CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Newman/Haas Racing pre-race notes/quotes

Driver Stats and Quotes: CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Driver Stats and Quotes:

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

- IN VANCOUVER: Led 3 laps in 2001 but finished 20th after being forced to enter a "closed" pit or risk running out of fuel while leading. Once back on track, he was given a drive-through penalty then came into contact with a backmarker while attempting to pass him and finished 20th. Finished 7th in 2000 after running in third until he had to pit for fuel with only five laps to go; finished fifth in 1999 after starting 17th. Clinched the Indy Lights Championship here in 1997 and 1998.

* 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER: Led 52 laps in route to victory in the 2002 season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico which was his third consecutive win in the series dating back to the final two rounds in 2001 (Australia, Fontana) and second consecutive in the season-opener in Mexico. At the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, da Matta looked set to match a CART record fourth consecutive victory when he built a seven second lead after taking over the top spot for the first 30 laps before he was taken out of contention when hit departing his second of three pit stop and ultimately finished eighth after starting second. He started 8th in Japan but mechanical failure sidelined him near the end of the race in 13th place. Was in sixth place in Milwaukee when a fuel pressure problem forced a 10-pit stop race (instead of 3) and dropped him to an 11th place finish. Ran in front of eventual third place finisher Max Papis. Won his first pole as well as his first win from the pole in Monterey, Calif. (6-9-02) after leading 82 of 87 laps. Won all 23 points available in Portland (prov. pole, pole, win, most laps led). Earned 21 of 22 points available in Chicago (win, most laps led) to build a 25 point lead over second place in the standings. Won all 23 points in Toronto (prov. pole, pole, win, most laps led) to build his lead to 48 over second place in the standings. Won each point available on Friday and Saturday in Cleveland by setting the fastest lap times in qualifying. Led the first 19 laps from pole and build a 2.3-second lead on second place before he suffered mechanical failure and ended his bid to earn a CART record fifth consecutive

- SEVEN WINS IN 11 RACES/MOST CONSECUTIVE WINS: With his victory in Toronto (7-7-02), da Matta scored his seventh victory in 10 races dating back to his win in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia but failed to score a record CART fifth consecutive victory at the next event in Cleveland after retiring due to mechanical failure after leading the first 19 laps. At the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, da Matta won his third consecutive event in the CART FedEx Series (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) and became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). Wins in Monterey, Calif., Portland, Chicago and Toronto earned him four consecutive victories which matched a CART record set by Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi. A win in Vancouver would be his eighth in 12 races.

* DIVERSE TALENT: With his 9 wins in CART, he has won on each of the four different types of tracks the series competes on.

* CART FedEx ALL-STAR TEAM: Was nominated to the five-driver 2001 CART FedEx Championship All-Star Team. The elite group is voted on by drivers, a select group of motorsports media and fans.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

- IN VANCOUVER: Will be his seventh event here. Highest finish was 3rd in 1996 and highest start was 6th in 2000. Finished 11th in 2001 despite utilizing a strategy that should have led to a fourth place finish but was effected by the timing of yellow flags; finished 4th in 2000; was unable to compete in 1999; finished 14th in 1998 due to contact late in the race with Hearn while running 6th; finished 9th in 1997 because of contact on the last lap after running 5th; finished 3rd in 1996 after starting 14th; and finished 24th in 1995 as a result of exhaust failure.

- SEVENTH IN 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP (62 pts. out of first): Has FOUR top-4 finishes in NINE races to date. Has run in the TOP-THREE in SEVEN of NINE races this season. At the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, Fittipaldi ran the fastest qualifying lap but it was disallowed after he brought out a red flag due to hitting the concrete barriers. His second fastest lap resulted in a fourth place start and a subsequent third place finish after running as high as second. In Long Beach, Fittipaldi set the second fastest time in provisional qualifying but dropped to a 9th place start in final qualifying, ran as high as 3rd and retired in 13th after gearbox failure. Struggled at the first short oval race of the season in Japan and finished 11th. Team improved their short oval set up for the race Milwaukee where he finished fourth after leading three laps. Drove to his best finish of second place since his victory in the 2000 season-finale at the California Speedway 500-mile race in Monterey, Calif. after leading four laps. Was third fastest in provisional qualifying in Portland but failed to improve his time on Saturday and started fifth. A mid-race collision with Paul Tracy, who attempted a pass, dropped him 10 laps down to the leader by the time he resumed racing although he ultimately retired from the race in 13th place with seven laps to go. A probable top-six finish eluded him in Chicago after his left rear wheel came following his second pit stop. He finished third in Toronto. He was running third in Cleveland but ran out of fuel before his final stop due to a miscalculation. A third place finish would have put him second in the point standings but he fell to seventh place.

* CART VICTORIES - 2: Scored his first CART victory in the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America (7-11-99/71st CART start), He bettered his previous best 500-mile finish of 2nd place in the 1995 Indy 500 by winning the 2000 season-finale Marlboro 500. For his 2nd place finish to (eventual 1997 Formula One World Champion) Jacques Villeneuve, he was also named 1995 Indy 500 "Rookie of the Year."

* CART POLES - 1: Fittipaldi set a track record en route to his first CART pole in his homeland of Brazil on May 14, 1999.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

"We have been pretty competitive on the street courses we have run on so far this season so hopefully that will carry over to the Molson Vancouver race. Our streak ended at four in a row so now we'll just have to start a new one. I'm really not concentrating on that though, I'm concentrating on fighting for the Championship. There have only been two races so far this season that we haven't scored any points so we need to make sure that number stays at two. If we can consistently have top-four, top-five finishes for the rest of the season, we should be in good shape to be a contender at the end of the year. There isn't one specific thing that has put us in this position - it is many things. The Chevron team has given me a good car and performed good pit stops, the Toyota engine has been good, and the Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires have also been good so it is a combination of everything working well together at the same time. There are so many elements necessary for success in racing so it's not unusual to not finish a race once in a while due to these things. Luckily for us, these things all worked so well together for a good stretch of races that we were able to build a small amount of points to carry us over if we had a bad race like we did in Cleveland. After struggling in the middle of the season last year, we started to improve a few races before Vancouver last September and looked like we could have won the race but we had to pit when the pits weren't open during a caution or run out of fuel on track. We were pretty disappointed with how the race went but optimistic with our performance. After that we began to pick up some momentum that we have been able to carry over from last year. I'm looking forward to racing again in Vancouver. It's one of my favorite race cities!

"I came to Vancouver earlier this year for a media day and because it was only for one afternoon, I didn't carry any bags with me. The Canadians are always so nice and when I got to the event they gave me all sorts of things. The promoters of the race gave me some cycling socks --because that's all I wear - that had Canadian flags on them. I even received a pair that I consider my formal ones because they are black. I was also given cycling jerseys, sunglasses and other stuff. I had so much stuff, I had to get a bag to carry all of it back on the airplane with me. I wore one of the pairs of socks in (the race in) Toronto and they brought me good luck because I won. I'm planning on wearing a pair of those socks again in Vancouver."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

"I'm looking forward to racing in Vancouver because we have been competitive on the street courses and it is one of my favorite race cities of the season. We have some points to make up after a third place finish fell through our hands at the last race. That one was hard for us to take because it would have put us second in the point standings but everyone is 100 percent focused on doing well in Vancouver and gaining back some positions in the standings. Cristiano has been able to put together a string of flawless performances and everyone out there has to do the same in order to catch him including us. The Lilly crew still leads the Craftsman Pit Stop contest and has given me some good stops and will continue to increase their lead in Vancouver. We've had some good runs in Vancouver in the past and hopefully this year will be no different. We need to start a good string of finishes in this next run of races and close the gap (of points) for the Championship."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Al Unser Jr. , Max Papis , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi