Cicero, Illinois, July 26, 2001 Now that he has tasted victory for the first time in his FedEx CART Championship career, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier is hungry for more and his first opportunity for a repeat performance comes this ...
Cicero, Illinois, July 26, 2001 Now that he has tasted victory for the first time in his FedEx CART Championship career, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier is hungry for more and his first opportunity for a repeat performance comes this weekend on the 1-mile Chicago oval, the venue for Round 12 in the series.
"It's been a hectic week but I've enjoyed every minute of it," said Carpentier, the focus of much attention since his dramatic victory in last Sunday's 500-mile race on the Michigan superspeedway, where he took the checkered flag in the 79th race of his CART career. "We're here to win races and getting that first victory gives you even more incentive to get back to the winner's circle again, because it's such a great feeling, not only for myself but the entire team."
Carpentier's win in Michigan came on the heels of his teammate Alex Tagliani's second-place finish in Toronto, the first podium of his CART career. Tagliani, whose bold passing move in the final metres of the Michigan race helped to seal Carpentier's victory, is eager to emulate his teammate in getting to the top step of the podium. "This is such a competitive series," remarked Tagliani, whose sixth-place finish in Michigan extended his points-paying streak to four consecutive races. "We've had eight different winners in the first 10 races of the season. I'd like to add my name to that list and keep Team's Player's streak of success going."
After a rough start to the 2001 CART season, Team Player's has been gathering momentum in recent weeks, and both Carpentier and Tagliani have been able to make steady progress up the drivers' standings. "The biggest difference has been that our luck has started to change," explained Carpentier. "We've had one of the fastest cars since the season began, but it seemed for a while that we couldn't buy a break. These things have a way of evening out, and now we're just starting to hit our stride."
Tagliani expressed similar sentiments, noting that, "I've been saying all season that once we get a few breaks going our way, watch out, we're going to be a big force the rest of the way. Team Player's has been on the podium for two straight races, and we're not about to stop there."
While the Grand Prix of Chicago is the second straight oval event in the series and the last before a stretch of three consecutive road-course events, it will be a contrast to the Michigan track, in that it is a one- rather than a two-mile oval. Carpentier, who was sixth in the inaugural Chicago event two years ago and had to retire late in last year's race, said, "one thing about the Chicago oval is that you've really got to be careful not to charge into the first corner or your race might be over before it begins. Team Player's has had a fast, competitive car in Chicago the last two years, and I expect it will be same this time."
Tagliani had his first opportunity to run on the Chicago oval as a CART rookie last year and he was a highly respectable ninth in an attrition-filled race that saw only 10 of the 24 starters cross the finish line. He describes the Chicago layout as "a challenging circuit where you're able to race pretty wide in some sectors, but then, all of a sudden, it gets real tight in the turns, and that's where you run the risk of getting squeezed."
Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the 225-lap race live on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.