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

Chevron driver da Matta won his second consecutive CART pole for the G.I. Joe's Portland Grand Prix; Lilly driver Fittipaldi to start fifth - both aiming to bring team its fifth win in eight races. 1st: Cristiano da Matta 58.679 / 120.800...

Chevron driver da Matta won his second consecutive CART pole for the G.I. Joe's Portland Grand Prix; Lilly driver Fittipaldi to start fifth - both aiming to bring team its fifth win in eight races.

1st: Cristiano da Matta 58.679 / 120.800 mph
5th: Christian Fittipaldi 59.242 / 119.706 mph

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "This session wasn't as tense for me as yesterday was because everybody else had a lot more to lose since I was guaranteed a front row start. I didn't have any big problems so far in any session. The only problem we had was we were not on top (of the lap times) this morning. The car was okay this morning but I knew it wasn't going to be enough to hold onto pole so we made some changes before qualifying. We went back to how the car was set-up yesterday and it was much better. I was worried about qualifying because I didn't feel like we were making the gains needed to run a faster time than yesterday. I think the warmer weather helped us. It's going to be a difficult race. There are many cars that are running close to us. I think the Ganassi cars and also Christian are going to be tough in the race. It will be a tough race physically because it's our longest race and it is a physical track. I had qualified second so many times including here last year so it is good to get pole two weekends in a row. It's a little bit of a coincidence that it has happened two races in a row though. It's just because we ran on two tracks that we happen to have good set-ups for. The start (of the race) will be difficult. It's probably the most difficult start of the season so I am glad I am starting up front. There is always one crazy guy at the start but I hope it's not me."

· NOTES: Won his second consecutive pole today as well as the third at PIR for NHR and 14th for Toyota. 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 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 53 points.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We are very disappointed that we didn't improve on our time from yesterday but it's good that we didn't drop further back than a fifth place start. I think the car will be good in the race. The Lilly crew was able to help me gain a position each time we pitted last weekend so we will work to make up a few places that way as well as on track. I like racing in Portland. It was my best race of the season last year so I am looking forward to another good run here."

· 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 pre-race warm-up following by the 12:30 PM PST G.I. Joe's 200 Portland Grand Prix.

WHERE TO WATCH: 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