Best qualifying performance of CART season puts Team Player'S driver Alex Tagliani on front row for Grand Prix Of Chicago. Cicero, Illinois, June 29, 2002 Alex Tagliani of Team Player's produced his best qualifying performance of the FedEx CART...
Best qualifying performance of CART season puts Team Player'S driver Alex Tagliani on front row for Grand Prix Of Chicago.
Cicero, Illinois, June 29, 2002 Alex Tagliani of Team Player's produced his best qualifying performance of the FedEx CART 2002 Championship season on Saturday when he earned the second spot on the starting grid for Sunday's Grand Prix of Chicago on the 1.029-mile oval. Tagliani was within 6 one-thousandths of a second of winning the pole, which went to Scotland's Dario Franchitti.
Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier, who battled some car looseness as the temperatures heated up during his qualifying laps, was seventh quickest and will start from Row 4 on the Chicago circuit, where he finished second last year.
Because the Grand Prix of Chicago is a two-day rather than three-day race weekend, the drivers were limited to a single extended practice session. The session was run Saturday morning, and Carpentier clocked the third-fastest lap, while Tagliani posted the 13th best time and faced additional adversity when his engine gave out near the end of the session.
With less than two hours before the qualifying session, the Team Player's #33 crew changed the engine and prepared the car set-up in time for Tagliani to take his two qualifying laps. Tagliani ran a first lap in 23.549 seconds and was one of the few drivers to improve with his second lap, registering a time of 23.434 (158.078 mph/ 254.401 km/h) that gave him the provisional pole until he was unseated by Franchitti (158.118 mph/254.466 km/h).
"Team Player's did a fantastic job to get the car ready in such a short time frame," said Tagliani, who trimmed almost four-tenths of a second off his best practice lap. "We weren't really sure how we were going to go with the set-up since we weren't able to test things out with a fresh set of tires after leaving before the end of the practice session. We wanted to be aggressive with the set-up but ended up being more conservative than we would have liked. As things turned out, it was probably a good thing that we were conservative."
"This is a difficult circuit to pass on because it's so tight and narrow in places, so getting the front-row on the grid is important," added Tagliani, who is seeking his second podium finish this season on an oval he was second in Motegi, Japan, a race that he led for 23 laps.
Carpentier, who had his sights set on the pole following his impressive practice session Saturday morning, turned his first qualifying lap in a time of 23.629 seconds (156.773 mph/252.301 km/h), which was almost three-tenths of a second off his morning run. The car developed more wiggle on the second qualifying lap and Carpentier was unable to better the time set with his first lap.
"Just before we left for our first lap, Team Player's put in more front wing because we thought that would be better, considering the hot weather, but we went a bit overboard and it caused the car to go loose," explained Carpentier. "It's a bit disappointing but it's nothing that we can't overcome. There are places to pass on this track. You just have to be patient and make your move at the right time. We definitely have a car that is fast enough to contend."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Chicago throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.