England race energizes Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani Corby, England, September 12, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier got his name into the Rockingham Motor Speedway record book last year, when the CART series paid its...
England race energizes Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani
Corby, England, September 12, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier got his name into the Rockingham Motor Speedway record book last year, when the CART series paid its first visit to the new facility. Carpentier had the fastest race lap around the 1.479-mile oval with a speed of 210.859 (339 kms/h) miles per hour, but he was unable to turn that performance into a race win, a situation he would like to change when he takes to the track this Saturday for the Rockingham 500.
"I would gladly have traded the fastest race lap for the race win," said Carpentier. "I remember that we had a difficult time early in the race, especially on cold tires. But the Team Player's car got better as the race went along. Actually, it was on the 134th lap that we were able to run the fastest race lap, and that was near the end of the race because the race was shortened due to darkness."
Rain and a soggy track combined to disrupt the inaugural Rockingham 500. Practice sessions and qualifying were cancelled and it wasn't until the warm-up session on the morning of the race that teams and drivers were able to run enough laps to get a feel for the new track.
"It's a really unique oval in that it is more like a square, with the turns practically at right angles," said Carpentier. "The straights aren't very long, so there aren't as many passing opportunities as you would find on a more conventional oval. But I liked what I saw of that track last year and if we're able to get in full sessions this weekend I expect us to do well."
Team Player's already has a podium finish this season on a 1.5-mile oval Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani turned in a second-place performance on the Twin Ring in Motegi, Japan, in April.
"Getting the podium in Japan adds to our confidence for the Rockingham race," admitted Tagliani, who has recorded points in each of his last 10 races. "It's been a couple of months since our last race on an oval, so it will be good to race on that type of track again. Team Player's has consistently had a fast car for this type of track."
While Tagliani remembers the inclement weather that settled on Rockingham last year, he also recalls that the race itself produced one of the most exciting finishes of the season, with Sweden's Kenny Brack and eventual race winner Gil de Ferran having an intense battle to the checkered flag.
"If the weather cooperates, it should be a battle to the wire again this year because Rockingham is the type of track where you just try to hang back until that final sprint to the finish line," remarked Tagliani.