Team Player's In Favourable Position In Mid-Ohio As It Shoots For Record Fourth Consecutive Cart Series Podium Lexington, Ohio, August 9, 2001 Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani have the opportunity to continue their surge up the drivers' ...
Team Player's In Favourable Position In Mid-Ohio As It Shoots For Record Fourth Consecutive Cart Series Podium
Lexington, Ohio, August 9, 2001 Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani have the opportunity to continue their surge up the drivers' standings and make some history for Team Player's in the process when the FedEx CART Championship resumes this weekend on the demanding 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car road-course layout, site of the 83-lap Miller Lite 200.
A second-place finish by Tagliani in Toronto, followed by Carpentier's victory in Michigan and second-place effort in Chicago has Team Player's shooting for an unprecedented fourth straight podium. There have been two streaks of three podiums in the team's history Jacques Villeneuve was first, third and first at Road America, Toronto and Cleveland respectively in 1995, while Greg Moore produced a third, first and third at Nazareth, Rio and Madison respectively in 1998.
In addition to having some momentum heading onto a Mid-Ohio track that poses a challenge both mentally and physically, Carpentier and Tagliani will both be running in the second qualifying group. Carpentier earned that right after his two consecutive podiums elevated him to ninth place in the standings. Tagliani, meanwhile, made it into the fast group by virtue of being in the top two among the first group of qualifiers in Toronto, the previous road-course event in the series.
"The timing couldn't be better because we're going back to road courses now and ideally you want to be able to qualify close to the front because passing is difficult during the race," remarked Carpentier, who has collected 36 of his 51 points in the last two races. "Mid-Ohio has always been one of my favorite tracks. It's physically demanding, with lots of up-and-down driving. It's also narrow, and that's why gaining a good spot in qualifying is so important."
Carpentier, who had identical seventh-place finishes in each of his last two races at Mid-Ohio, said he isn't concerned that the one-week break in the CART schedule will apply the brakes to Team Player's momentum.
"Having a week off to rest is going to do all of us some good because we had been racing for six of the last seven weeks under some intense conditions," explained Carpentier. "Now, we have our batteries recharged and we're aiming for four in a row, which would be the longest streak for Team Player's. That's a record I would like to be part of."
Tagliani has a streak of five straight points-paying finishes. He has compiled 38 points in that stretch and charged up the standings to the point where he is only 12 points from breaking into the top 10.
"This is such a competitive series that you really need to be consistent if you want to keep rising in the standings," declared Tagliani. "Team Player's is starting to show some of that consistency, with three straight podiums and five straight races in the points. We felt from the start of the season that we could put together a good streak. We struggled in the early part because of circumstances that were really beyond anyone's control. But everyone just kept plugging away and things have started to turn our way."
Like Carpentier, Tagliani is hoping to use a qualifying session in the fast group as a springboard to running at the front during the race. "Last year, we qualified 16th and worked our way to 9th, even though there were only two cautions in the race, so who knows how well we might be able to do with a spot near the front of the grid," said Tagliani, who finished second at Mid-Ohio in the Atlantic series in 1999.
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 on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
<pre> WEEKEND SCHEDULE - Eastern time
Friday, Aug. 10 CART practice 9:30 a.m. 11:15 a.m. CART practice 1:30 p.m. 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11 CART practice 9:45 a.m. 11:15 a.m. CART qualifying 1:45 p.m. 2:15 p.m. (1st group) CART qualifying 2:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m. (2nd group)
Sunday, Aug. 12 CART warm-up 9:00 a.m. 9:30 p.m. CART race noon