Nazareth, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2000 When Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier returns to FedEx CART Championship action at the Grand Prix of Nazareth this Saturday following a seven-week absence, he will be picking up right where he left ...
Nazareth, Pennsylvania, May 25, 2000 When Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier returns to FedEx CART Championship action at the Grand Prix of Nazareth this Saturday following a seven-week absence, he will be picking up right where he left off.
Carpentier and his Player's teammate Alex Tagliani qualified on the fifth and seventh rows respectively back on April 8 for the next day's race in Nazareth. However, a heavy snowfall blanketed the track on race day, forcing the postponement of the event to May 27. Carpentier injured his wrist after returning from Nazareth and has missed three races between the postponement and the re-scheduled date.
"It's a bit ironic that my first race back is the re-scheduled Nazareth race because that was the last time I was on the track prior to the injury," remarked Carpentier, who had an auspicious start to the season with a fifth-place finish at Homestead. "Naturally, I'm very pleased to be back in action and working with the Player's crew. There's no doubt that I'm fully recovered. I spent a lot of time working with weights to strengthen my wrist and doing a lot of karting to stay sharp, and I'm ready to go."
Like the 21 other drivers who will be lining up on the Nazareth starting grid which has Juan Montoya and Christian Fittipaldi on the front row Carpentier and Tagliani won't have much of an opportunity to prepare for the race.
"I think it's going to be a bit weird for all of us because the only chance we'll have to see how things go with the Player's car before the race is in the one-hour warmup/practice," said Carpentier, whose time of 18.419 seconds in 1998 remains the fastest pole position at Nazareth. "It's going to be different than our routine of practice sessions and qualifying, followed by the race. But I know that once the race starts, the only thing we'll be focusing on is finding a way to win. I expect to do well in Nazareth. I like racing on the short ovals and I've had some good races in Nazareth."
Tagliani, the leader in the CART rookie standings, recorded points in each of his first three races before seeing the streak end at Motegi, Japan two weeks ago.
"I'm glad that we had a bit of time to rest after the race in Japan.," he admitted. "With the time difference and the travel involved, you need some time to get recharged, both physically and mentally. Being in the middle of the starting grid in Nazareth isn't a bad position for the Player's team to be in especially considering how the series this year has had a lot of winners come from the middle of the pack and beyond. It's a long race and anything can happen. We're going to do our best to make things happen."
Tagliani said the return of Carpentier is an additional incentive for the Player's team heading into the fifth race of the CART season.
"It's great to have Patrick back," declared Tagliani. "We've been building a real good chemistry right from the start of the season and I know we'll continue to do that. Even while he was on the sidelines with his injury, Patrick followed my progress and gave me some helpful advice."
Racing fans can watch the 225-lap Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix live on The Sports Network at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.