CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Team Player's preview

G.I. Joe's 200: Team Player's aims aor 1-2 Portland finish as an encore to last weeks unprecedented 1-3 performance at Laguna. Portland, Oregon, June 19, 2003 Now that Team Players has put two drivers on the Champ Car World Series podium for...

G.I. Joe's 200: Team Player's aims aor 1-2 Portland finish as an encore to last weeks unprecedented 1-3 performance at Laguna.

Portland, Oregon, June 19, 2003 Now that Team Players has put two drivers on the Champ Car World Series podium for the first time, the next goal is to produce its first ever 1-2 finish. If it can continue on a roll that began last weekend with a near-perfect race at Laguna Seca, where Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy were first and third respectively, Team Players might be able to accomplish that order of business on the 1.969-mile Portland International Raceway road course, site of Sundays G.I. Joes 200.

Having such a great race on the Laguna Seca road course was a big boost going into Portland,said Carpentier, who earned his first victory of the season and fourth career triumph by leading from pole to checkered flag last Sunday. Team Players putting both of its drivers on the podium on a technically challenging course such as Laguna shows what a well-tuned operation it is right now, and you have to give a lot of credit to the engineers and crews whose terrific work has consistently put us in a position to win races. Historically, I've done well when we head into the most hectic part of the schedule, so I like the way things are shaping up for Team Players right now.

Carpentier's recent surge up the standings has lifted him into fourth place, only 19 points behind current leader Michel Jourdain of Mexico. Tracy, in third place, is just eight points back of Jourdain. Tracy also gained in the standings with the third-place finish at Laguna, his first trip to the podium since his three-race winning streak to open the season.

Team Players success has enabled Canada to vault into the lead in the Nations Cup standings, with 115 points, two more than Mexico. Nations Cup points are awarded to the native country of the top-finishing driver of each race. Points are also awarded for poles and most race laps led.

While the Portland road-course layout bears certain similarities to the Laguna track that yielded the most productive day in Team Players history, Carpentier said the series of Festival Curves on the Portland configuration pose a different type of challenge. Those curves can be frustrating because they slow you down before you go all out on the front straight,explained Carpentier. You cant afford to lay back and be conservative on the Curves. You have to attack, otherwise you're going to lose some precious tenths of seconds.

Tracy is aware of the significance of the Portland race on the schedule the winner in Portland has gone on to win the championship eight times and 11 of the last 15 Portland victors have finished in the top three in the drivers standings. But wins have been elusive for Tracy in Portland, a venue where he last made it to the podium in 1994.

I've always felt the Portland race is one of the key races on the schedule, and that was even before learning that eight winners of the Portland race went on to win the drivers championship,remarked Tracy. At this point in the schedule, the drivers championship looks like its going to be a wide-open race to the end, and were right in the thick of the race. That makes it doubly important to do well in Portland. Its one of those races with a quick turn-around and it really puts a strain on the engineering and chassis-tuning crews, and in that respect, for my money, Team Players is the best in the business.

-player's-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Michel Jourdain