CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Newman/Haas Friday qualifying report

Havoline driver da Matta locked in front row start with provisional pole for the Marconi Grand Prix Of Cleveland and on schedule for record CART fifth consecutive win; Lilly driver Fittipaldi fifth on provisional grid. CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Havoline driver da Matta locked in front row start with provisional pole for the Marconi Grand Prix Of Cleveland and on schedule for record CART fifth consecutive win; Lilly driver Fittipaldi fifth on provisional grid.

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

"The first run we had, we get stuck behind traffic and by the time we got a clear lap the tires were past their prime. My second run was pretty good though and I was able to make my runs without traffic. It's good to get one more point. It's just Friday though and the track will be much faster tomorrow after more rubber is laid down. Hopefully we can keep up the pace and get another point tomorrow. I'm going to sleep better tonight knowing that the worst we will start the race is second place. It's good to get a guaranteed front row start here. It's rewarding to see the car good here. With the level of consistency that the Havoline team has been able to get to is what will help us win this Championship. We are still in a state where we are looking at one race at a time but I think we have a good possibility that we can keep this going. I'm 100 percent sure we can continue this pace. I'm not saying that we are going to win all of them but I think we can consistently run in the top-five."

· NOTES: Da Matta has won seven of past 10 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. A win in Cleveland would be his eighth in the past 11 races as well as a new CART record. Will be his fourth CHAMP car race here. Scored his first CART podium of 3rd place here in 2000 after dropping to the back of the field after a Lap 1, Turn 1 incident. Finished 20th in 1999 due to suspension damage. Finished 7th in 2001 after looking likely to win his (then) first CART pole due to running the fastest time on Friday but rain in the "fast group" of qualifying on Saturday dropped his starting position to 19th. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 119 points.

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

"On the first set of tires we ran a lap quick enough for second fastest but we knew everyone would go faster toward the end of the session. The car was good but I was unable to get a clear lap on my second set of tires. You really need two clear laps in a row to create a flow and I couldn't get two in a row. We should have been second fastest today but we'll go after it tomorrow."

· NOTES: Will be his eighth race in Cleveland. Highest start was fifth place in 1997 where he also scored his highest finish of sixth place although a win was possible (see below). Finished 11th in 2001; ran in 3rd in 2000 before his engine blew near the end of the race; had a strong car in 1999 before he spun in the pits during a torrential downpour while trying to get rain tires; was leading in 1998 when a caution period came out but a radio malfunction forced him to miss his pit stop; was leading in 1997 when his airjack broke and caused slow pit stops. Led a total of 23 laps. He is currently in 5th place in the point standings, only 62 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning practice session will take place from 10-11:15 AM ET which will be followed by a one-hour final qualifying session from 1:45-2:45. SPEED channel will televise qualifying live.

All Bridgestone Potenza racing tires used by Champ Car teams competing in the CART FedEx Championship Series are produced at the Bridgestone/Firestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio- a facility that employs nearly 1,000 people in information services, research, product development, polymers and race tire development/manufacturing. Bridgestone is entertaining over 700 guests consisting of dealers, customers and employees at this weekend's race. Cristiano da Matta was the guest of honor at a dinner on Friday night.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta