Nazareth, Pennsylvania, April 5, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are determined to maintain a trend this Sunday at the Grand Prix of Nazareth, the site of the FedEx CART Championship's second race of the 2000 ...
Nazareth, Pennsylvania, April 5, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are determined to maintain a trend this Sunday at the Grand Prix of Nazareth, the site of the FedEx CART Championship's second race of the 2000 season.
Canadian drivers have mounted the podium in Nazareth in each of the last eight seasons and both Carpentier and Tagliani are heading into the race as serious contenders to extend the successful streak. Team Player's has contributed to the Canadian presence on the Nazareth podium with victories by Jacques Villeneuve in 1995 and Greg Moore in 1996 and 1998.
The Team Player's duo has good reason to be brimming with optimism about continuing the Canadian connection at Nazareth. Carpentier is coming off a season-opening race at Homestead where he rallied from adversity to finish fifth, while Tagliani, in his CART debut, earned widespread praise for finishing ninth and collecting points in his baptism of fire.
"I think the way we were able to finish the opening race of the season at Homestead, coming from the back of the field to fifth place, is a good sign for the short oval in Nazareth," remarked Carpentier "We've been very fast there in the past. I managed to win the pole there two years ago and I have my sights set on doing that again to put myself in a good position to win the race."
In fact, Carpentier's fast lap of 18.419 seconds in 1998 is the qualifying record at Nazareth Speedway. That mark is likely to stand for quite a while because of the introduction of the Handford device. This year, Nazareth is one of five venues where the Handford MkII, a new rear-wing aerodynamic package implemented by CART, will be used. The device creates additional downforce and reduces the need to downshift on ovals, which improves safety and enhances the cars' ability to pass on short and intermediate ovals.
Further buoying Carpentier's spirits is the performance of the team's new Ford/Cosworth engine.
"All of us on Team Player's were extremely impressed by its power and reliability in the first race," added Carpentier. "The combination of the new package and the superb work by the Player's crew was a big factor in our success at Homestead, and I'm sure we will get even better as the season goes along."
For Tagliani, driving on the Nazareth oval is a return to the scene of success he twice made it to the podium at the Pennsylvania track while driving in the Atlantic series. Tagliani is the first to admit, however, that new challenges await him at every CART event.
"As a rookie in the CART series, I look at every race as a learning experience, and I think the opening race in Homestead was helpful in that regard. I know I made some mistakes but I also know that I can be competitive. Finishing in the points in my first-ever CART race was very satisfying, and it is something to build on. I intend to do that, with the help of our outstanding Player's crew."
Racing fans can watch the 225-lap Bosch Sparkplug Grand Prix live on The Sports Network at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.