CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Team Player's qualifying report

Tough times in Long Beach qualifying fail to dent the determination of Team Player's drivers Tagliani and Carpentier for race day. Long Beach, California, April 13, 2002 A formidable challenge awaits Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier at ...

Tough times in Long Beach qualifying fail to dent the determination of Team Player's drivers Tagliani and Carpentier for race day.

Long Beach, California, April 13, 2002 A formidable challenge awaits Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier at Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach after the Team Player's drivers had a rough qualifying session today on the 1.968-mile street course and will line up on rows 6 and 10 respectively for Round 2 of the CART season.

Tagliani, whose car had sustained some damage to the undertray at the end of Friday's provisional qualifying session in which he was seventh fastest, reported difficulties with car balancing throughout most of the Saturday session. While his time of 1 minute, 8.720 seconds was almost a full second faster today, most of the field also had improved performances, leaving Tagliani in the mid-grid starting position of 11th.

Carpentier, who was moving up from the 11th fastest time he had recorded on Friday, caught a racing curb about 30 minutes into Saturday's one-hour session and the car subsequently went sideways before making contact with the wall. The incident brought out the red flag and, under this year's new CART regulations, Carpentier was stripped of the best time he had posted in qualifying laps. With the back-up car not fully set up for the track conditions, Carpentier did not return for the final minutes of the session and with Friday's qualifying time (1:09.883), will start from 20th spot on the grid.

American Jimmy Vasser will start from the pole after nipping Cristiano da Matta of Brazil by three one-thousandths of a second. Da Matta will start alongside Vasser after earning the provisional pole in Friday qualifying, a performance that guarantees a front-row grid position.

"Heading into qualifying today, I was a bit concerned about the car, especially with what happened to the undertray on my last lap on Friday," said Tagliani. "I believe it was a factor out there today. All day long, I felt that the balance just wasn't there and we're going to have to work on finding a proper set-up for the race. Our starting position could be better but Team Player's is going to run hard, as always, and we'll see what happens."

Despite having to start from well back on the grid, Carpentier expressed confidence that he can get back in contention. Team Player's will be using the main car because the damage it sustained during today's incident wasn't extensive the front nose and rear wheel bore the brunt of the impact.

"We're going to use the same strategy we did in Monterrey for the first race of the year," explained Carpentier. "We're going to come in early and pit off-sequence, whether there's a yellow flag or not. By coming in early, I'll be away from the field and it will be like doing qualifying runs because there won't be heavy traffic. Another plus for Team Player's is that we still have three new sets of tires that we haven't used yet."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 90-lap Grand Prix of Long Beach throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on The Sports Network on tape delay at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani