CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Player's on a mission in Houston

Houston, Texas, September 28, 2000 The standings in the FedEx CART Championship are so tight that nine drivers head into Round 18 of the series in Houston this weekend with 100 points or more. Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier, who has 91,...

Houston, Texas, September 28, 2000 The standings in the FedEx CART Championship are so tight that nine drivers head into Round 18 of the series in Houston this weekend with 100 points or more. Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier, who has 91, is intent on becoming the next driver to crack the century mark with a strong performance on the city's 1.527-mile temporary street course.

In fact, Carpentier, who is 12th in the drivers' standings with three races left on the schedule, still entertains the possibility of climbing into fifth place by the time the season ends, in Fontana, on October 29. Carpentier is currently 30 points from the fifth spot.

"Mathematically, I still have a chance to accomplish that goal," said Carpentier. "I know there are only three races left but I'm going to keep battling right to the end. It was a great feeling to match my career best CART performance with the second-place finish at Gateway, but my goal at the start of the season was to make it to the top step of the podium and that's still the priority. The last race showed that it is a realistic aim. The result was a boost for everyone at Team Player's, and it has made me even more confident going into the last three races of the season."

Carpentier, who will be somewhat hampered in Friday's first qualifying session because he has to serve an eight-minute penalty assessed at Laguna Seca, has performed well in two of the three street-course events in which he has competed this season. He finished fifth in Detroit and seventh in Toronto, after starting 17th on the grid.

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani, who competed twice on the Houston street course in the Atlantic series winning the pole and finishing second there two years ago - will be making his first Texas start in the CART series. He is encouraged about Team Player's chances for success.

"I know it's the first time that I'll be competing there as a CART driver, but my performances this year on some of the other street courses in the series have been solid, with a fourth at Long Beach, a fifth in Toronto and a sixth in Detroit," related Tagliani. "The Team Player's crew has been very consistent in preparing a top-notch car for street-course events and I have no doubt that will continue in Houston."

While Tagliani hopes to enjoy the thrill of victory on Sunday, he experienced a thrill of another sort today when he and Andrew Bordin, a Team Player's driver in the Atlantic series, received an exclusive tour of the famed Johnson Space Center in Houston, accompanied by Canadian astronaut Julie Payette. During the tour, Tagliani spent some time in the Center's space shuttle simulator, the only one of its kind in the world.

Bordin, who will be on the track Sunday for the final Atlantic race of the season, still has an outside shot of finishing third in the drivers' standings. Bordin, of Woodbridge, Ontario, is currently fourth with 111 points, 18 behind Argentina's Martin Basso.

Racing fans can track the progress of Team Player's this weekend by logging on to the web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the Grand Prix of Houston on a tape delay on The Sports Network at 5:00

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Martin Basso , Andrew Bordin