Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 31, 2002 Getting a good grip on the Milwaukee Mile oval was a difficult task for Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani on Friday, as the Team Player's drivers were well down the field following a pair of practice sessions...
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 31, 2002 Getting a good grip on the Milwaukee Mile oval was a difficult task for Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani on Friday, as the Team Player's drivers were well down the field following a pair of practice sessions in preparation for Sunday's Miller Lite 225. The race is the fourth of the season in the FedEx CART Championship, which is resuming after a five-week break in the schedule.
Team Player's, with Carpentier handling the driving duties, ran testing-session laps on the Milwaukee oval during the schedule break, but the track temperature and weather conditions during testing were cooler and windier than they were on Friday. Consequently, the set-ups that the team used in testing were not overly effective for today's practice.
"The car isn't turning, and with the way the track was today, it makes it quite a challenge to drive when it does that type of thing," explained Carpentier, who still holds the qualifying record on the Milwaukee Mile 20.028 seconds that he set in 1998. "We're doing the same times on both old and new tires, so we aren't using them at all to get traction.
"After the morning session we tried to make some improvements by working on the front end of the car. It improved the front a bit, but it also had a negative effect on the rear, so we just couldn't win. It's a difficult situation when you're a second off the fastest car on a short oval but the good news is that we're only a half second from the second fast time. Team Player's is working on coming up with a radical solution to improve the car."
Tagliani, who is coming off a strong oval-track performance in Japan, where he finished second, got a late start for the afternoon session as his crew spent the break changing the entire suspension. Tagliani said the new suspension improved the car's handling, but problems cropped up elsewhere.
"The car has no grip entering the corner, in the middle or coming out of it," reported Tagliani. "I didn't want to find myself in this type of situation. What it means is that tomorrow we're going to be chasing set-ups while the leaders will be improving their times. It's a tough start to the weekend but you never know what's going to happen when it's single-car qualifying and then a race day that is really unpredictable. Certainly a couple of practice sessions don't make an entire race weekend. We'll just keep plugging away."
The fastest lap of the combined practice sessions belonged to Mexico's Adrian Fernandez, whose clocking of 22.021 seconds was more than a half-second better than his closest rival, Sweden's Kenny Brack.
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Miller Lite 225 throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.