OVERALL: Newman/Haas Racing is hoping to win their third CART FedEx victory in the past four events this weekend and is the reigning oval track winner in CART after Christian Fittipaldi won the previous oval event - the Marlboro 500in Fontana, ...
OVERALL: Newman/Haas Racing is hoping to win their third CART FedEx victory in the past four events this weekend and is the reigning oval track winner in CART after Christian Fittipaldi won the previous oval event - the Marlboro 500in Fontana, Calif. Cristiano da Matta drove to victory in Monterrey, Mexico and finished second in Long Beach. Neither driver tested at the track prior to this weekend due to the fact that Newman/Haas Racing typically has had a good baseline set-up on ovals. Of their 59 victories, the team has scored 21 wins on an oval track.
Fittipaldi was 2nd quick in the first practice and concentrated on race setup in the afternoon and was 6th overall for the day while da Matta was 4th quick in the first practice and 9th overall for the day.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "Overall the car felt good but we are still fine-tuning everything since it was only our first day. Is driving on this track what I expected? Yes it is because I thought it would be very fast and it is. We will see how good our car really is in single-car qualifying tomorrow. We worked on our race set-up in the afternoon and the car is pretty good. I don't think the passing is going to be as much as in Michigan or Fontana but there will be passing for sure. I do know that I would rather be leading on the last lap than in second place like you want to be in Michigan or Fontana because the draft isn't as big of a factor here as it is on the Superspeedways. Our cars are very fast here. Much faster that other people thought they would be. It is going to be an exciting race."
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The car fells pretty good so far but we will keep working to make it better before the race. We tried some new things during the afternoon session. Some worked well, some didn't but overall we kept learning about how the car handles on the track. This is not the most technical track in the world but it is unique. Every driver wishes he had a track that could show his talent while downshifting and etc. but here it is just flat out all the way around. The track is physically demanding from the standpoint of the G forces. We are pulling 5 G's in the corners and the steering gets pretty heavy. This track is not physical like a road or street course in terms of constantly using your strength to turn the car but the loads are pretty high. I think most people are trying to figure out what the best strategy will be on the last lap. Do you want to be in the lead or in second place trying to sling shot by? The draft isn't as important here as it is in Michigan or Fontana so everyone is trying to find the answer to the secret."
The race will be televised live on ESPN TV on Sunday, April 29 at 3 PM ET.