The first session of qualifying for the group comprised of drivers not in the top 13 of the point standings went as planned but when the second session of qualifying started as scheduled at 2:30 PM ET, light rain began falling. A few minutes ...
The first session of qualifying for the group comprised of drivers not in the top 13 of the point standings went as planned but when the second session of qualifying started as scheduled at 2:30 PM ET, light rain began falling.
A few minutes after that heavy rain and lightening came and ultimately brought out the red flag. When the session resumed, the track was still too wet to accomplish a quick lap and da Matta, who was fastest on Friday, and Fittipaldi were unable to show the potential of their race cars, which the team thought could qualify in the top-four spots.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "We were definitely expecting more from qualifying than 15th place. That is what can happen when there are split sessions and only one day of qualifying this year. These things can happen. Now there will be some faster cars in the back and it's going to be a little crazy in the race. We have been running strong since we got here and it is a shame because we were hoping to make up for some lost points from the beginning of the season and move up from fifth place in the standings. It would have been easier if we were at the front of the grid."
TODD BOWLAND, Race Engineer for Fittipaldi: "We were capable of qualifying in the front two rows so the rain obviously hurt us. Christian was happy with the car in practice and we were using our tires conservatively so we could have them for qualifying and in the race."
NOTE: Is fifth in the CART standings. Will be his seventh start in Cleveland. Hopes to continue a strong points run as he moved from 11th to 5th place in the point standings (46 points, 30 back from leader Brack), after a third place finish in Portland. Highest start was fifth place in 1997 where he also scored his highest finish of sixth place. Ran in 3rd in 2000 before his engine blew near the end of the race; had a strong race car in 1999 before he spun in the pits during a torrential downpour while trying to get rain tires; was leading when a caution period came out and was called into pits but a radio malfunction forced him to miss the stop; was leading in 1997 when he pitted but his airjack broke. Led a total of 23 laps.
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "After being fastest yesterday we were hoping for a good qualifying run today. There was just too much water on the track to go faster. Now we just have to hope that there is a lot of attrition and we can pas a lot of cars in the pits and on track. I started fifth last year and was hit on the rush into turn 1 last year and went all the way to the back and had to fight my way back to third place. I have a good car so I hope we can do the same thins year. The race here is always a crazy one because the track is so wide and everyone goes for it. Now it is going to be even crazier since there are a lot of fast guys in the back of the grid."
PETER GIBBONS: Race Engineer for da Matta: "Cristiano definitely could have been on the front row. We haven't had a pole in a couple of years and Cristiano had a good chance today to win his first (in Champ cars). The first turn of the first lap is usually wild so we were hoping to be in front of it all."
NOTE: Is fourth in the CART standings. Will in his third Champ car race in Cleveland and first with NHR. Da Matta scored his first CART podium of third place here in '00 after dropping to the back of the field after a Lap 1, Turn 1 incident. Finished 20th in '99 due to suspension damage.
CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, while ABC-TV's live race broadcast begins 1 p.m. ET. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN, and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network and on CART's official website, at www.cart.com .