Team Player's Alex Tagliani tops the chart in Fontana 500 Friday practice session. Fontana, California, November 1, 2002 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani, who won the pole at last year's Fontana 500, may be on course for a repeat after...
Team Player's Alex Tagliani tops the chart in Fontana 500 Friday practice session.
Fontana, California, November 1, 2002 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani, who won the pole at last year's Fontana 500, may be on course for a repeat after clocking the fastest lap of the CART practice session on Friday. Tagliani toured the 2-mile superspeedway in an impressive 31.552 seconds in the afternoon session, a speed of 233.726 miles per hour (376.145 km/h).
Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's wound up sixth quickest in the combined sessions. He recorded his best lap of the day in the morning run, when he was third with a time of 31.476 seconds, 1 one-thousandths of a second better than Tagliani. Carpentier was at the other end of the spectrum in the afternoon, as he ran with a full fuel load and struggled with a nervous car throughout the session.
"The car is very good, and I feel that it's going to be good for qualifying," said Tagliani, who drove to a third-place podium finish in last year's race. "I found the car performed well in traffic today. After we set the fastest time, we did race simulations, sometimes running with the draft and sometimes not.
"What we're going to do tomorrow is improve the set-up for qualifying. When we raced in England earlier this season, we were the quickest in practice but then we ended up ninth on the grid, so we want to try to avoid having that happen this time. It would be great to get the pole for the second straight year, but it isn't that important. It's good for the point in the standings and it's good for the glory of it, but you need a car that's reliable for 500 miles. That's what we have to focus on."
Carpentier, who is seeking his second consecutive podium after finishing second in Australia last weekend, said that, in contrast to the first session of the day, his car was skittish in the afternoon. He experienced major push going into turns and oversteer on the way out.
"Overall, the car just wasn't running that well with a full tank because right now we haven't got the right set-ups with a full load," he explained. "We can't run flat out and it's tough to follow all the other cars. We'll try to take a look at Tag's best lap with a full tank and work from there to get our car on full-load set-ups in the morning session tomorrow."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at The 500 throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race in progress on The Sports Network at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.