Monterrey Grand Prix: Team Player's hoping for a fiesta as it seeks second straight Champ Car World Series win. Monterrey, Mexico, March 20, 2003 After opening the Champ Car World Series season a month ago by notching its 14th career victory,...
Monterrey Grand Prix: Team Player's hoping for a fiesta as it seeks second straight Champ Car World Series win.
Monterrey, Mexico, March 20, 2003 After opening the Champ Car World Series season a month ago by notching its 14th career victory, Team Player's is heading into this weekend's Monterrey Grand Prix on a mission to make it back-to-back race wins for the second time in its history. The only other time that Team Player's recorded consecutive triumphs was in 1997, when Greg Moore followed his first career win on the Milwaukee Mile by taking the checkered flag at the Detroit Grand Prix.
Both Team Player's drivers Paul Tracy, who earned his 20th career Champ Car victory with a dominant performance in the season-opener, and Patrick Carpentier, who was running in second place at mid-race until an off-track slide contributed to an eighth-place finish took plenty of positives from their 2003 debuts.
"The way things went for Team Player's in the opener is certainly cause for optimism," said Tracy, who spent last week running laps at a testing session in Fontana, on a road course that bore some resemblance to the 2.1-mile Monterrey layout. "We had struggled a bit in off-season testing, but when it counted, Team Player's was at the front of the pack, thanks to a total effort."
Tracy's name is already etched in the Monterrey record book through his third-place podium finish in the inaugural race two years ago. Last year, he was one of a number of drivers involved in a series of first-lap incidents. Relegated to the back of the field, Tracy managed to make up 11 places during the race and finished eighth.
"I have a lot better memories of my first race here, two years ago," remarked Tracy. "Standing on the podium and seeing the grandstands filled with people having such a good time was a great feeling. They love Champ Car racing in Mexico, and, as a driver, it's a special treat to go there."
Carpentier, who was among the drivers to stay clear of the first-lap chaos on the Monterrey road course last year, says that getting through turn 1 is one of a number of challenges posed by the Fundidora Park circuit, which he describes as a cross between a road and a street course. "The dust has a tendency to build up very quickly, so the track has the slickness of some of the street circuits we race on," he explained. "In certain areas, it's tough to find the proper grip."
Alluding to the five Mexican drivers in the series who will be competing in front of a home crowd, Carpentier, who finished seventh at last year's Monterrey Grand Prix, said: "I know that the Mexican fans are going to be on the side of their native drivers, but something tells me we're going to spoil their fiesta at least, I hope so!"
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 85-lap Monterrey Grand Prix throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on the The Sports Network starting with a pre-race program at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.