Cleveland, Ohio, June 28, 2001 Things are looking up for Team Player's and it's not because participants in the FedEx CART championship will be competing this weekend on the Burke Lakefront Airport runway that serves as the temporary road course...
Cleveland, Ohio, June 28, 2001 Things are looking up for Team Player's and it's not because participants in the FedEx CART championship will be competing this weekend on the Burke Lakefront Airport runway that serves as the temporary road course for the Grand Prix of Cleveland.
Team Player's is looking skyward because it is arriving in Cleveland with some momentum after drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani battled through an attrition-filled race in Portland last Sunday to earn points with a fifth- and 12th-place finish respectively. It was the best performance by Team Player's this season, fueling optimism that it can build on that result when Carpentier and Tagliani take to the wide expanses of the 2.106-mile temporary road course at Burke Lakefront.
"It's nice to be going to Cleveland on a bit of a roll," said Carpentier, who has qualified in the top 10 for three of the four road-course events this season. "Team Player's has improved in each of the last three races and getting into the top 5 in Portland last Sunday shows that we're headed in the right direction. You have to give credit to the entire team. When we weren't having any luck earlier in the season, no one got down. Everyone just kept working hard and now we're starting to see some results from that hard work."
Carpentier acknowledged that racing on the Airport runway is quite a unique experience an adventure that has frequently ended abruptly for drivers who tend to bunch up in the Turn 1 hairpin. But as the race progresses, there are places with ample room to pass. Carpentier took advantage of that last year, when he went from 19th on the grid to 5th place, matching his best career performance on a road course.
Carpentier expects Cleveland, the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to be rocking again this year, especially because that's where he and fellow CART driver Kenny Brack will be announcing the name of their band, and which CART drivers will be joining the group that is expected to perform a concert later this summer. Carpentier, who has a music studio in his Las Vegas home, is the band's drummer.
Tagliani isn't sure whether Team Player's solid performance in Portland is an indication the team has turned the corner, but he believes it provided everyone with a major boost.
"We managed to persevere through a lot of adversity in that race," stated Tagliani. "We kept battling and we were there at the end. Races like that are character builders and Portland may have been a great preparation for Cleveland, where you have to be ready for anything the heat, the rain and the tough track that, in many aspects, is quite different from any other in the series."
Tagliani's preparations for Cleveland began with his off-season training program, a regimen that has continued during the season.
"All the mountain biking, weight lifting and training exercises that I do throughout the year are probably going to come in handy in Cleveland this weekend," he admitted. "It can get pretty hot running 100 laps on that airport runway in July. Maintaining your stamina and making sure you stay hydrated is important. I enjoy racing in Cleveland because, at times, it's almost like you're out on this wide-open highway, putting the pedal to the metal. But it's a track that can take its toll on car equipment, as we discovered last year when our gearbox gave out in the last 20 laps, just when we were close to getting into the top 5."
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 race live on The Sports Network at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.