Driver Stats and Quotes: CRISTIANO da MATTA, ...
Driver Stats and Quotes:
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
- 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER: Led 52 laps in route to victory in the 2002 season-opener in Monterrey Mexico which was his third consecutive win in the series dating back to the final two rounds in 2001 (Australia, Fontana). It was also his second consecutive victory in the season-opener in Mexico. In Long Beach, he looked set to match a CART record fourth consecutive victory when he built a seven second lead after taking over the top spot for the first 30 laps before he was taken out of contention when hit departing his second of three pit stops and ultimately finished eighth after starting second. He started 8th in Japan but mechanical failure sidelined him near the end of the race in 13th place. Was in sixth place in Milwaukee when a fuel pressure problem forced a 10-pit stop race (instead of 3) and dropped him to an 11th place finish. Ran in front of eventual third place finisher Max Papis. Won his first pole as well as his first win from the pole in Monterey, Calif. (6-9) after leading 82 of 87 laps. Won all 23 points available in Portland (prov. pole, pole, win, most laps led). Earned 21 of 22 points available in Chicago (win, most laps led) to build a 25 point lead over 2nd place in the standings. Won all 23 points in Toronto to build his lead to 48 over second place in the standings. Won each point available on Friday and Saturday in Cleveland by setting the fastest lap times in qualifying. Led the first 19 laps of the Cleveland race from pole and build a 2.3-second lead on second place before he suffered mechanical failure and ended his bid to earn a CART record fifth consecutive win. Led 36 laps in Vancouver and increased his lead over second place to five seconds in his first stint before a drive shaft failure later ended a highly possible victory while leading on Lap 64 of 100. Started third in Mid-Ohio and was in second place when he slid off course while alongside the race leader on lap 69 of 92. Ran fastest race lap. His 13th place finish shrunk his lead from 38 to 27 points over second place. Won one point for the provisional pole in Road America, started second, led 22 laps and won his sixth race of 12 so far this season and increased his point lead from 27 to 42 over the weekend. Earned one point for setting the fastest times in each of the qualifying sessions and led 35 of 80 laps but finished second after running a conservative pit stop strategy. Finished third in Denver after starting seventh but his lead dropped from 55 to 52 over second place.
- EIGHT WINS IN 16 RACES/MOST CONSECUTIVE WINS: With his victory in Elkhart Lake (8-18-02), da Matta scored his eighth victory in the past 14 races dating back to his win in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. Won '01 races in Australia and Fontana and 2002 races in Monterrey, Mexico, Monterey, Calif., Portland, Ore., Chicago, Toronto and Elkhart Lake. (Monterey, Portland, Chicago and Toronto wins earned him four consecutive victories, which matched a CART record set by Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi.) A string of three bad races (mechanical failure while leading in Cleveland; drive shaft failure after leading 36 laps in Vancouver; off course excursion while 2nd in Mid-Ohio) shrunk his points lead although he increased it after his Road America win and second place finish in Montreal.
- DIVERSE TALENT: With his 10 wins in CART, he has won on each of the four different types of tracks the series competes on.
- CART FedEx ALL-STAR TEAM: Was nominated to the five-driver 2001 CART FedEx Championship All-Star Team. The elite group is voted on by drivers, a select group of motorsports media and fans.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
- FIFTH IN 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP (77 pts. out of first): Has SIX top-five finishes and EIGHT top-7 finishes in 14 races to date. Has run in the TOP-THREE in NINE of 14 races this season and in the TOP-FIVE in 12 of 14 races this season. At the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, Fittipaldi ran the fastest qualifying lap but it was disallowed after he brought out a red flag due to hitting the concrete barriers. His second fastest lap resulted in a fourth place start and a subsequent third place finish after running as high as second. In Long Beach, Fittipaldi set the second fastest time in provisional qualifying but dropped to a 9th place start in final qualifying, ran as high as 3rd and retired in 13th after gearbox failure. Struggled at the first short oval race of the season in Japan and finished 11th. Team improved their short oval set up for the race Milwaukee where he finished fourth after leading three laps. Drove to his best finish of second place since his victory in the 2000 season-finale at the California Speedway 500-mile race in Monterey, Calif. after leading four laps. Was third fastest in provisional qualifying in Portland but failed to improve his time on Saturday and started fifth. A mid-race collision with Paul Tracy, who attempted a pass, dropped him 10 laps down to the leader by the time he resumed racing although he ultimately retired from the race in 13th place with seven laps to go. A probable top-six finish eluded him in Chicago after his left rear wheel came following his second pit stop. He finished third in Toronto. He was running third in Cleveland but ran out of fuel before his final stop. A third place finish would have put him second in the point standings but he fell to seventh place. Drive shaft failure ended his race in Vancouver after running ahead of eventual third place finisher Kanaan. Earned his highest starting spot of second place since Nazareth 2000 in Mid-Ohio and finished second despite 14-second pit stop due to his airjack malfunctioning. Pit strategy enabled him to move from his 11th place start into a sixth place finish although a top-four finish was possible had the caution flags not come out or a problem on his final stop not occurred. In Montreal, was fifth fastest in provisional qualifying but slipped to an 11th place start. Picked up three spots on the first lap but a slow pit stop dropped him in running order and he eventually finished seventh despite late race gear problems. Started fifth in Denver and was in third place during his final pit stop when the airjack failed for the second time in three mandatory stops thus dropping him to a fifth place finish.
- CART VICTORIES - 2: Scored his first CART victory in the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America (7-11-99/71st CART start), He bettered his previous best 500-mile finish of 2nd place in the 1995 Indy 500 by winning the 2000 season-finale Marlboro 500. For his 2nd place finish to (eventual 1997 Formula One World Champion) Jacques Villeneuve, he was also named 1995 Indy 500 "Rookie of the Year."
- CART POLES - 1: Fittipaldi set a track record en route to his first CART pole in his homeland of Brazil on May 14, 1999.
What They're Saying About
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "For us, the race last year was pretty good because we were in a part of the year that we were struggling really bad on the ovals and we started to get back on track in England. We made some significant changes with the setup after being the slowest cars (both NHR cars) in the previous race in Germany and we were pretty concerned. So to finish third in England was not quite like winning a race but it was very rewarding of the team and important for the Championship because that is where we started to get our momentum up again before the two wins at the end of the season. The Rockingham 500 is a pretty important event. This year we are going there with the same mindset - to finish in the top-three again -- and, of course score some important points for the Championship. (On taking the checkered flag fourth but finishing third:) "Castroneves had a pit lane speed limit violation. He passed me in the 50 mph speed limit area. Everybody there is driving 50 mph and I saw a car blast by me. I don't know why CART didn't penalize him at the time but they did it later after the race. He is in all of the podium photos but I got the trophy and, more importantly, the points. (On the team's performance on an oval:) "We made lots of improvements on our oval setup. Our car ran better on the mile ovals but this is the first time since Japan that we are going back to a 1.5 mile oval so we are a little bit concerned because we were just so slow in Japan. We hope that we will have a better car and I believe we will because we did a lot of testing in May when everybody else was testing for the Indy 500 and we were testing for the CART championship. There are still a couple of areas where we have question marks but with our improved performance in Milwaukee and Chicago, where we won, we are more optimistic that we will be okay."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "The fastest laps at close to 220 mph this year may not be repeated in 2003. Last year, we raced here with almost no testing and the fastest lap in practice was 24.7 seconds, 215 mph. We've got better wing set-ups and aerodynamics this year so we'll be way quicker than that, maybe 218, even 220 mph. During Friday qualifying, with a perfect set-up, we may be able to do the whole lap wide-open, on full throttle. It's going to be very quick. That would be awesome. For 2003 we'll have lower turbo boost and maybe changes to the wings, so whoever sets a track record this year, may have the record for all time. Even then we'd still be looking at racing at over 200 mph. It's definitely going to be an exciting race for the fans because they can watch the whole lap. If we can put on the type of show we had last year, the fans will love it. (On large fan following in Europe:) "I think the fans in general responded very well last year. You just have to hop in your car and do the best job you can whether you are racing in front of your home crowd in Brazil or in Miami, Europe or any of the other races. (On the switch to racing on an oval after many road and street course races:) "Racing is a different game on an oval. It is more mental that physical. You have to get a good balance in your car and then just be ready for anything in the race. Things happen very quickly on an oval and you have to be mentally sharp to react to your surroundings quickly. It is a different mindset, racing on ovals."