Cleveland, Ohio, June 29, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani know what to expect this weekend as the FedEx CART Championship rolls into Cleveland, where the racing action figures to be as intense as the heat on...
Cleveland, Ohio, June 29, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani know what to expect this weekend as the FedEx CART Championship rolls into Cleveland, where the racing action figures to be as intense as the heat on the 2.1 mile road course.
"I'm going to feel right at home racing on the runway at Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport because the Player's team already got some practice in this regard when we took part in a speed showdown against a fighter plane on an airport runway in Bagotville, Quebec a few weeks ago," Carpentier said with a smile. "That was like a trial run for the track configuration we'll be racing on this weekend."
The Cleveland configuration, with its wide runways and taxiways, provides plenty of opportunities for passing, leading to some exciting battles for position. Team Player's drivers have been prominent in these battles over the years Jacques Villeneuve won in Cleveland in 1995, Greg Moore took third place on the podium the following year and, in 1999, Carpentier contended for a podium finish right up to the last laps.
"The seventh-place finish in Cleveland was our best performance on a road course last year, next to the podium we got for second in Vancouver," noted Carpentier. "We've been improving every year at Cleveland and I'm confident that trend will continue this year. We've got a good shot at the podium in Cleveland."
Carpentier, who garnered a podium in Milwaukee earlier this month, has been in the points for three straight races and has three top-5 finishes in the five races in which he has competed.
While CART rookie Tagliani will be racing on the Cleveland runway for the first time in a Champ car, he is familiar with the track, having competed there in the Atlantic series.
"That's going to help as the Player's team prepares for the Grand Prix of Cleveland," said Tagliani. "I know it's a track that is demanding on the drivers, both mentally and physically. The weather is usually very hot and that takes a toll on you as well. The physical training and mental preparation I went through in the off-season should come in handy for this race."
Tagliani was on the verge of recording his second straight top-6 finish last Sunday in Portland when a fuel metering problem arose and spoiled a superb comeback, which began when he moved up eight positions on the first lap.
"I'm very encouraged by the fact we've been right in contention in the last two races, and only some bad luck prevented us from making it into the top 6 twice in a row," remarked Tagliani. "There's no doubt in my mind the Player's Champ car can compete with anyone and I think the Burke Lakefront Airport track, with its many open spaces for passing, will bring out the best in the car this weekend."
Racing fans can watch the 100-lap Grand Prix of Cleveland on a tape delay on The Sports Network at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday.