CHAMPCAR/CART: Carpentier fastest on Friday at Mid-Ohio

Patrick Carpentier took advantage of a late red flag to take provisional pole on Friday for the CART Mid-Ohio Grand Prix. Carpentier, who is still unconfirmed at Player's/Forsythe for 2003, posted a fast lap of 121.253 mph with about ...

Patrick Carpentier took advantage of a late red flag to take provisional pole on Friday for the CART Mid-Ohio Grand Prix.

Carpentier, who is still unconfirmed at Player's/Forsythe for 2003, posted a fast lap of 121.253 mph with about a minute-and-a-half to go in the hour-long qualifying session when Tony Kanaan and Toro Takagi both spun.

While Kanaan continued, Takagi could not get going again, bringing out the red and checkered flags together.

So far this season, Carpentier has posted a victory, in Cleveland last month, and sits fifth in the points standings, but his provisional pole was the first he has earned in four years. Taking provisional pole on Friday also earned Carpentier one point and guarantees him a front-row start on Sunday.

"I crossed the line and my team came on the radio and said: 'P1. P1,'" said Carpentier. "Right after that I heard: 'Red flag, Red flag.' I immediately asked my crew if I was still P1 and they said yes.

"Starting up front here is very important so we're happy with the result."

The Canadian has been with the Player's/Forsythe for five years but has yet to re-sign with the team, which may field up to three cars next year.

"I'm really happy with the result," he said. "Like Cristiano (da Matta) said, you need to catch a little bit of a break sometimes."

Points-leader Cristiano da Matta was second-fastest, at 121.154 mph, followed by his Newman-Haas Racing teammate Christian Fittipaldi, whose fastest lap was a 124.394 mph.

Fittipaldi, who will be driving for Petty Enterprises in NASCAR next year, was among the many drivers caught out by traffic, as many waited until mid-way through the session to venture onto the track.

"I think it's pretty obvious when people go out at the last minute - everyone is screwing up everyone else's fast lap," he said. "It creates a chain reaction and it's everyone's fault. Everyone should be mad at each other.

"This is what happens in a turbulent session."

Da Matta, who had been fastest in the morning practice, agreed. "I think everybody's going to be complaining about the same thing in qualifying," he said. "It's a game and everyone's going to do the same thing (go out at the last minute).

"I don't have a crystal ball though, so I don't always know when to go out."

Da Matta has five wins and five poles in 2002.

The top 10 in Friday qualifying included Alex Tagliani, Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Michael Andretti, Takagi, Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Toro Takagi , Cristiano da Matta