CHAMPCAR/CART: Fittipaldi, da Matta Vancouver quotes

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ...

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The way the race played out, we would have finished fourth if our right rear tire didn't get a puncture. We aren't performing in the races for one reason or another but it isn't from a lack of trying. The team elected to have me run full rich on fuel before my last stop but we determined that it didn't do us any good since we were being held up by slower cars in front of us. We decided to go ahead and pit so we could get back on track and run alone to make up some time. When the yellow came out, we were in a good position to gain a lot of spots but no one packed up in front of me so the guys that pitted were able to get back on track in front of us. Regardless of that, the was the race played out, we could have finished fourth if we didn't have to come back in to change tires because of the puncture. We could have made us some good ground in the Championship but something beyond our control happened."

· NOTE: Is currently 59 points back from first place in the Championship standings in 12th place with 56 to leader Gil de Ferran, 115. In his five previous starts at Vancouver, Fittipaldi's best finish at the track is third in 1996, after starting in 14th position. Last year he finished fourth; in 1999 he was unable to compete; finished 14th in 1998 due to contact late race with Hearn; finished 9th in 1997 because of contact on the last lap; and finished 24th in 1995 as a result of exhaust failure.

CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The team had already told me to pit next time by before the yellow came out. Even driving slow under caution we were burning up fuel so we either had to pit when the pits were closed or stop on course. We didn't have an option. It ruined the race for me, Dario, Vasser and others who were tight on fuel because we were doing good fuel mileage. The tank was basically empty. On ovals, I understand closing the pits but not on road courses. I held the lead for a few laps under caution and was in a good position to make up some spots after my stop because we were able to go a few laps more. We got back on track in fifth place but then had to go to the back of the pack for the restart because we stopped in a closed pit. We were fast in every session and the car was great in the race so it's a shame that this happened. Earlier in the race, Tracy closed the door on me and my front wing hit his tire. At the end, I had to avoid a red and white car of either Helio or Tora, I don't know which but they pushed me into the dirt and that sent me into the tires. We could have had finished with a few points otherwise. We are only five more points back from the leader and 37 total so we are still close but so is everyone else."

NOTE: After running the fastest lap in the pre-race warm-up, da Matta hoped for a top finish despite being handicapped by his 14th place starting position. Is only 37 points out of first place in the Championship while in seventh. Was his third Champ car race at Vancouver and first with NHR. Da Matta finished seventh last year after running in third until he had to pit for fuel with only five laps to go. In '99, he finished fifth after starting in 17th. Clinched the Indy Lights Championship here in '98. Da Matta has won two Indy Lights races at Vancouver, one in '98 and the other in '97.

-nhr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran