CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Player's hoping to strike Gold Coast gold

Surfers Paradise, Australia, October 11, 2000 The FedEx CART Championship race on Australia's Gold Coast has produced nine different winners in its nine-year history, and Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are hoping that...

Surfers Paradise, Australia, October 11, 2000 The FedEx CART Championship race on Australia's Gold Coast has produced nine different winners in its nine-year history, and Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are hoping that trend continues at the Honda Indy 300 this weekend.

"I guess it shows that Surfers Paradise is an unpredictable race course, when you have nine different winners," remarked Carpentier, who has competed on the Surfers Paradise street course three times and has one top-10 finish a ninth-place effort two years ago. "That's a lot like the CART series itself, where you never know who's going to come out of the pack and win the race on a given week."

Carpentier, who has been on the podium twice this season, is seeking his first victory and he's optimistic about his chances of turning the trick on the tough and fast 2.795-mile street course in the Land Down Under.

"We've had some problems lately on road and street courses, but there were a couple of races where I had to sit out the last eight minutes of the qualifying session and that put me quite far down the starting grid," explained Carpentier. "Quite often this season we have been able to make up a lot of ground during the race. But you make things a lot easier for yourself if you can get near the front in qualifying, and Team Player's is determined to do that this weekend."

Tagliani, a CART rookie, will be getting his first look at Surfers Paradise, and he is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to handle a new challenge.

"I've heard a lot about Surfers Paradise and the whole racing atmosphere in Australia," said Tagliani. "I can't wait to run some laps on the course so I can get familiar with its layout and adjust to the various situations. Racing in Australia is just another in a series of new experiences for me this year. It was the same thing when we went to Japan and Brazil earlier in the season. We were able to adjust very quickly, especially in Brazil, where we won the pole and had the lead in the final stages of the race."

Tagliani will be in the fast group of drivers for the first qualifying session this weekend, by virtue of his eighth-place performance in qualifying at Houston two weeks ago.

"It's important to be close to the front of the grid at any race," said Tagliani. "But that's especially true when you're racing on a track for the first time. The fine work of the Team Player's crew in Houston has got us in the fast group in Australia and we're going to do everything we can to stay among the leaders."

Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's in Australia by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the 65-lap Honda Indy 300 live on The Sports Network at midnight on Saturday.

<pre> WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Local Time Eastern Time (-14)

Fri. Oct. 13 CART practice 10:30 a.m. noon 8:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (Thurs) CART qualifying 2:30 p.m. 3:45 p.m. 12:30 a.m. 1:45 a.m. (Fri)

Sat. Oct. 14 CART practice 10:00 a.m. 11:15 a.m. 8:00 p.m. 9:15 p.m. (Fri) CART qualifying 1:45 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 11:45 p.m. 1:00 a.m. (Sat)

Sun. Oct. 15 CART warm up 10:00 a.m. 10:30 a.m. 8:00 p.m. 8:30 p.m. (Sat) CART race 2:00 p.m. midnight (Sat/Sun)

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier