of surprised that it didn't help. The car hasn't had this much understeer all weekend. We're actually three tenths slower than we were this morning, which is just crazy. Qualifying means a lot here, so it's going to be a long day tomorrow."

Michel Jourdain Jr., No. 16, Bettenhausen Herdez Mercedes/Firestone (21st / 20.083 seconds) "We still have a really big push in the car, but it feels pretty good in traffic. I think our car will be good tomorrow."

Luiz Garcia Jr., No. 25, Arciero Project Racing Group Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (23rd / 25.903 seconds) "The team is working very well together. Our '99 car (adapted for 2000 rules) just doesn't have the downforce, and we knew it wouldn't. The good news is that we plan to test our 2000 car and engine this week before arriving in Long Beach. It will be a very busy time to get to California, shake down the new car and race all within a week, but we are happy and motivated because we know we'll have a big gain in performance with the new car."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn