CHAMPCAR/CART: Player's drivers on a roll heading for aportland

Portland, Oregon, June 22, 2000 The first permanent road course event of the FedEx CART Championship season is on the agenda at Portland this weekend, and Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani seem well positioned to continue...

Portland, Oregon, June 22, 2000 The first permanent road course event of the FedEx CART Championship season is on the agenda at Portland this weekend, and Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani seem well positioned to continue their recent string of success.

Carpentier has been a model of consistency thus far, finishing in the top 5 in three of the four races in which he has competed, including the third spot on the podium in Milwaukee earlier this month. Tagliani, meanwhile, earned points in his first three races, struggled in the next three and rebounded strongly with a sixth-place finish just behind Carpentier in last Sunday's race in Detroit.

After racing on ovals and street courses through the first three months of the schedule, many of the CART drivers Carpentier and Tagliani included - are eagerly awaiting the first road course event.

"I've always liked racing in Portland because it's a permanent road course and that's the type of track I really enjoy," said Carpentier, who has two consecutive ninth-place finishes on the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway configuration. "The Player's team made a lot of progress on road courses last season, and I expect that will continue this year, especially with the Ford/Cosworth engine, which should really give us some power on the two long straights in Portland."

Gradually rounding into peak form following his return from a wrist injury, Carpentier said he is pleased he has been able to contend in virtually every race.

"Being in the top 5 in three of my four races has helped me close in on the top positions in the standings," he remarked. "The series is so competitive this year that if you can stay in contention in every race you stand a good chance of being right up there in the standings and you're also in a position to win a race if everything happens to break right for you."

Tagliani is in the thick of a tight, three-way battle in the rookie standings. Tagliani and Spain's Oriol Servia are tied for second place with 26 points, 13 back of Sweden's Kenny Brack. Encouraged by last weekend's performance, Tagliani is determined to continue his surge up the rookie standings.

"One of the positive aspects of our race in Detroit last weekend was how well the Player's crew kept working with the set-ups and eventually we came up with the right one," explained Tagliani. "That was a big factor in being able to finish sixth, even though we had started quite far back on the grid. Now we know we have a good car for Portland and we're looking forward to having a strong race on a permanent road course.

"Personally, it will be my first opportunity to race competitively there, and I intend to find out as much about as I can so I'll be well prepared for the challenge."

Racing fans can watch the 112-lap Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 live on The Sports Network at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Oriol Servia , Kenny Brack