CHAMPCAR/CART: Elkhart Lake: Team Player's Saturday qualifying report

Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani hits third spot at Road America. Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 17, 2002--Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani clocked the third fastest time in qualifying, earning a spot on the second row for Road America, ...

Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani hits third spot at Road America.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 17, 2002--Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani clocked the third fastest time in qualifying, earning a spot on the second row for Road America, making this his third consecutive top-three start at Road America. Meanwhile, teammate Patrick Carpentier, winner of last week's Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, will start from sixth row on the grid.

As a marked contrast to yesterday, when the fast times came early, there were scant minutes left on the clock for the second qualifying session when the Team Player's drivers scored their fastest times. Alex Tagliani's fast time of 1 minute 42.151 seconds (228.396 km/h) came on his ninth of ten laps, while Patrick Carpentier's fly time of 1 minute 43.296 seconds (227.043 km/h) put him 12th quickest after getting in 5 good laps in the Saturday afternoon session.

Tagliani will start just behind pole sitter Bruno Junqueira, whose lap time of 1 minute 42.151 seconds (229.587km/h) earned him top spot. He'll be joined on the front row by Cristiano da Matta, who secured a spot in the front row when he won the provisional pole on Friday and scored the second fastest time overall. The second row will be the all-Canadian duo of Tagliani and Paul Tracy, whose fastest lap was timed at 1 minute 42.927 seconds (227.857 km/h), three- tenths behind the Team Player's driver.

"We've had a good car all weekend," said Tagliani. "Team Player's improved it each time we came out on the track. The power is good, but we're still going to have to push even harder in the race."

At 4.048 miles, Road America's circuit is the longest course of the FedEx CART Championship series, almost double the length of every other track. That means drivers get longer but fewer laps in a one-hour qualifying session, and therefore fewer opportunities to really let their car go.

"This was a really frustrating session for us," said Patrick Carpentier. "We just couldn't get on the track for any length of time. We've had some gremlins in the engine all weekend, so I had to keep going into the pits. I only had five good laps in this qualifying, so I couldn't really test the engine. We're going to have to go back to square one during the race, and learn as we go along, improving with each lap, just like a Friday practice session."

Carpentier, who sits in second place overall in the drivers' standings and was last week's winner at Mid-Ohio, isn't happy with the car's behavior in Wisconsin. "This is doubly frustrating when you're fighting for the championship," he noted. "How can you score points and defend your spot when you can't even get on the track?"

Tagliani has had some luck with third spot at Road America. In 2002, he started from that position, was in the lead by the first corner and led for most of the race, but he saw his race end when his half-shaft cracked with ten laps remaining.

"I hope we can repeat our start from that year, but not the finish," he said. "If we're going to win, we're going to have to be consistent, and we'll have to have great pit stops. I would really like to win here in Elkhart Lake. I was close to my first win here in 2000 and I almost think the track owes me one, but I'll take whatever it gives me in the race."

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 Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Cristiano da Matta