CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi: Player's race report

Team Player's flexes its muscles in Japan as drivers Tagliani and Carpentier place 2nd and 4th in CART race at Motegi. Motegi, Japan, April 27, 2002 Alex Tagliani earned the fourth podium of his CART career on Saturday with a second-place...

Team Player's flexes its muscles in Japan as drivers Tagliani and Carpentier place 2nd and 4th in CART race at Motegi.

Motegi, Japan, April 27, 2002 Alex Tagliani earned the fourth podium of his CART career on Saturday with a second-place finish on the 1.548-mile Twin Ring oval, while his teammate Patrick Carpentier was fourth as Team Player's delivered its strongest performance of the young season.

Tagliani, who led the 201-lap race for 23 laps, made the last of his five pit stops while the course was under green on lap 167. He had fallen to eighth place by the time he returned to the track but he adeptly weaved his way through traffic and moved into second place on lap 197. Carpentier also battled his way back in masterful fashion, advancing from eighth place to fourth on lap 173. He continued to press for a podium position but had to settle for fourth because he needed to make a compulsory pit stop under CART rules on lap 197.

Brazil's Bruno Junquiera, the pole-sitter, won the race in a Toyota-engine car, ending Ford's four-year winning streak at Motegi. Junquiera, who garnered his second career victory, edged out Tagliani and Scotland's Dario Franchitti, who was third.

"For Team Player's, it was a nice ending to what had been a tough weekend before the race," said Tagliani, who has two top-5 finishes in the first three races this season. "We had some turbo-boost problems that forced us to change the engine before qualifying yesterday. Once we did that, it was much better, so all things considered, we're pleased to be second on the podium.

"I know that the Team Player's mechanics really worked hard this weekend and this second place is a reward for their efforts. The car ran with consistency throughout the race and our pit-stop strategy worked out well. Team Player's hasn't had too much success in Japan over the years but here we are today with a second and fourth place. That's quite an accomplishment."

Carpentier felt that he would have joined his teammate on the podium if not for being assessed a drive-through penalty midway through the race after CART officials deemed that he had made a dangerous move crossing the yellow line entering the pits under yellow.

"How can it be dangerous when you're going 40 miles an hour?" asked Carpentier. "It's illogical. I'm very disappointed they saw things that way. Between the penalty and the time lost getting back to the track, it put me two laps down. That's quite tough to make up. But the work of my crew was really impressive. Everything they did this weekend was outstanding."

The strong performance at Motegi enabled the two Team Player's drivers to surge up the drivers' standings. Tagliani collected 16 points to move into fourth place overall with 26 points, only eight behind current leader Dario Franchitti. Carpentier earned 12 points and that boosted him into eighth position with 18 points.

Next race in the series is June 2 on the famed Milwaukee Mile, on June 2.

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti