Team Player'S driver Alex Tagliani earns second-row start for Portland race with stellar performance in final qualifying, Portland, Oregon, June 15, 2002 Although fans will get to see the same three cars as last weekend's race in Laguna Seca at...
Team Player'S driver Alex Tagliani earns second-row start for Portland race with stellar performance in final qualifying,
Portland, Oregon, June 15, 2002 Although fans will get to see the same three cars as last weekend's race in Laguna Seca at the front of the grid, they will also notice a blue and white car ready to shake up the running order as soon as the green flag drops for tomorrow's G.I. Joe's 200, as Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani powered his way to the fourth-fastest time in the final qualifying session at Portland International Raceway.
As CART qualifying becomes more and more like a game of cat and mouse with teams and drivers looking for the perfect window to hit the track, Tagliani was the second racer to put in a lap about half an hour into qualifying and the Canadian driver knew he had a shot at a top-5 time.
"We went out early and it paid off for us with a solid time (59.4 seconds) right off the bat," said Tagliani, who came close to matching his best qualifying effort of the season which occurred at the season opener in Monterrey with a third place. "We made a few changes to the suspensions when we went out with our second set of tires and we were able to jump to fourth on the lap chart."
Sitting currently in 10th place in the championship with 29 points, Tagliani knows he needs to take advantage of the opportunity on Sunday to climb back in contention for the title chase.
"We know we have a fast car, but this is a very abrasive track and we will need to save tires for the end of the race," said Tagliani, who made it around the 1.969-mile road course in a time of 59.185 seconds for an average speed of 192.741 km/h. "Our goal is to make sure we get a clean start and finish strong to hopefully score enough points to get us back in the top-5 in the drivers' standings."
While he improved his lap time from Friday's qualifying session, his teammate Patrick Carpentier could not make up any ground in the grid order and will start alongside Tony Kanaan on row 7 in 13th spot.
"I thought we might have had the car to crack the top-10, but I lost one of my hot laps when (Tora) Takagi went off course ahead of me and put some dirt on track which collected on my tires," said Carpentier, who clocked a fast lap of 59.600 seconds (191.399 km/h). "We'll have to be aggressive on race day, but I am confident we will be able to move our way up."
In a repeat scenario from last weekend's qualifying order, championship leader Cristiano da Matta earned another point and scored his second pole of the season with a time of 58.679 seconds (194.403 km/h), ahead of Kenny Brack and Bruno Junqueira.