Fontana, California, October 26, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are primed to finish off the 2000 FedEx CART Championship season with a flourish on Fontana's 2.029-mile super oval, where car reliability and driver...
Fontana, California, October 26, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are primed to finish off the 2000 FedEx CART Championship season with a flourish on Fontana's 2.029-mile super oval, where car reliability and driver stamina will be put to a stern test.
"We've battled hard all season and we're certainly not going to let up now," declared Carpentier, who has seven top-5 finishes this season, including a fourth place in CART's first super-speedway event of the season, at Michigan in July. "We still have a shot at finishing in the top 10 in the standings and we have a chance to finish with more than 120 points. That's not too bad considering I missed three races because of an injury."
Carpentier has made two career starts at Fontana but encountered some misfortune both times and was unable to complete the 250 laps. The setbacks haven't diminished his enthusiasm for another crack at winning the Fontana marathon and the $1 million purse that goes with it.
"We had a good race on the super oval at Michigan and Fontana is a lot like that track, except the banking isn't as steep and you have more grip on the track," Carpentier explained. "Team Player's has been close quite a few times this season, and maybe Fontana is the place where we'll be able to put it all together and finish off the season in great style."
Tagliani will be getting his first look at the California Speedway super oval, but he acquired some valuable experience on this type of track with the July race in Michigan. In fact, Tagliani led the race twice and was ahead when contact forced him out with 90 laps to go.
"The fact I was able to hold my own and run at the front in Michigan is a confidence-builder for me heading to Fontana," remarked Tagliani. "The performance in Michigan showed that Team Player's has a car that is extremely competitive. So many things come into play on a super oval because there are more pit stops and more laps to run. You need a really sound, well-executed race plan and, as a driver, you need to be strong, physically and mentally. This is the final race of the year, so I'm hoping we've saved the best for last."
The Fontana race will decide the drivers' championship. The contenders for the title are current leader Gil de Ferran, who has a five-point edge over Adrian Fernandez. Paul Tracy and Kenny Brack are longshots but still in the hunt they are tied for third, 19 points behind de Ferran. Carpentier enters the race with 101 points, 11 behind the 10th-place Cristiano da Matta.
Following Friday's practice session at Fontana, Carpentier and Team Player's will compete in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge. Team Player's is one of five CART teams who qualified for the competition by demonstrating pit-stop proficiency throughout the 2000 season. The team awarded the most points for making the fastest pit stops wins the Challenge.
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 race live on The Sports Network, starting at 2:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.