Havoline driver sa Matta fourth fastest overall on first day of practice for The Miller Lite 250 at The Milwaukee Mile; Lilly driver Fittipaldi 17th overall. 1st: Adrian Fernandez 22.021 / 168.712 mph 4th: Cristiano da Matta 22.596 / 164.418...
Havoline driver sa Matta fourth fastest overall on first day of practice for The Miller Lite 250 at The Milwaukee Mile; Lilly driver Fittipaldi 17th overall.
1st: Adrian Fernandez 22.021 / 168.712 mph
4th: Cristiano da Matta 22.596 / 164.418 mph (17th fastest in AM session;2nd fastest in PM session)
17th: Christian Fittipaldi 23.189 / 160.214 mph (14th fastest in AM session; 16th fastest in PM session)
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We made huge progress from when we came here to test in May and also from this morning. We were a little worried after the morning session but we definitely made progress. Being second fastest (in the afternoon session) might not mean much because we don't know if the other guys are on old tires and full tanks to simulate race conditions and who isn't. I was on new tires when I ran my fast lap but I did that this morning and it didn't make a difference because the car was not good. It was more like a race car this afternoon. There are a few areas we need to work on but overall those things are manageable. We now have something to work with. We will have to wait until practice tomorrow morning to see where we stack up with the others because everyone will be working on qualifying setup and we can compare the times. I'll be able to sleep much better tonight knowing we were able to improve the car. We need to maintain our position in the points championship with a good finish at the least but it would be ever better to finish on the podium and collect the maximum points."
NOTES: Da Matta won three consecutive events in the series (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) and 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. A win in Milwaukee would be his fourth in the past six CART events. Will be his fourth race here. His highest Champ car start here was 3rd place in 2001 (based on points) and highest finish was 11th in 1999. His highest overall finish to date here came in the Indy Lights series where he finished 4th in 1997. He started third in the 2001 event but a racing incident between Kenny Brack and Helio Castroneves led to Castroneves losing control of his car and colliding with da Matta on the first turn of the first lap. He is currently in third place in the point standings, only seven points back from leader Dario Franchitti who has 34.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We made some big changes between the morning and the afternoon session because we weren't very competitive. We are heading in the right direction but I couldn't get a clear lap at the end of the session after we put on new tires to see where we stacked up against the others. The changes seemed to work for Cristiano so we will all sit down and go over the data and hopefully make a lot of progress before qualifying."
NOTES: Will be his sixth race here. Has four top-10 finishes in five starts here. The last race he won was also on an oval - the 2000 season-finale Marlboro 500. Best finish was sixth place in 1996 and best start was third in 1996. He is currently in 10th place in the point standings, only 19 points back from leader Dario Franchitti who has 34.
ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: Two 45-minute practice sessions will take place tomorrow morning with qualifying set to start at 1:45 PM local time. Qualifying order will be set based on the fastest lap times of each driver with the driver who set the fastest lap time making his qualifying attempt last.
WHERE TO WATCH: SPEED Channel will air coverage of Friday's afternoon practice session beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET while CART Friday Night will air at 10:30 p.m. ET on the Speed Channel on Friday, May 31. Coverage of Saturday's qualifying session will air on SPEED Channel beginning at 2:00 p.m. ET (Live) while CBS Sports kicks off it's CART coverage this season with the Miller Lite 250 beginning at 12:30 p.m., ET (Live) on Sunday, June 2.