Motegi, Japan, May 14, 2000 Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani, who had garnered points in each of his first three FedEx CART Championship races, saw that streak end today when he finished 15th in the Firestone Firehawk 500 on the 1.5-mile...
Motegi, Japan, May 14, 2000 Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani, who had garnered points in each of his first three FedEx CART Championship races, saw that streak end today when he finished 15th in the Firestone Firehawk 500 on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval.
Tagliani's teammate Memo Gidley, who climbed into fifth place on lap 127 of the 201-lap race, was forced to retire after 182 laps when electrical problems developed on his Player's Reynard. The race was won by Michael Andretti the 39th of his CART career. Dario Franchitti and Roberto Moreno took second and third place respectively.
Tagliani had moved up two positions from his 10th position on the grid by the time he headed in for his first pit stop, after some debris on the track put the race under caution on lap 35.
"Unfortunately, following our pit stop we had a problem with the refueling system and that put me a couple of laps down," explained Tagliani, who fell to 16th. "On an oval, it's almost impossible to recover that much lost time. It's really too bad, but it's just one of those things that you have to accept and move on. The Player's crew is assessing what went wrong to make sure the car's going to work perfectly in Nazareth for the next race."
Despite picking up no points in the drivers' standings, Tagliani continues to lead all rookies in the series with 18 points, good for 10th place overall. Paul Tracy tops the standings with 56 points, 14 more than Jimmy Vasser and Roberto Moreno.
Gidley, competing in his third race for Team Player's as a replacement for the injured Patrick Carpentier, made a strong showing in only the second oval event of his CART career.
"The Player's crew did a great job to keep us in contention on the pit stops," said Gidley. "On our final pit stop, there was a problem removing one of the tires. We managed to get into ninth place when we got back out there, before the electrical failure, ending the race for us."
Carpentier will be returning to action for the next race in the series in Nazareth on Saturday, May 27, the rescheduled date of the event that was postponed because of snow on April 9.