CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta unofficially fastest at Phoenix test

PHOENIX, Ariz. (January 26, 2001) --- Newman/Haas Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta joined many of their fellow CART FedEx Championship Series drivers at the Phoenix International Speedway oval for pre-season testing.

PHOENIX, Ariz. (January 26, 2001) --- Newman/Haas Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta joined many of their fellow CART FedEx Championship Series drivers at the Phoenix International Speedway oval for pre-season testing. Both drivers ran on January 24-25 and were happy with the results while preparing for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series season.

"The test was very good," said Texaco/Havoline driver Cristiano da Matta, who unofficially set the fastest lap time of 20.6 over the two days. "I was very pleased with our progress after the first day and the second day was even better. I am learning more every time I am with my new team. They have a good baseline oval set-up and are very methodical about testing different things. There were a lot of cars testing and it was good to compare ourselves with everyone. Especially since we were on the pace."


Cristiano da Matta Photo -NHR-

Both da Matta and Fittipaldi were able to log approx. 350 miles over the two-day test. Kmart Toyota-Lola driver Fittipaldi was not as pleased as da Matta was at the end of the day Wednesday but was happy by the time the test came to an end on Thursday.

"We were struggling on Wednesday but the last hour on Thursday was really, really good," said Fittipaldi, the most recent race winner in the CART FedEx Series after winning the 2000 Marlboro 500 season finale. "We went the wrong direction on the set-up of the race car on the first day but caught back up on Thursday by the end of the day. The car was so bad on the first day that I had three 'big moments' where I almost lost it. Thursday was much better. We made two long runs during the final two hours of the test. The car was very good on the first set of tires on the long run and it was even better on the second set and we were able to run much better lap times. Overall, I am very happy with our progress."

The team will resume testing next week at the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval for two days between January 30-February 1 with Fittipaldi behind the wheel. It will be Fittipaldi's final test as a single man before he flies to Sao Paulo, Brazil where he will marry Andrea Iverson on February 3.

The 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series season opener will take place on March 11 in Monterrey, Mexico. The series will compete in 22 races in eight countries around the world in 2001.

Newman-Haas.com, FITTIPALDIonline.com or damatta.com for more information on the team.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta