CHAMPCAR/CART: da Matta, Fittipaldi Nazareth qualifying


CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "Qualifying was okay but I thought we would be a little stronger. We could have been a little more aggressive with the setup but we are starting in the top-10. I won from 17th in Indy Lights here so this should be easier. You always have to protect your points lead but I think it is too early to start worrying about the championship. It is in the back of your mind of course, but it is more important to find out why the car isn't as good as we want it to be than to take time to think about the Championship. The team has done a good job considering where we were in the first practice on Friday. We came here and found out we weren't as strong as we thought we would be off of the truck. Newman/Haas Racing has incredible depth and will figure out how to keep making the car better. We aren't starting up front but we're not that far back as well. It will be a long race with a lot of yellows. (On whether the change of weather helped others:) The change of weather helped some people but I think the Ganassi team has been strong here for years and Bruno is a good driver as well. Tonight we are going to sneak into their truck and steal their setup. Bruno is from my hometown so I am going to go ask him if I can have the guitar he won for pole. He doesn't play anyway. "

* NOTE: This is da Matta's highest qualifying at Nazareth in Champ cars after qualifying 19th in 2000 and 17th in 1999. da Matta knows his way to Winner's Circle at Nazareth after winning the 1997 and 1998 Indy Lights races here. This will be his third Champ car race in Nazareth. He scored the then-highest finish for Toyota to date - 14th place - in the 1999 event and drove to a 13th place finish in 2000 while driving for PPI Motorsports. Da Matta is an avid guitar player who owns 12 guitars. From Friday: "A Martin guitar is one of the best. That's a great thing to win along with a point for the pole. I would love to add that to my collection. Maybe if I don't win the pole and someone who doesn't play wins it, I can talk them into giving it to me!"

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The balance in the car isn't bad the back end of the car just isn't there. I was expecting a little more since we qualified second last year but the backend of the car hasn't been there all weekend. Last year the back of the car was really planted when we rolled off of the truck. Not having the back of the car stick at tracks like this is a big problem. If the backend is not good on a road or street course it doesn't make as much difference as it does at a place like this. Definitely qualifying is important at a place like this where there is something happening every millisecond. It will be a long race tomorrow though. Maybe our Bluelight Special for the race will be luck. Last year a tire went down and the radios didn't work the whole race."

NOTE: Two weeks ago, Fittipaldi competed in and won his first 5K run - The Buitoni (Pasta) 5K in Key Biscayne, Fla. The 5K is part of the Florida Championships. He also finished sixth overall in the Coca-Cola Triathlon the following Sunday.

The race will be televised live on ESPN TV on Sunday, May 6 at 1 PM Live ET.


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