CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Team Player's preview

Consistency the key for Carpentier and Tracy as Team Player's embarks on new Champ Car World Series season. St. Petersburg, Florida, February 20, 2003 Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier, who make their debut as Team Player's teammates in the ...

Consistency the key for Carpentier and Tracy as Team Player's embarks on new Champ Car World Series season.

St. Petersburg, Florida, February 20, 2003 Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier, who make their debut as Team Player's teammates in the Champ Car World Series season-opener on the 1.806-mile St. Petersburg street course on Sunday, are of the same opinion about what will be needed to win the drivers' championship.

"You have to be consistent," says Carpentier, who is entering his sixth season with Team Player's. "Last year, we were in contention for the championship for quite a while, but there were six races during the season where we were unable to score any points, and that hurt our chances. This year, we have to be more consistent and avoid being shut out on race weekends."

Tracy, who will realize a long-time ambition on Sunday, when he makes his first start for Team Player's, adds: "The goal going into the season is, obviously, to try to win every race. You're not going to win them all, but the key is to be consistently in the points. To do that, you need mechanical reliability and you need to cut down on mistakes that can cost you race positions. In the end, the best teams and drivers are going to be running at the front, and I believe Team Player's is going to be there."

One of CART's most seasoned performers, Tracy is embarking on his 13th season as he seeks his first drivers' championship and aims to pad a career-win total that currently stands at 19, along with 48 podium finishes in 190 starts.

"People ask me if there is any extra pressure on me now that I'm racing for Team Player's," remarks Tracy. "There is a lot of pressure on me to do well, but no more pressure than I put on myself, year in and year out. And for me, more than anything, that pressure is a motivating factor. I'm more confident than I've ever been that I can win the championship this year."

St. Petersburg is a new venue for the Champ Car World Series, and because it is a street-course event Carpentier expects the track to be slick, and finding grip in such conditions will be one of the challenges that teams and drivers will have to face. Carpentier, whose two wins in 2002 came on road courses, earned one podium on street circuits last year, finishing second at Surfers Paradise, Australia.

"From what I have seen of the St. Petersburg circuit, it should be a good one for racing," states Carpentier. "It's a new experience for all of us, but I've never had much trouble getting adjusted to a new venue. Usually, after 15 or 20 minutes of the first practice session, I have a good feel for the track."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 105-lap Grand Prix St. Petersburg 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 at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-tp-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy