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

Chevron driver da Matta earned his fifth CART pole in past six races in record setting fashion at the Molson Indy Vancouver; Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from fifth to seventh in final qualifying. CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Chevron driver da Matta earned his fifth CART pole in past six races in record setting fashion at the Molson Indy Vancouver; Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from fifth to seventh in final qualifying.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "Yesterday was pretty difficult but today was much better. We decided to go out a bit early in the session because it was too crowded on the track yesterday to get a good lap. I had two clear laps and went for it with all the car had in it. This track is prone to have red flags so it was more important for us to go early when there were less cars on track and get into a rhythm than it was for us to wait until more grip was on the track and risk not getting a clear lap. Today's result was a real team effort after our problems yesterday. After Christian's team was finished working yesterday, they all came over and helped fix my car."

* NOTES: Da Matta has won seven of past 11 CART events dating back to his first three-peat (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) where he 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. Wins in Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto enabled him to tie two others (Unser, Jr., and Zanardi) with a CART record fourth consecutive win although he failed to score a fifth consecutive win in Cleveland after being sidelined with mechanical failure after leading the first 19 laps from pole. A win in Vancouver would be his eighth in the past 12 races. Will be his fourth CHAMP CAR race here. 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. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 121 points.

* POLE INFO -- It was da Matta's FIFTH career CART pole in his 70th CART Champ car event -- it was also the fifth time he won the pole in six races after earning the top starting spot at the events in Monterey, Calif., Portland, Toronto and Cleveland -- It is NHR's FOURTH pole here and 68th overall -- It was the 17th for Toyota.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We aren't happy with qualifying in seventh place. We made a change for our second run and either the track wasn't as good or the change was not good because we didn't improve on our time. Any time you don't improve your lap time on your second run, you're not happy. We'll try our best in the race to make up some positions and pick up some good points toward the championship. Anything can happen in racing, especially street races so we just need to stay out of trouble and finish the race."

* NOTES: 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. He is currently in 7th place in the point standings, only 63 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The 30-minute pre-race warm-up will begin at 9:30 AM PST with the Molson Indy Vancouver set to begin at 1:30 PM PST. SPEED Channel will begin their race coverage with a 30m minute pre-race show at 1 PM followed by the 100-lap race.

-mhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta