Havoline Driver da Matta won his eighth race in the past 14 CART FedEx Series events today at the CART Grand Prix Of Road America - Lilly driver Fittipaldi finished sixth.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We came into this race thinking we needed to finish the race more than anything else. Anything we brought home better than fifth place, we were going to take and be happy. We need it to bump-start our rhythm. If we were not the fastest car, we were the most consistent. The team gave me good pit stops, the car was perfect, everything was perfect. During the race, I ran a conservative first stint. I'm very pleased with the way things went and that our strategy worked. We were able to stay on track and do quick laps. I had hot tires and a very low fuel load. That's what won us the race. When someone else is ahead of you but is not as fast, that's the strategy - to short fill. Then the yellow came out and I was worried that I couldn't keep the lead but we did and I was very happy. I was very tense at that time but I came out ahead of Bruno and was pretty happy. I was a very similar strategy when it was a fuel race. I still have to think about the points. Those three races that we didn't score points in was good for us because it showed us how important it is just to score points each time."
· NOTES: Da Matta won EIGHT of past 14 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. Earned his highest start of second place here this year. Finished 6th after starting fifth in 2001. Finished 22nd in 2000 after starting 13th and suffering a pit accident which sidelined him. Finished 21st in 1999 after starting in 11th due to retiring early with transmission failure. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 143 points.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We ran a risky strategy that paid off a little but would have put us ahead of Kanaan who finished fourth if the yellows hadn't come, especially Tracy and Brack's yellow. We had a third or fourth place finish today. We had a little trouble on one of our stops and should have come out of the pits ahead of Vasser. The yellows and the slower stop hurt us. On the bright side, it's good to score some points and pick up a position in the Championship standings though. The car was good in clean air and we were able to make up some ground with some quick laps. We were a little behind this weekend and we didn't qualify as well as we should have. Hopefully we will come back stronger in Montreal."
· NOTES: Was his eighth race here. Was about to take over the lead in the 2001 event as leader had to pit, but contact with Michael Andretti caused Fittipaldi to stop on course and allow Bruno Junqueira to pass both cars for the win. Finished 18th...Was in second place in 2000 after starting 8th when his car experienced exhaust failure...WON the event in 1999...Finished in third place in 1998 despite race morning neck problems that forced him to seek pre-race medical assistance...Result was limited to a fourth place finish in 1997 despite electronics problems that intermittently limited his engine boost by 40 percent...In 1996, his engine blew while in second place in the closing laps (leader Al Unser Jr.'s engine blew as well on the final lap) and Andretti moved up from third to take the win...In his rookie race here with Walker Racing in 1995, he was in third place when a late race caution flag came out and his engineer elected to have him stay on track despite the fact that the remainder of the field pitted. He dropped to eighth place after having to make a green flag stop. He is in 5th place in the point standings, 61 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.
NHR NOTES: The team had scored a total of EIGHT wins here - the most on any single track for the team (da Matta - TODAY; Christian Fittipaldi - 1999; Michael Andretti - 1996, 1991, 1990; Mario Andretti - 1987, 1984, 1983); FIVE poles (Mi. Andretti - 1999, 1998; Ma. Andretti - 1987, 1984, 1983); and a total of 13 PODIUM FINISHES (Ma. Andretti - 3rd in 1988 and 1991; Mi. Andretti - 2nd in 1999; Paul Tracy - 2nd in 1995; and Nigel Mansell - 2nd in 1990).