Miami, Florida, September 27, 2003 Team Player's driver Paul Tracy rebounded strongly from a frustrating 14th place on the provisional grid to register the fifth-fastest time in final qualifying Saturday for the Champ Car World Series 135-lap...
Miami, Florida, September 27, 2003 Team Player's driver Paul Tracy rebounded strongly from a frustrating 14th place on the provisional grid to register the fifth-fastest time in final qualifying Saturday for the Champ Car World Series 135-lap Grand Prix Americas on Sunday.
Tracy's performance enabled him to close the gap that separated him from Brazilian Bruno Junqueira on the starting grid. Junqueira, who trails Tracy, the championship leader, by 17 points, had locked up a front spot on the grid by winning the provisional pole on Friday. But Junqueira crashed on the last of his three qualifying laps today and had to settle for the No. 2 position on the grid, beside pole-winner Adrian Fernandez of Mexico. Fernandez took the pole with a lap of 44.253 seconds (93.553 mph) on the 1.314-mile Miami street circuit.
Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's had a luckless day. On his second timed qualifying lap, his car slipped off track in corner 4 and he struck the tire barrier, bringing out a red flag and causing his fastest time to be removed. Consequently, Carpentier will start from the back row of the grid.
Tracy was attempting to improve on his fastest lap of 44.768 when his car went into a spin, about 50 feet from the checkered flag, on his last qualifying attempt.
"That hurt any chances I had for the pole," admitted Tracy, who nevertheless expressed satisfaction with his move of nine positions to fifth on the starting grid. "The car was much better today than it was on Friday. Team Player's made the right adjustments to improve it. All in all, starting fifth isn't too bad, but it's going to be a tricky race.
"As we saw out there today, it's easy to crash on this track. The track is still very bumpy and with the forecast of hot weather, I expect it will be slippery on race day. Still, I'm glad we were able to make up so many positions in qualifying. It would have been extremely difficult starting from far back on the grid."
Carpentier was on the first of his timed laps when his hand accidentally brushed against the engine switch, causing the car to shut off and lose speed. "I was looking to improve my time on the second timed lap because of what happened on the first, so I guess I was pushing too hard and I ended up hitting the wall in corner 4. Fortunately, I didn't get hurt. I felt a little bit of pain in my leg but it went away. It was quite a hard hit."
Carpentier acknowledged that he is not in an enviable position on the grid. But he is determined to make the most of his predicament.
"Team Player's will look at different strategies to try to get us toward the front of the pack," said Carpentier. "I'm going to do everything I can to move up the grid, but there's no doubt it's going to take some luck as well."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at Grand Prix Americas 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 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.