Cristiano da Matta keeps piling up the poles, wins and points, clinching his fourth pole position in the past five races with today's effort on the runways of Burke airport. As in Friday's provisional session, da Matta maintained an advantage of...
Cristiano da Matta keeps piling up the poles, wins and points, clinching his fourth pole position in the past five races with today's effort on the runways of Burke airport. As in Friday's provisional session, da Matta maintained an advantage of more than four-tenths of a second despite the fact that every driver improved his time in today's final round.
Da Matta, driving the Havoline Toyota/Lola on Bridgestone tires fielded by Newman/Haas Racing, clocked a best lap of 57.040 seconds (132.917 mph). Runner-up Patrick Carpentier had a top circuit of 57.470 seconds (131.923 mph) in the Player's/Forsythe Ford/Reynard/Bridgestone.
"We had not as smooth of a qualifying as we wanted, but I had a couple clear laps and that's all I needed," da Matta said. "It feels great. This track is going to be hard on everything considering it's as bumpy as it is. The chassis suffers a lot. Tires are not going to be a problem, I don't think. The Bridgestones seem to be holding up quite well this weekend. I have been able to run laps in the low 58s (58 seconds) on tires that have more than 27 laps on them, and that's the most laps we can run in the race before we have to pit. So the tires are working very well."
Da Matta has won the last four FedEx Championship Series races in a row and will go for a CART-record fifth straight Sunday. All 18 cars in the starting grid are equipped with Bridgestone Potenza racing radials. Bridgestone joined FedEx series competition this season and is the Official Tire of CART.
Quote from Joe Barbieri, Project Supervisor, Bridgestone Motorsport: "It certainly appears that the dedicated effort the Bridgestone race tire development group put forth to create a totally new tire for this weekend has been successful. The drivers seem quite pleased with the grip and durability of this new generation Potenza tire. We've even had unsolicited visits to our transporter from team officials, just to tell us how happy they are with the Bridgestone tires this weekend. We are most delighted to receive such praise, which is a direct reflection of the race tire development staff and production facility based just down the road in Akron. In what amounts to their home race weekend, we couldn't be more proud."
Qualifying session temperatures ranged from 97 to 104 degrees track and from 80 to 82 degrees ambient (F); Qualifying session temperatures ranged from 36 to 40 degrees track and from 27 to 28 degrees ambient (C).