Long Beach, California, April 14, 2000 Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Memo Gidley were 16th and 19th respectively in the first qualifying session today for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach, the second race of the season in the FedEx CART...
Long Beach, California, April 14, 2000 Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Memo Gidley were 16th and 19th respectively in the first qualifying session today for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach, the second race of the season in the FedEx CART Championship and the year's first street-course event.
Mexico's Adrian Fernandez emerged as the first-day leader, completing a fast lap in 1 minute, 8.636 seconds, a mere six one-hundredths of a second better than Gil de Ferran.
While Tagliani and Gidley, who is replacing the injured Patrick Carpentier, were unable to put in a fast lap that would have edged them to the front of the pack, both drivers expressed optimism that they will make some gains in the second session.
"We still have another practice session tomorrow morning and the Player's team will make the necessary adjustments to make the car quicker," said Tagliani. "Today, I just didn't have a clear lap - even when I put in my fastest lap, I had to squeeze by a back marker. The car had a bit of understeer but we did not want to compromise the hook up. I fully expect we'll be better the next time."
Gidley, who has 10 career CART races to his credit, was making his first appearance with Team Player's after being tabbed to fill in for Carpentier, who is expected to miss the next two races while his broken wrist mends.
"The session went pretty well considering the fact I had to sit out eight minutes in the pits because I spun and stalled on the track on my first qualifying lap," related Gidley. "The tires were too cold when I tried to pass a slower car and that hampered me from putting in a fast lap. I think we'll be fine tomorrow. The Player's crew just has to remove a little understeer without sacrificing the speed coming out of the corners."
Michael Cannon, the Montreal-born chief engineer for Team Player's, was impressed by Gidley in his debut.
"I thought he did real well considering he only got into the car this morning and had to go through the whole process of being with a new team," remarked Cannon. "It's too bad about the spin, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Just the fact he'll wake up tomorrow morning with the first day behind him, will be a positive."
Saturday's session will determine the starting grid for the 82-lap race, which racing fans can watch live on The Sports Network at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.