CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Newan/Haas Friday qualifying summary

Chevron driver da Matta qualified on provisional pole while Lilly driver Fittipaldi qualified second for The Toyota GPDp Of Long Beach. CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Chevron driver da Matta qualified on provisional pole while Lilly driver Fittipaldi qualified second for The Toyota GPDp Of Long Beach.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I'm not looking to tie the win record but if it happens I will be very happy. I am concentrating on winning the Championship so it was very important to get a point today. I've never been on pole so I would be very happy but it is good to be guaranteed a front row start. The battle with Christian will be very difficult. I'm confident that me and Christian will battle until the end of the race. This kind of teamwork helps us. After leaving Mexico - not that we had a huge advantage but we had a good one - we were concerned that our opponents would be closer to us so it is good to know we are still strong. The track is better at the end of the qualifying session so everybody wants to wait to run their 15 laps as close to the end as possible. On Friday, you think 'If I don't do it today, I have tomorrow.' There is more pressure on Saturday so you can't risk waiting so long to go out on track. It would be good to win the pole for Toyota at their own race but it is more important to win the race. My sponsor Chevron is also a sponsor of the race so there are many people who are happy we will start on the front row."

· NOTES: With his win in the 2002 season-opening race in Mexico, he became the first driver to win three in a row since Juan Montoya accomplished the feat in 1999. If he wins the TGPLB, he will be in a three-way tie for first with Al Unser Jr. ('90) and Alex Zanardi ('98) for the most consecutive wins in the CART Champ car series at four. This will be his fourth race here in a Champ car and sixth overall. Started 4th and finished 2nd in 2001; started 12th in 2000 but mechanical problems ended his race; started 16th in 1999 but contact ended his race. Won the 1998 Indy Lights race here and finished 2nd in the 1997 Indy Lights event.

GUILLAUME "ROCKY" ROCQUELIN, Race Engineer for the #6 Chevron car: "It was very tense hen the red came out in the session as we had not been on track very long but it was the same for all of the 'players' who were on the same strategy. I think the best thing for us is that we can now concentrate on setting the car up for the race tomorrow instead of worrying too much about getting a good qualifying position. At the least, we have a second place start which is important."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "The car was good in the morning session and we were able to run the fastest lap of the session. We had a trouble free day. We left (the race in) Mexico with a very good car, went to Sebring and had a very good test. Everything went okay with the first set of tires in the qualifying session but we got into a lot of traffic when we were on our second set of tires. Obviously I would have liked to have gotten the provisional pole but if I can stay on the front row in final qualifying, I will be pretty happy. We are on to a very good fight tomorrow."

· NOTES: Ran the fastest qualifying lap in Mexico but it was disallowed after he brought out a red flag due to hitting the concrete barriers. His second fastest lap resulted in a fourth place start and subsequent third place finish after running as high as second. Will be his seventh race in Long Beach. In 2001, an installation mistake caused him to finish 24th after having the fastest car in the pre-race warm-up. Ran second in the 2000 event before an exhaust failure caused his car to ignite in flames thus ending the race. In 1999, he finished in 5th place, retired after contact in 1998 (Tracy) and 1996 (Moore), suffered car problems in 2001(installation mistake), 2000 (fire) and 1995 (transmission), and did not compete in 1997 due to an accident in Australia. His highest start is 10th in 2001 and 1996. His highest finish is 5th in 1999.

CRAIG HAMPSON, Race Engineer for the #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "Obviously it was a great day for Newman/Haas Racing. Sure I would have liked to have been on (provisional) pole to make tomorrow less stressful but it didn't happen. We didn't get a great run on our second set of tires but the balance wasn't as good as it was in the morning session. We're going to make some changes and give it another shot tomorrow."

NEW NAME/LOOK: Newman/Haas Racing sponsor, ChevronTexaco, will feature the Chevron logo on the No. 6 car driven by Cristiano da Matta for this weekend's race in Long Beach as well as CART FedEx events in Laguna Seca, Portland, Vancouver, Miami and the season finale in Fontana. For all other events in 2002, the car will be in the Havoline livery as it was when da Matta drove to his third consecutive victory in the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The one-hour final qualifying session is scheduled to take place from 1:45-2:45 PM local time tomorrow. Da Matta is locked in with a front row start although another driver could set a faster lap time and thus earn the pole position as well as one point. As the provisional pole sitter, da Matta can still gain one point if he sets the fastest time in the provisional qualifying session.

WHERE TO WATCH: The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised LIVE on Fox network beginning at 3:30 PM on Sunday, April 14. Speed Channel will televise Friday's qualifying session at 4:30 PM while the all-new CART Friday Night show will air from the 10th annual Racer party at 10:30 PM. Saturday's qualifying session will air at 4:30 PM. All times are Eastern. Check your local listings to confirm times.

-nhr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Alex Zanardi , Cristiano da Matta