CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Team Player's race report

Team Player'S Alex Tagliani fourth at Grand Prix Americas in front of a star-studded Miami crowd. Miami, Florida, October 6, 2002Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani grabbed twelve crucial points as he finished in fourth place, a scant 2.597 ...

Team Player'S Alex Tagliani fourth at Grand Prix Americas in front of a star-studded Miami crowd.

Miami, Florida, October 6, 2002Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani grabbed twelve crucial points as he finished in fourth place, a scant 2.597 seconds behind winner Cristiano da Matta, at the Grand Prix Americas on the street circuit of Miami's Bayfront Park. Teammate Patrick Carpentier managed to stave off an early hit by Mario Dominguez, only to retire after 34 laps of the 2.2 kilometre twisted, narrow temporary street course.

Brazil's Cristiano Da Matta not only captured his seventh victory of the year, but also clinched the 2002 CART FedEx Championship title, as team owner Paul Newman and other celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Gloria Estefan, Boys II Men, Lenny Kravitz and former CART Champion Juan Montoya watched on. Christian Fittipaldi finished second, followed by American Jimmy Vasser and Team Player's Alex Tagliani, who moves from ninth to seventh place in the overall driver championship standings.

"We are happy with the result here," said Tagliani. "Team Player's really improved the chassis since Denver. I was able to pass early in the race and move up a spot, but it was very tough to pass here. After the first pit stop, the tire pressure was too high, the car kept sliding and I had no grip. The car kept catching me by surprise. It improved after a few laps but I touched the wall a few times for sure. I pitted early, so as the leaders came out of their first pit stop later on new tires, I was on worn tires and could not catch them."

With only seven laps remaining, Tagliani skillfully avoided disaster. "In turn 1 (one) I tried to go inside and pass Paul (Tracy) because I knew he was having some trouble with braking. Then I saw Jimmy (Vasser) coming in real aggressively, so I backed off. Jimmy went by me, hit Tracy, spun him around and out of the race. All in all a fourth place finish isn't too bad."

"I was disappointed even before the race began," acknowledged Team Player's Patrick Carpentier, who started the race on the ninth row. "We were not able to set up the car properly because we never seemed to get enough of a run in practice or qualifying. I know we had a fast car, but come race time, my car was simply not the best one on the track. It was under steering too much. We usually qualify better than this. Starting in the back, things will happen." Things like being hit by another driver. "When Mario (Dominguez) took me out early on, that was the beginning of the end of my race. The marshals then came and pushed me into the pits instead of back on the track. After I was hit, I kept driving even though I knew I was going nowhere fast. The track kept getting slower as the race wore on. I was going too fast on that corner on my last lap (35), and I tried to swerve. When I saw I was not going to make it to the runoffs I put my wheels back to hit the tire wall rather than the concrete wall. This was is still a good event especially for fans, it's just new and will surely improve next year. This was a weekend to forget for the #32 side. We will do better in Australia."

"I'm looking forward to Australia," added Tagliani. "It's very similar to Montreal with long straights and curbing. With the improved chassis we'll do well there."

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Mario Dominguez , Paul Newman , Cristiano da Matta