CHAMPCAR/CART: da Matta, Fittipaldi Portland qualifying


CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "Starting second helps us try to reach our goal of winning that much easier. Starting up front hopefully means we will not be in the middle of the confusion. We will just hope for good weather. I have won many races in the rain. I raced in England for two years and there were so many races in the rain. Max (Papis) had a good qualifying lap especially considering he was in the first session and there was less rubber down. That was very impressive. We were close and just missed matching Max's time by one-hundredth of a second with the tires. The key to qualifying in Portland to set your best lap time on the one lap where the tires are at their maximum in terms of performance. The tires are at their maximum for one, maybe two laps and I didn't get run my best lap at the same time. The race strategy will not be the same as the last two years when everyone was conserving their fuel to make a run on everyone at the end of the race. CART shortened the race and I think it will be good for us. It will be less of a fuel race and more of a speed race and we are looking good in that area. The Toyota engine is good on power. I'm looking forward to a good, long race tomorrow. It will be exciting whether it is wet or dry."

NOTE: Is fourth in the CART standings. Will be his third Champ car race in Portland and first with NHR. Da Matta looked set to score his first Champ car podium finish when he ran in second place in the 2000 Portland event but wrong fuel strategy cost him a podium finish as he had to make a last minute pit for a splash of fuel and finished fifth. Had he used less fuel and run in third instead, da Matta figures a third place finish would have been possible. Da Matta finished 5th in '00 and 11th in '99.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "I said after being second quick on Friday that I thought we could win if we started in the top four or six positions. Now I want to expand that to the top seven positions. The car wasn't that good or that bad. I had just a little understeer in the middle of the corner. I have driven worse set-up cars and gone much better. I started 11th in 1996 and finished third so it is possible to get to the front starting in seventh place. We are going to do the best we can to continue running well here in Portland. If it rains, there is nothing we can do about it but just stay out of trouble and keep it (the car) on track. I have no problem racing in the rain. It would obviously be better for us and the fans if it was dry but we will make the best out of what Mother Nature deals us."

NOTE: Will be his seventh start in Portland. Has been called the "Rainmeister" due to his ability to control the race car in wet conditions. Hopes to improve on his best finish of third (2000 and 1996). Highest qualifying here was third place in 1997 on his return to racing from an injury in Australia. Could not yet walk and had to also be lifted in and out of his car. Ran in second place until the last lap when he dropped to fourth after two drivers, who gambled on the track drying and made a late pit for racing "slick" tires, passed him. Started in the top-10 all but one time in Portland. Finished in the top-12 all but twice.

CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2, while ESPN's live race broadcast begins 4 p.m. ET. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network and on CART's official website, at .


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Series IndyCar