CHAMPCAR/CART: Corby: Team Player's race report

Flawless work in thet Team Player's pits propels Patrick Carpentier to a podium finish at the Rockingham 500. Corby, England, September 14, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's gained three positions on his final pit stop and drove to a ...

Flawless work in thet Team Player's pits propels Patrick Carpentier to a podium finish at the Rockingham 500.

Corby, England, September 14, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's gained three positions on his final pit stop and drove to a third-place finish in the Rockingham 500 on Saturday for his third podium of the FedEx CART Championship season and the 11th of his career. Carpentier's other two podiums this year were race wins at Cleveland and Mid-Ohio.

Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani, who carved his way through the field and advanced from 9th to 6th place early in the race on the 1.479-mile oval, had to retire on lap 42 when his car began to cut out. It was the first time in 11 races that Tagliani failed to register a point in the drivers' standings.

Scotland's Dario Franchitti, racing in front of a partisan crowd at the Rockingham Motor Speedway, survived a stall in the pits and a punctured tire to cross the finish line .986 seconds ahead of standings' leader Cristiano da Matta of Brazil, while Carpentier's interval from the race winner was 2.785 seconds. It was Franchitti's third victory of the season but the first of his career on ovals.

Carpentier's leap into third place occurred on lap 173 of the 211-lap race, after a number of drivers headed into the pits for refuelling during the fifth caution of the day. The Team Player's crew, which was flawless in Carpentier's three previous pit stops, did another masterful job, enabling Carpentier to nose ahead of three cars.

"I really have to lift my hat to the guys in the pits," said Carpentier. "We gained positions on all of our pit stops, and when that last pit stop got me into third place, I wasn't going to let anyone get by me, because I didn't want all that great work by the pit crew to be for nothing. I guess I'll have to buy the guys some beer in one of the British pubs.

"The car ran well, although we lacked a bit of speed on the straights because we had so much downforce. Toward the end, I was trying to put some pressure on Cristiano but it's very tough to pass here. I didn't want to be overly aggressive and go off line. I went off line earlier in the race and when I did, the car got really loose."

The third-place finish enabled Carpentier to remain firmly in the hunt for second place in the drivers' standings. With 115 points, the fourth-place Carpentier is within 9 points of Dario Franchitti in third spot and 18 points from Bruno Junqueira, the runner-up to da Matta.

Tagliani's problems, which were related to the battery, surfaced just a few laps before the first pit window, on lap 47."Team Player's set up the car beautifully for the race and even though there was turbulence on the track, the car was running very well in traffic," explained Tagliani. "We had a great start and picked up a few places. With the Ford engine, we weren't worried about fuel consumption so we could run all out, and we were hoping to pick up more positions during pit stops. Then, I was down on power and my engineer told me to come into the pits to change the battery. After checking it out, they told me that it was over. It's disappointing, and I feel bad for all the guys."

Following a three-week break in the schedule, Team Player's heads to Miami for the inaugural Grand Prix of the Americas through the city streets on October 6.

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Cristiano da Matta