CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Newman/Haas Friday qualifying report

Chevron driver da Matta gains guaranteed front row start with provisional pole for the G.I. Joe'S 200 in Portland; Lilly driver Fittipaldi third in provisional qualifying after setting fastest time in morning. 1st: Cristiano da Matta...

Chevron driver da Matta gains guaranteed front row start with provisional pole for the G.I. Joe'S 200 in Portland; Lilly driver Fittipaldi third in provisional qualifying after setting fastest time in morning.

1st: Cristiano da Matta 59.083 / 119.974 mph (second fastest in AM session)
3rd: Christian Fittipaldi 59.215 / 119.706 mph (fastest in AM session)

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "It's not only good to get a point and a guaranteed front row start today but it is also good to know we can still improve our car and come back with more to try to collect one more point and the pole in final qualifying. The only point we didn't win (last week) in Laguna Seca was the point on Friday so we are already ahead of this time last week. I had a 58 second lap going on my last lap but I went in (a corner) too hot and had to back off. The Chevron car is working well in place where we turn left and right and we hope to continue that in the race on Sunday. We're off to a good start today."

· NOTES: 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) as well as four of the past seven. 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 Portland would be his fifth in the past eight races. Will be his fourth Champ car race in Portland. Ran 2nd in the 2000 race here but finished fifth due to late pit for fuel and he finished fifth. In 2001, he started second but he went off-course after tapping the leader while in second place under caution on a slippery track. After dropping to the back of the grid, he charged back to finish 10th and salvage some championship points. Da Matta finished 5th in 2000 and 11th in 1999. He is currently leading the point standings with a total of 51 points.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "Am I overjoyed or delighted with my qualifying - absolutely not? Am I happier than if I was 15th - definitely. The back end of the car was not good so we know where we can improve. The car was loose everywhere (on the track). The session didn't go as we were thinking it would after being fastest in the morning. I thought we had a shot at it (pole). I was hoping top my best qualifying (third) but we didn't get the job done. We expected to be a lot quicker but we can still improve for final qualifying. "

· NOTES: Will be his eighth race here. Highest finish of second place this season came on a road course like PIR. Has four top-four finishes in previous seven races at PIR. Finished third in 2001, 2000, 1996 and fourth in 1997 in his return to racing. Led seven laps here - all in 2001. Highest qualifying here was third place in 1997 on his return to racing from his injury in Australia. Could not yet walk and had to also be lifted in and out of his car. Ran in second place until the last lap when he dropped to fourth after two drivers, who gambled on the track drying and made a late pit for racing slicks, passed him. Started in the top-10 all but one time in Portland. Finished in the top twelve all but twice. He is currently in 3rd place in the point standings, only 8 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The will be a morning practice session following by a one-hour qualifying session from 1:45-2:45 PM PT tomorrow.

WHERE TO WATCH: SPEED Channel aired live coverage of Friday's afternoon practice session beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET while CART Friday Night will air live at 10:30 p.m. ET on the Speed Channel on Friday, June 14. Coverage of Saturday's qualifying session will air live on SPEED Channel beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET while CBS Sports will air the first of four races in a row with live coverage of the G.I. Joe's 200 beginning at 3:30 p.m., ET on Sunday, June 16.

-nhr-

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