CHAMPCAR/CART: da Matta, Fittipaldi Road America qualifying

During the lunch hour, heavy rains came delivering over a half-inch of rain within 30 minutes. Intermittent heavy sprinkles continued at the start of the 1:45 pm CT Group 1 qualifying session and continued through the second "fast group" session...

During the lunch hour, heavy rains came delivering over a half-inch of rain within 30 minutes. Intermittent heavy sprinkles continued at the start of the 1:45 pm CT Group 1 qualifying session and continued through the second "fast group" session which began at 2:30pm CT that Fittipaldi and da Matta ran in. The sprinkles ended near the completion of the 30-minute session.

CRISTIANO da MATTA #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "Even in the wet the balance of the car didn't change from earlier and it wasn't that good then. I don't think the wet conditions helped us or hurt us car wise. I think others just didn't get as good of use out of the conditions and timing as we did. The track was at its best on the absolute last lap and I was one of the last guys to complete my lap so that was good. I don't know if others went off track or ran into traffic so their lap wasn't as good but we're happy to start the race in fifth place. Considering where we were yesterday, we are more than happy to start fifth. It's by far my best starting position here in Champ cars. There are too many variables right now to even predict our chances in the race. We have a lot of work to do before we are ready to race and only 30 minutes of warm-up to do it in."

· NOTE: Only 34 points out of first place in the CART standings in sixth with 70 points to leader Kenny Brack who has 104. Will be his third Champ car race at Road America and first with NHR. Da Matta finished 22nd last season after starting 13 and suffering a pit accident. In his 1999 start at Road America, he finished 21st after starting in 11th and having to retire early due to transmission failure.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "There is no doubt that the car was less bad in the wet but it was still not good. We still have a lot of work to do tonight and in the morning to make the car better. At this point, it's hard to say whether it would be better for us if it rained or if it was dry. I have always run well here for one reason or another and I want to keep up that history with a good run this year. We need a good finish to stay in the hunt for a top-five in the Championship. We are struggling a little bit now but if we can keep scoring points while we work to make the car better, we can still have a strong finish in the Championship."

· NOTE: Is currently 50 points back from first place in the point standings in 10th place with 55 to leader Kenny Brack, 104. Hopes to have another good run at Road America after finishing on the podium in two of his past three starts here. In 2000, he was in 2nd place after starting 8th when his car experienced exhaust failure; in 1999, Fittipaldi won the event; in 1998, he finished 3rd place despite race morning neck problems; in 1997 he finished 4th despite electronics problems that intermittently limited his engine boost by 40 percent; in 1996 his engine blew while in 2nd place in the closing laps (leader Al Unser Jr.'s engine blew as well on the final lap); in 1995 he was in 3rd place when a late race caution flag came out and his engineer elected to have him stay on track despite the fact that the remainder of the field pittedâ^À¦ he dropped to 8th after having to make a green flag stop in his rookie season for Walker Racing.

The following members of Newman/Haas Racing's travel team hail from Wisconsin: Kenny Siwieck, Asst. Team Manager (Milwaukee); Kevin Chambers, Chief Mechanic/Outside Front Tire/Fittipaldi (Menomonee Falls, WI); Tim Homburg, Tire Specialist/Outside Rear Tire/da Matta (Madison); Kenny Szymanski, Tire Specialist/Fittipaldi (Milwaukee); Norm Hornitschek, Mechanic/Outside Front/Fittipaldi (Hartford, WI); Steve Federwisch, Mechanic/Inside Front Tire (Plymouth, Wisc.); Todd Phillips, Mechanic/Airjack/da Matta (Franklin, Wisc.); Bill Glaeser, Mechanic/Fittipaldi (Kenosha, WI). Due to the large contingent from Wisconsin, da Matta has agreed to wear a "Cheesehead" hat during the pre-race parade IF the team can find one.

Qualifying for the Motorola 220 will air 1 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2 CART 2Day airs 11 a.m. Sunday on ESPN, while ESPN'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 .

-NHR

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Kenny Brack , Kevin Chambers