Team Player's on first two rows of Grand Prix of St. Petersburg starting grid. St. Petersburg, Florida, February 22, 2003 Paul Tracy will start his first Champ Car World Series race for Team Player's on the front row of the Grand Prix of St.
Team Player's on first two rows of Grand Prix of St. Petersburg starting grid.
St. Petersburg, Florida, February 22, 2003 Paul Tracy will start his first Champ Car World Series race for Team Player's on the front row of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg grid on Sunday after clocking the second fastest lap in today's final qualifying session on the 1.806-mile downtown street circuit. Tracy briefly held the pole in today's session before relinquishing it to French rookie Sebastien Bourdais, who had assured himself of at least a front-row position by taking the provisional pole on Friday.
Adding to a productive day for Team Player's, Patrick Carpentier grabbed a spot on the second row of the grid for the opening race of the Champ Car season when he clocked the fourth quickest lap of today's qualifying session, which was run under menacing skies and with blustery winds.
Bourdais, who registered his pole-winning time of 1 minute, .928 seconds just after Tracy had shot to the top of the leader chart, became the first Champ Car rookie to start from the pole in his first race since Nigel Mansell in 1993. Tracy did his quickest lap in 1:01.476 (105.758 mph / 170.201 km/h), while Carpentier, at 1:01.759 (105.274 mph / 169.422 km/h) was only 10 one-thousandths of a second behind third-place finisher, Mexico's Adrian Fernandez. Canadian Alex Tagliani will start from the 13th position.
"There was no rhythm to today's session because of all the red flags that we had," said Tracy, who improved his starting position on the grid by eight spots from Friday's session. "That made it hard to put two or three laps together. It was really my first flying lap of the session when I got my best time.
"I was pleasantly surprised by the car's performance. We didn't really have a good qualifying session on Friday, and we made some changes that led to some significant improvements. I'm happy to see the two Team Player's cars in the top 4. This is truly a team. We had to do some restructuring this week, and Michael Cannon (Carpentier's engineer) came over and helped with the set-up on my car, along with Tony Cicale.
Carpentier, who had posted the fifth fastest time in the first qualifying session, pushed to the limit in trimming almost six-tenths from his Friday qualifying time. "The car was quite good not perfect," remarked Carpentier. "But (Chief Engineer) Mike Cannon told me to make the best of what I had today. There was a good exchange of information between me and Paul over the last two days, and it paid off for both of us."
The outcome of today's qualifying set up an intriguing front row, composed of the rookie Bourdais and the seasoned Tracy, whose 19 wins are the most by any active Champ Car driver. "The track is going to be slippery, and I'm used to that," noted Tracy. "Bourdais is very fast and he won often in F3000. Now, we'll have to see what he can do during a long race."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 105-lap Grand Prix of St. Petersburg 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.