CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Team Player's race report

Team Player'S driver Patrick Carpentier is number one in 100th career race in CART series. Lexington, Ohio, August 11, 2002 In the 100th race of his CART career, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier capped a perfect weekend with a dominant...

Team Player'S driver Patrick Carpentier is number one in 100th career race in CART series.

Lexington, Ohio, August 11, 2002 In the 100th race of his CART career, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier capped a perfect weekend with a dominant victory from the pole Sunday on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio road course, one of the most intricate and physically draining tracks in the CART series. Carpentier's race win, combined with his pole, provisional pole and most race-laps led, gave him the maximum 23 points for the weekend and vaulted him into second place in the drivers' standings, within 27 points of leader Cristiano da Matta, of Brazil.

Carpentier won from the pole, leading 89 of the 92-lap race. For much of the race, Carpentier, who recorded his second victory of the season and third of his career, was challenged by da Matta. The outcome was decided on lap 69, when da Matta pulled to less than a car length and looked down the inside as Carpentier braked on the Carousel turn. Da Matta was unable to get by and as he braked his car slid off the track into the tire wall. After the re-start, Carpentier consistently turned fast laps and widened his lead over da Matta's teammate Christian Fittipaldi and Michael Andretti for a margin of victory of 3.213 seconds.

Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani drove to a seventh-place finish and extended his consecutive points-paying streak to seven races, one shy of matching his career-best string.

"It's been an absolutely perfect weekend," said Carpentier, who celebrates his 31st birthday on Tuesday (August 13). "The engineering crew, the mechanics, the pit crew, the Ford-Cosworth engine and the Reynard chassis were all outstanding. This race was even tougher than I thought it was going to be. It's so physically demanding, but my only focus was to keep the car on the track, keep putting in fast laps and not make any mistakes."

Carpentier, who made three seamless pit stops, said he saw da Matta trying to make his move to the inside on lap 69, adding that "I went really deep in braking. I'm not sure what happened with Cristiano at that point. I don't think I cut him off if I did, it was certainly unintentional. On the re-starts today, I knew that Team Player's had a better car, although after 15 or 20 laps, our closes competitors closed the gap a bit. But I had a bit of a cushion, and everything worked out."

Carpentier, who had vowed after winning the pole that he would run a lap of the Mid-Ohio track naked if he won the race, relented somewhat following his victory. "I didn't say when I would do it I guess I'll wait until midnight before I do it," he said with a grin.

While Tagliani's performance got him into the top 7 for the fifth straight race, he played down his string of success, remarking, "I need to do better than I'm doing right now. I need a podium and, hopefully we can duplicate Patrick's results at the next race on Road America. Today, we just weren't able to get a good hold on the set-up and that prevented us from getting a better finish. It was an OK race, nothing more. You just have to accept sometimes you'll have races like that."

With the CART schedule in a crucial segment of the season - races on four consecutive weeks - Team Player's is back in action next Sunday (August 18) on another of the technically challenging courses, the fabled 4.048-mile Road America layout at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta