CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Team Player's Friday qualifying report

Luck plays a role in first St. Petersburg Grand Prix qualifying sessions for Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tracy. St. Petersburg, Florida, February 21, 2003 Luck went both ways for Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy...

Luck plays a role in first St. Petersburg Grand Prix qualifying sessions for Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tracy.

St. Petersburg, Florida, February 21, 2003 Luck went both ways for Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy on Friday in the first qualifying session for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the opening race of the season in the Champ Car World Series.

Carpentier used up his allotment of laps by the midway point of qualifying, and that turned out to be a stroke of good fortune when two red flags in the final 10 minutes of the 40-minute session all but ended attempts to put in fast laps. Carpentier clocked a quick lap of 1 minute, 2.350 seconds (104.276 mph/167.816 km/h) and it was good for the fifth fastest time on the 1.806-mile street course on the St. Petersburg waterfront.

Tracy, meanwhile, had headed into the pits for a fresh set of tires and some wholesale changes on the car just prior to Roberto Moreno's off-track spin that brought out the first red flag, with about 10 minutes left in the session. When a second red disrupted the session shortly after it returned to green, Tracy was only able to run two laps and could not improve on his time of 1:03.031 (103.149 mph/166.002 km/h). That left Tracy 10th overall in his Team Player's qualifying debut.

Rookie Sebastien Bourdais of France collected a point in the standings and assured himself of a front-row position for Sunday's race when he toured the circuit in a time of 1:01.676 (105.415 mph). His teammate Bruno Junqueira of Brazil, was second, just over two-tenths of a second off the pace. Canadian Alex Tagliani had the ninth fastest lap (1:02.822 and 103.492 mph).

"Fifth isn't bad, but it isn't where I want to be," said Carpentier. "I had one good run the first time out in qualifying, and then we made some changes to the car and we did two quick laps, trimming some tenths of a second off each time, so I'm quite pleased with that. I have a fast car but Team Player's is going to do some more tweaking and we'll see how things go in Saturday's qualifying."

Tracy posted the second fastest time in the morning's first practice session, but encountered an engine problem at the end of the second practice run. While the Team Player's worked on the problem, Tracy missed out on the brief practice prior to qualifying.

"The day started out quite well for us, but our luck ran out after that," said Tracy, the active leader in CART series victories with 19. "Then, we had the two red flags at the end of qualifying and that capped a frustrating day. I did the best time I could. I expect that there will be more grip on the track tomorrow, and I'm looking to have a better day. I like the track here. You've got a couple of good places to pass, and there's plenty of opportunity to make mistakes

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 105-lap Grand Prix St. Petersburg throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on the The Sports Network starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-tp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais