Lexington, Ohio, August 12, 2001 Team Player's continued its torrid pace in the FedEx CART Championship on Sunday as Patrick Carpentier took third place at the Miller Lite 200, a result that extended Carpentier's streak of podiums to three and ...
Lexington, Ohio, August 12, 2001 Team Player's continued its torrid pace in the FedEx CART Championship on Sunday as Patrick Carpentier took third place at the Miller Lite 200, a result that extended Carpentier's streak of podiums to three and provided the team with a record-setting fourth consecutive finish in the top 3. Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani also maintained a streak of success as he rebounded from a mid-race mishap to finish seventh for his sixth straight points-paying effort.
Carpentier, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Monday, became the third driver in Team Player's history to garner three consecutive podiums, matching a feat accomplished by Jacques Villeneuve in 1995 and Greg Moore in 1998. Prior to his third-place finish on Sunday, Carpentier won the race on the Michigan super oval three weeks ago and followed a week later with a second-place finish on the 1-mile oval in Chicago. Tagliani started Team Player's on its four-podium streak by finishing second in Toronto.
"I'm happy I was able to tie the record for consecutive podium finishes it means a lot to me," remarked Carpentier whose performance on the Mid-Ohio circuit was a career best on a road or street course since his second-place finish in Vancouver in 1999. "But I'm even happier for the team because of the excellent job it did today, especially in the pits. That made the difference in getting to the podium. I wanted to run down the two Penske cars but I wasn't able to. They're really tough to beat on this track."
The 1-2 finish by Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran was a carbon copy of last year's event at Mid-Ohio. With the victory, Castroneves closed to within one point of drivers' standings leader Kenny Brack (104-103). Carpentier, who has collected 50 points in his last three races, moved into eighth place tie with 65 points, just eight points out of fifth, while Tagliani is 15th, 10 points from 10th place.
Carpentier skillfully coped with a loose car early in the race and was running fourth after an off-track excursion allowed Dario Franchitti to squeeze past him. But Carpentier managed to come out ahead of Franchitti on the second round of pit stops and he retained third place for the final 25 laps, which included another caution with nine laps to go.
"I was a bit worried when I saw that last yellow flag with Dario behind me because I had a loose car pretty much all day," said Carpentier. "But we had a better car in corner 1 than he did, and that was a good thing because he was stronger at the end of the back straight."
Tagliani was running sixth after a flawless first pit stop by the Team Player's crew. He made a move on Paul Tracy in an attempt to get into fifth place "but I went in a little too deep and caught some marbles that sent me into the grass," he explained. "It was a big mistake on my part trying to pass on that part of the track." Tagliani did a fine job getting the car back on the track but fell to 13th place.
"After our second fuel stop (during a caution on lap 53), Team Player's had fixed the understeering and I started my charge," related Tagliani. "I passed several cars but ran out of time. Still, all things considered, I'm happy to be able to score some more points and I'm glad to see Pat on the podium again. At Road America next weekend, it will be my turn." Tagliani marked Carpentier's birthday by splattering a cream pie in his teammate's face following the morning practice.
Round 14 of the CART series takes place next Sunday when the teams tackle the long and grueling Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.