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

Team Player's driver Carpentier eyes $500,000 prize after podium finish at Fontana 500. Fontana, California, November 3, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's earned his second straight podium finish on Sunday with a third-place performance...

Team Player's driver Carpentier eyes $500,000 prize after podium finish at Fontana 500.

Fontana, California, November 3, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's earned his second straight podium finish on Sunday with a third-place performance in the Fontana 500 that enabled him to climb within three points of second place in the FedEx CART Championship drivers' standings. With one race remaining on the CART schedule, Carpentier boosted himself into solid contention for the second spot, which carries a $500,000 bonus.

"Today was an excellent day for Team Player's," said Carpentier, who had a second-place finish in Australia last weekend. "We just need to have a good car for Mexico in two weeks. Everyone is working extremely hard, and we've never been closer to getting into second place than we are now."

Alex Tagliani of Team Player's staged a gritty comeback to garner eighth place in the race, which had 43 lead changes. He fell off the lead lap when the car spun out into the infield grass after another driver appeared to cut him off exiting from the pits on lap 101. Tagliani dropped to 15th place at the time but worked his way back up the field for the 14th time in his last 15 race weekends.

According to CART officials the race, won by American Jimmy Vasser, just ahead of his fellow countryman Michael Andretti, was the fastest 500-mile event in CART history, at a blistering average speed of 197.995 miles an hour (315.423 km/h).

The race was under caution and then red flagged with five laps to go after Dario Franchitti had his engine give way. When the green came out with two laps to go, it was a sprint to the finish, and Vasser promptly passed Andretti for the lead, with Carpentier holding off Tony Kanaan for third.

"After we came out of the last stop, the car got loose, and it was pushing at the end of the race," explained Carpentier. "The Team Player's crew told me to just keep ahead of Tony and make sure we secured the podium finish and the points. It's going to make for an exciting end to the season, with the battle for second as close as it is."

Tagliani, who said his car's performance made it difficult to get into the rhythm of today's race, can still mathematically get into the top 5 in the overall standings as he heads into the final event of the year. He is currently in eighth place, but trails fifth-place Christian Fittipaldi but only 14 points.

The final race of the season, on the 2.75-mile road course in Mexico City, takes place on November 17.

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan