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

Front row becoming a familiar spot for Team Player's driver Paul Tracy. Monterrey, Mexico, March 22, 2003 For the second straight Champ Car World Series race, Team Player's driver Paul Tracy will start on the outside of Row 1, a front-row ...

Front row becoming a familiar spot for Team Player's driver Paul Tracy.

Monterrey, Mexico, March 22, 2003 For the second straight Champ Car World Series race, Team Player's driver Paul Tracy will start on the outside of Row 1, a front-row position he earned in winning the provisional pole in the Monterey Grand Prix's first qualifying session on Friday. Tracy was also on the front row in the series' season-opener in St. Petersburg last month and he ended up winning the race. It is the first time since 1997 that Tracy has been on the front row for two consecutive races.

Tracy's efforts to secure the pole for Sunday's Monterey Grand Prix were scuttled today when an incident at the end of the morning practice session led to a cracked tub on his Champ car. Under Champ Car World Series' rules, Tracy could have gone to the Team Player's backup car for qualifying, but in doing so, he would have had his provisional qualifying time and his guaranteed front-row starting position removed. Team Player's opted to have Tracy sit out today's qualifying session and retain the outside front-row spot which he will take in the #3 back-up car.

Meanwhile, Tracy's teammate Patrick Carpentier had his day shortened by a terrible cold that eventually hampered his efforts on the track. Carpentier, who was not feeling well when he arrived at the track, was examined by the Champ Car World Series' medical staff on Saturday morning and was given clearance to drive. However, on the fourth lap on morning practice, his car went over a curb and caused irrepairable damage (a cracked tub). Carpentier left immediately following his abbreviated practice session to rest and recuperate in his hotel room. The #32 crew is preparing the back-up car Sunday's race. Carpentier's status for the race start will be evaluated on Sunday morning.

French rookie Sebastien Bourdais will start on the inside front row alongside Tracy the same grid formation as the season-opener in St. Petersburg. Bourdais, who made it around the 2.1-mile road circuit in 1 minute, 15.397 seconds, became the first Champ Car rookie to start from the pole in his first two races. Canadian Alex Tagliani qualified on the inside of Row 2.

"It's disappointing that we weren't able to go out for the qualifying, because I'm sure we could have done better than Friday," said Tracy. "But we didn't want to risk losing the guaranteed front-row position. If we had gone to the backup and something had gone wrong, we would have been jeopardizing our spot on the grid. The rules are there to cover the type of situation that arose today, and Team Player's simply went by the rules. One good thing about not going out in qualifying is that we have fresh tires for the race."

Tracy said he is not concerned about having to resort to the back-up car on race day. "We ran the back-up car in our testing session in Fontana last week and everything went smoothly," added Tracy, the active leader in career victories in the series with 20. "I don't think Team Player's will have trouble setting it up just like the primary car on Friday. We'll have a chance to fine-tune the setup in the warm-up Sunday morning. I feel very confident for the race."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 85-lap Monterrey Grand Prix throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on the The Sports Network starting with a pre-race program at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-tp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais