Team Player'S Driver Alex Tagliani Third Quickest In Qualifying Thriller Monterrey, Mexico, March 8, 2002 - Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani kicked off the 2002 CART FedEx Championship season in fine form by posting the third quickest time ...
Team Player'S Driver Alex Tagliani Third Quickest In Qualifying Thriller
Monterrey, Mexico, March 8, 2002 - Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani kicked off the 2002 CART FedEx Championship season in fine form by posting the third quickest time during today's thrilling first qualifying period of the Tecate-Telmex Grand Prix in Monterrey, Mexico.
Tagliani, who clocked a 1 minute 19.241 seconds (153.828 kilometers per hour), jumped to the top of the scoring chart in the last 14 seconds of the session, but was ultimately forced to yield the top two spots to Adrian Fernandez and Dario Franchitti, who followed him across the scoring line mere seconds later.
"I was ready to earn the first championship point of the season," said Tagliani, "Team Player's ended last season on a strong note and I think we've shown we're starting this one off on the right foot. It was an interesting session, the team worked really hard and although we've only had one test with the Ford traction control, we're seeing the results of all of the things we accomplished during the winter."
Things were more challenging for Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier who was dropped down to the 18th position when his fastest lap was removed from the scoreboard after he caused a red flag late in the session. Changes to the 2002 CART rulebook dictate that a driver's fastest lap is lost for creating a red flag situation.
"I went to quickly into the first turn and the rear end of the car got loose on me," explained Carpentier. It's unfortunate that I lost the lap because of the flag. I think we may have waited a little too long to go out today. If we had been on the track a little earlier, I may have had another good lap on the board that would have allowed me to stay near the top of the field. My car was oversteering quite a bit, it's a good thing we've got traction control because I was waltzing all over the track. It's not the result I was expecting, but there's always tomorrow."
Today marked the return of Friday qualifying at road course races and introduced a revised procedure that awards a bonus point to the fastest driver from each day of qualifying. While each race's pole winner will again be determined by the fastest lap from both Friday and Saturday qualifying periods, Adrian Fernandez, who recorded a 1:18.929 (154.436 kph) to mark today's fastest qualifying time, earns the season's first championship point and is now guaranteed a front row starting spot for Sunday's race.
"We've still got two days to get more out of the car," added Tagliani. "I think there's still improvements that can be made. I'd like to join Adrian on the front row on Sunday and I'm pretty sure Team Player's can get me there."