CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Team Player's Saturday report

Rain wreaks havoc with qualifying; Team Player's Tagliani holds steady with third row start for Miami's Grand Prix Americas. Miami, Florida, October 5, 2002--Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani retained his fifth place qualifying position from ...

Rain wreaks havoc with qualifying; Team Player's Tagliani holds steady with third row start for Miami's Grand Prix Americas.

Miami, Florida, October 5, 2002--Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani retained his fifth place qualifying position from Friday to start on the third row at Sunday's race on the street circuit of Miami's Bayfront Park after heavy rain, crumbling asphalt and puddle problems cancelled a pre-qualifying practice session and delayed the final qualifying session of the Grand Prix Americas.

There was no lap limit on this "wet session" and the starting grid remains unchanged from Friday. Brazilian-born Miami resident Tony Kanaan, who grabbed the provisional pole on Friday, never even made an appearance on the track, his front row start secure. Kanaan wasn't the only driver happy to watch the qualifying from the sidelines: former CART champions Juan Pablo Montoya (1998) and Jacques Villeneuve (who won the last Miami CART street race in his 1995 Championship winning year while racing for Team Player's) were also in the paddocks to watch as New Zealand's Scott Dixon clocked the fastest time of the session. He maintains his spot on the grid beside Kanaan, followed by Japan's Tora Takagi in third and Kenny Brack in fourth. The already curvy and narrow 2.2 km temporary street course was made doubly challenging when heavy downpours created a slick track riddled with deep puddles. On top of that, crumbling asphalt in the corners near the DuPont Hotel had to be repaired overnight, and the rain kept the concrete soft and slick.

"It was a good thing that we qualified well yesterday," said Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani. "Today only the fastest driver could hope to improve his position on the grid and no one did that. There was tar on the track from the repairs on corner 6, and with all the water, tar was seeping through the asphalt, and as each car went over that section, it would spray tar onto the next car. Between the rain, the red flags and the black tar, it was a difficult session. As the track was drying we were confident we could improve our time and maybe shoot for the top spot to sit on the front row, but that didn't happen. Still, starting from the third row is not bad."

Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier, who clocked his fastest lap with a clipped rear wing, will start on the ninth row. "The session was alright, but it was either first or nothing today and we were running third at one point. Just before the last little sprint I thought we had a chance to get it so I left the pit really aggressive. I pushed a little too hard on my last lap and damaged my rear wing. It was still my fastest lap, which is great considering I didn't have the help of a rear wing. It was a good try." Looking ahead to the race, Carpentier is optimistic. "I expect we'll do something extravagant with our pit stop strategy because it is going to be hard to pass on this course. We just need to stay out of trouble and take full advantage of our pit stops."

"I just hope it doesn't rain," said Tagliani. "We need a dry track."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix Americas throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack