INDIANAPOLIS (September 5, 2002) - CART FedEx Championship Series point leader Cristiano da Matta ( ...
INDIANAPOLIS (September 5, 2002) - CART FedEx Championship Series point leader Cristiano da Matta (#6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) of Newman/Haas Racing topped the voting for the third quarter 2002 Driver of the Year award, a unique achievement considering it is the only award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States.
In thirteen starts leading up to the vote, the Champ Car pilot grabbed an amazing six poles and amassed six wins (including four poles and three wins in the third quarter) and led the CART FedEx Championship Series by 55 points with six races remaining. Almost more impressive is the fact that da Matta has achieved this feat competing on CART's four disciplines (permanent road courses, street circuits, short ovals and superspeedways) - the true test of a complete driver's capabilities.
"This is the first time it happened to me in the top series, so it means a little more, plus I think it's an award not only voted by CART journalists but from all types of journalists," said da Matta. "So, if even from a distance we can cause a good impression on everybody else, it's good to know that everybody is paying attention."
Da Matta, a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, took 15 of the 17 first place votes and collected 143 points and was recognized for the award among drivers competing in the IRL, NASCAR, NHRA and World of Outlaws.
A panel of 16 leading journalists from across the U.S. and a fan vote on ESPN.com determine the winner. In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis.
In recognition of his results, da Matta will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix Swiss watch - the official watch of the Driver of the Year award.