Detroit, Michigan, June 16, 2001 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier put in the fastest lap of his Grand Prix of Detroit qualifying group on Saturday and that performance was good for sixth place overall, matching his career best starting ...
Detroit, Michigan, June 16, 2001 Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier put in the fastest lap of his Grand Prix of Detroit qualifying group on Saturday and that performance was good for sixth place overall, matching his career best starting position for a road-course event in the CART series.
Coming off a Friday practice session in which he had posted the second quickest lap, Carpentier continued to impress in qualifying. He shot to the top of the leader board on his 13th lap, covering the 2.346-mile Belle Isle street circuit in 1 minute, 14.101 seconds (113.851 miles per hour). Carpentier moved down the starting grid when the second group put in its qualifying laps. Despite having the benefit of a track with better grip from the rubber that had been laid down, only five of the 13 drivers managed to better Carpentier's time.
At about the same time Carpentier moved to the top of his qualifying group, his teammate Alex Tagliani encountered some misfortune, as his car caught the outside of one of the concrete barriers and slid off into the protective tire wall. Tagliani posted the 20th fastest lap of the session.
Brazil's Helio Castroneves took the pole, the seventh of his CART career, clocking a track record fast lap of 1:13.499 (114.908 mph). Fellow Brazilian, rookie Bruno Junqueira, made it to the front row of the grid beside Castroneves by registering a lap of 1:13.581.
"The car that Team Player's prepared ran really well," said Carpentier. "Near the end of the session, the crew made some adjustments to the rear of the car and that enabled me to put in a fast lap that sent me to the top of the board. I was on another flying lap when a red flag that ended our session but, luckily enough, the same thing happened with the second group, so instead of slipping down the grid, I managed to hang on to sixth place."
Carpentier previously started sixth on a road course in Monterrey, Mexico, for the first race of the 2001 CART season. That matched his career-best road-course qualifying position that he recorded in Cleveland in 1999. Carpentier, whose previous best qualifying spot in Detroit was the ninth place he recorded last year, said qualifying near the front is extremely important on the Belle Isle course because there are very few places to pass.
Tagliani said his problems during the qualifying session occurred coming into turn 13. The rear suspension of the car was bent during the incident, which ended his chances to improve on what was then the 10th fastest time of the first qualifying group.
"That's what can happen when you're trying to catch up," remarked Tagliani, who finished sixth right behind Carpentier in Detroit last season. "We're quite a ways down the grid but I know that Team Player's will come up with the right race strategy on Sunday and the rest will be up to me to work as hard as I can to make up the difference. I'm still very confident that we can come up with some points because anything can happen during a race."
Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on The Sports Network at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.