Long Beach, California, April 16, 2000 Competing in only the second race of his FedEx CART Championship career, Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani drove to an impressive fourth-place finish today at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Tagliani's ...
Long Beach, California, April 16, 2000 Competing in only the second race of his FedEx CART Championship career, Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani drove to an impressive fourth-place finish today at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Tagliani's teammate Memo Gidley, replacing the injured Patrick Carpentier, spent almost half the race in contention before having to retire with a fuel rig problem on lap 38. Canadian Paul won the race, nipping Brazil's Helio Castro-Neves and Jimmy Vasser of the United States.
"I thought we had the fastest car out there today, but it was so hard to pass that we just ran out of laps to be able to get on the podium," said Tagliani, who delivered a ninth-place finish in his CART debut at Homestead last month. "I wanted a podium finish badly for the Player's team because they gave me such a great car. With all the traffic around me I was working the brakes a lot and with five laps to go I ran into some problems with them.
"I'm happy with the results. I'm still a rookie, with only two Champ car races of experience and I'm going to have many more opportunities to make it to the podium."
Tagliani, who won two races at Long Beach during his Atlantic career, had qualified 11th on the starting grid. But a combination of flawless passing manoeuvres, precision pit stops and some attrition on the track enabled Tagliani to steadily improve his position.
"We're very proud of the way Alex drove in this race," remarked Neil Micklewright, Vice-President of Operations for Team Player's. "Long Beach is a strange place where anything can happen but Alex handled himself with remarkable poise."
After the first two races of the season, Tagliani has compiled 16 points, putting him in seventh place overall and giving him the lead among rookies in the drivers' standings.
Gidley, who gave a strong account of himself in the race, was primed for a strong finish before the fuel problem arose.
"At this point, the team thinks an air bubble caused the problem, because only one gallon of fuel got into the fuel tank when we pitted," explained Gidley. "It's really a shame. We were looking good, the car was fast and it was getting good fuel mileage."
The next race in the CART series is the Rio 200 on the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway oval in Brazil on April 30.