Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier takes off and wins his second CART series race and first road circuit victory. Cleveland, Ohio, July 14, 2002- Lynyrd Skynrd may have sung the American national anthem to start this year's Grand Prix of ...
Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier takes off and wins his second CART series race and first road circuit victory.
Cleveland, Ohio, July 14, 2002- Lynyrd Skynrd may have sung the American national anthem to start this year's Grand Prix of Cleveland, but it was the Canadian anthem at the end of the race that sounded sweetest for Team Player's, as Patrick Carpentier took his place atop the podium for his first victory of the Fed Ex CART 2002 Championship and his first career win on a road course.
With a superb combination of great driving, great pit work and great strategy, the driver from Joliette, Quebec captured his second career checkered flag, nimbly fending off challenges from second-place driver Michael Andretti and fellow Canadian Paul Tracy, who rounded out the top three. The victory gives Carpentier twenty points, and moves him up to fourth place in the driver's standings. Fellow Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani also had a valuable points paying finish with his fifth place, his best finish of 2002 Championship season.
"We went from our worst weekend (in Toronto two weeks ago) to our best weekend ever," Carpentier said. "This is a team sport, and we won as a team. Ford did everything right this weekend. They gave everything I wanted. The guys gave me a perfect car. It was so fast. I lift my hat to them. We changed the engine this morning, to make sure we had a fresh engine, the best one, and that was a good move. Team Player's was also just so fantastic in the pit stops. They were incredibly fast."
Carpentier began the race in second spot on the grid, beside points-leader Cristiano Da Matta. The Brazilian retired early from the race with technical problems. Dario Franchitti then briefly held the lead, was passed by Carpentier, and then also retired. Carpentier then never relinquished his hard-earned lead, even coming out of the pits.. "My strategy as a driver was to focus on racing instead of on worrying about anything else. And our strategy as a team was to run longer than the other teams, and that really paid off. With a lighter fuel load, the car runs better on this course and doesn't bounce as much on the bumps. It all worked perfectly."
Alex Tagliani's fifth place finish earned him a spot on the podium, as the most improved driver of the weekend (moving 9 spots from fourteenth to fifth). "Pat drove a great race, and the win is great for Team Player's," Tagliani said. "I'm pretty pleased with the team effort this weekend. Even though the car improved all weekend, in the end it was not competitive enough to win. We're going to have to keep working on it. I hope we are more competitive in Vancouver."
Barely moments after his win, Carpentier was asked to look ahead to his next race, in front of a home crowd at the Vancouver Indy in two weeks. "This win really takes the pressure off heading into Vancouver. I'll try to do it again," he promised with a laugh.
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Vancouver Indy throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch live on the The Sports Network starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.