Madison, Illinois, September 17, 2000 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier matched his career-best performance in the FedEx CART Championship and earned his second podium of the season with an outstanding second-place finish today in the...
Madison, Illinois, September 17, 2000 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier matched his career-best performance in the FedEx CART Championship and earned his second podium of the season with an outstanding second-place finish today in the 236-lap Motorola 300 on the 1.270-mile Gateway oval.
Carpentier, whose previous-best performances in the CART series were second-place efforts on this same Gateway oval in 1997 and the Molson Indy Vancouver street course last year, was the only driver to finish today's race on the same lap as the winner, Juan Montoya, of Columbia. Montoya assumed the lead when Michael Andretti's engine gave out on lap 196. Roberto Moreno of Brazil took third place, while Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani was 14th.
"I'm super happy," exclaimed Carpentier, who has finished in the top 5 six times this season. "Everyone on Team Player's has been working so hard, and this proves that when we have a good car and we have great strategy in the pits, we can run at the front."
Team Player's had Carpentier, who started fifth on the grid, on a three-stop strategy. But Carpentier was among the last to pit on each round of pits stops, as the fuel-consumption strategy worked to perfection. Even though he found himself in 11th place when he returned to the track following the third pit stop. Carpentier was able to cut a 30-second gap that separated him from Montoya to 11.8 seconds with some flat-out fast driving. Carpentier recorded the fastest lap 10 times during the race, with many of the fastest laps coming in the latter stages of the race.
"I was surprised that I actually was back to 11th place after the third pit stop," said Carpentier. "I said to myself, 'How did that happen?' Everybody seemed to have disappeared when I came back from the pit stop. But we were on a different pit strategy during the race and, fortunately, because there weren't any yellows, the Team Player's gamble paid off.
"This podium comes at a good time," added Carpentier. "We've had some tough races lately, but this one is going to be great for everyone's morale because it was really a fine team effort. Right now, I just want to enjoy the day. I had a lot of fun, and that's what counts."
Tagliani, who was eighth off the starting grid, managed to finish the race despite having a rough ride for a good portion of the 236 laps. "The car wasn't running too well on the bumps it was getting stiffer and stiffer as the race went on," explained Tagliani. "Whichever way I was trying to adjust the roll bar, I was never able to get the proper balance, and it made things tough. But I'm happy for Patrick. His performance today is a great motivation for the entire team."
The outcome of today's event further tightened the drivers' standings, as Roberto Moreno moved into second place with 129 points, two ahead of Michael Andretti and eight behind leader Gil de Ferran. Patrick Carpentier climbed into 12th place with 91 points.
The Team Player's drivers return to action on October 1, when Round 18 of the series is run through the streets of Houston.