Havoline driver da Matta to start second in the CART Grand Prix of Road America; Lilly driver Fittipaldi to start 11th. Polesitter: Bruno Junqueira 1:42.151 / 142.659 mph 2nd*: Cristiano da Matta 1:42.640 / 141.451 mph (Time from...
Havoline driver da Matta to start second in the CART Grand Prix of Road America; Lilly driver Fittipaldi to start 11th.
Polesitter: Bruno Junqueira 1:42.151 / 142.659 mph
2nd*: Cristiano da Matta 1:42.640 / 141.451 mph (Time from Friday; Saturday time was 1:43.024)
11th: Christian Fittipaldi 1:43.243 / 141.150 mph (Ran slightly faster than Friday time of 1:43.261)
*His fastest lap time in final qualifying of 143.261 ranked sixth on the time sheets today but he will start in second place because he earned a guaranteed front row start by setting the fastest lap time in provisional qualifying on Friday.
OVERALL: The one hour qualifying session was interrupted by a red flag brought out by Adrian Fernandez after the majority of the field chose to begin their maximum of 15 qualifying laps approx. 19 minutes before the end of the session when the track was at its best grip wise. Most drivers including da Matta and Fittipaldi were approaching the peak of their run on the first of two sets of tires when the session was temporarily stopped. Prime time in the session - the final minute - was also interrupted when Bruno Junqueira spun and came to rest on a portion of the track after trying to avoid hitting the errant car of Shinji Nakano.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "Today I didn't have as good of a session as yesterday. On the first set of tires, my run was stopped by the red flag for Fernandez. I put in a lap before the red that stood as my best lap of the session and it wasn't even that good of a lap. On the second set of tires, (Scott) Dixon was ahead of me three times and slowed me down. I asked Bruno here if they forgot to put mirrors on his car. It's a shame that some guys play qualifying like this. On the last lap, I came up on Bruno's car and had to slow down to get by. My crew came on the radio and said to watch out because he was on the track but I kept on it until Canada Corner but I couldn't find enough room and had to slow down and go to the pits. There was nothing I could do. It's even difficult for me to know what the car was capable of because I was so far off on getting a good lap in. "
· NOTES: Da Matta has won seven of past 13 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. A win in Road America would be his eighth in the past 14 races. Earned his highest start of second place here in his fourth event at the track. 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 123 points.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We are not that far off for a four-mile track but we're enough off to have a starting position of eleventh. We just aren't on it this weekend. We screwed up but hopefully we can salvage a good race out of this. We're going to try to get the car better in race trim and try to pass on track and in the pits."
· NOTES: Will be 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 currently tied for 6th place in the point standings, 48 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.
NHR NOTES: The team has scored a total of SEVEN wins here - the most on any single track for the team (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 12 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).
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning warm-up will take place from 10-10:30 AM local time. The CART Grand Prix of Road America will be televised LIVE on SPEED Channel at 3:00 PM ET. SPEED Channel will also televise a 30 minute pre-race special at 2:30 ET.