CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Toyota Motorsports preview

What to look for at Mid-Ohio: TOYOTA STILL SEARCHING FOR MID-OHIO SUCCESS - Having won on a superspeedway, a short oval, permanent road courses and street circuits in its recent stretch of eight victories in 12 races, one would not think that...

What to look for at Mid-Ohio:

TOYOTA STILL SEARCHING FOR MID-OHIO SUCCESS - Having won on a superspeedway, a short oval, permanent road courses and street circuits in its recent stretch of eight victories in 12 races, one would not think that any specific course would be troublesome for the Toyota contingent. For the most part, that has been true with the exception of Mid-Ohio. Consider that of the 15 tracks on the schedule where CART has previously raced, Toyota has either finished first (11), second (two) or third (once, at the first-year event in England last year)and then there's Mid-Ohio, where Roberto Moreno's sixth last season is the best Toyota finish registered at the Lexington, Ohio facility.

I MUST BE IN THE FRONT ROW - No, it is not Bob Uecker, and it is Cristiano da Matta. The Havoline Toyota driver brings a streak of five consecutive CART road-course pole positions to Mid-Ohio. The streak is second only to Mario Andretti's seven road-course poles in a row in 1983, also while driving for Newman/Haas Racing. In addition to his five consecutive road-course poles, da Matta has a run of six straight front-row-starting positions. The CART points leader sat on the outside of the front row at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where he missed the pole by just .003 seconds.

NOT ONLY DOES HE START UP FRONT - Not only has Cristiano da Matta qualified on the pole in the last five road-course events, but he has shown a tendency to stay in the top spot once he gets the pole. Da Matta has led at least 19 laps in all seven road- or street-course events this season. Furthermore, he has led 386 of 699 road-course laps (more than 55 percent) run in CART competition this season.

BALANCE PUTS TOYOTA UP FRONT IN MANUFACTURERS HUNT - Toyota enters this weekend's Mid-Ohio event with a 16-point lead in the CART Manufacturer's Championship, due in part to a balanced line-up that has seen all seven Toyota-powered entries earn at least a top-five finish or better this season. Cristiano da Matta has led the way with five victories, but four different Toyota drivers have earned Manufacturer's points for Toyota this season. Da Matta has earned points in five of 10 races, while Kenny Br0x00e4ck and Bruno Junqueira each have been the highest finishing Toyota on two occasions, and Christian Fittipaldi earned the manufacturer's points at Milwaukee.

TOYOTA SET FOR FIRST IRL TEST; SARVER LOOKING GOOD IN NHRA - Toyota will debut its new Indy Racing League engine in a closed test at the Kentucky Speedway on Monday and Tuesday, August 13-14. Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Team Penske) will conduct the first official test of the Toyota Indy V8.

In other Toyota Motorsports news, Bruce Sarver and the White Cap Toyota Celica Funny Car team recently registered their third final-round appearance in their last six NHRA events. The entry is the first manufacturer-backed import Funny Car in NHRA POWERade Series. The car made its debut in February in Pomona, Calif. The project, which began in the fall of 2001, was developed in conjunction with Swift Engineering, Inc., in San Clemente, Calif., using the production Celica GT-S as the baseline.

Quotes:

Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We're coming off a couple of very difficult races where we've qualified and run up front but haven't had much to show for it. Now it's time to get back to winning. Mid-Ohio is the first of four races in four weeks, so it's important that we begin that stretch on a strong note. We've had a tremendous amount of success on the road courses this season."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Helio Castroneves , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske