SESSION NOTE: In the morning practice session, da Matta was second fastest while Fittipaldi was third. CART splits qualifying into two sessions with the lower half of drivers in the point standings taking to the track first for a 30 minute ...
NOTE: In the morning practice session, da Matta was second fastest while Fittipaldi was third. CART splits qualifying into two sessions with the lower half of drivers in the point standings taking to the track first for a 30 minute session (20 minutes of guaranteed running time) and the upper half of the drivers in the point standings to qualify at the conclusion of the first qualifying session. As more rubber is laid down on the track, lap times naturally are faster due to more surface grip.
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "It was hard to get a clear lap without someone slowing you down. That is always one of the challenges of a street course. The track is very green with little rubber laid down. This is the second day of the event but the rain washed some the rubber from the first day away so there was less grip. I knew it was my last lap so I couldn't go bonsai and risk messing up my last opportunity to move up from the 20's. If I would have made a mistake I would have qualified way in the back. An eighth place start isn't as good as our ranking of second from the morning but it is a solid starting spot to work with. It is always hard to pass on a street course but hopefully we can make up some positions on track and in the pits. The Texaco/Havoline/Kmart crew performed some great stops at the last race in England so we will work on doing that in Houston as well. We need a good finish for the Championship but it would also be nice to bring Texaco/Havoline and (team owner) Carl (Haas) a good finish since this is their event. I think there will be lots of yellows tomorrow. We [Bjust need to stay out of trouble and make sure one of those isn't for us."
· NOTE: Will be his third event in Houston and first with NHR as well as first as the "Texaco/Havoline" driver in the Texaco/Havoline-sponsored race. Is currently only 55 points out of first place in the Championship with 92 with four races to go.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "We didn't improve the car much from the morning session (ran third) but the car was definitely better than a 13th place start. We were at a disadvantage from being in the first group. The track didn't have much rubber laid down but it was getting better and better the more the cars ran on it. We would have obviously had a better chance to start further up front if we were in the second group rather than the first one but that is the way it goes if you are 13th in the standings. We were right on the break and had to be in the first group. If we would have been the fastest in our group instead of second fastest, we could have earned a spot in the fast (second) group for Laguna Seca if we didn't earn the place by gaining in the standings. This race is probably the biggest one for our team all season considering Texaco/Havoline is the event sponsor and Carl is the co-promoter. We not only need to have a good result for the Championship, we need to have a good race for all of the people that will be here supporting us."
TODD BOWLAND, # 11 Kmart Toyota Lola Race Engineer: "This is probably one of our best weekends all season in terms of competitiveness but unfortunately we had to run in the slow group. History shows that you gain approximately one-half-of-a-second by being in the second group because the track gets faster the more you run on it."
· NOTE: Has run in the top-five in all three previous events here. Finished 6th in 2000; ran in second late in the 1999 race before having to pit for a splash of fuel and finishes 7th; fastest in the race morning warm-up in 1998 and started fifth but was hit by the spinning car of polesitter Greg Moore in the rain and finished 27th. Is currently 91 points back from first place in the Championship standings in 13th place with 54 to leader Kenny Brack, 147.
The Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, round 18 of 21, will air live on ESPN at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 7. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network - which will provide audio to nearly one million American servicemen and women worldwide through the American Forces Radio Network - and on CART's official website, which will also carry Friday's qualifying, at www.cart.com .
Following the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston, the series heads west for the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey, Featuring the Shell 300 at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. on October 14, before making a transoceanic trip to Surfer's Paradise, Australia for the Honda Indy 300 on October 28. The 2001 season-finale Marlboro 500 will take place on November 4 in Fontana, Calif. Kmart driver Christian Fittipaldi is the defending winner.
Kathi Lauterbach Director of PR Newman/Haas Racing 317-297-8064 office 317-297-8065 fax
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