CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Team Player's Thursday report

Team Player's flexes its muscles at Grand Prix of Cleveland as drivers Tracy and Carpentier are 1-2 in provisional qualifying. Cleveland, Ohio, July 3, 2003 Masterful in handling the intricacies of the 2.106-mile Burke Lake Airport runway road...

Team Player's flexes its muscles at Grand Prix of Cleveland as drivers Tracy and Carpentier are 1-2 in provisional qualifying.

Cleveland, Ohio, July 3, 2003 Masterful in handling the intricacies of the 2.106-mile Burke Lake Airport runway road course, Team Player's drivers Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier were 1-2 respectively for the first time this season in Thursday's provisional qualifying for Saturday night's Grand Prix of Cleveland, the ninth race in the Champ Car World Series.

The provisional pole guaranteed Tracy his fifth front-row start of the season. It also earned him an extra point in the drivers' standings, extending his first-place lead over Brazilian Bruno Junqueira to five points (100-95). Tracy, who is making his 200th career Champ Car start on Saturday, will be taking aim at his third pole of the season during Friday night's final qualifying.

Both Team Player's drivers were quick right out of the box, as Carpentier, the defending champion in Cleveland, was second fastest and Tracy third in practice prior to qualifying. Provisional qualifying turned out to be a fascinating battle between the teammates, as Carpentier shot to the top of the board early in his first stint with a lap of 59.227 seconds. Tracy responded by clocking a 58.405 (129.811 mph, 208.910 km /h) after Carpentier returned to pit lane.

As the rest of the field vainly took aim at toppling Tracy, Carpentier gave it his best shot in his final stint, shaving four-tenths off his previous best lap. While his 58.868 (128.790 mph, 207.267 km/h) fell short of the provisional pole, it did vault Carpentier into the provisional front row, ahead of French rookie Sebastien Bourdais. Canadian Alex Tagliani also had a strong showing, registering a 59.247, good for sixth place.

"I'm happy for Team Player's because all the guys worked extremely hard to get us into the position we were today," said Tracy. "We used a lot of Patrick's set-ups from last year and we improved on it. It's good to get that extra point and to have that front-row spot locked up. But I'm not that sure the provisional pole time will stand up. I think qualifying will be quicker Friday night because there will be more rubber on the track and the temperature should also be cooler."

Carpentier, who has used last year's Reynard chassis set-up on his car a few times this season, said Friday's qualifying session was the first time such a strategy has been successful.

"I'm very happy," he remarked. "We had a good session, and it turned out to be exciting right to the end. I pushed just a bit too much and I spun out on a very quick lap at the end, and at that point, we were ahead time-wise of our quickest lap of the session. As things turned out, Paul had a perfect lap and I just missed having one."

Two practice sessions were scheduled for Friday night, simulating the twilight-to-nightfall conditions that the drivers will have to adjust to for Saturday's race, the first night road-course event in Champ Car history.

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Cleveland throughout the three days and evenings by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on The Sports Network at 11:00 p.m. ET on Saturday evening.

-player's

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais