CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Newman/Haas Racing Saturday qualifying quotes

Polesitter: Cristiano da Matta 57.070 4th: Christian Fittipaldi 57.499 CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Polesitter: Cristiano da Matta 57.070
4th: Christian Fittipaldi 57.499

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

(On the addition of another flag to his team's flagpole for winning his fourth pole:)

"If we have to get an extension to fit more wins and pole on our flag pole then that's a good problem to have. We have a good chance to keep running competitively so I hope we have that problem. It was a good qualifying session. The car is awesome. Our main concern was getting a clear lap. At first I thought there would be too much traffic to get a good, clear lap but fortunately we were able to. The track was faster today but we figured it would be because the more rubber that is laid down, the faster the lap times will be.

(On the start going into turn 1:)

Of course the start is difficult but I think (the race in) Portland is even more difficult. I hope everybody gets through there without any accidents.

(On fifth consecutive win:)

It's difficult to go for five in a row. It's difficult just to win one of these races with the field as close as it is but we're thinking about the championship so we are looking at it as one race at a time. It's been a wonderful season for us. Everything has been going great and we don't want this good run to end so we are continuing to work hard and not take anything for granted. I have had one bad race this season, which is a pretty good record with as competitive as the series is. This is probably one of the longest road course events so far this season so it is going to be tough."

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.

* It was da Matta's FOURTH CART pole as well as NHR's FOURTH pole here and their 67th overall. 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 120 points (50 points over second place).

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

"All in all, I'm pretty happy with the car. I don't want to take anything away from Cristiano but I am 40 pounds heavier so it is more difficult to get a quicker lap time. I prefer a loose car but the quick way to get around most tracks is with a car that it has more understeer. Some drivers like Cristiano like that and because it is the quickest way to get around this track, I am trying to adapt my style. I got behind traffic a lot but it is the same for everyone. Overall, I'm pretty happy with a fourth place start here."

NOTES:

* Will be his eighth race in Cleveland. His fourth place start will be his highest to date here. His highest previous 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, 63 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The 30-minute pre-race warm-up will start at 9:30 AM ET tomorrow which will be followed by the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland set to start at 1:30 PM. CBS Sports will televise the race live.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta