Nazareth, Pennsylvania, May 3, 2001 There have been some memorable moments for Team Player's at the Nazareth Speedway, which is playing host to its final FedEx CART Championship race with the running of Sunday's Lehigh Valley Grand Prix. Team...
Nazareth, Pennsylvania, May 3, 2001 There have been some memorable moments for Team Player's at the Nazareth Speedway, which is playing host to its final FedEx CART Championship race with the running of Sunday's Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.
Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier still holds the qualifying record on the 0.946-mile tri-oval, turning a fast lap of 18.419 seconds (184.896 miles per hour) in 1998. Jacques Villeneuve finished on the podium with a second-place finish in 1995 and Greg Moore did likewise the following year before returning to the podium in 1998 after a third-place performance. Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani earned a podium (3rd in 1997) here while racing in the Atlantic series and was in contention for much of last year's race in his first CART appearance on the Nazareth oval.
The Nazareth oval can be a real surprise package, as witnessed last season when the race, scheduled for early April, was postponed because of a snowstorm. It was made up a few weeks later, and it was then that Carpentier returned from a wrist injury. Ironically, this year's race in Nazareth is also Carpentier's first race back from a wrist injury. He has not missed any races because of the injury, but like the other drivers in the series, he did not race last Sunday because of the postponement in Texas, where he had qualified on the front row.
"Even though we weren't able to race in Texas, the fact we had the practice sessions and the qualifying was important for me," said Carpentier. "It gave me the opportunity to test my wrist under competitive conditions. It's still a bit tender but I'm really happy with the way it held up during the weekend. With the postponement, it's had some extra time to heal and that's going to help. I know that Team Player's had a super car for the race in Texas, and I'm confident it will be the same for Nazareth."
Tagliani, who put in a gritty performance in qualifying on Row 4 in Texas, also expects that Team Player's will be very competitive on the Nazareth short oval. The next three races in the CART series are on 1-mile or 1.5-mile ovals, and Tagliani says such continuity will help in getting into a racing rhythm.
"I was disappointed, like everyone else, that circumstances prevented us from racing last weekend," remarked Tagliani. "But I still had the opportunity of working with Tony Cicale and the Team Player's crew in practice and qualifying. That enabled me to continue to build on our strong rapport and learn a few more things that will help me when certain situations arise."
Team Player's preparations for the Nazareth race began several weeks ago with extensive wind-tunnel testing at the Auto Research Center near the team's Indianapolis headquarters.
"When we conducted wind-tunnel testing in March, we obtained a lot of valuable data about oval courses such as Texas and Nazareth," said Bruce Ashmore, Technical Director of Team Player's. "The testing gave us a pretty good idea of what to expect at Nazareth, so we've been able to plan our strategy accordingly. There are always adjustments to be made once you start putting in laps but being able to acquire and analyze the information from wind-tunnel testing is a big plus going into a race weekend."
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.