CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi: Newman/Haas qualifying report

Newman/Haas Racing Qualifying Friday, April 26, 2002 Bridgestone Potenza 500 - Motegi, Japan Round 3 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship Havoline driver da Matta qualified eighth for the Bridgestone Potenza 500 while Lilly driver Fittipaldi ...

Newman/Haas Racing
Qualifying
Friday, April 26, 2002
Bridgestone Potenza 500 - Motegi, Japan
Round 3 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship

Havoline driver da Matta qualified eighth for the Bridgestone Potenza 500 while Lilly driver Fittipaldi qualified 16th.

1st: Bruno Junqueira 25.907 / 215.108 mph
8th: Cristiano da Matta 26.300 / 211.894 mph
16th: Christian Fittipaldi 26.652 / 209.551 mph

Day 2 of the Bridgestone Potenza 500 saw the second consecutive day of cold temperatures and overcast skies. To pass time at night while coping with jetlag, both da Matta and Fittipaldi joined other CART FedEx Championship drivers in the karaoke bar at Twin Ring Motegi Hotel to show their musical ability. On track action included a morning practice session and afternoon qualifying followed by the pre-race drivers meeting and the all-driver autograph session.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We had a misfire in the morning session that we thought we solved. The first lap was clean and the balance of the car was just right. Coming out of turn two on the second lap it happened again and I slowed down so I wouldn't make it worse. The dash said the lap was quicker but I had already lost too much time when I backed off. We are lucky that we got in one lap though. We had made some improvements with our oval set-up before coming here. I didn't think I would qualify in the top-10 and we did so I am happy. We still have a long way to go but we have made progress. We are not there yet but I think we can score some good points here toward the Championship. The race set-up is not that different from the qualifying set up now that the rules have changed and everyone is going for it on track and the stints are not as long. The car has a good balance so we will try to score as many points as possible in the race."

* NOTES: Da Matta surpassed his previous highest qualifying position of 12th place with his eighth place qualifying effort today. Da Matta won three consecutive events in the series (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) and became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). After leading 30 laps and building a strong lead in Long Beach, a pit accident derailed his bid for a CART record-tying fourth consecutive win. A win in Japan would be his fourth in the past five CART events. Will be his fourth race here. Of three races here, he only finished once. Highest finish here is fourth place in 2000 and highest start is 12th place in 2001. Was taken out of the 2001 event in Turn 1 of Lap 1 by the spinning car of Bruno Junqueira who was attempting to avoid an out-of-control car in front of him. Did not finish the 1999 event due to transmission failure.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "It has been a frustrating weekend so far but we have a huge race ahead of us. We didn't get the best out of the car but tomorrow is another day. Starting up front would be better but we'll see what we can do in the race. Yesterday we were good in the first practice session but we didn't improve from there. It will be longer than any of the races so far this season and the duty cycle for the engines will be stressful because of the new rules since everyone will be running as hard as they can rather than trying to conserve fuel. There might be a reliability issue but we are looking good with our Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone combination. We have a good car under us for the race."

* NOTES:  Will be his fifth start here.  Best finishes were 3rd in 1999
and 4th in 2001.  Best start was 6th in 2000 and 7th in 1999.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: A 30-minute warm-up will take place at 9:00 AM and the race will start at 12:30 PM local time.

WHERE TO WATCH: The Bridgestone Potenza 500 will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel beginning at 12:00 PM as well as on TSN beginning at 11:30 AM on Saturday, April 27. Qualifying will air at 2:00 PM on Friday, April 26. CART Friday Night will air at 9:30 PM on Friday, April 26.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta