CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Newman/Haas Friday qualifying report

Lilly driver Fittipaldi second fastest in provisional qualifying for Shell Grand Prix of Denver; Havoline driver da Matta fifth. A red-flag was shown near the final minutes of the session due to a collision by Bruno Junqueira. Both Fittipaldi...

Lilly driver Fittipaldi second fastest in provisional qualifying for Shell Grand Prix of Denver; Havoline driver da Matta fifth.

A red-flag was shown near the final minutes of the session due to a collision by Bruno Junqueira. Both Fittipaldi and da Matta had just returned to the track on their second and final set of tires in an attempt to maximize the potential of their cars but the session was brought to an end and they were unable to better their times.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "The track is not smooth - it is a little bit bumpy. The grip level could be better but this is what we have to work with this weekend. We will have to make our cars suit the track conditions as opposed to bragging or complaining about it. Overall I think they did a good job here. In the race, the front straight is definitely going to be interesting. You will definitely finally see a lot of overtaking on Sunday. (On incident with Shinji Nakano in practice:) I was on my out lap and I got to the hairpin and I went way on the outside part of the turn to give him room. I think he misjudged something. He hit me so hard I almost went upside down. He broke my pushrod and suspension and I had to drive the car on three wheels going right to left to come back to the pits. (On the cars running hot at this altitude:) With the cars running pretty hot, if you make it to the end (of the race) you have a pretty good shot at winning. I think it's going to be survival and mental races. It's obviously easier for the guys that are starting up front, but no matter where you start, you have a shot at winning the race."

· NOTES: Ran the fastest lap with 13 minutes remaining in the session until Adrian Fernandez bettered his lap time. Although he has yet to race at this high altitude, he received private instruction prior to the IronMan Training Camp in Boulder in 1999. Will be his first Champ car race here. He is currently 5th place in the point standings, 62 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We should have been close to Adrian because we ran with him this morning and the car was good but we weren't able to get a clear lap. On my second run, I didn't get a chance to better the time before the red flag came out. We're going to concentrate on getting out earlier tomorrow because of the chance that a red flag will come out. "

· NOTES: Has had eight front row starts this season. He has won EIGHT of past 15 CART events dating back to his first three-peat (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) where he became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). Led 30 laps in Long Beach and built a strong lead before a pit accident derailed his bid for a CART record-tying fourth consecutive win. Wins in Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto enabled him to tie two others (Unser, Jr., and Zanardi) with a CART record fourth consecutive win although he failed to score a fifth consecutive win in Cleveland after he lead the first 19 laps from pole but retired with mechanical failure. Led 36 laps in Vancouver before a drive shaft failure ended his race. Was in second in Mid-Ohio when he slid off-course and ultimately finished 13th. His win two races ago in Elkhart Lake was his eighth in 14 races. Will be his first event at the track. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 161.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning practice session will take place from 10-11:15 AM ET which will be followed by a one-hour final qualifying session from 1:45-2:45. SPEED Channel will televise qualifying live.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Shinji Nakano , Cristiano da Matta