Grand Prix of Monterey: Team Player's out to tame Laguna Seca road course that is "tough on cars and drivers alike" Monterey, California, June 12, 2003 - Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier has the record book as reinforcement when he ...
Grand Prix of Monterey: Team Player's out to tame Laguna Seca road course that is "tough on cars and drivers alike"
Monterey, California, June 12, 2003 - Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier has the record book as reinforcement when he stresses the importance of earning a good qualifying position on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca road course, the venue for Sunday's Round 7 in the Champ Car World Series.
"Qualifying is a big factor at Laguna because there aren't a lot of passing opportunities during the race," said Carpentier. "Pit strategy comes into play quite a bit." The pole-sitter has won on the twisty and technically demanding Laguna Seca layout in four of the last five years and six of the last eight, dating back to 1995, when Jacques Villeneuve, in his championship season with Team Player's, won the pole but finished 11th.
Carpentier's teammate Paul Tracy has won twice at Laguna Seca - from the pole in 1994 and from the front-row spot beside the pole-sitter in 1993. But Tracy hasn't tasted victory on that track since his consecutive triumphs, although he did make it to the podium again with a second-place finish in 1995 and fell just short when he was fourth in 1999.
"This track is tough on cars and drivers alike," said Tracy, who for the first time this season is trailing in the drivers' standings heading into a race - he is 10 points back of Mexico's Michel Jourdain. "It has plenty of elevated areas, lots of twists and turns and, of course, The Corkscrew, which really shakes the cobwebs. It's a challenging track, with a lot of history to it, and I always look forward to racing there. Every year, I tell myself that I'm going to get back to my winning ways at Laguna, and maybe this is the year."
If momentum means anything, Carpentier has some of that on his side. He is fresh off his best performance of the season - a third-place podium on the Milwaukee Mile oval - and he has finished in the top 7 in each of the last four races. Collecting at least five points in every outing thus far, Carpentier, who leads in laps completed (845 of 849), ranks fifth in the drivers' standings. And while Laguna Seca has been troublesome for him in the past, he recorded his best career finish there last season, a fifth- place effort.
"We've been able to get closer to the podium in just about every race, so the key is to keep progressing and get that first win of the season," said Carpentier, who last year used a pair of fifth-place finishes during the west coast swing through Monterey and Portland as a springboard to his first two victories - at Cleveland and Mid-Ohio. "Consistently being in the points, as we have, is one way to keep moving up in the standings, but you also have to pick ups some wins if you're going to be a serious threat for the championship. It would be great to put up the first win on a tough track like Laguna."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Monterey throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on the The Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.