CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Team Player's preview

Grand Prix of Long Beach: Team Player's sets its sights on completing a rare "hat trick". Long Beach, California, April 10, 2003 Winning three straight races to start the season is no easy feat in any motorsports series, but Team Player's is in...

Grand Prix of Long Beach: Team Player's sets its sights on completing a rare "hat trick".

Long Beach, California, April 10, 2003 Winning three straight races to start the season is no easy feat in any motorsports series, but Team Player's is in a position to pull off this rare "hat trick" at Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Champ Car World Series event run on the city's1.968-mile street circuit.

With victories in the first two races of the season both by Paul Tracy Team Player's can make it three in a row for the first time in its history, if Tracy or teammate Patrick Carpentier takes the checkered flag in the 90-lap Long Beach event. Should Tracy produce another victory, he would be the first major motorsports series driver to open a season with three straight triumphs since Al Unser Sr. in the 1971 USAC Champ Car series.

Tracy has won three consecutive races in the Champ Car series before with Team Green in 1997 but that fast start did not lead to a drivers' championship for Tracy, who is determined to garner that elusive first drivers' title in 2003.

"That's why, going into Long Beach, I'm not even thinking in terms of three straight," said Tracy, who holds an 11-point lead (43-32) over Mexico's Michel Jourdain atop the drivers' standings. "Putting those big points in the bank early is important because I've had some slow starts in the past, and that makes it tough to make up ground. But I just try to take each race as it comes and deal with whatever situation occurs. It's been such a fantastic team effort so far with Team Player's, and there is a great air of confidence that we can stay on a roll."

If past performance at Long Beach is a measuring stick, Tracy is in a favourable position. He has two career wins at Long Beach he bagged his first career victory in the series at this venue in 1993 and came from 17th place to win in 2000. Plus, he is perfectly at home on the tight, narrow Long Beach circuit, noting that "you would be hard-pressed to find a better race venue."

The Long Beach street course hasn't been nearly as kind to Carpentier. Mechanical problems, racing incidents and just plain bad luck have combined to keep him off the scoresheet in five previous races at this California venue. Despite the setbacks, Carpentier, who had two excellent days of testing on the Arizona Motorsports Park road course earlier this week, is exuberant about Sunday's race.

"I look at Long Beach as the real start to my 2003 season," remarked Carpentier, who had identical eighth-place finishes in the first two races of the season. "There were circumstances in each of those first two races that prevented us from being where we want to be, which is on the podium. But now, I've fully recovered from the virus and infection that affected my vision during the last race weekend in Mexico, and it's like a fresh start for me. Team Player's has put a competitive car on the track the first two races, and I have no doubt that will continue in Long Beach."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Long Beach 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 The Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-tp-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Al Unser Sr. , Michel Jourdain