CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterr?y: Player's preview

Team Player's Is Confident It Has Winning Combination As Cart Season Gets Underway On Monterrey, Mexico Road Course Monterrey, Mexico, March 7, 2002 With an air of confidence and optimism Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex ...

Team Player's Is Confident It Has Winning Combination As Cart Season Gets Underway On Monterrey, Mexico Road Course

Monterrey, Mexico, March 7, 2002 With an air of confidence and optimism Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are set to contend for the 2002 CART championship, a 20-race series that begins this Sunday with the running of an 85-lap road-course event in Monterrey, Mexico.

There are several reasons for Team Player's upbeat mood heading into CART's 24th season. The only Canadian-based team in the series, Team Player's made it to the podium in seven of the final 12 races in 2001, a year that included Carpentier's first CART triumph in Michigan and consecutive podiums by Tagliani to cap the season. Team Player's followed this string of success with an off-season testing program in which, Team Player's Technical Director Bruce Ashmore said, "we were able to do everything on our checklist and we answered every question that we had."

Team Player's got off to a sluggish start in 2001, as car reliability and just plain bad luck combined to keep Carpentier and Tagliani out of the points in the first few races. Tagliani says that much of the work conducted in the team's off-season testing program was geared to avoiding some of the early-season problems that occurred in 2001.

"One of the biggest things was actually simulating a race in our last testing at Homestead a few weeks ago," explained Tagliani. "We ran a 200-mile race, simulating pit stops with no yellow flags, and we had absolutely no mechanical problems. That was a good test to give everyone confidence that everything is ready for the start of the season. I know that in racing anything can happen, so I'm not going to make any predictions. We're going all out to win every race and we'll see what happens."

Carpentier, meanwhile, endorsed the recent rule changes made by the CART series. These changes include a qualifying format in which the drivers will go out in one group rather than two. On road and street courses, Friday practice has been replaced by a qualifying session at which the provisional pole-sitter will be awarded a point and be guaranteed a front-row position on the starting grid, alongside the top driver in the Saturday qualifying session.

"We've been fighting for a long time for a fairer qualifying system and this change is a very positive one," remarked Carpentier. "With one hour of qualifying time and a maximum of 15 laps, everyone will be entitled to the same track conditions. Strategy is going to come into play and it's going to be fairer for everyone."

Team Player's, the only team in the 2002 CART series using the Reynard chassis-Ford engine package, is seeking its first CART championship since Jacques Villeneuve turned the trick in 1995.

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Monterrey throughout the weekend 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 1:30 a.m. ET on Monday.

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Bruce Ashmore