Slick conditions prevented Chevron driver Da Matta and Lilly driver Fittipaldi's chances to improve on their Friday times and will start 6TH and 8TH place respectively in the Grand Prix Americas in Miami. OVERALL: Neither driver was able to ...
Slick conditions prevented Chevron driver Da Matta and Lilly driver Fittipaldi's chances to improve on their Friday times and will start 6TH and 8TH place respectively in the Grand Prix Americas in Miami.
OVERALL: Neither driver was able to capitalize on the knowledge gained from the morning practice session that earned them the fastest (Fittipaldi) and third fastest (da Matta) times as the final qualifying session came on the heels of consecutive showers that fluctuated from sprinkles to hard rain. Once qualifying officially began at 1:10 PM ET, the track slowly began drying although there was standing water over most of the track and especially in Turn 6. Fittipaldi narrowly missed an opportunity to jump from his eighth place start to a front row start of second place had he run the fastest lap in the session but he was ultimately second to Scott Dixon.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We almost were able to make the jump from an eighth place start to a second place start. Even though it was highly unlikely that we could run times faster than our Friday qualifying time since the track was wet, everyone's goal was to be the fastest guy in the session and earn a front row start. There was really nothing else to gain unless the track miraculously dried and we could beat yesterday's times. We'll just have to make the most of an eighth place start but it's going to be tough here because passing is going to require as much luck as skill because the track is narrow."
* NOTES: He ran his first race in the CART series at this track in 1995 while driving for Walker Racing and was the highest finishing rookie with his fifth place. He is currently 5th place in the point standings and could finish as high as second place based on the maximum of 91 points available in the four remaining events.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "It's pretty important that everybody else we are fighting for the Championship with is not ahead of us but behind us although they are close. Just staying on track is going to be a big deal in the race. Turns one and two are pretty tight. I think we can run a good race but we will have to have a conservative start. Everybody is going to have to behave well on the start so all of the cars can get through. I think there will be a lot of yellows because of crashes. I'm surrounded by guys that I'm fighting with for the Championship. In front of me are guys who aren't in it for the Championship so we will have to keep adjusting our strategy based on our progress as well as how Bruno and Dario are doing in the race. If we can just make some gains in the Championship, it will be a successful race for us. To clinch the Championship would be great because it would take a little bit of pressure off of us for the rest of the season but to just make gains would be good."
* NOTES: Has had eight front row starts this season. He has won EIGHT of past 17 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). Led 30 laps in Long Beach and built a strong lead before 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 he lead the first 19 laps from pole but retired with mechanical failure. Led 36 laps in Vancouver before a drive shaft failure ended his race. Was in second in Mid-Ohio when he slid off-course and ultimately finished 13th. His win four races ago in Elkhart Lake was his eighth in 14 races. Will be his first event at the track. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 191 and could clinch the championship if he scores a total of 10 more points over the weekend than second place Bruno Junqueira.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning warmup will take place from 9:00-9:30 AM ET and the Grand Prix Americas will start at 1:00 PM. The race will run live on CBS in most markets while those with NFL coverage will air a tape-delayed broadcast. Check your local listings for times.