CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Player's Preview

GREG MOORE AND PATRICK CARPENTIER OF PLAYER"S CART TEAM HOPING FOR SUNNY DRIVE THROUGH THE STREETS OF HOUSTON Season-finale on tap in Atlantic series Houston, Texas, September 22, 1999 - The last time Player's driver Patrick Carpentier...


Season-finale on tap in Atlantic series

Houston, Texas, September 22, 1999 - The last time Player's driver Patrick Carpentier competed on a street course in the FedEx CART Championship he wound up with his first podium of the season, a second-place finish on the streets of Vancouver a few weeks ago. The last time Carpentier's teammate Greg Moore raced through the streets of Houston - a year ago at the inaugural Grand Prix of Houston - he won the pole.

As they head into this weekend's second edition of the Grand Prix of Houston, both Player's drivers have some positive factors to carry into the 18th event of the 20-race CART season. Carpentier is currently on a streak of three consecutive top-10 finishes that have maintained his aspirations of climbing into 10th spot in the drivers' standings. Moore, meanwhile, enters the race as the defending pole-sitter.

"With three races to go, the goal right now is to finish in the top 10 in the overall series' standings, and I think we have a fair chance of doing that," stated Carpentier, the Joliette, Que., driver who has 61 points, 33 fewer than 10th-place Jimmy Vasser. "We're going to have to be high up in the points in each of these races and if we can continue the successful streak we've had in recent weeks, it's a goal we can achieve."

Like Carpentier, Moore, of Maple Ridge, B.C., is hoping that this year's Grand Prix of Houston is run under favourable weather conditions.

"Last year, in our first race there it rained so hard that the 100-lap race was stopped after 70 laps," recalled Moore. "I spun out early, which was a shame because I had won the pole and felt I could really do well on this street course. I like the layout in Houston and winning the pole last year is a positive factor for our Player's team heading into this year's event. Now, if only the weather will cooperate."

The downpour at last year's race also affected a rousing comeback by Carpentier, who was forced to retire on lap 36 while running in 10th place, a gain of 15 positions from his place on the starting grid.

Moore could rise dramatically in the drivers' standings with a successful race. He is currently in ninth place with 97 points, but is only eight points behind Adrian Fernandez and Max Papis, who share fifth place.

Racing fans can watch the 100-lap race on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 5 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.

Departure of engineer Steve Challis

Steve Challis, who has worked as Greg Moore's engineer since 1995, the year Moore started out with the Player's team in the Indy Lights series, has left the Player's racing program to join another team in the FedEx CART Championship. In his five years as Moore's engineer, Challis contributed to 10 wins in Indy Lights and 17 podiums, including five wins, in the CART series. Alex Timmermans, an engineer with Moore's crew, will replace Challis for the final three races.

Tagliani, Bentham seek to repeat podiums in Houston

While the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship schedule ends with Sunday's race through the streets of Houston, it is definitely not the last time Player's drivers Lee Bentham and Alexandre Tagliani will be on the track this season.

In fact, the duo will be at Sebring, Fla., following the race for testing sessions to determine Greg Moore's successor on the Player's CART Team for the 2000 season. They will join Toronto's David Empringham, who was also selected to take part in the testing.

The Atlantic curtain-closer in Houston evokes fond memories for both Bentham, the Newmarket, Ont., driver, and Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que. A year ago, on the same track, Bentham finished third in the final race of the season to win the Atlantic drivers' crown. Tagliani made it to the second step of the podium, capping a season in which he was fifth in the drivers' standings.

Tagliani has an opportunity to finish third in the standings this season. He trails Buddy Rice by only four points heading into the Houston event. The sixth-place Bentham, meanwhile, is determined to complete the schedule with a flourish.

"It's an important race for both of us, not only because we are very competitive but also because I'm sure we would both like to head into the Player's CART Team testing session on a positive note," said Bentham.

The 45-lap Atlantic race begins at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.


Local Time Eastern Time (+1)

Friday, Sept. 24 Atlantic Practice 9:35 a.m. - 10:05 a.m. 10:35 a.m. - 11:05 a.m. CART Practice 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (Group 1) CART Qualifying 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. 3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. (Group 2) CART Qualifying 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. 4:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Atlantic Qualifying 4:15 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. 5:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 25 CART Practice 9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Atlantic Qualifying 11:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. 12:15 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. (Group 1) CART Qualifying 12:45 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. 1:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. (Group 2) CART Qualifying 1:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. 2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26 Atlantic Warm Up 10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. CART Warm Up 11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. Atlantic Race 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. CART Race 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , David Empringham , Buddy Rice , Greg Moore , Alex T , Lee Bentham