Da Matta puts Toyota in winner's circle; takes 2002 CART Championship - Cristiano da Matta led 57 laps and drove his Chevron Toyota to his seventh win of the season and clinched the 2002 CART championship with three races remaining the second...
Da Matta puts Toyota in winner's circle; takes 2002 CART Championship
- Cristiano da Matta led 57 laps and drove his Chevron Toyota to his seventh win of the season and clinched the 2002 CART championship with three races remaining the second earliest clinching in CART history. Teammate Christian Fittipaldi (Lilly Toyota) earned his third second-place finish of the season to make it a one-two Newman/Haas Toyota finish. Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota) placed fifth to make it three Toyotas in the top-five.
- Today's victory is the ninth of the season for Toyota and the manufacturer's 20th in the past three seasons. The one-two finish is Toyota's sixth of the season. Cristiano da Matta becomes the first Toyota-powered CART Driver'sChampion.
- Cristiano da Matta's victory is his seventh of the season and the 11th of his CART career all coming with Toyota power. The triumph leaves the Brazilian just one shy of tying the all-time CART single-season record for victories of eight currently held by Al Unser Jr. (1994) and Michael Andretti (1991).
- With the victory, Cristiano da Matta earned his 10th top-three podium finish of the season and extends his championship lead to an insurmountable 69-point lead over fellow Toyota driver Bruno Junqueira. Da Matta has led the championship since Laguna Seca in June and after 14 of the 16 races this season.
- Christian Fittipaldi registered his seventh top-five finish of the season with his second-place showing today. He moves to within one point of fourth-place in the points race.
- Scott Dixon was the fastest car on the track and was passing Tony Kanaan for the lead when Kanaan veered into the New Zealander and knocked him out of the race. Kanaan was penalized for his move, but was able to continue. After starting second, it appeared that Dixon had a great shot at his first victory of the season.
- Toyota drivers continue to rank first and second in the CART points race with three in the top five. Series champion Cristiano daMatta leads with 212 points followed by boyhood friend Bruno Junqueira in second with 143. Christian Fittipaldi is fifth with 114 points.
- Toyota extends its CART Manufacturer's Championshiplead to 46 points over Honda, 287-241. Ford is third, 81 points behind and has been eliminated from the championship hunt. Toyota can wrap up the CART Manufacturer's Championship by scoring a total of 20 points in the season's final three races.
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "It was a great victory for a great champion today. We're happy to help Cristiano win his first championship and proud that Cristiano has never driven anything but a Toyota in his Champ Car career. It's our sixth one-two finish of the season and it also takes Toyota one step closer to our first Manufacturer's Championship."
Cristiano da Matta, #6 Chevron Toyota: "When I first started with Toyota (Oct. 1998), we were down on power and the engine didn't have very good driveability, but we grew up together. My first season my best finish was fourth, but the Toyota engine really improved quickly. My second season I won my first race. Then I moved to Newman/Haas and stayed with Toyota. I felt we were ready to contend for the championship and we did, but the Lola wasn't the best car. This year, everything has come together and we are consistently near the top every week. There's no doubt that the Toyota/Lola combination is the best combination out there." <pre> Toyota Drivers Start/Finish Cristiano da Matta 6/1 Christian Fittipaldi 8/2 Bruno Junqueira 10/5 Kenny Brack 4/13 Tora Takagi 3/15 Oriol Servia 13/17 ScottDixon 2/18
Next Race: Indy 300 Surfers Paradise, Australia, Oct. 26, SPEED, 12 Midnight ET