Team Player's is up for the Challenge on Lightning-Fast Michigan Super Oval Brooklyn, Michigan, July 19, 2001 Fresh from his first career podium in the FedEx CART Championship with a second-place finish in Toronto last weekend, Team Player's ...
Team Player's is up for the Challenge on Lightning-Fast Michigan Super Oval
Brooklyn, Michigan, July 19, 2001 Fresh from his first career podium in the FedEx CART Championship with a second-place finish in Toronto last weekend, Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani is looking to complete some unfinished business this Sunday on the lightning-quick 2-mile Michigan oval.
"As a CART rookie last year, I had the lead twice in Michigan but I wasn't there at the end," recalls Tagliani. "You have to seize opportunities like that, and I believe I learned some things from the experience last year that will help me this time. After being on road and street courses for the last four races, the Michigan super oval is going to be quite a change of pace, from both a driving and technical standpoint, but Team Player's is definitely up for the challenge."
While an incident removed Tagliani from the lead and the race at about the two-thirds mark last year, the Team Player's car was performing well on a super speedway where it has consistently had a strong showing, including a victory by Greg Moore in 1998. Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier just missed garnering a podium last year, settling for a fourth-place finish. In three appearances in Michigan as a Team Player's driver, Carpentier has always been in the top 10.
Tagliani believes the strong showing by Team Player's in Toronto has provided some momentum for the Michigan race, and he isn't about to sit on his laurels.
"It's something that has been building for the last few races and we're going to do everything we can to maintain that consistency," he declared. "You can't take anything for granted in this series. You have to go out there every week and work hard to improve on every facet of racing, whether it's the driving, the car development or the overall strategy."
Sunday's race is the last one for the CART series on the Michigan International Speedway super oval, and while Carpentier has some fond memories of exciting wheel-to-wheel, three-cars-abreast racing, he says his focus is more on winning the race than getting caught up in the nostalgia.
From past experience, Carpentier is well aware that "the race on the Michigan super-oval is going to be fast and exciting, with plenty of lead changes. There were more than 50 lead changes last year and almost as many the year before that. One of the keys is to make sure you stay on the lead lap so that you are in a position to be in contention near the end, when the race really becomes a shootout. That strategy almost worked for Team Player's last year, when we were pressing for a podium spot but had to settle for fourth."
While Carpentier wasn't as successful as his teammate in Toronto last weekend, he is encouraged by the fact he was able to run at the front deep into the race, "and our race ended only because we tried to be bold and aggressive and make things happen. It didn't work out that time but we're going to keep pushing the envelope. The podium by Alex was a big lift for everyone at Team Player's. We've felt all along that we could be right up there and this is just another sign that we're headed in the right direction."
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.
Friday, July 20 CART practice 9:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. CART practice 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 21 CART practice 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. CART qualifying noon - 2:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 22 CART warm-up 9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. CART race 1:30 p.m.