CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Team Player's Saturday qualifying report

Cleveland, Ohio, July 13, 2002 With one minute remaining in Saturday's qualifying, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier clocked the second-fastest time of the day, earning a spot on the front row for Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland. His...

Cleveland, Ohio, July 13, 2002 With one minute remaining in Saturday's qualifying, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier clocked the second-fastest time of the day, earning a spot on the front row for Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland. His teammate Alex Tagliani will start six rows behind him, in fourteenth spot.

Brazil's Cristiano Di Matta once again captured the pole position, completing the 3.389-kilometre Burke Lakefront Airport temporary road course in 57.040 seconds (213.909 km/h). Carpentier's final flying lap on his second set of tires was less than half a second behind the leader, at 57.470 seconds (212.309km/h) on his not so unlucky lap 13 of 15. Scotland's Dario Franchitti was third at 57.482, (212.264 km/h), followed by Christian Fittipaldi at 57.499 (212.201km/h) in fourth. Franchitti's teammate Michael Andretti rounded out the top five with a time of 57.645 (211.664 km/h).

Carpentier's second place showing marks the return of Team Player's to the front row of the starting grid for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series. It's also the team's first appearance on the front row in Cleveland since former Team Player's driver Jacques Villeneuve qualified second in 1995.

"We are so pumped," Carpentier said, who had placed no higher than tenth all weekend. "I'm so happy for the team. Team Player's did a great job. We modified the setting on the traction control. We tried something different - and it worked. I had to pass a car on my fast lap, and that was all the car could do. But it was enough." Carpentier's second place showing is especially notable given that his engine blew up during morning practice, and the team's engineers had a scant two hours to replace it.

"I guess we were kind of lucky the engine blew, because this one worked really well," Carpentier noted, adding that although his spin off-course shortly after his hot lap was a less than graceful finish to his fantastic qualifying session, it was ultimately innocuous. "Coming out of Corner 3, I thought I was going to lose it, but I kept my foot on the gas pedal and made it through. But then on Corner 4 I thought 'forget it," and I went off into the grass."

Teammate Alex Tagliani was less than pleased with his not-so-hot hot lap time of 58.058 seconds (210.158 km/h), which came on his first set of tires on lap seven of fifteen. He was unable to improve his time on his second set of tires. "It was a tough day for us, we don't have the car. We've really struggled all weekend. We improved a bit this session but not enough. On my second run we had a problem with the pop-off valve," Tagliani said. "Pat has a good set up so we're going to check his data and use it to modify my car."

Tagliani sees opportunity to perform well at tomorrow Grand Prix of Cleveland as long as he can make it past the first corner. "This track is so wide; I really want to avoid an incident in the first lap, where the cars may be ten wide. One guy goes off, and you can get caught in the crush. I just have to be patient and wait. This race won't be won in the first corner, but it could be lost there."

For his part, Carpentier is happy to be starting next to Da Matta, who has his second consecutive pole position and fourth of the season. "Sitting on the front row means I don't have to go out and run a qualifying time each lap just to catch up to the leaders. I can just concentrate on keeping up with Da Matta, which is no easy feat."

"We've been struggling so much this season, this is such a great morale booster for the team," Carpentier added. "And it's a great gift for Michael Cannon, too."(Cannon, Team Player's chief engineer, turns the big 4-0 today.)

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at Grand Prix Cleveland 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 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-Team Player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Michael Andretti , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti