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

Team Player's drivers pick up hard-earned points as Carpentier and Tagliani finish 5th and 10th at Grand Prix of Monterey. Monterey, California, June 9, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's earned his second top-5 finish in the last three...

Team Player's drivers pick up hard-earned points as Carpentier and Tagliani finish 5th and 10th at Grand Prix of Monterey.

Monterey, California, June 9, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's earned his second top-5 finish in the last three FedEx CART Championship races on Sunday when he took fifth place in the Grand Prix of Monterey. His teammate Alex Tagliani also recorded points in this fifth race of the CART season, grittily garnering a 10th-place finish despite encountering some glitches along the way.

Brazilian Cristiano da Matta won the 87-lap event and, in the process, he became the first driver to win two races in the series this season. Da Matta, who has six career CART victories, won the opening race of the 2002 season in Monterrey, Mexico. In winning today on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca road course, he finished ahead of fellow Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi and Sweden's Kenny Brack.

Carpentier and Tagliani, who had qualified 6th and 7th on the starting grid, were ahead of the seven cars that were involved in a chain-reaction incident in the first turn of the opening lap a pile-up that forced two cars out of the race. Carpentier was running fifth on lap 52 when his bold pass of Bruno Junqueira put him within striking distance of third place. But six laps later, as he continued to consistently turn in laps in the 1 minute, 11-second range, Carpentier put two wheels off in turn 6. He managed to save the car and returned to the track down two places.

"I was being very aggressive all day," said Carpentier. "I must have put two wheels off maybe a dozen times, but that one time in turn 6, I went a bit too far. Fortunately, I kept the clutch in and I was able to go back on to the track. I was really happy when I was able to pass Bruno and I kept pushing because I wanted to get into third place."

Once he returned, Carpentier quickly got back into fifth place and with four laps to go he had closed within three-tenths of a second of Junqueira in the battle for fourth place. "We came really close to passing him but I missed a shift in the gearbox, and I thought I was going to break it if I kept pushing. The Team Player's crew told me it was better to just lift off and avoid damaging it, because we had a 30-second lead over Scott Dixon (who was running sixth). I'm happy we were able to pick up some big points today."

Tagliani was consistently running in the top 7 through the first third of the race before problems arose with the traction control device, a malfunction that made it difficult to downshift. The traction control finally had to be disconnected and the absence of the device affected the car's set-ups and balance.

"It was a frustrating day," remarked Tagliani. "With all of the downshifting problems we had, 10th place was the best we could do. But you don't win championships with 10th-place finishes. There is still a lot of racing ahead but we're going to have to work things out and start picking up the pace to get back to where we want to be."

The victory by da Matta vaulted him into the top spot in the drivers' standings with 51 points, five more than previous leader Michel Jourdain Jr. and eight ahead of Fittipaldi. Tagliani is in 10th place with 29 points, one more than his teammate Carpentier.

Team Player's returns to action next Sunday, June 16, for another road-course event at the Portland International Raceway in Oregon.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Scott Dixon , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain