CHAMPCAR/CART: Chicago: Notes of interest

WHO'S HOT * Newman/Haas Racing pilot Cristiano da Matta ( ...


* Newman/Haas Racing pilot Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) has been on a tear as of late, showcasing the road racing skills that earned him victories from pole in each of the last two CART FedEx Championship Series events (Laguna Seca and Portland). The win last weekend in Portland made it three on the young season (Monterrey, Mexico) which has da Matta atop the championship point standings (74-54) over the consistent Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and sophomore Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone). Da Matta also set a precedent last weekend, becoming the first driver to sweep every championship point available under the new rules package for 2002, pacing both qualifying sessions (2), taking the win (20) and leading the most laps (1) for an impressive 23-point performance.

* With a sixth-place finish in last weekend's G.I. Joe's 200, Michel Jourdain Jr. is the only driver to have finished in the top 10 in each of the year's first six races. Jourdain became the first driver to start a season with six straight top 10s since Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola Bridgestone) reeled off seven straight to begin the 1999 campaign.

* Townsend Bell (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) narrowly missed his first Champ Car podium last weekend at Portland with a career-best finish of fourth. Bell hounded third-place finisher Dario Franchitti (#27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) in a spirited battle but came up short in his encore performance at Laguna Seca where he scored his first championship points of the season finishing fourth. Bell will be looking to extend his 13-point lead in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year standings over Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone) as he makes his first career Champ Car start on the challenging 1.029-mile oval in Cicero.


* Max Papis (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Tony Kanaan (#10 Pioneer Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) are the only active CART drivers to have won poles at Chicago, Kanaan taking the top spot last year with a best lap of 23.145 seconds (160.052mph) to give Mo Nunn Racing its first CART pole.

* Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) has only run two of the three CART races run at Chicago but has had the most success of any driver at the 1.029-mile oval. Brack has scored 34 points in his two events, including last season's victory, giving him the lead among current Champ Car drivers.


* Toyota-powered drivers have won four of six CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season, including wins in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey (Round 1), the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 (Round 5) and the G.I. Joe's 200 (Round 6) last weekend with Cristiano da Matta and the Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Japan (Round 3) with Bruno Junqueira. Honda holds the rights to the remaining two victories in the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Round 2) and the Miller Lite 250 in Milwaukee (Round 4) with drivers Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), respectively.

* Toyota finished one-two at Portland after sweeping the podium and six of the top seven spots and at Mazda Raceway in Round 5. With the dominant performance, Toyota extends their lead in the hunt for the Manufacturer's Championship to 19 points over Honda.

* Lola has won eight of the past nine CART FedEx Championship Series events, dating back to a victory by Max Papis in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterrey Featuring the Shell 300 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year. Also included in the run are three consecutive victories by Newman/Haas Racing driver Cristiano da Matta (Australia and Fontana, 2001; Monterrey, 2002), Bruno Junqueira in Japan, Paul Tracy in Milwaukee and da Matta again at Laguna Seca and Portland. Reynard interrupted Lola's streak when Michael Andretti won at Long Beach in Round 2. Ironically enough, Andretti has since made the switch to the Lola chassis.


* This Sunday's live broadcast of the CART FedEx Championship Series CART Grand Prix of Chicago (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET) from Chicago Motor Speedway will be the third of seven events to air on CBS Sports this season. CART Friday Night and Saturday qualifying for the CART FedEx Championship Series Grand Prix of Chicago will all be broadcast live on SPEED Channel.

* No driver has ever scored a points-paying finish in each of the three CART events contested at Chicago Motor Speedway, nor has any driver won more than pole or more than one race. Juan Pablo Montoya is the only driver to have one the pole and the race - although not in the same season.

* Kenny Brack is the leading active driver in terms of laps led at Chicago Motor Speedway, pacing 105 laps in his two visits. Only three other active drivers have led as many 50 laps, Max Papis (63), Tony Kanaan (51) and Cristiano da Matta (51). With one lap in front this year, Dario Franchitti will join that list.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams ART Grand Prix