Fontana, California, October 28, 2000 Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier expressed confidence in being in the thick of contention at Sunday's California 500 the final race of this year's FedEx CART Championship - after ...
Fontana, California, October 28, 2000 Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier expressed confidence in being in the thick of contention at Sunday's California 500 the final race of this year's FedEx CART Championship - after respectively qualifying on the 5th and 6th row of the grid in today's session.
"Even though Team Player's isn't in the championship hunt, we're going all out for the win, or at the very least, a top-finish spot," vowed Tagliani, who overcame some struggles in the morning practice run and clocked the 10th quickest qualifying lap. Tagliani covered the 2.029-mile super oval in 30.999 seconds (235.633 miles per hour). "I will not be content with a 10th-place finish, that's for sure."
Brazilian Gil de Ferran, the drivers' championship leader, won the pole today and shattered the Fontana qualifying record in the process. De Ferran set a blistering pace of 30.255 seconds (241.428 mph), bettering the mark of 30.316 seconds established by Mauricio Gugelmin in 1997. American Michael Andretti shares the front row of the grid with de Ferran after recording a fast lap of 30.550 seconds.
Carpentier, who starts on the inside of Row 6 after his qualifying clocking of 31.088 seconds (234.959 mph) was 11th fastest among the 26 drivers, might have been able to move even closer to the front but he encountered a minor problem on the qualifying run.
"The engine would not come up to revs during my run because the pop-off valve stayed open," he explained. "It caused a loss of power and I had to run a shorter gear. Still, we're pretty confident for the race. The car is quite stable and it has good setups. Team Player's did a good job altering the suspension setting to allow for the bumpiness of the track, so the car was handling much better than it had in Friday's practice session."
Assessing his chances in Sunday's race, which will decide the drivers' championship, Carpentier said: "We're going to be up there with the leaders during the race even with the drivers who are still in contention for the title. I'll keep my eye on them but they'll have to watch out for me, too, because I won't be backing off if I have a shot at winning."
Tagliani was buoyed by the results of today's qualifying session because of the measurable progress that was made from Friday's practice and today's morning session.
"Team Player's found what was wrong with the car and made some changes," remarked Tagliani. "After that, it worked better when I was alone on the track. It's quite unusual that we would go faster during qualifying than during the practice sessions, but we had planned all along to work on race setups."