Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 19, 2000 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani earned the best road-course starting position of his FedEx CART Championship career today when he covered the 4.048-mile Road America circuit in 1 minute, 40.260 seconds...
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 19, 2000 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani earned the best road-course starting position of his FedEx CART Championship career today when he covered the 4.048-mile Road America circuit in 1 minute, 40.260 seconds (145.350 miles per hour), the third-fastest lap of the Motorola 220 qualifying session.
The Canadian driver, a rookie in the CART series, won the pole on the oval in Brazil for the third race of the season, but his best qualifying performance on a road or street course prior to today was his 11th-place effort in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, in mid-April.
"Qualifying third here today gives me just as much satisfaction as winning the pole in Brazil because of the struggle it's been to get a top qualifying position on road courses," said Tagliani. "I'm really glad for the Team Player's crew. Everyone has worked so hard to make this happen. It feels good to finally have this type of success on a road course."
Tagliani will start alongside American Michael Andretti, while the front row is comprised of pole-sitter Dario Franchitti of Scotland, who clocked a lap of 1:39.866 (145.924 mph) and Brazil's Gil de Ferran (1:40.154). Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier will be on the inside of Row 10 after a lap of 1:42.277.
"We tried real hard to get that pole," declared Tagliani. "We pushed it right to the limit. We missed second place by only two-tenths of a second, even though I did my quick lap on my first set of tires. The car is very well balanced and to get a good lap, you need to have the right set-up with a good compromise between top speed on the straight and downforce in the corners."
Carpentier's rough weekend continued today when a mechanical failure resulted in his wheels locking up as he was coming out of turn 14 on a quick lap and the car slid off the track into the tire wall, prematurely ending his qualifying session.
"It's been a tough weekend, with a lot of bad luck, but the Team Player's crew had improved the car quite a bit in this session," stated Carpentier. "The set-up today was definitely better than yesterday. There was a lot less push at the front."
While Carpentier was disappointed by the results, he maintained a positive outlook, remarking with a smile, "At least our position on the grid puts us in a good position for the Hard Charger award (given to the driver who gains the most positions during the race). I'll give it all I've got and we'll see what happens. We've managed to come from well back and be there at the end quite a bit this year. If the car's good, we'll move up during the race."
The only other time this season that Carpentier started 19th was at the Grand Prix of Cleveland last month, and he staged a stirring comeback to finish fifth one of five top-5 performances that he has recorded this year.
Team Player's driver Andrew Bordin, of Woodbridge, Ont., will start from the outside of Row 3 in Sunday's 17-lap CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race.
Racing fans can track the progress of Team Player's this weekend by logging on to the web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the Motorola 220 on a tape delay on The Sports Network at 10:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.