Cleveland, Ohio, June 29, 2001 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani moved up the leader board on his final lap of Friday's practice session to put in the 13th best time of the day on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport temporary road course,...
Cleveland, Ohio, June 29, 2001 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani moved up the leader board on his final lap of Friday's practice session to put in the 13th best time of the day on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport temporary road course, which is playing host to Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland in the FedEx CART Championship.
Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier, who has finished 9th, 7th and 5th respectively in his last three races in Cleveland, recorded his fastest lap in the early part of the session, a time that turned out to be the 24th fastest on a day in which the Team Player's crew tried out several different set-ups.
Brazil's Cristiano da Matta was the fastest to tour the converted airport runway. He did so in his last lap of the practice session, clocking a time of 57.905 seconds (an average speed of 130.932 mph), eclipsing the quick lap of 57.961 seconds (130.805) that fellow Brazilian Helio Castroneves recorded quite early in the session. They were the only two drivers to run a fast lap in under 58 seconds.
Team Player's made a number of changes to Tagliani's car following the morning session and the adjustments reaped dividends, as Tagliani was able to shave eight-tenths of a second off his time while running 46 laps in the afternoon. He covered the Cleveland layout in 58.997 seconds on his final lap.
"We had a good day overall," declared Tagliani, who was running at the front until the final 20 laps of last year's event in Cleveland, his first as a CART driver. "We struggled with the set-ups in the morning because the potential was limited. But the changes the crew made between sessions were certainly a step in the right direction. There is a lot left in the car the way it's set up right now. We just have to improve on it, although that isn't going to be easy because the track is so bumpy. Still, there are a lot of places to pass, and I'm shooting for a place in the top 6. We're going to keep pushing."
Carpentier's efforts to improve on the quick lap of 59.544 seconds he clocked on one of his early runs were foiled because he had to struggle with a car that couldn't get much traction or balance.
"Team Player's will have to check out exactly what's wrong," said Carpentier. "We know it's in the dampers and the suspensions, but we have to take the aerodynamics of the car into account. At the end of the session, we made some changes in the suspension, but I didn't really go for a quick time because I was on the same set of tires I'd been using all day. From the way the car was going at the end of the session, we know that things are getting better, even though the time doesn't reflect that."
Following the practice session, Carpentier, an accomplished drummer, joined fellow CART driver Kenny Brack of Sweden to announce their newly formed, four-member band is to be known as R.P.M. Racing Powered Music a name submitted by Michael Roberts of Lethbridge, Alberta, and among 6,000 suggestions the two drivers received from racing fans. The band will play a series of concerts during race weekends, with the first scheduled for Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant in Toronto on July 13 as part of Molson Indy Toronto.
As for the competitive activities in Cleveland, racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.