CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Newman/Haas Racing preview

NHR heads "Home" to take on short oval challenge. Driver Stats and Quotes: CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

NHR heads "Home" to take on short oval challenge.

Driver Stats and Quotes:

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

* IN MILWAUKEE: Will be his fourth Champ car race in Milwaukee. 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.

* THIRD IN 2002 STANDINGS: Led 52 laps in route to victory in the 2002 season-opener in Monterrey Mexico. He scored his third consecutive win as well as back-to-back wins for the team. At the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, da Matta started 2nd but finished 8th despite leading 30 laps. He has almost led twice as many laps (82) as any other driver in the 2002 CART Series. He started 8th in Japan but mechanical failure sidelined him near the end of the race in 13th place. He is currently in third place in the point standings, only seven points back from leader Dario Franchitti who has 34.

* NUMBER OF CONSECUTIVE WINS - 3: Da Matta won three consecutive events in the CART FedEx Series (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) and became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999).

* F1 EXPERIENCE: During the break since the previous CART race in Japan in April, da Matta tested Toyota's F1 car at the Paul Ricard track in France and ran a lap time within .8 of a second from the regular team driver.

* DIVERSE TALENT: Of his five wins in CART, four of them have come on one of the four different type of tracks the series competes on (Chicago '00 - oval; Monterrey '01 and '02 - road course; Australia '01 - street course; Fontana '01 - Superspeedway/500-mile).

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

* IN MILWAUKEE: 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.

* 10TH IN 2002 STANDINGS: At the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, Fittipaldi ran the fastest qualifying lap but it was disallowed after he brought out a red flag due to hitting the concrete barriers. His second fastest lap resulted in a fourth place start and a subsequent third place finish after running as high as second. In Long Beach, Fittipaldi set the second fastest time in provisional qualifying but dropped to a 9th place start in final qualifying, ran as high as 3rd and retired in 13th after gearbox failure. He is currently in 10th place in the point standings, only 19 points back from leader Dario Franchitti who has 34.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING ABOUT

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We have a good baseline set-up for Milwaukee. It's a track that the team has had a good set-up for and been successful on in the past. We weren't as competitive on the oval in Japan as we had been on the road and street courses this season so in May we tested at the Milwaukee Mile and learned a lot. Everything indicates that we should be more competitive in Milwaukee this weekend. Last year was a huge disappointment for myself and the team. I started third but something happened between Kenny Brack and Helio at the start of the race and Helio lost control of his car and collected me. It was the second race in a row that we were taken out of the race in only the first turn of the first lap so we were really disappointed that we missed two opportunities to collect points toward the Championship and maintain our lead. The race is a home event for the team so we will have a lot of people pulling for us. Carl (Haas) is the promoter of the race so it would make him pretty happy if his team won. I'm looking forward to getting back to racing."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "After running 700 miles on the oval in Homestead, we are in a much better position for the Milwaukee Mile race than we were (on the oval) in Japan. We pulled out volumes of information for that test and came away with a much better oval setup than we had before the race in Japan. My test, combined with the test Cristiano did in Milwaukee has made us better prepared for the race this weekend. I like racing at the Milwaukee Mile. Everything happens so fast since it's a short oval. To do well there you need a little luck. Last year we were in fourth place but I was hit while trying to pass a lapped car. Neither of our (team) cars finished and it was a huge disappointment for the team. Our race shop is less than one hour down the road and the shop-based guys as well as the families of the team members come to the event so it is important for all of us to do well. The heart of the season is about to begin and we need to start this stretch off right and leave Milwaukee with the maximum amount of points toward the Championship."

NEWMAN/HAAS RACING RETURNS TO THE HISTORIC MILWAUKEE MILE IN SEARCH OF THEIR SEVENTH VICTORY ON THE TRACK CONSIDERED A HOME RACE FOR THE TEAM

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. (May 29, 2002) --- Milwaukee is no stranger to Champ car competition as it has been a routine stop on the schedule since the 1930s. Maintaining tradition, the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) FedEx Championship Series will return to racing at the legendary Milwaukee Mile after a five week hiatus for Round 4 of the 20-race series -- the Miller Lite 250. Newman/Haas Racing drivers Cristiano da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi are ready to resume racing and attempt to bring the team its seventh win at the track.

Until CART added an event at Chicago Motor Speedway to the schedule in 1999, the Milwaukee Mile was the closest venue to the Lincolnshire, Ill. based team and today the event is still considered a "home race" of sorts as it is only 40 minutes away from the team's 36,000 square foot facility.

"Doing well in Milwaukee is very important to us because we have many people from the team coming to this race and we just have to do the best we can," said Fittipaldi, driver of the No. 11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone. "The guys that are shop-based that don't travel to all of the races get to actually see a race in person and hopefully get to see the payoff for all of their effort."

"Not only is the Milwaukee Mile a home event for the team, but (team co-owner) Carl (Haas) is also the promoter of the race so it would make him pretty happy if his team won," added da Matta. "I'm really looking forward to getting back to racing."

Since its creation in 1983, Newman/Haas Racing, has collected 62 victories and 63 pole positions. Of their 62 victories, 22 have been on oval tracks - six of which have come at the Milwaukee Mile. Drivers who have scored wins for the team in Milwaukee include Mario Andretti (1985), Michael Andretti (1991, 1992, 1996), Nigel Mansell (1993) and Paul Tracy (1995).

Although Fittipaldi and da Matta have both added to Newman/Haas Racing's win total, they know that bringing the team its seventh win at this track would go beyond historic significance - it could also strengthen their position in the 2002 Championship. With recent victories on three of the series' four types of tracks - road courses, street courses and Superspeedways - it is short oval tracks like the Milwaukee Mile that bring the team their biggest challenge.

"We weren't as competitive on the (short) oval in Japan as we had been on the road and street courses this season so in May we tested at the Milwaukee Mile and learned a lot," said da Matta. "Everything indicates that we should be more competitive in Milwaukee this weekend. We have a good baseline set-up for Milwaukee. It's a track that the team has had a good set-up for and been successful on in the past."

"The Milwaukee Mile is a tough track," added Fittipaldi. "This place not only requires the best out of the team and the driver but it also takes a little luck to finish well here. After running 700 miles on the oval in Homestead, we are in a much better position for the Milwaukee Mile race than we were (on the oval) in Japan. We pulled out volumes of information for that test and came away with a much better oval setup than we had before the race in Japan. My test, combined with the test Cristiano did in Milwaukee has made us better prepared for the race this weekend."

After leading the Championship standings through the first two races of 2002, da Matta is currently in third place in the point standings, only seven points back from leader Dario Franchitti. In three previous races here, his best start came last season of third place although qualifying was rained out and the grid was set based on point standings. He hoped to surpass his best finish here of 11th place in 1999 last year but a first lap altercation ended his race before it really began.

"Last year was a huge disappointment for myself and the team," recalled da Matta. "I started third but something happened between Kenny Brack and Helio at the start of the race and Helio lost control of his car and collected me. It was the second race in a row that we were taken out of the race in only the first turn of the first lap so we were really disappointed that we missed two opportunities to collect points toward the Championship and maintain our lead."

Once da Matta was out of the race on the first lap, the task of bringing the team into Winner's Circle was solely on Fittipaldi's shoulders. After charging into fourth place, Fittipaldi's attempt to pass a lapped car ended when the car moved up on the track and collided with Fittipaldi. He is hoping to turn the team's fortunes on one-mile tracks around this weekend.

"To do well at the Milwaukee Mile you need a little luck," said Fittipaldi who has finished in the top-10 in four of his five previous starts here. "Last year we were in fourth place but I was hit while trying to pass a lapped car. Neither of our (team) cars finished and it was a huge disappointment for the team. With a little luck we can turn things around this weekend and score some points toward the Championship. With the new rules allowing us to run flat-out for the entire race, the fans are going to get to see one of the best shows they have had here in a while."

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.

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is in the midst of its 20th season in 2002 and is the most successful active competitor with 62 race wins and 63 pole positions in the CART FedEx Championship series. For more information, log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.texaco.com/racing or www.cart.com. The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series 20-race schedule will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS, Fox and Fox Networks Group, including Speed Channel.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Kenny Brack , Nigel Mansell , Mario Andretti , Paul Newman , Cristiano da Matta