CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta takes provisional pole at Road America

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin -- Cristiano da Matta took the provisional pole for the Motorola 220 race at Road America, with a wild last lap of 1:42.640 seconds (141.980 mph), turned at the very end of the session. The Newman Haas driver had held the...

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin -- Cristiano da Matta took the provisional pole for the Motorola 220 race at Road America, with a wild last lap of 1:42.640 seconds (141.980 mph), turned at the very end of the session. The Newman Haas driver had held the second fastest time after all the drivers used their first set of tires, behind Ganassi Racing's Bruno Junqueira, and for a time it looked like no one could go faster on their second set. Finally, Junqueira topped his previous time on his last lap, but da Matta went even faster on his last one. Just before that, Team Green driver Dario Franchitti had finished his best lap with a wiggle as he crossed the turn-14 timing line, but the time was only good for third on the provisional list.

Back in his car after missing CART's Mid-Ohio stop, Adrian Fernandez, was fast out of the box, qualifying today in fourth position after being third fastest in the morning practice. He and Ganassi's Scott Dixon grabbed top five spots in the closing laps of the session.

For a change, the CART teams used most of the allotted qualifying time, as Mario Dominguez went out onto the four mile Road America circuit after only twelve minutes had ticked off of the session's hour. Michael Andretti was next to go out, just a few minutes later, and by the ½-hour mark, nearly all the cars had turned a time, unlike several recent CART stops.

Early fast times were set by Paul Tracy, Oriol Servia and Toranosuke Takagi, before Alexandre Tagliani put his stamp on the session with a blistering lap of 1:43.104, besting Tagaki's previous fast time by seven tenths of a second. After several drivers attempted to top that one, Junqueira knocked another three tenths off of that time to set the early mark.

As the teams retreated to the pits for their second set of tires, da Matta made his presence known with a time faster than all except Junqueira's. After the tire changes, all the cars were then on the track for the final, furious ten minutes of the session.

Andretti was the first to go quickly on the second tire set but could only turn the fourth fastest time. Servia was next to turn a fast lap but could do no better than to move Michael down a spot. Similarly, Tracy's next lap was only good enough to top Servia's quick one.

Several drivers had troubles late in the session. Last week's winner, Patrick Carpentier, pulled off course at turn 5 with the power off before he could set a fast time on the second set of tires and was only 15th in the session. Jimmy Vasser slid off the track as he came off Canada Corner on his last pass, requiring the CART safety crew to extract his car from the tire wall. Vasser would be 14th fastest. Kenny Brack, fastest in the morning practice session, went slower this afternoon, his time only good for 13th.

After the session, the drivers had great praise for the scenic Wisconsin track. Junqueira said: "This track has everything: fast corners, slow corners, medium corners, long straights and places you can pass. I think we should come here two or three times a year to race." Franchitti added: "We're lucky we can come here and race."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Scott Dixon , Oriol Servia , Tora Takagi , Kenny Brack , Mario Dominguez , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing