Fantastic In Fontana: Team Player's Driver Alex Tagliani Has The Pole For Cart Season-Finale On Super-Speedway Fontana, California, November 2, 2001 Alex Tagliani of Team Player's will start from the pole for Sunday's 500-mile season-ending...
Fantastic In Fontana: Team Player's Driver Alex Tagliani Has The Pole For Cart Season-Finale On Super-Speedway
Fontana, California, November 2, 2001 Alex Tagliani of Team Player's will start from the pole for Sunday's 500-mile season-ending race in the Fed Ex CART Championship after powering his way around the 2-mile super-speedway on Saturday in a time of 31.935 seconds (228.727 miles per hour). Tagliani, who won his second pole of the season and third of his CART career, was the only driver to record a fast lap in under 32 seconds.
Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier had to settle for a position on the next-to-last row of Sunday's starting grid after a pit-lane speeding violation reduced his qualifying session from the standard two laps to only one lap. The car was loose coming out of turn 2 on that one qualifying lap, and with the pole out of reach, Carpentier decided to abort his attempt at a fast lap.
Tagliani was the ninth driver to qualify and he clocked his pole-winning time on his first trip around the super-speedway with an aggressive ride on a track where the asphalt was gradually heating up as more qualifiers put in their fast laps. Tagliani's time withstood all challenges, including that of Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, who turned a quick lap in 32.009 seconds, about seven one-hundredths of a second slower than Tagliani.
"The car was really quick even faster than we had expected," said Tagliani, whose earlier 2001 pole was on the street course in Vancouver. "Team Player's trimmed the car for the qualifying session, so that we had the least downforce possible. The combination of the speed of the Ford engine and the fantastic job that Tony Cicale and Kelly Loewen and the rest of the Team Player's crew did with the car put us right at the front. It was a great team effort."
Tagliani said he is focused on finishing the season with a flourish, and the way the car has performed so far this weekend has instilled a feeling of confidence that Team Player's can end the season in style on the Fontana super-speedway.
"I'm expecting a very exciting race," remarked Tagliani. "No one is going to run away from the pack. I've got a great crew behind me. Tony (Cicale) is going to talk me through the race, telling me to keep my focus and maintain my cool. It's a long race and if you want to win it you have to be there to make a move in the last 20 miles. This is a race that can really take its toll because last year only six cars finished. I believe that we will be there at the end."
Carpentier was equally upbeat about his chances of winning in Fontana, which would duplicate his performance on the 2-mile super-speedway in Michigan in July, where he won his first career CART race. "We were 21st in qualifying in Michigan and things turned out quite well in the race, which only goes to show that where you start on a super-speedway isn't overly important," noted Carpentier.
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 live on The Sports Network starting at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.