CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Team Players preview

Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani have much at stake at CART season-ender in Mexico City. Mexico City, Mexico, November 14, 2002 -- The 2002 CART FedEx Championship winds up where it all began in Mexico with the running of the ...

Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani have much at stake at CART season-ender in Mexico City.

Mexico City, Mexico, November 14, 2002 -- The 2002 CART FedEx Championship winds up where it all began in Mexico with the running of the Grand Prix Telmex-Gigante this Sunday, and Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani both have some added incentives heading into the 73-lap road-course event.

Carpentier, who has been on the podium in the last two races and three of the last four, has 145 points in the drivers' standings, three points back of Brazilian Bruno Junqueira in the battle for second place, which carries a $500,000 bonus. Tagliani, who has recorded at least one point in 13 of the last 14 race weekends, is in eighth place overall with 108 points, which is within 14 points of climbing into the top 5.

"The half-million dollar bonus for finishing second would be fantastic, mainly because it would be such a tribute to the entire crew at Team Player's," said Carpentier. "They've all worked so hard to give me a competitive car for every race. That's an extra incentive to do everything I can to help the team get this second-place finish."

Provided Junqueira does not collect an additional point for winning the pole and/or the most race laps led, Carpentier has his destiny in his own hands, since he could earn second place with the 20 points that he would obtain for a race win. His two race victories this season have been on road courses Cleveland and Mid-Ohio. Next to this year's CART champion Cristiano da Matta, Carpentier has the most points 105 on a road course.

The 2.786-mile Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course is a new venue for the current CART drivers the CART series ran there in the early 1980s, but the track was shorter. Carpentier likes what he has heard about the layout. "It's a fabulous racing venue," he said. "The ride is smooth, and apparently it's not that slick because it doesn't have much dust and dirt gather on it. It should be a great setting for the season finale."

Tagliani expects the competition to be intense at what he described as an "ultra-modern facility," because every driver will be out to finish off the 2002 season with a flourish. "From a Team Player's standpoint, a win in this last race might be enough to get us into the top 5 in the drivers' standings, and that would mean Team Player's would have two drivers in the top 5," he remarked. "And from a personal standpoint, it would mean considerable progress from the 11th place that I had last year."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix Telemex-Gigante throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Cristiano da Matta