What to look for at Miami: TOYOTA MAINTAINS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD With just four races remaining, Toyota maintains a 32-point lead in the hunt for its first CART Manufacturers Championship with a 266-234 advantage over Honda. Toyota has held the...
What to look for at Miami:
TOYOTA MAINTAINS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
With just four races remaining, Toyota maintains a 32-point lead in the hunt for its first CART Manufacturers Championship with a 266-234 advantage over Honda. Toyota has held the lead since the fifth round of the season at Laguna Seca, where the manufacturer earned the first of three podium sweeps this season. Toyota can eliminate Ford from the championship hunt with a fourth-place or better finish at Miami.
TOYOTA LOOKS FOR 11TH WIN IN LAST 18 RACES
With eight wins in the season's first 15 races, Toyota has established a new program record for wins in a season. In addition, the manufacturer closed out the 2001 campaign with wins at Australia and Fontana to give Toyota 10 wins in the last 17 Champ Car events. Toyota-powered cars have now won seven of the last 12 CART road-course events.
In addition to the Manufacturer's Championship points lead, Toyota also leads all manufacturers in victories (eight), poles (10), front-row starts (15), laps led (961 for 48.4%), road-course points (194) and oval-track points (tied with 72). Toyota-powered driver Cristiano da Matta also leads the CART Drivers Championship, 58 points over fellow Toyota driver Bruno Junqueira.
DA MATTA LOOKS TO WRAP UP SECOND-EARLIEST TITLE IN MODERN CART HISTORY
Cristiano da Matta (Havoline Toyota) can clinch the CART Driver's Championship in Miami by sweeping the 23 available points, and if second-place Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota) fails to score at least a third-place finish. If he were able to clinch the title with three races remaining, it would mark the second-earliest title clinching since CART adopted its current points system in 1983. Only Alex Zanardi, who clinched the 1998 title with four races remaining, accomplished the feat with more events left on the schedule than da Matta would. The fourth-year Toyota pilot can eliminate third-place driver Dario Franchitti by scoring four more points than the Scotsman this weekend, and he can eliminate fourth-place Patrick Carpentier simply by finishing within seven points of the Canadian. Every other CART driver has already been eliminated heading into the season's final four races.
DA MATTA'S AMAZING 11-RACE RUN
Rarely has Champ Car racing ever seen an 11-race run similar to the one just completed by Cristiano daMatta. After finishing the season's fourth race at Milwaukee in fifth-place overall in the championship with 29 points (13 behind then leader Michel Jourdain Jr.), the Brazilian has scored an amazing 162 points, 29 more than any driver has scored for the entire season. In fact, the only other driver to score as many as 100 points during that span was fellow Toyota pilot Bruno Junqueira, who has scored 107.
Durin this 11-race stretch, da Matta has five wins, two second-place finishes, and a third to go along with six pole positions and eight front-row starting spots. He has also led a whopping 444 laps in the last 11 races, more than double the amount of any other driver in the series. In the three races he has not finished on the podium (top-three), he was running first twice and second once when he went out of the race.
KING OF THE ROAD
Even though he has a win and a second-place finish in four oval races this season, there is no doubt that CART points leader Cristiano da Matta is truly at his best on the road courses. The long-time Toyota racer has earned 152 points on road courses this season, 63 more than the next highest driver in the series. Da Matta has won six of the last 12 CART road-course events, and he has qualified in the top three at nine of the last 10 road course races run this season.
TARGET TOYOTAS TAKE THREE OF LAST FOUR CART POLES
The Target Chip Ganassi Racing team will be looking for its fourth pole position in the last five races this weekend in Miami. Bruno Junqueira won the top spot at both Road America and Denver, while Kenny Br0x00e4ck put his Target Toyota on the pole at the most recent race in Rockingham, England. Junqueira was also on the poleearlier this season at Motegi, Japan. Overall, the Target team has registered 12 pole positions in its two-plus seasons with Toyota power, doubling the highest total by any other Toyota-powered team.
The Target success has not ended in qualifying, as the team has registered three podium and four top-five finishes in the last four races, including a one-two finish at Denver with Junqueira leading teammate Scott Dixon to the finish.
DA MATTA + TARGET GANASSI RACERS = TOYOTA POLE
In the last 13 races,Toyota-powered cars have sat on the pole 10 times with Cristiano da Matta winning six, Bruno Junqueira taking three and Kenny Br0x00e4ck with one.
EIGHT TOYOTA DRIVERS IN TOP FIVE
Every Toyota-powered Champ Car driver has earned at least a fourth-place finish or better this season. Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira have victories; Kenny Br0x00e4ck, Scott Dixon and Christian Fittipaldi (Lilly Toyota) all have at least a second-place finish; and Tora Takagi (Pioneer/Denso Toyota), Oriol Servia and Townsend Bell (both Visteon Toyota) each have placed at least fourth in one race this season.
Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports: "We're optimistic about Miami. The road courses have been a definite strength for us this season. With just four races remaining, every race is crucial at this point in the season."