CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Player's Fontana preview

Team Player's Drivers Carpentier And Tagliani Have Plenty Of Motivating Factors At 2001 Cart Finale In Fontana Fontana, California, November 1, 2001 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier has already won a 500-mile FedEx CART Championship race...

Team Player's Drivers Carpentier And Tagliani Have Plenty Of Motivating Factors At 2001 Cart Finale In Fontana

Fontana, California, November 1, 2001 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier has already won a 500-mile FedEx CART Championship race on a super-speedway this season in Michigan in July and he would like nothing better than to duplicate that feat at The 500, the series' season-ending event in Fontana this Sunday.

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani, meanwhile, would like nothing better than to complete some unfinished business in Fontana, where last year he was headed for a podium finish, only to have the car spin off track and make contact with the retaining wall with less than two laps to go.

These are just a couple of the motivating factors for the Team Player's drivers in the 2001 CART finale. A strong performance in Fontana would put the cap on a solid season by Team Player's, which overcame some early-season adversity and became a consistent contender in 2001. For Carpentier, a race win or podium finish this Sunday would enable him to surpass his points' total of last year and possibly climb as high as sixth in the standings, an improvement of five positions over last year. For Tagliani, whose 65 points are already 12 more than he compiled as a CART rookie last year, a win or podium finish could mathematically boost him into the top 10 in the standings, from a 16th-place finish a year ago.

"It would be great to cap the season with a win at Fontana because that would deliver another message that we're going to be a major force in the 2002 series," said Carpentier. "Besides, the $1 million bonus for winning this race would be a nice reward for all the guys on Team Player's who have played such a big role in our success this year. We've made some good progress this year, with a race win and six podiums, and that's definitely something to build on."

Another motivating factor for Carpentier in Fontana is that it is one of only two races on the CART schedule that he has never finished. Entering the 2001 season, Carpentier had no career finishes in Japan, Road America and Houston, but this year he crossed the finish line at the latter two events. He is hoping that trend continues on the Fontana super-speedway, which, he acknowledges, "hasn't been too kind to me in the three years that I've raced there. But I expect to do well this year. Winning on the 2-mile super oval in Michigan a few months ago for my first CART win adds to my confidence going into the Fontana race."

While Tagliani's exit on lap 249 in Fontana last year cost him his first career podium in the CART series, this time he is heading to Fontana on the strength of a third-place finish in Australia last weekend. Tagliani garnered his first CART podium with a second-place effort in Toronto in mid-July.

"I remember what a disappointing finish it was in Fontana last year, and I'm determined not to let that happen again," said Tagliani. "This time I'm going to Fontana with more experience under my belt and I hope that, like last year, Team Player's is in a position to win going into the last few laps. If that happens, I'm convinced we can get the job done.

"I know I've been saying for the past few weeks that I believe I can get my first CART win by the end of the season. Well, it's down to one race, and I'm going to go all out to come up with a win, not just for myself but for the entire Team Player's crew. These guys really deserve it because they've been so consistent in preparing a competitive car. The last two thirds of the season, Team Player's has been one of the top teams in the series and that's very encouraging for next year."

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 starting at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

-Player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani