Houston, Texas, October 6, 2001 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani continued his strong performance on street circuits Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the FedEX CART Championship qualifying session for Sunday's Grand Prix of Houston. It is...
Houston, Texas, October 6, 2001 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani continued his strong performance on street circuits Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the FedEX CART Championship qualifying session for Sunday's Grand Prix of Houston. It is Tagliani's third top-5 qualifying result in five street-course events this season, an output that includes a pole position in Tagliani's previous street circuit race in Vancouver last month.
Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier, who has also done well on street courses, had to settle for the 20th fastest time Saturday after his qualifying session lasted only seven laps. Carpentier's car caught some fluid in turn 5 and spun off the course, resulting in a red flag and an eight-minute penalty. The infraction, coupled with a carry-over penalty from the last road-course event in Vancouver, ended Carpentier's day prematurely, since his penalty time exceeded the time remaining in the session.
Defending pole-sitter Gil de Ferran of Brazil made it two straight poles by touring the 1.527-mile course in 59.421 seconds (92.513 miles per hour). Fellow Brazilian Bruno Junqueira joined him on the front row with a quick lap that was within five-tenths of a second of de Ferran's clocking.
Tagliani moved into P2 on his seventh qualifying lap. He was in fourth place when he shaved three-tenths of a second from that seventh-lap clocking by registering a time of 1 minute, .191 seconds on his 15th lap, but it wasn't enough to move him up the leader board. He fell to fifth in the closing minutes of the session.
"I'm happy to be in fifth," said Tagliani. "Team Player's made some changes to the car at the beginning of the session and we went out an old tires to check whether everything was OK. Then we went in for new stickers, but the track must have changed a bit after we came out because we had some understeer, even though we managed to knock three-tenths off our time.
"Near the end of the session, when we were on one of our last flying laps, the car started to spin in corner 6. We were able to continue but the chance for a hot lap was lost. I think we can win from fifth. I know that it's a very short course here and you don't get a lot of passing opportunities, but we've seen throughout the season that anything can happen."
After Carpentier encountered problems with mechanical grip in Friday's practice session, Team Player's made some adjustments to his car using Tagliani's set-up, but because of Carpentier's abbreviated session, he didn't run enough laps to dial it in properly.
Of the incident in turn 5 that brought out the red flag and ended his day, Carpentier said: "There was some fluid in the corner, but I was already committed into the turn. When the car slid on the fluid it slammed into the wall pretty hard but it went in sideways so everything was OK. It's going to be a bit tough starting from our position on the grid, but I'm going to go all out to make my way up the field. I have nothing to lose."
Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the 100-lap race live on The Sports Network starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
- Team Player's