Lexington, Ohio, August 10, 2001 With Team Player's devoting much of its attention to finding proper car set-ups for the CART qualifying session on Saturday, drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani made considerable progress during Friday's...
Lexington, Ohio, August 10, 2001 With Team Player's devoting much of its attention to finding proper car set-ups for the CART qualifying session on Saturday, drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani made considerable progress during Friday's two practice sessions on the tough, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio road course.
Carpentier, seeking to tie a Team Player's record with his third consecutive podium finish, clocked the 10th fastest time of the day, powering his way around the circuit in 1 minute, 7.274 seconds. His fastest lap came early in the afternoon session and it was more than a second faster than his best run in the morning. Tagliani, who is striving to be in the points for the sixth straight race, was 13th fastest with a quick lap of 1:07.386, an improvement of almost 1.7 seconds over the first session.
Team Player's has its sights set on the Team Penske duo of Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves, the Brazilian-born drivers who were 1-2 in practice. de Ferran turned a lap in 1:06.151 (122.882 miles per hour), while his teammate managed 1:06.234 (122.729 mph).
"The Penske cars are really fast here, and Team Player's will have to work extremely hard to get our cars to their level," said Carpentier, who like Tagliani will be qualifying in the same fast group as the Penskes on Saturday. "It can be done, but we'll only know on qualifying day how much progress we've made with our work today."
Carpentier, who has described the demanding Mid-Ohio layout as one of his favourite on the CART circuit, said the track has two fast corners, and grip is essential on the long radius corners. Team Player's strategy, once Carpentier had recorded his quick lap early in the second session, was to work on different set-ups in an effort to improve the car.
"Some of the stuff we tried worked well and other things not so well," declared Carpentier. "We didn't put on new tires because we elected to save them for the race. Besides, by race day, no one remembers who was the quickest on Friday!"
Tagliani, who charged up the field to finish 9th after starting 16th in his rookie season at Mid-Ohio last year, used a single set of tires for most of the afternoon session. The Team Player's crew put on new ones near the end of the session, only to have a couple of red flags disrupt their efforts.
"Because of the red flags in the closing minutes, we don't know how well we would have fared," stated Tagliani. "But based on the work we were able to do today, I have to say that we have a very well-balanced car and I believe we can qualify in the top eight. We expect to have a strong performance on this track."
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 on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.