CHAMPCAR/CART: Elkhart Lake: Team Player's preview

Team Player'S drivers Carpentier and Tagliani in high spirits as they brace for the rigors of Road America. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 15, 2002 As the FedEx CART Championship continues its most hectic stretch of the season with a race on...

Team Player'S drivers Carpentier and Tagliani in high spirits as they brace for the rigors of Road America.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 15, 2002 As the FedEx CART Championship continues its most hectic stretch of the season with a race on the 4.048-mile Road America circuit, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are decidedly upbeat about the prospect of turning laps on the longest course in the series.

"I know that it's really tough when you have four races in as many weeks, but when you have things going as well as they have for Team Player's lately, you can't wait to get to the race track," said Carpentier, who has won two of the last three races and has surged into second place in the drivers' standings, 27 points behind leader Cristiano da Matta. "I couldn't be happier with the way everything has gone lately. Team Player's has done a fantastic job at every level of the operation and the Reynard-Ford Cosworth package has been flawless."

Tagliani, meanwhile, is also looking forward to competing on the challenging and demanding Road America circuit, which he says "ranks at the top of my list as a favourite track in the CART series." Like his teammate, Tagliani carries some momentum into Round 12 of the 19-race series he has compiled points in seven straight races, one shy of matching his career-best streak set last season.

While Carpentier heads to Road America in a relaxed and confident frame of mind after spending some leisure time speedboating this week, he is well aware that racing at Road America can sometimes be a frustrating experience. Before he produced a ninth-place finish last year on a waterlogged track, Carpentier had been shut out of the points in four previous races on the lengthy, 14-turn track that puts drivers stamina and car equipment to a supreme test.

"In the five years I've raced at Road America in the CART series, I've had just about everything happen to me," admitted Carpentier. "A few years ago, I ended up in the gravel pit off turn 1 and went into a roll that made all the highlights on the sports broadcasts, while last year, we had the bizarre situation with the water on the track (a drainage problem) that red-flagged the race in the 14th lap."

Tagliani, who qualified on the front row at Road America last year, was one of the victims of the timing of the red flag on the 14th lap, and he fell back several positions and finished eighth. Noting that the Reynard-Ford Cosworth package seems well suited to the Road America circuit, Tagliani is expecting strong results on race weekend this year.

As for his recent string of success, Tagliani said he isn't completely satisfied. "I'm happy that we're finishing races and collecting points, but none of the point-paying finishes have been a podium," he explained. "It's OK to develop some consistency, but if you're going to make any move up the drivers' standings, you need race wins and podiums as part of that consistency. It's been only minor things that have kept us from the podium. We just need to fine-tune some things because all the main elements are there to produce a strong result."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix at Road America throughout the weekend 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 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Cristiano da Matta