CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Toyota Motorsports preview

What to look for at Cleveland: TOYOTA SHOOTS FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT 1-2 AT CLEVELAND - Coming off a podium sweep at Toronto last weekend, Toyota will shooting for its fifth straight one-two finish when the Champ Cars arrive in Cleveland. During the...

What to look for at Cleveland:

TOYOTA SHOOTS FOR FIFTH STRAIGHT 1-2 AT CLEVELAND - Coming off a podium sweep at Toronto last weekend, Toyota will shooting for its fifth straight one-two finish when the Champ Cars arrive in Cleveland. During the current four race streak, Cristiano da Matta has led Christian Fittipaldi (Laguna), Bruno Junqueira (Portland, Chicago) and Kenny Brack (Toronto) across the finish line. During the recent stretch, Toyota-powered cars have swept the podium in one-two-three finishes at Laguna Seca and Toronto.

TOYOTA LOOKING FOR PROGRAM RECORD SEVENTH 2002 WIN - With victories in six of the season's first eight FedEx Championship Series events, Toyota will be looking to surpass its previous single season-high win total with a seventh 2002 victory at Cleveland. In addition to this year's six triumphs, Toyota-powered cars also were victorious on six occasions last year. Each Toyota-powered car features the American designed-and-built RV8F engine. The Toyota RV8F and its predecessor, the RV8E, have combined for all 17 victories by American-designed and built Champ Car engines since 1981.

DA MATTA GOES FOR ALL-TIME CART RECORD - Cristiano da Matta (Havoline Toyota) will attempt to break the all-time CART record for consecutive victories this weekend at Cleveland when he goes after a fifth consecutive Champ Car victory. Da Matta, who's never driven anything but Toyota powered cars in his four Champ Car seasons, has registered consecutive victories at Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto. He's also won seven of the last 10 Champ Car events dating back to the last two races of the 2001 campaign. For the season, da Matta has five wins and could become just the ninth driver in CART history to win six races in a season - joining Juan Montoya, Alex Zanardi, Michael Andretti, Al Unser, Jr., Bobby Rahal, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears and Bobby Unser.

LOOMING LARGE - While Cristiano da Matta may be getting most of the well-deserved attention, the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team looms large in the shadows waiting for the first chink in the Brazilian's armor. A Target Toyota driver has finished second in each of the last three races and has finished first or second in four of the season's first eight races. In fact, it's probably safe to say that if da Matta wasn't in the picture, CART followers would be talking about the domination of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Not only would the team have four victories, but they'd also have three drivers in the top-six in points, including what would be the series leader in Bruno Junqueira, who has registered one victory, two seconds and a fourth to date.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT ME - Of course, the Target team aren't the only ones being somewhat overlooked in 2002. While Cristiano da Matta has five victories, his Newman/Haas Racing teammate Christian Fittipaldi (Lilly Toyota) has found his way to the podium three times this season with a second (Laguna Seca) and two thirds (Mexico and Toronto). Fittipaldi has turned his early success into fifth in CART points.

MAKING A POINT - Toyota drivers Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira continue to rank first and second in the CART points race, while Toyota pilots take up five of the top seven spots overall. Da Matta's lead has grown to a commanding 48 points over second-place Junqueira (118-70), with Christian Fittipaldi (57), Scott Dixon (52) and Kenny Brack (48) in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively. Brack is just 10 points out of fourth.

PARITY THE RULE - While Toyota's six victories have garnered the most attention, it's great depth that has carried Toyota to a 35-point lead in the Manufacturer's Championship through the season's first eight races. In fact, all seven of the Toyota-powered cars entered at Cleveland this weekend have registered at least one top-five finish this season. For the year, Toyota-powered cars have six wins, four seconds, five fourths and a fifth.


Cristiano da Matta, #6 Havoline Toyota: "I'm confident that we'll be on the pace in Cleveland. To have the success we've had this season, it means that everything is working well - the team, the engine, the chassis and the crew."

Kenny Brack, #12 Target Toyota: "We've shown all year that we're fast on the road and street circuits, the key has been finishing. If we finish, we've been on the podium. We just need a few victories to catch up with Cristiano."

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We've had a great season to date, but there's still a long way to go. It would be nice to get that seventh victory this weekend, but our focus is still on the big picture - winning the CART Manufacturer's Championship."


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Kenny Brack , Mario Andretti , Al Unser Sr. , Bobby Unser , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing