CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Team Player's race report

Close but not quite for Team Player'S briver Carpentier in quest for second-place finish in CART standings. Mexico City, Mexico, November 17, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier fell just short in a bid for his third consecutive...

Close but not quite for Team Player'S briver Carpentier in quest for second-place finish in CART standings.

Mexico City, Mexico, November 17, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier fell just short in a bid for his third consecutive podium, when he drove to a fourth-place finish on Sunday in the final race of the 2002 FedEx CART Championship, the Mexico Grand Prix Telmex-Gigante on the 2.786-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course.

Just ahead of Carpentier at the finish line was Bruno Junqueira, assuring the Brazilian of second place in the drivers' standings and the accompanying $500,000 bonus. Sweden's Kenny Brack won the race, his first victory of the season, and the first of his CART career on a road course. He finished ahead of CART champ Cristiano da Matta. Alex Tagliani of Team Player's finished 10th, marking the 14th time in his last 15 races that Tagliani has earned points.

Carpentier, who took third place in the driver standings the best performance of his CART career needed to overcome Junqueira's five-point lead heading into the race. Prospects for achieving that goal heightened on the first lap, when the polesitter Junqueira lost several positions as he went off into the grass. But Junqueira, in ninth after the incident, steadily made his way back up the field, and moved into third after the final pit stop of the 73-lap race.

"We were hoping to get second in the championship right until the end," said Carpentier. "But, to be honest with you, Bruno put in quite an effort in the last few races, and he was fast here all weekend. I'm pleased by what we were able to accomplish as a team this season. Third place in the standings is the best season of my career so far. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to being back out there next season giving Bruno and the rest of the CART drivers a run for their money."

Carpentier, who said the pace of the race, in front of a packed house at this new CART venue, was incredibly fast, had an outstanding final pit stop under caution on lap 52 to move into third place. But on the re-start on lap 57, Junqueira was able to get past him. "Bruno passed me on the last corner coming into the front straight," explained Carpentier. "I was having trouble all day getting speed in that corner."

Tagliani was in eighth place until the final two laps, when gearbox problems surfaced, slowing the car down to an extent that he was passed by two drivers. "The car was running well at the start, but then we had some problems getting the tire temperature regulated," said Tagliani, who finished eighth in the driver standings. "The temperature was going way too high every time we changed tires.

"The goal I set coming into this season was to finish in the top 5 in the drivers' standings. I'm disappointed we fell a bit short, but you can look back and say that if things had been different in just one race it may have been the difference between ending up 5th or 8th."

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta