CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago: Newman/Haas race notes

Havoline driver da Matta won six of the last nine CART races with his victory in today's CART Grand Prix Of Chicago - second at track, Lilly driver Fittipaldi lost a wheel and retired in 14TH place. Fast Facts - June 30, 2002 · EIGHTH CART WIN:...

Havoline driver da Matta won six of the last nine CART races with his victory in today's CART Grand Prix Of Chicago - second at track, Lilly driver Fittipaldi lost a wheel and retired in 14TH place.

Fast Facts - June 30, 2002
· EIGHTH CART WIN: Cristiano da Matta, 28, won his EIGHTH overall CART FedEx Championship Series event today as well as his SIXTH victory in the last nine races AND second three-in-a-row stretch. Wins in Australia and Fontana in 2001 plus a win in the 2002 season-opening race in Mexico enabled da Matta to become the first driver to win three in a row since Juan Montoya accomplished the feat in 1999. At the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, da Matta looked set to score a CART record four consecutive victories after leading 30 laps but made contact with another car while leaving his pit box on the second of three stops and ultimately finished eighth after starting second. He scored back-to-back wins in Monterey, Calif. and Portland, Ore., which was his fifth in the previous eight events. In his debut with the team, he won the 2001 CART season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico. He drove to his first CART victory on the oval track in Chicago in '00 where he defeated Michael Andretti by 1.6 seconds. This is his fourth season with Toyota power and second in a Lola Champ car chassis. It was his 67th Champ car start.

· DA MATTA AT CMS: Was his fourth Champ car race at CMS and second with NHR. Da Matta won his first CART Champ car victory here in 2000 after beating his NHR predecessor, Michael Andretti by 1.6 seconds to take the win from his fifth place start. He qualified 9th in 1999 and finished 14th and qualified 20th in 2001 and finished 19th.

· 65th WIN FOR NHR: da Matta brought Newman/Haas Racing its 65th victory in its 323rd race.

· ADDED NAME TO ILLUSTRIOUS LIST: With his victories for Newman/Haas Racing, da Matta added his name to the list of wins from previous team drivers Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy and Christian Fittipaldi. Only Nigel Mansell and da Matta scored wins for the team in each of their debuts.

· 16 OVERALL FOR TOYOTA: Today's victory marked the 16th for Toyota since joining the series and EIGHTH by da Matta. Juan Montoya won races for Toyota in Milwaukee, Michigan, and St. Louis while Jimmy Vasser won the Houston race and da Matta won in Chicago - all in 2000. In the 2001 season, da Matta in Mexico, Australia and Fontana; Scott Dixon won in Nazareth; Bruno Junqueira won in Elkhart Lake; and Roberto Moreno won in Vancouver. To start of the 2002 season, da Matta won in Monterrey, Mexico as well as Monterey, Calif. and Portland, Ore. before winning TODAY and Bruno Junqueira won in Japan. Today's victory is the fifth in seven races this season for Toyota and marks the manufacturer's seventh win in the last nine CART races.

· 113th WIN FOR LOLA: The CHICAGO victory marks the 113th for Lola, and the 61st by NHR of 113.

· CHAMPIONSHIPS WON: 1998 - Indy Lights Champion after leading the series with four victories, three poles and eight podium finishes; also ran in and won the Annual 12 hours Granja Viana Go-Kart Race; 1994 - Brazilian Formula 3; 1993 - Brazilian Formula Ford; 1992 - Sao Paulo Karting Championship; 1991 - Brazilian Karting Championship; 1991 and 1990 - Minas Gerais State Karting championship.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "The Havoline crew performed flawless, quick stops and helped me win this today. It was a total team effort from the engineers improving our short oval set-up to the mechanics and pit crew. I'm happy to win a race that is not our strength. If you look back to Motegi (Japan), I finished 15 laps down from (winner) Bruno. Then we improved and I ran sixth (at the short oval) in Milwaukee before I had a mechanical problem. Now we won this oval race today and you can see how far we have come. My hat is off to the whole Newman/Haas Havoline team for the improvements they have made. We worked very hard to get to this point. All of the theories that they had about why we weren't so good on short ovals - most of them were right. Especially in May when everyone else was running in Indy and we ran over 1000 miles between Christian and myself to try to improve our oval setup. The hard work paid off. Today was a great race for us. Tony (Kanaan) got by me on the start and I just ran behind him and was able to save some fuel so that we could short-fill the car on the first stop and get out ahead of Dario (Franchitti) and Alex (Tagliani). Then we gained another spot by being able to stay out longer than (race leader) Tagliani and made up some track position so that we he pitted, he came out behind us. I think we performed well under pressure and I think everybody was able to see it but I don't think this was one of my best races. Racing is funny because maybe a race that you think is your best, you only finish fifth or sixth in but you are very happy with your performance because maybe everything wasn't going your way but you got the most out of the situation.

On the possibility of matching a CART record four consecutive wins at the next race in Toronto:

"I'm not thinking about tying the CART record. I'll push hard to make it happen because it is an important number but not because of that. It would be because of the Championship. To win six out of the last nine races to me personally means a lot because I know how tough it is to win just one in this series. Winning six out of the last nine is very difficult to get."

· NOTES: Da Matta increased his lead over second place Bruno Junqueira in the point standings by five as he has 95 points to Junqueira's 70.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I didn't know there was a problem with the stop until I got to the middle of turn one and I heard TZ (John Tzouanakis) come on the radio and tell me to come back in. Then about a few milliseconds later the wheel came off. During the stop I heard him say 'Go, go, go' but he was actually saying 'No, no, no' because he saw that the inside rear tire guy had a problem. The problem is that the series is so competitive today not like 20 years ago when only three guys can win. Anyone can win if they are in front and the pit crew is under more pressure than ever to make up the positions. Obviously the Lilly crew is good at pit stops because they were leading the Craftsman Pit Stop Contest coming into this race. Things like that happen to everyone. This is actually the third race in a row it has happened to someone but unfortunately it was us this race. The Bridgestone tires are too good - they don't go off so everyone is running a fast pace the entire race. We gave away some good points today because we had a sixth or seventh place car and while that wouldn't have won the race for us the points were very important."

· NOTES: Was his fourth race here. Highest finish this season was second place this season came on the Laguna Seca road course and highest short oval finish of fourth place came in Milwaukee. Prior to the race he was in 5th place in the point standings, only 31 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Nigel Mansell , Cristiano da Matta
Teams ART Grand Prix