Motegi, Japan, May 19, 2001 Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani battled hard to make some early gains in today's Firestone Firehawk 500 but both Team Player's drivers had their race on the 1.5-mile Motegi oval end prematurely as a result of ...
Motegi, Japan, May 19, 2001 Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani battled hard to make some early gains in today's Firestone Firehawk 500 but both Team Player's drivers had their race on the 1.5-mile Motegi oval end prematurely as a result of mechanical problems. The race was the fourth of the season in the FedEx CART Championship.
After a first-lap incident involving other drivers brought out a caution until lap 7, Carpentier had moved up the field into eighth place and Tagliani had advanced to 16th. Tagliani was the first to encounter misfortune, when his right rear tire caught some debris, causing a slow leak that sent him to the pits on lap 22. After returning, Tagliani stayed out until lap 40, when a gearbox problem ended his race. Carpentier had completed 54 laps but had to park the car because of a crack in the oil tank that caused a leak.
"I'm frustrated because the car was running great," said Carpentier. "I'm convinced we were in a position to get a podium. We were making a lot of progress. We were running as fast as the leaders. The Team Player's crew really did a good job, rebounding from some problems in qualifying and preparing a very competitive car for the race."
Tagliani expressed his disappointment with the outcome of the race, but added that Team Player's had displayed a lot of character throughout the weekend in overcoming adversity.
"We did in one day what the other teams did in two days," he remarked. "We battled hard all weekend and the team deserved a better fate for all of the work it put in. We overcame a lot, and that's something to be proud of. The only thing we can do is keep persevering and I'm sure that the results will come."
Sweden's Kenny Brack won the race, becoming the fourth different driver to win this season. He earned his first CART win in the process, finishing ahead of Brazilians Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. Brack also took over the lead in the drivers' standings with 49 points, two more than Castroneves.
Team Player's returns to action on June 3 for Round 5 of the series on the 1-mile Milwaukee oval.