First night race in Champ Car World Series produces a torrid finish and a podium for Team Player's Patrick Carpentier. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 31, 2003 The torrid battle on the track more than made up for the chilly weather conditions at the...
First night race in Champ Car World Series produces a torrid finish and a podium for Team Player's Patrick Carpentier.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 31, 2003 The torrid battle on the track more than made up for the chilly weather conditions at the first-ever night race in the Champ Car World series Saturday, as Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier earned his first podium of the season with a third-place finish. Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr., who won for the first time in 126 career starts, was seven-tenths of a second ahead of Carpentier and just over four-tenths ahead of Spain's Oriol Servia, his closest pursuer in the 250-lap event, where the ambient temperature was 7 degrees Celsius.
With a full-course yellow setting up a frenzied fight to the finish in the last 10 laps, British driver Darren Manning and Canadian Alex Tagliani were also podium threats, finishing 1.17 and 2.19 seconds respectively out of the lead.
Team Player's driver Paul Tracy, who spent much of the race in second place, was also poised for a strong finish. Tracy was running third when he made his final pit stop on lap 213, but a problem occurred with the wheel-tightening process and the left rear wheel came loose shortly after Tracy returned to the track. He was relegated to 13th place, a lap down, and managed to gain one position by the end of the race to record a point.
Carpentier has finished in the top 8 in all six races this season but is happy to finally make his way to the podium. "It's great to get that first podium of the season and keep moving up in the standings. This was a really exciting race, with a little bit of everything. Paul (Tracy) and Oriol (Servia) battled each other all night and there were a lot of guys with a chance to win in the sprint to the finish. I enjoyed this night racing a lot. We should do it more often. I can't wait for the next one in Cleveland for the fourth of July weekend."
Carpentier added that he struggled with understeer for a good portion of the race, but the car started performing better in the closing stages. "At one point, it was so loose that I just couldn't get good re-starts, and that made it difficult to gain on the leaders," he explained. "Team Player's made some big changes with the air pressure with the last set of tires and we were able to close the gap a bit. I was trying to get around Oriol (Servia) on the outside, but he was a bit quicker."
While Carpentier's third-place finish moved him into fifth in the drivers' standings with 48 points, Tracy, the leader from day one, relinquished the top spot to Jourdain Jr., who has 77 points and a 10-point margin over Tracy.
"You can't win championships doing things like that," said Tracy. "We need to do a better job as a team. To get 64 points in the first three races and only three points in the next three, it's bitterly disappointing. We were poised for a great battle to the finish and I believe we could have pulled it out at the end, but fate intervened. Obviously, I'm not happy with the way things turned out, but you can't dwell on the points that got away from us. You just have to keep working and making sure that you keep putting the team in a position to win races."
Round 7 of the Champ Car World Series takes place on the Laguna Seca road course in Monterey, California, on June 15.