Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 3, 2001 Alex Tagliani worked his way from 25th on the starting grid to record a 12th-place finish in Sunday's Miller Lite 225 on the Milwaukee Mile oval, providing Team Player's with its first point of the season in the...
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 3, 2001 Alex Tagliani worked his way from 25th on the starting grid to record a 12th-place finish in Sunday's Miller Lite 225 on the Milwaukee Mile oval, providing Team Player's with its first point of the season in the FedEx CART Championship drivers' standings.
Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier also produced his first finish of the season, advancing nine positions during the race to take 17th place, although it might have been much higher if he had caught a break on at least a couple of his pit-stop sequences. Sweden's Kenny Brack was the race winner, his second in a row, holding off veteran Michael Andretti of the U.S., and rookie Scott Dixon of New Zealand.
"I'm happy for the Team Player's crew," said Tagliani of the points-paying performance. Tagliani crossed the finish line in 11th place but following the race he was assessed a 1-second penalty for blocking Alex Zanardi in the final laps. The penalty cost Tagliani one position in the race results.
"The reliability of the car in this race will take some pressure off our shoulders," added Tagliani. "We had hoped for more points, but this is a start and it gives us something to build on. The car was running well when I was pursuing a pack of cars, but as soon as I caught them it became difficult to handle in the turbulence. That made it tough to pass."
Part of the Team Player's race strategy was to have its drivers pit off-sequence and hope they could make up some ground with cautions. Carpentier made five pit stops during the race, and on two occasions on lap 104 and 199, he pitted only a few laps before an on-track incident brought out the caution flag. Carpentier was the race leader when he pitted on lap 104, as was Tagliani when he went into the pits on lap 103.
"We just couldn't catch a break during our pit stops like Adrian (Fernandez) did," said Carpentier, referring to the Mexican driver whose luck in pit-stop sequences helped him move up from 23rd to 5th during the race. "It would have been great to have the cautions come out before we had to pit, but I'm happy to be running at the finish. Team Player's did a good job, since we had almost no track time this weekend before the race. We constantly made adjustments during the race, but unfortunately the car was still loose coming out of the corners and hampered our efforts to pass."
With the victory, Brack extended his lead in the drivers' standings. He has 70 points, 23 more than Brazil's Helio Castroneves, last week's winner of the Indianapolis 500 who had to retire on the first lap today after contact with Cristiano da Matta's car.
Team Player's returns to action on June 17 when the CART series hits the 2.346-mile Grand Prix of Detroit street course.