CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Player's Road America race report

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 19, 2001 Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier finished eighth and ninth respectively on Sunday in an event-filled FedEx CART Championship race on Road America that included a start under...

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 19, 2001 Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier finished eighth and ninth respectively on Sunday in an event-filled FedEx CART Championship race on Road America that included a start under yellow and a 47-minute red flag after lap 14 because of excessive water build-up on a section of the back straight.

The eighth-place finish enabled Tagliani to extend his consecutive points-paying streak to seven, the longest active string by a CART driver. The five points that Tagliani earned boosts him into 14th place in the drivers' standings with 49 points, within five points of cracking the top 10. Carpentier, who entered the Road America event with three straight podium finishes, compiled four points for today's performance, moving him into sole possession of eighth place in the standings, 13 points out of fifth.

Rookie Bruno Junqueira of Brazil, who took the lead on lap 36 and managed to retain it after getting a splash in the pits on lap 42, earned his first CART victory in the race, which reverted to a two-hour time limit, shortening the scheduled 55 laps on the 4.048-mile circuit to 45 laps. Junqueira became the ninth different driver in 12 races to earn a CART victory this season. Veteran Michael Andretti of the United States finished second and Mexico's Adrian Fernandez was third.

"It was a weird race but overall I'm pleased because it's the first time that I've scored points on this track since I've been in the CART series," said Carpentier, making his fifth CART appearance at Road America.

The first four laps of the race were under caution because the track was soaked by rain that had fallen about 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to begin. Two more yellows occurred as a result of incidents on lap 6 and 10. While most of the track gradually dried out, a substantial amount of water collected because of a drainage problem near the Kink on the back straight. The race was red-flagged while work crews stopped the flow of water and made the track safe for racing.

"Team Player's had a great race strategy but the red flag threw everything out the window because the rules allow everyone to work on the cars and change their set-ups under the red flag," said Tagliani, who started second behind pole-sitter Kenny Brack and maintained that position until pitting under yellow on lap 11. "We had a soft car set-up to start the race and it worked well on either wet or slick tires. Kenny and I had made our pit stops and put on slicks and we were able to handle the "river" in the Kink. They then stopped the race, and that worked against us."

Carpentier, who started 12th, climbed into second place on lap 24 and held that position through the next eight laps. But he was pushed to the apron of the track by a Gil de Ferran pass and fell to fifth before having to pit on the next lap, dropping him farther back.

"I was doing great in second place, but when Gil passed me he kind of pushed me onto the grass and I lost several positions because of it," explained Carpentier. "I didn't like that part of the race. If it had been a clean move, he would have passed me but I would not have fallen back the way I did. These kinds of mistakes can end up costing you and today it did."

Following a one-week break, Team Player's will have the chance to perform in front of its home fans as the CART series makes its second and final Canadian stop for the Molson Indy Vancouver on Sept 2.

-Player's

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Kenny Brack