Brooklyn, Michigan, July 20, 2001 On a day when track temperatures on the Michigan Speedway super oval reached 141 degrees F, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani breezed through Friday's practice for the FedEx CART ...
Brooklyn, Michigan, July 20, 2001 On a day when track temperatures on the Michigan Speedway super oval reached 141 degrees F, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani breezed through Friday's practice for the FedEx CART Championship Harrah's 500, by clocking the third and fourth fastest laps of the sessions.
Carpentier, who finished fourth in Michigan last season, registered his quick lap on the 2-mile super speedway in the morning session, when his time of 31.917 seconds (225.585 mph) was bettered by only Kenny Brack of Sweden, who put in the quickest lap of the day by circling the oval in 31.809 seconds (226.351 mph).
Tagliani, meanwhile, was third fastest in the morning run and topped that performance in the closing minutes of the afternoon session with a time of 31.989 seconds (225.077 mph). With Italy's Max Papis finishing second to Brack and the two Team Player's driver 3 and 4 on the leader board, Ford-engine cars swept the top four places.
"We had a real good day," said Carpentier. "Team Player's figured that the time we set this morning would be good enough to get us into the top 10, so we ran on old tires in the afternoon. When I saw that the morning time held up and turned out to be the third fastest of the day, I was extremely happy."
With the positive developments of the morning session, Carpentier and the Team Player's crew turned their attention in the afternoon to the behavior of the car in an assortment of circumstances. As Carpentier explained, "We wanted to see what the car did while drafting up front and behind, how it behaved in turbulence, without the turbulence, how it went while it was alone in certain sections of the track, in preparation for the race. The car was very good, whether it was in traffic or by itself."
Tagliani, who twice led the race in Michigan as a CART rookie last year, was less than 2 one-hundredths of a second from recording the fastest lap of the afternoon session, where the searing heat and a support race session just before the CART drivers took to the track, combined to create a slicker surface and, in most cases, produce slower times than the morning session.
"I'm pleased with fourth place because Team Player's worked on race setups and improved the car every time we went out" related Tagliani. "With the rear wing modification (by CART officials to slow down the speed), the rear of the car seems to be lifting off at first, but again, the team added more downforce at the rear, and the car was running just fine."
Team Player's is preparing for the Harrah's Michigan 500 on the heels of Tagliani's first career podium in the CART series. Tagliani finished second before a home crowd in Toronto last Sunday, and today the Player's driver said he believes the race was a turning point in the season because "everyone on the team feels so much more confident right now."
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 250-lap race live on The Sports Network starting at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.