CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Player's Saturday qualifying report

Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier to start from the pole in Mid-Ohio for his 100th career CART race. Lexington, Ohio, August 10, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier prepared for the 100th race of his CART career in spectacular ...

Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier to start from the pole in Mid-Ohio for his 100th career CART race.

Lexington, Ohio, August 10, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier prepared for the 100th race of his CART career in spectacular style on Saturday by earning his first-ever pole on a road-course with a masterful late-session run of 1 minute, 6.128 seconds on the tight and twisty Mid-Ohio track.

Carpentier's time was almost one second faster than Friday's clocking that earned him the provisional pole. Before Carpentier's brilliant ride in the final two minutes of Saturday's qualifying, Brazil's Cristiano da Matta, the leader in the CART drivers' standings, had recorded the fastest lap. But Carpentier, who won his third career pole, was able to shave more than two-tenths off da Matta's time, at a speed of 122.925 miles per hour (197.828 km/h). da Matta's last-lap effort to take the pole fell short and he had to settle for third place on the grid when his teammate Christian Fittipaldi recorded the second fastest lap of the session on his last run.

Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani clocked his fastest time on the 14th of his allotted 15 laps, a 1:06.714 (121.831 mph/196.068 km/h) tour of the Mid-Ohio layout that was good for seventh place on the starting grid for Round 11 of the series. Tagliani's seventh place was made all the more impressive because he was running with the race engine after problems occurred with the qualifying engine in morning practice. Engines used in qualifying are built to be faster than their race-day counterpart.

"When we got the provisional pole on Friday, some people were saying that the red flag near the end of the session was a big factor in our winning it," said Carpentier, who picked up an additional point for Saturday's pole and moved into a three-way tie for third place in the drivers' standings. "Team Player's wanted to go all out for the pole today. We weren't satisfied with just the front row. We kept saying that we were going to go for it to prove that we don't need a red flag to run the fastest time.

"(Team Players technical director) Bruce Ashmore and members of the team have said all along that the Reynard chassis is going to be strong on certain tracks and Mid-Ohio is certainly one of them. Sometimes the Lolas are going to be better and other times it's going to be the Reynards. But you have to remember there are more Lolas out there it's about 12 versus 5."

Carpentier's pole on the Mid-Ohio course was the first by Team Player's at that track since Jacques Villeneuve won in 1995. An ecstatic Carpentier displayed his trademark sense of humour when asked whether he would perform better donuts than he did in Cleveland if he won the Mid-Ohio race. "We're French we don't eat donuts, we eat croissants!" he declared.

The pole-sitter has won eight of the 20 CART races that have been held in Mid-Ohio and no race winner there has come from further than eighth on the grid. Tagliani, with his seventh-place effort, expressed confidence that "I can win from that position. When we had to use the race engine for qualifying today, we thought we would have trouble making the top 10. But finishing seventh shows just how good a car we have. The Team Player's cars have been strong all weekend and with some good off-sequence pit strategy during the race, we can be right up there."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio 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 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Bruce Ashmore , Cristiano da Matta