Lilly driver Fittipaldi finished second in the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio; Havoline driver da Matta went off-course while second and finished 13th. CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, ...
Lilly driver Fittipaldi finished second in the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio; Havoline driver da Matta went off-course while second and finished 13th.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I'm happy to finish second and score the points especially after two DNF's (did not finish) but I'm a little disappointed with our first stop. Before our first pit stop, I was able to close the gap on Patrick so that we would stand a better chance of passing him in the pits but we had a 14-second stop and that didn't do us any good. The top-three came into the pits together and luckily we had managed to pull away from the others because it only cost me one place to Cristiano instead of many. The long stop probably cost us a win because the race was all about track position. If we could have gotten out of the pits in front of him it would have been different because we would have been able to run in clean air. We had a good car but running behind someone is hard because of the turbulence and the extra wear it puts on the tire because you are sliding around all over the place. It was pretty hot out there and it was a long race. It was like the 24 Hours of Mid-Ohio. Overall though it's good to match our best finish of the season and we have eight more chances to win one. I'm looking forward to carrying this momentum to Road America. It is one of my favorite tracks and it would be nice to win another one there."
· NOTES: His second place start and finish are his best results here. Was his seventh race here. Finished 8th in 2001. Earned his previous best finish here - of third place - in 2000 after matching his previous best start here of fifth place (also 1996). Did not compete in 1999 after he suffered a subdural hematoma from a testing accident caused by a gearbox failure; finished 13th in 1998 after the team struggled; suffered transmission failure in 1997 after he started eighth; finished seventh in 1996 after earning his best start of fifth place here; suffered engine failure in 1995 and retired in 25th place. He is currently tied for sixth place (in seventh) in the point standings with Michael Andretti, 48 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I wasn't trying to pass Patrick, I was just trying to put pressure on him. He made a small mistake on the previous lap that allowed me to close the gap to him. When I tried to put my nose alongside his car, he braked for the corner and turned in. I think that made me lose my air and I locked up my rear tires and went off course. I made a mistake but I feel like we still have some credit in that department because we haven't made any so far. I was trying to get as close to him as possible in case he made another mistake and I could try to pass him. Our next stop was coming soon so the closer we were to him, the better the chance we would have had to pass him in the pits. It cost us a lot of points so I am really disappointed. We lost an easy chance to score 16 points but it went up in a cloud of dust. I've seen guys lose championships like this and some guys that have won Championships with seasons like this. I'm hoping the be in the latter group."
· NOTES: Earned his top starting spot here of third place this season. Prior to the race, da Matta had won seven of past 12 CART events dating back to his first three-peat (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) where he became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). After leading 30 laps and building a strong lead in Long Beach, a pit accident derailed his bid for a CART record-tying fourth consecutive win. Wins in Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto enabled him to tie two others (Unser, Jr., and Zanardi) with a CART record fourth consecutive win although he failed to score a fifth consecutive win in Cleveland after being sidelined with mechanical failure after leading the first 19 laps from pole. He led 36 laps in Vancouver before a drive shaft failure ended his race. A win in Mid-Ohio would have been his eighth in the past 13 races. Was his fourth CHAMP CAR race here. Finished 10th in 2001 after starting 11th; finished 17th after contact with Tony Kanaan after making his previous highest start here of seventh place; earned his best finish to date here of ninth place in 1999 after starting 14th. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 122 points.