CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach: Newman/Haas Saturday qualifying notes, quotes

Chevron driver da Matta qualified second for the Toyota GP of Long Beach while Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from second to ninth in final qualifying. POLE: Jimmy Vasser 1:07.742 2nd: Cristiano da Matta 1:07.745 (provisional pole on...

Chevron driver da Matta qualified second for the Toyota GP of Long Beach while Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from second to ninth in final qualifying.

POLE: Jimmy Vasser 1:07.742
2nd: Cristiano da Matta 1:07.745 (provisional pole on Friday)
9th: Christian Fittipaldi 1:08.637 (2nd fastest in provisional qualifying)

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I have never started on pole so it was something I really wanted. I felt we could do it but we came up 3000ths of a second short. It was really close. I was one-tenths of a second quicker on the last lap I was running but Michael crashed and the red came out. I think I had more in the car but it Jimmy and Bruno probably felt the same so I will never know. You can't feel bad about starting on the front row though. The important thing is that the car is competitive. By getting the provisional pole yesterday we were locked in to a front row start but it was good to also be fast enough today to be on the front row. It shows that we are consistent. I am very happy with the crew, the Toyota engine, Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires. Everything seems to be working good right now and it shows in our performance. It would be really good for us to win this race for Chevron and Toyota who not only work with our team but also are sponsors of the event. We just need to have a trouble free race and be there at the end. Winning four in a row is not our goal - we are just concentrating on winning the race in general. If we accomplish that, the four in a row takes care of itself. Maybe if I am leading the race with five laps to go, I will think about the significance but hopefully not until after I have finished."

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.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "Traffic was bad, the pressure was high and I screwed up. The car was good. I am really mad that I screwed up. I feel bad for the Lilly team. We had the potential to start the race up front but I screwed up. "

NOTES: His quickest lap time was disallowed today due to bringing out a red flag today when he slid sideways along the track and stalled the engine. Actually, his fastest lap time would have put him 9th on the grid anyway. In Mexico, he ran the fastest qualifying lap 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.

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.

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. Check your local listings to confirm times.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Alex Zanardi , Cristiano da Matta