Fort Worth, Texas, April 28, 2001 - Returning from a wrist injury in dramatic fashion, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier earned the third front-row position of his FedEx CART Championship career on Saturday, clocking the second fastest lap...
Fort Worth, Texas, April 28, 2001 - Returning from a wrist injury in dramatic fashion, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier earned the third front-row position of his FedEx CART Championship career on Saturday, clocking the second fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday's Texas 600.
Carpentier's previous two front-row starts were from the pole, and he came within 1 one-hundredths of a second of taking the pole in this session. His fast lap of 22.864 seconds (233.345 miles per hour) held up until Sweden's Kenny Brack, one of the few CART drivers with previous experience on the Texas Motor Speedway's 1.5-mile oval, clocked a lap in 22.854 seconds.
Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani also had an impressive qualifying run, earning a spot on Row 4 despite having to cope with a problem with the pop-up valve. Spain's Oriol Servia and American Bryan Herta were third and fourth respectively, giving Ford a sweep of the top four spots.
"It's great to be on the front row," said Carpentier. "I've been saying since the last race that I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any time after I hurt my wrist because I know we have a very competitive car. The results today prove that, and the Team Player's crew really deserves a lot of credit. We came up with some good strategy and they gave me the car I was looking for."
Carpentier acknowledged that the car was a bit loose as he sped around the high-banked (24 degrees) oval that the CART series is visiting for the first time. "But loose was good on this track for qualifying," Carpentier added. "Team Player's removed all the aerodynamic downforce that it could, and the hard work by the crew paid off. I know that after Friday's practice sessions, the team worked a good portion of the night to improve the car. We found the proper balance and the car was this close to being the fastest one out there in qualifying."
Carpentier foresees Sunday's race, the third of the season in the CART series, as being "long and very fast." While he is confident that Team Player's can win the race, Carpentier said the primary objective is to earn some points in the standings he described 20 points, which is a race win, as "perfect," but he would also be happy with 16 or 14 points.
Looking at the race from a strategic standpoint, Carpentier remarked: "The track here is like a bowl, and the air will accelerate as we run bunched up during the race. This means that the proper balance in aerodynamic downforce will be crucial. We'll be working on this throughout the race."
Tagliani, meanwhile, said that despite the pop-up valve problem that arose in qualifying, Team Player's has "a very good car for the race." Tagliani was able to qualify in the top half of the grid but he said he plans to focus his efforts on moving up the field to avoid getting caught up in the air turbulence from the cars ahead of him.
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Texas 600 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 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
-Team Player's Racing