Jury out on Tagliani move

Michigan 500 winner Patrick Carpentier stands by his team mate Alex Tagliani's last lap move that effectively ended Dario Franchitti and Michel Jourdain's victory chances

Jury out on Tagliani move

Tagliani was a lap down and racing with Paul Tracy. But on the last lap of the 250-lap race, he made a radical move through the lead pack, slicing to the low side in a manner that required Michel Jourdain Jr. to violently back off and swerve to avoid a collision. That almost took him directly into the side of Dario Franchitti, who was racing alongside on the outside groove.

"I was fighting for a position in P10 and gained four positions in the last laps," said Tagliani. "Towards the end of the race I saw Pat fighting for the lead. On the last lap he was fighting very hard with Dario Franchitti and Michel Jourdain and I went on the inside and passed everybody.

"I made Pat draft me, then I lifted on the straightaway and when he went by the two Player's cars took the whole track."

The big question was what was Tagliani doing dicing it up with the leaders as they tried to decide it amongst themselves on the last lap?

"I think when you go a lap down earlier in the race here, it's up to you to try and stay ahead of the guy using the same kind of etiquette you would use when passing for position," said Franchitti.

"It's different at a superspeedway than it is at a smaller oval like Chicago," he added, "but at that point, at the end of the race when there are five guys on the lead lap, I think it would be nice to fight it out amongst ourselves. But it's very difficult to police something like that."

Both Franchitti and Jourdain were extremely alarmed by the danger that Tagliani's move created for them. But both refused to vent their anger at the second Player's/Forsythe driver.

"It was pretty dangerous," Jourdain said. "I didn't hit Dario, like Max (Papis) took Kenny (Brack) out, but I don't know why. I was sure we were both gone. I was really scared at that point because I thought the four of us (Tagliani, Jourdain, Franchitti and Carpentier) were going to crash. It was an eight or a nine on a 10 scale - very dangerous.

"Last year, I got a lap down and I raced with the leaders to get my lap back," he continued. "But that was in the middle of the race. In the last 10 laps, the guys behind the lead lap should let us fight. Obviously, Tag is Pat's team mate, so it's hard to say. But I think it was very, very dangerous."

Franchitti backed up the Mexican's remarks, saying: "I think first of all it's important that we don't make a massive issue out of it. The most important thing is that Pat won the race today. Whatever happened, Pat deserved to win the race. He drove a good race, so let's not blow this thing out of proportion.

"As far as I'm concerned, Tag's move isn't about being on a scale of one to 10," he added. "It was unacceptably dangerous. He shouldn't have done it, and he probably knows he shouldn't have done it. The thing is Pat won the race. There have been times before when Pat's been in position to win and it hasn't happened. That's the way it goes sometimes."

Carpentier then volunteered to address the safety aspect of his team mate's bold move.

"I think it was a risky move, but in a series as competitive as we have today, one point or two points can make a huge difference at the end of the year. If he was racing for points with Paul, hey, it's racing. Today it worked out for me, and many times before, it has not worked out. I've seen some moves this year, in Toronto and other places that were more dangerous than this move was today, to me.

"It's dangerous because it's really high speed. But you cannot plan for him to help me. When I saw him coming, I thought, 'Man! What is he doing?' But it worked out for me today."

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