Portland, Oregon, June 24, 2001 Maintaining his composure and consistency amid the chaos created by a rain-soaked track, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier delivered his best performance of the FedEx CART Championship season with a...
Portland, Oregon, June 24, 2001 Maintaining his composure and consistency amid the chaos created by a rain-soaked track, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier delivered his best performance of the FedEx CART Championship season with a fifth-place finish in Sunday's Portland 200. Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani was equally tenacious, grabbing the 12th position, enabling Team Player's to have both of its drivers finish in the points for the first time this season.
Italy's Max Papis, the pole-sitter, won the race, which had nine caution flags, seven retirements and dozens of spins off the track as a result of the drizzle that fell throughout most of the event, making traction and visibility major concerns. The many incidents turned the race into a two-hour timed event, and drivers who finished were able to complete only 76 of the scheduled 98 laps. Roberto Moreno took second place, while fellow Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi was third.
The last time Team Player's and the CART teams endured race-long rain was in Vancouver in 1999, an event in which Carpentier finished second. He displayed the same poise and adeptness on the 1.969-mile Portland circuit, steadfastly staying on course while so many around him skidded off track. Starting 10th on the grid, he was in the top 5 for most of the race, including a long stretch in fourth, until Fittipaldi, who had more fuel, moved past both he and Max Wilson with eight laps to go.
"At the end, Christian was running full fuel (he pitted on lap 41, seven laps after Carpentier) and I couldn't hold him off much longer," said Carpentier, who added that it was difficult to maintain momentum with the frequent cautions. "I was saving fuel, and it's a good thing because my engine was sputtering in the corners on the last lap. Team Player's got the points (10), and that's what matters most. Team Player's is improving steadily, as we've gone from 17th to 8th and now 5th in the last three races, so we're moving up the standings."
Tagliani, who gained eight positions during the race, was perseverant in the face of a couple of race incidents, one of which forced him onto the infield grass and another that sent him to the pits with a flat tire.
"I would have liked to finish higher but with all that went on out there today, I'll take the point," said Tagliani. "Team Player's tried a multiple pit strategy, but there were too many yellows. Some days you catch a break that way, but today we didn't. Like Pat (Carpentier), we were running with an intermediate set-up, while others were on full rain tires, so we were at a disadvantage in the corners. When it started to dry up a bit, I was able to put in some quick laps. Unfortunately, the drier conditions didn't last very long."
The Portland 200 enabled Sweden's Kenny Brack to extend his lead to seven points over Brazil's Helio Castroneves in the drivers' standings. The 10 points earned by Carpentier enabled him to leap five positions in the standings, to 15th.
Team Player's is back in action next Sunday for its third race in as many weeks, this time on the Burke Lakefront Airport runway that is converted into a temporary road course for the running of the Grand Prix of Cleveland.
[ Part 2, Application/MSWORD 35KB. ] [ Unable to print this part. ]