CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Team Player's preview

Miami, Florida, Sept. 25, 2003 Its been four weeks between Champ Car World Series races for Team Players drivers Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier but the month-long break in the action hasnt dulled their intensity leading into Sundays 135-lap...

Miami, Florida, Sept. 25, 2003 Its been four weeks between Champ Car World Series races for Team Players drivers Paul Tracy and Patrick Carpentier but the month-long break in the action hasnt dulled their intensity leading into Sundays 135-lap Grand Prix Americas on the 1.314-mile Miami street course.

The Miami race is highly significant in the history of Team Players because it is the last time the familiar blue and white Team Players cars will bear the Players logo. The full extent of Canadian government legislation banning tobacco sponsorship comes into effect on October 1, and Players, which is ending its sponsorship following the 2003 season, will be running without the Players logo for the last three races. Team Players will announce shortly what design features it is planning for its cars for the final three events.

For Tracy, the Miami race is the resumption of a torrid battle for the driverschampionship, as he tries to extend his 18-point lead (204-186) over Brazilian Bruno Junqueira, who closed the gap slightly in the last race with a dominant performance on a short, tight and bumpy Denver street circuit that is not unlike the Miami course.

Tracy is well aware that the Miami circuit poses a formidable challenge, but, as his lead in the driversstandings would attest, he is used to racing on the edge and emerging with strong results.

Miami can be a difficult ride, especially if you arent able to get much grip,explained Tracy, who was knocked out of last years race while running third in the closing laps. Youve got three turns in a row 4, 5 and 6 that are usually quite slick and going through them is like walking a tightrope. But Im not one to drive tentatively, and with the championship on the line in each of the four races we have left, Im going to try to continue to do everything I can to squeeze the most out of every lap. Overall, Team Players has had a lot of success on street courses this year, and theres no reason why that shouldnt continue this weekend in Miami.

Tracy has won four street-course events this season, and in all four victories he earned a front-row start. That type of starting position would be a huge plus in Miami, where race-day passing is at a premium because of the short length of the straights. Because of the short length of the track, qualifying will be conducted in single file, and that could be Tracys advantage in a Team Players car that has been among the best at running fast laps this season.

While the driverschampionship may be out of reach for the fifth-place Carpentier, he is aiming to regain the fourth position currently held by French rookie Sebastien Bourdais. I look at the rest of the schedule as a mini-season of four races, and my objective is to get as many wins and podiums as I can, and then well see where I end up in the standings once its over,he remarked. Weve had some braking problems in the last couple of races, but Team Players has had some time to work on that and things should be fine for Miami.

Carpentier, whose spinout on lap 35 ended his day at last years inaugural Grand Prix Americas, added: You cant afford to lose your concentration for even a split second on the Miami street course. Like a lot of street courses that we race on, its bumpy and rather slippery. But thats just something you have to cope with. And with the time off after our stretch of five races in six weeks, Im focused and ready to go.

Racing fans can follow Team Players progress at Grand Prix Americas throughout the weekend by logging on to the teams website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on The Sports Network on tape delay at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais