CHAMPCAR/CART: Traffic snarls Mercedes drivers at Nazareth

Defending polesitter and race winner Juan Montoya led the field at practice today for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, round two of the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series. Montoya's quick lap of 19.189 seconds (177.477 mph) over the ...

Defending polesitter and race winner Juan Montoya led the field at practice today for Sunday's Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix, round two of the 2000 CART FedEx Championship Series. Montoya's quick lap of 19.189 seconds (177.477 mph) over the 0.946-mile Nazareth Speedway oval bested 24 competitors. Meanwhile, some of the Mercedes-powered contingent got caught in "rush-hour traffic" on the tight oval in the afternoon and ended the day with some frustration.

After an oil leak forced Mauricio Gugelmin to switch to his backup Nextel Mercedes race car, Gugelmin scored a hot lap of 19.764 seconds (172.313 mph) for 13th place overall. His teammate, Mark Blundell, could not find clear sailing with fresh rubber in the afternoon session. Blundell lapped the oval in 19.774 seconds (172.226 mph) in his Motorola Mercedes Champ Car, good enough for 15th position. Tony Kanaan's Mo Nunn Racing/Hollywood Mercedes team was eighth quickest in the morning session and feeling confident coming off a strong start in the season-opening race two weeks ago at Homestead, Fla. In the afternoon, Kanaan looked to put in a "hot lap" near the end of the session with fresh tires. However, Patrick Carpentier's spin and contact with the wall with about three minutes remaining ended the session before Kanaan could get in his best lap. The Brazilian driver wound up 16th on the day (19.789 seconds/172.096 mph).

Bettenhausen Motorsports Herdez Mercedes driver Michel Jourdain Jr. posted a quick lap of 20.528 mph (165.900 mph), while Luiz Garcia Jr. clocked his best lap of 24.236 seconds (140.518 mph) in his Arciero Project Racing Group/Hollywood Mercedes.

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Nextel Mercedes/Firestone (13th/19.764 seconds) "We had planned to run full tanks this morning and this afternoon, which we did. The car behaved pretty well. It's fast, but we're struggled a little bit with the engine mapping, especially when we're in traffic. Toward the end of my long run in the afternoon, as I was about to come in, we had an oil leak so we switched to my backup car. The 'T' car had too much fuel so I never had a chance to run light, which is why we didn't get a good time out there. We have a good race car and we're looking good for Sunday."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (15th/19.764 seconds) "We did a lot of laps today and gathered a lot of data. I think we have put a lot of the pieces together to form a good race car. We're working with the Mercedes-Benz engineers on the mapping of the engine to make it a little more driveable, especially in traffic. We threw a new set of tires on right at the end of the session to have a crack a quick lap, but when Carpentier hit the wall, that was that."

Tony Kanaan, No. 55, Mo Nunn Racing Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (16th/19.789 seconds) "We had a very strong run in practice this morning, but this afternoon everything got very confusing out there on the track with all the traffic. It was frustrating * like rush hour in New York. Every time we were on a fresh set of Firestones, we were tied up in traffic and then our chance to get in a hot lap went away. Traffic cost us a lot of good laps this afternoon. But looking at the bright side, I know I have a top-10 car under me, both for qualifying and the race. We just need to find our way through the traffic."

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