Lexington, Ohio, August 11, 2001 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier took aim at his third straight FedEx CART Championship podium with an impressive qualifying performance on Saturday that placed him third on the starting grid for Sunday's...
Lexington, Ohio, August 11, 2001 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier took aim at his third straight FedEx CART Championship podium with an impressive qualifying performance on Saturday that placed him third on the starting grid for Sunday's Miller Lite 200, an 83-lap race on the 2.258 mile Mid-Ohio road course.
Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani completed a highly successful day for Team Player's by clocking the sixth fastest lap in the qualifying session. Less than two-tenths of a second separated third and sixth place on the starting grid. It is the best career road-course qualifying result for Carpentier and the second best qualifying effort this season for Tagliani, who started fifth on the grid in Toronto. Tagliani, who has points in five consecutive races, went on to earn his first podium of the season on the Toronto street course. Carpentier's win in Michigan and second-place finish in Chicago extended the Team Player's podium streak to three heading into Sunday's Mid-Ohio event.
Brazilians Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves, teammates on the Penske team, continued to dominate on the Mid-Ohio road course, exchanging the pole in the closing minutes of the session before deFerran's lap of 1 minute, 5.442 seconds (124.214 miles per hour) edged Castroneves by about four-tenths of a second. Carpentier's third-place time of 1:05.905 was less than three one-hundredths of a second from a front-row berth.
"I pushed really hard today and I had a lot of fun," said Carpentier. "We didn't run a lot today and we had some problems in the morning that forced us to go to the back-up car, but that car wasn't really as good so Team Player's decided to go back to the primary car for qualifying. The guys worked their tails off to get that car into perfect shape and it showed.
"We know how tough it is to beat the Penskes on this track and we thought it would be great to be able to start just behind them. You never know how things will go during the race. Team Player's seems to always be able to come up with a fast car for the race, and Ford always amazes me with the great engine it provides, so I hope we have something for the Penskes."
Tagliani, who went from P18 to P3 on his 13th lap, with about six minutes left in the 30-minute session, said, "it's amazing how less than two-tenths of a second can send you from third to sixth it's that crazy, but that's CART racing. I was really fast going into the Carousel turn on my quick lap, but when I tapped the brakes the rear went a bit loose and I lost a precious tenth of a second.
"Still, we're pleased with the result. Team Player's gave me an excellent car, and starting sixth on such a tight road course is what every driver wants because it's hard to pass here. I know it's going to be a very physical race, full of unknowns, but I'm very optimistic. It could be a race with few yellows like last year, or then again, we may have several yellows that would give us a bit of a breather."
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.