CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Player's Naxareth Friday notes

Nazareth, Pennsylvania, May 4, 2001 Taking advantage of the opportunity to put in their first practice laps of the season on a short oval, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani posted respectable times on the Nazareth...

Nazareth, Pennsylvania, May 4, 2001 Taking advantage of the opportunity to put in their first practice laps of the season on a short oval, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani posted respectable times on the Nazareth Speedway on Friday in preparation for Sunday's Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.

"We spent quite a bit of time working on finding the maximum mechanical grip without upsetting the aerodynamics," explained Carpentier, who recorded the 11th fastest lap in the combined sessions, covering the 0.946-mile tri-oval in 21.115 seconds, a speed of 161.288 miles per hour. "The car ran much better in the afternoon practice. It had a lot more grip than it did in the morning run.

"We didn't do much testing on ovals this winter, so today was a case of experimenting a bit just to see how things would go. Team Player's tried different set-ups in the morning session to find the limits of the car. We're able to turn things around much quicker this year, so I wasn't worried about the times we clocked this morning. The fast laps that we clocked in the afternoon showed that we made some pretty good progress, so overall it was a satisfying first day."

The first two races of the FedEx CART Championship were run on road courses, while Round 3, scheduled last Sunday on the 1.5-mile oval in Texas, was postponed. As a result, the race in Nazareth, which is CART's final visit to the track here, will be the first event on an oval this year. Carpentier still holds the CART qualifying record at the Nazareth track, clocking a time of 18.419 seconds in 1998.

Tagliani's combined practice sessions on Friday were much like those of his teammate the afternoon run resulted in an improved performance that left Tagliani optimistic for a strong qualifying session on Saturday. Tagliani's combined time of 21.373 seconds (159.341 mph) was 18th fastest for the day.

"Since there is no in-season testing in the series this year, Team Player's tried a different suspension geometry this morning to see where that would take us," said Tagliani. "We found that it didn't work out all that well, so we decided to cut the morning session short and go back to a more conventional set-up. In the afternoon, we tested several car configurations and found the right balance. This resulted in improved lap times, and they might have been even better but, on our last run, when we were on fresh tires, there was a glitch in the pop-off valve."

Brazilian rookie Bruno Junqueira had the fastest lap time of the combined sessions, making his way around the oval in 20.485 seconds (166.248 mph), while Italy's Max Papis was 0.168 seconds off the pace.

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Lehigh Valley Grand Prix throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-Player's

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani