CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Team Player's Saturday qualifying report

Big leap forward puts Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani on rows 2 and 4 for inaugural Molson Indy Montreal Montreal, Quebec, August 24, 2002 Improving considerably over their provisional results a day earlier, Team Player's drivers...

Big leap forward puts Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani on rows 2 and 4 for inaugural Molson Indy Montreal

Montreal, Quebec, August 24, 2002 Improving considerably over their provisional results a day earlier, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani earned the fourth and eighth spots on the starting grid for Sunday's inaugural Molson Indy Montreal in a hotly contested final qualifying session Saturday.

With a wildly enthusiastic crowd cheering them on from the grandstands along Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, the two Team Player's drivers, who both were born and raised near Montreal, did not disappoint. Carpentier, who was ninth in provisional qualifying, sliced nearly a full second off his time, clocking a fast lap of 1 minute, 19.510 seconds (average speed 123.512 mph/198.773 km/h). Tagliani, 18th on the grid Friday because of an incident that drew a red flag, moved all the way up to 8th today with a quick lap of 1:19.841 (122.148 mph/196.578 km/h).

The top 10 drivers on the starting grid for Sunday's race, the 13th on the 19-race FedEx CART Championship schedule, were less than a second apart in today's qualifying session, which was won by Brazil's Cristiano da Matta (a time of 1:18.959). It was the sixth pole of the season for da Matta, who extended his lead to 44 points atop the drivers' standings, where Carpentier is tied for second. Scotland's Dario Franchitti will start alongside da Matta on the front row.

"Fourth place isn't too bad, considering that we had some problems yesterday," said Carpentier. "We can definitely get a bit more out of the car, and we might be able to do some passing in places on this track. I'm not far behind Dario (Franchitti) and it seems whenever I'm close to him on the starting grid, I've had some good races this year. Maybe that's a good omen for Team Player's."

Carpentier clocked his best lap with about 15 minutes left in the session. His fastest run came just before the session was red flagged to clean up oil patches on the track. Carpentier's lap was third fastest at the time. The session resumed with 9½ minutes of qualifying time, and Carpentier pushed hard to try to improve his time.

"When we were on a hot lap near the end, the car hit a speed bump in the last turn and it raised up off the ground," explained Carpentier. "We lost a couple tenths of a second or so because of it. There really isn't much you can do when you're trying to turn the wheels of the car and the wheels aren't even on the ground."

Tagliani, who had some difficulties in morning practice, said the Team Player's crew changed about half the car between sessions, and did a remarkable job in the process. Tagliani actually was seventh fastest in the qualifying session, but had to settle for 8th place on the grid because the fast lap that New Zealand's Scott Dixon clocked in Friday's qualifying was good enough for seventh in the combined results.

"On this track and with the opportunities that we have for passing, we can be on the podium," stated Tagliani, who added that he found the whole atmosphere surrounding the first-ever Molson Indy Montreal a fantastic experience. "Every driver in the CART series loves the track here and the city. I have no doubt that the Montreal race will become the best in the CART series."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix at Molson Indy Montreal throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on Global at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Cristiano da Matta