CHAMPCAR/CART: Fittipaldi, da Matta impressed with Texas

JUSTIN, Texas (January 24, 2001) --- Newman/Haas Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta made their first visit to Texas Motor Speedway for a media event yesterday and were impressed by both the race track and the world-class...

JUSTIN, Texas (January 24, 2001) --- Newman/Haas Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta made their first visit to Texas Motor Speedway for a media event yesterday and were impressed by both the race track and the world-class amenities. New to the CART FedEx Championship series in 2001 will be races at Texas Motor Speedway as well as an event in Mexico, Germany and England. The event at Texas Motor Speedway will bring the total of CART races in the state of Texas to two as the Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston begins its third year in the series. Newman/Haas Racing team co-owner Carl Haas is a co-promoter of the Houston race with Texaco/Havoline.

Following are quotes from each driver on Texas Motor Speedway:

"The race here is going to be something completely different from any other race we will have this season because the track is one-of-a kind," said Christian Fittipaldi, driver of the #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola. "The 24 degree banking will add an extra challenge to our teams in terms of getting the car working at the maximum level. We are going to put on a great show here that will be exciting for the fans and will also get the most out of the drivers because of the close drafting. The (CART) drivers all probably heard about Kenny Brack's test here and that he didn't run as fast as we initially thought, which would have been a little too fast. But, it's one thing when you are running alone and a completely different one when you are running in a tight pack of cars at speeds over 220 mph. It can get pretty exciting at times which is probably better for those in the grandstand and on couches in living rooms instead of those in the cars but it definitely makes for a good show. Houston has a great crowd so hopefully it will be the same for our race here."

Cristiano da Matta, who will drive the #6 Texaco/Havoline Toyota-Lola, agrees with his new teammate. "This track is absolutely unbelievable. You are impressed just by driving up to the track. The fact that CART receives some of its best TV ratings from this area will be good. It's always nice to come to places where we can get closer to the fans that watch our races and keep up with the series. It's more fun for the drivers to come to places where there are a lot of people who have the same appreciation for the sport as you do. I have never raced on a track with banking this steep. We took a couple of laps around the track in a van and it was pretty interesting. As of right now, we aren't planning to test here like the other teams are so I am glad we were able to at least see the track before race weekend. I think the speeds will be much higher than when Kenny (Brack) tested here. He was running alone and you go faster when you are drafting. With are cars running close and the kind of racing the banking of the turns is going to produce, I think we are going to put on a good show here. This race will be won on the last lap. It's going to be a shoot out in Texas and I hope I am part of it."

Both Fittipaldi and da Matta traveled to Phoenix after the media event for a two-day test that began this morning at Phoenix International Raceway. A report will follow on the testing results.

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. Log onto Newman-Haas.com, FITTIPALDIonline.com or damatta.com (Portuguese only) for more information on the team.

-NHR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Kenny Brack , Carl Haas , Cristiano da Matta