CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta, Fittipaldi Monterrey Friday notes

Newman/Haas Racing began competition on Friday, March 9th at 9:30 a.m. CST for the first official Champ Car practice session for 2001. Changes for 2001 included a series-wide reduction of engine boost from 40" to 37" in the interest of slowing...

Newman/Haas Racing began competition on Friday, March 9th at 9:30 a.m. CST for the first official Champ Car practice session for 2001. Changes for 2001 included a series-wide reduction of engine boost from 40" to 37" in the interest of slowing the cars down for safety reasons as well as to encourage closer racing. Single probe refueling will be mandated at the fourth race of the season although Newman/Haas will be doing this beginning with the first race of the season. The Head and Neck Support Device (HANS) that Fittipaldi actively assisted in developing has been mandated at all oval races and is suggested for road and street courses. Cristiano da Matta had not worn the device during a CART race weekend until today. He wore the device the entire day.

CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola:
"I am very happy with my first official day in the Texaco/Havoline/Kmart car. We ran well in testing but you never really know how fast you are until you get to a race weekend. I'm very happy with being second fastest for the day even though it doesn't mean anything like qualifying does. I had many question marks in my head before I came here about how we would stack up against everyone else. I didn't know if we would be in the top-20 fastest or the top-five so I am really happy to be second fastest. The track is so slippery but we are definitely not in bad shape. I almost lost it many, many times on the slippery track. The hardest part about the day was trying to figure out if was the car or the track that was making the car loose. (On HANS use on road courses:) "I had never worn the device until I tested for Newman/Haas in the off-seaosn. I wore the HANS at Sebring and then again in Laguna Seca and I couldn't even tell it was there so why not go ahead and start wearing it on road courses?"

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola:
"The most challenging thing today was keeping it on the black stuff. There was so much dust flying around that the track was really slippery. The conditions were better in the afternoon after the morning session was cut short. Tomorrow will be much different after the support series cars put more rubber on the track and blow the dirt off. Today won't really count. We were reluctant to make any changes to the car because it was hard to tell what worked and what didn't on the set-up. The car was okay. I'm not that happy with the car right now but it wasn't that bad. I didn't get a good run on the new set of tires at the end so we are not really sure what the car is capable of. The course is a good driver's course. It's very smooth. There are potential places to pass if the track is clean but not the way the track is right now."

-NHR

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta