Challenging Chicago circuit is next on CART Series agenda for confident Team Player'S drivers Carpentier and Tagliani. Cicero, Illinois, June 27, 2002 - Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, who are as adept on oval courses...
Challenging Chicago circuit is next on CART Series agenda for confident Team Player'S drivers Carpentier and Tagliani.
Cicero, Illinois, June 27, 2002 - Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, who are as adept on oval courses as they are on road circuits in the FedEx CART Championship, will have the chance to compete on both types of configurations this Sunday at the Grand Prix of Chicago.
While the Chicago Motor Speedway, the site of Round 7 in the series, is a 1.029-mile oval, Carpentier notes that it is actually part road course and part oval, with its long straights and narrow corners making its shape more like a paper clip than an oval. In fact, when Team Player's competed in the Grand Prix of Chicago last year, it experimented with a road-course set-up before reverting to an oval package. That strategy paid off, as Carpentier, following up on his race win in Michigan a week early, finished second behind Sweden's Kenny Brack.
"I find Chicago quite a tough track to race on, even though I've been in the top 6 in two of the three years that we have been racing there," said Carpentier. "You have to be patient and wait for your opportunities, rather than force the issue. But it's the type of track where your opportunities will come. At one point last year, we were two laps down but Team Player's was still able to have a podium finish."
Heading into the Chicago race, Carpentier has the momentum of three top-5 finishes in his last four races, including a fourth place on the 1.5-mile oval in Motegi, Japan. In the process, he has managed to climb into sixth place in the CART drivers' standings. While Carpentier is pleased by the progress he realizes that to contend for the championship "we need to take it to the next level. We can start by improving our second-place finish of last year in Chicago to a race win this time."
Tagliani, whose best performance this season is a second-place finish on the Motegi oval, has had two career races at the Grand Prix of Chicago and has improved each time, turning in a sixth-place effort last year following the ninth-place he recorded in his debut.
"We're determined to have that pattern continue, so the next logical step is getting into the top 5," he remarked. "Based on the second-place finish we had on the Motegi oval and the fact Team Player's has had a fast car for virtually every race so far, I'm convinced we can achieve this goal."
Like his teammate, Tagliani considers the Chicago circuit to be demanding, especially since its unconventional layout for a 1-mile oval makes it is difficult to put down a lot of power for acceleration. Consequently, cars lose a fair amount of downforce and tires are used up more quickly if one has to remain behind a car for any length of time."
In an exception to the usual three-day race weekend, the Grand Prix of Chicago will not have a Friday practice session. The first time the drivers take to the track will be Saturday morning for a practice session, followed in the afternoon by qualifying for Sunday's 250-lap race.
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Chicago throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.