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

Havoline driver da Matta locked in front row start with provisional pole for the Molson Indy Toronto while Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from second fastest in morning session to seventh place. CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Havoline driver da Matta locked in front row start with provisional pole for the Molson Indy Toronto while Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from second fastest in morning session to seventh place.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I set my fast lap on the fourth of the 15 (allowable) laps then we came in and sat in the pits for a while before going out again at the end of the session. We knew the Ganassi and Team Green drivers were fast and also my teammate Christian as well so I was 100 percent sure that everyone was going to improve on their time. I didn't expect to make a mistake but I think it is my first one of the season so that's not too bad. The crash happened when I was downshifting and went over a bump on the backstraight so I only had one hand and didn't have a chance to save it. I was pushing too hard and went in too late on the brakes. I fell sorry for the crew because we are in the middle of the season and they are busy with enough hard work and I don't want to add to it but I think I only damaged the front wing. I saw that the left front corner was completely gone. After that the car picked up a piece from Mario's (Dominguez) car that was on the track. The car was making such a big noise that I thought I was destroying it by continuing but I thought 'I have to get this car off the track.' If I stopped in a bad spot and brought out a red flag, my fast lap would have been taken away. It's great to know that we will start on the front row no matter what but it would be great to get another point by winning the pole tomorrow."

· 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 six of the past 9. 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 Toronto would be his seventh in the past 10 races. Will be his fourth Champ car race here and second with NHR. Started 14th and finished 12th in 2001 event after dropping back due to stopping on course in order to avoid the stalled car of Moreno. After resuming the race he later was collected by the aftermath of a collision between de Ferran and Max Papis. Led his first CART race ever here in 2000 event. Led 73 laps but finished fourth after those in second place-back pitted under caution and he ultimately had to make a late race pit stop for fuel which dropped him to a fourth place finish in 2000. Contact ended his first race here in 1999. A pole here would be his first on a street course. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 95 points.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We had a second or third place car today but I locked up my brakes on my quick lap and we could only be seventh fastest overall. It's a shame but the car is good and we will just try to improve on our position tomorrow and hopefully have enough to make another run for pole. A Newman/Haas front row wouldn't be too bad."

· NOTES: Will be his eighth race in Toronto where his highest start was fifth place in 1998 and 1999 and highest finish is third place in 1999. Ran as high as fourth in 2001 but was in sixth place when he attempted to pass Junqueira and the two collided. In 2000, he was in fourth place before contact in the pits dropped him to 17th. He finished third in 1999. Started fifth and led one lap in 1998 but Gil de Ferran, who was pitted beside him, hit one of his tires that was to be put on his car and finished 16th. Dropped from 13th to 28 after a mistake by the polesitter led to a turn one, lap one incident. He charged back to an 11th place finish. Finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in 1996 and 1995. He is currently in 5th place in the point standings, only 52 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning practice session will take place from 10-11:15 AM ET which will be followed by a one-hour final qualifying session from 1:45-2:45. SPEED channel will televise qualifying live.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Max Papis , Cristiano da Matta