CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterey: Team Player's Friday report

Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani eye front of the grid after placing 3rd and 7th in provisional qualifying at Laguna Seca. Monterey, California, June 7, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier was less than two-tenths of a ...

Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani eye front of the grid after placing 3rd and 7th in provisional qualifying at Laguna Seca.

Monterey, California, June 7, 2002 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier was less than two-tenths of a second from taking the provisional pole in Friday's qualifying session on the Laguna Seca road course for the Grand Prix of Monterey, the fifth race of the season in the FedEx CART Championship on Sunday.

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani, who had to resort to the Team Player's backup car after an incident in the morning practice session, delivered a strong performance by clocking the 7th-fastest time in the qualifying session, which was run in cool and windy conditions. Sweden's Kenny Brack earned the provisional pole, putting in a fast lap of 1 minute, 0.66 seconds and 114.969 miles per hour (185.052 kms/h) near the end of the session. His fast lap knocked Brazil's Cristiano da Matta (1:10.103) down to second place.

Carpentier, who sped around the 2.238-mile road course in 1:10.218 (114.74 mph/184.651 kms/h) on his next-to-last flying lap, clenched his jaw and went all out for the provisional pole on his final lap. Carpentier and Christian Fittipaldi were the only two drivers left on the circuit who had not used their maximum 15 qualifying laps.

"I was trying my best to get that pole," said Carpentier. "I knew my lap time to that point was about equal to my best lap, so I was trying to gain that extra two-tenths of a second. But just off turn 10, the car went a bit loose and I put two wheels off and it just got away. I kept my foot on the floor so the traction control would kick in, but once you start going backwards like that, it's too late for the traction control. I damaged some of the rear suspension and front wing but nothing serious. My guys will get it all fixed up for tomorrow."

"The looseness of the car means that there is still some room for improvement, and I'm convinced that we can be even faster in Saturday qualifying. Team Player's is in a position to be able to get a front-row position and we're going to do everything we can to try to get it."

Tagliani's fastest qualifying lap of 1:10.652 and 114.035 mph (183.517 kms/h) was almost one second better than his top time in the morning practice. That session saw Tagliani come in contact with the car of Fittipaldi, who had slowed on the other side of the crest as Tagliani was coming into the turn 7 Corkscrew Curve, the fastest section of the track. While Tagliani's car was badly damaged by trying to avoid contact with Fittipaldi, his quick reaction prevented a more serious incident.

"Christian's car had slowed down for some reason," explained Tagliani. "I only saw him at the last minute. Our Team Player's primary car was damaged when I hit the wall trying to avoid Christian, but it could have been much worse."

The Team Player's crew quickly prepared the backup car for the qualifying session and Tagliani made steady progress in working his way up to the seventh fastest on the leader board.

"The team did a fantastic job getting things together in a hurry," remarked Tagliani. "It was like being in a new car, so it took a little while to get adjusted. But the way things turned out I believe we have a car that can put us in the top 3 on the grid."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Monterey 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 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta