Cicero, Illinois, July 29, 2000 Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani recorded his fifth top-10 finish of the FedEx CART season and matched his best performance on ovals in this year's series by taking ninth place in today's attrition-filled Grand...
Cicero, Illinois, July 29, 2000 Team Player's rookie Alex Tagliani recorded his fifth top-10 finish of the FedEx CART season and matched his best performance on ovals in this year's series by taking ninth place in today's attrition-filled Grand Prix of Chicago.
Fourteen of the 24 drivers who started were unable to finish the race, and Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier was among this group, as his Player's Reynard went into a tailspin in corner 3 of lap 171, ending what was shaping up as a very promising day. Carpentier had come from 12th on the grid and was running fifth at the time of the incident.
Brazil's Cristiano da Matta held off American Michael Andretti to win the first race of his CART career. da Matta became the ninth different driver to take the checkered flag in 12 races this season. He was also the fourth driver to earn his first career victory in the series this year.
Tagliani's previous best performance in five races on ovals this season was the ninth place he earned in the CART curtain-raiser at Homestead.
"Things were going fine through almost the first half of the race today," remarked Tagliani. "We managed at one point to get into seventh, despite having to contend with oversteer. But as more rubber was laid on the track, there was more grip and I could feel the car getting looser as the race progressed. The Team Player's crew took six turns off the front wing during the race but we still had some looseness.
"On the positive side, we picked up some points in the standings," added Tagliani, whose four points today vaulted him into second place in the rookie standings. He has 40 points, two more than Spain's Oriol Servia. Sweden's Kenny Brack tops the rookie standings with 78 points.
Carpentier, who is 10th in the overall drivers' standings with 65 points, was poised to earn his sixth top-5 finish in eight races when misfortune struck on lap 171.
"I went down too far inside and the rear swing out," he explained. "I was pushing real hard because I wanted those points. It's really too bad because Team Player's gave me a fantastic car today one of the best I've ever had. I'm sure we would have been a big factor at the finish. It's unfortunate, but sometimes when you're pushing hard to win there are more risks involved and these things can happen. Still, you've got to go for it when you have the chance."
With his second-place finish today, Andretti extended his lead to 14 points (104-90) over Roberto Moreno in the drivers' standings.
The next race in the CART series is a road-course event at Mid-Ohio on August 13. Prior to that, Team Player's will be testing on the Elkhart Lake road circuit, August 1-2.