Cristiano da Matta ended a personal and team qualifying drought today by capturing the pole position for Sunday's race. Da Matta earned his first career FedEx Championship Series pole and the first for Newman/Haas Racing in 56 races by turning a...
Cristiano da Matta ended a personal and team qualifying drought today by capturing the pole position for Sunday's race. Da Matta earned his first career FedEx Championship Series pole and the first for Newman/Haas Racing in 56 races by turning a lap of 1 minute, 9.473 seconds (115.970 mph). Da Matta edged runner-up Kenny Brack by a hundredth of a second for top honors.
Da Matta had to nervously watch the final minutes of qualifying from the pit lane after an engine problem limited him to just eight of the available 15 laps. A relieved da Matta was elated to hold on for the pole position.
"It was a very tense session for us," da Matta said. "We knew we had a good car. We had a good first run, and then on the second run we had trouble with the engine on the out lap. It was just too tense watching everybody else trying to beat my lap time at the end. But it's good, my first pole. Hopefully it's going to come easier next time. The Bridgestone tires are very good this weekend. As is usual, there is a slight (performance) drop-off after a few laps, but it doesn't seem to be as much as it was at Sneak Preview. The tires are very consistent and hold well for the whole run. Everything with the tires is fine."
Bridgestone has a storied racing history dating four decades, but 2002 is the tire maker's debut season in the FedEx Championship Series. As the Official Tire of CART, each entry in the 19-car grid competes on Bridgestone Potenza racing radials.
Quote from Joe Barbieri, Bridgestone Motorsport Project Supervisor:
"We're delighted to see Cristiano win his first pole in the first Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey. He's been fastest here at Laguna Seca most of this weekend and even going back to the Sneak Preview practice sessions here in February, so he's deserving of today's honor. The Bridgestone Potenzas have again shown their trademark consistency and durability through all the sessions. Even though CART rules will mandate teams change tires after 25 laps in the race, we're confident the consistent tire performance will contribute to an exciting race."
Qualifying session temperatures ranged from 116 to 120 degrees track and 73 to 79 degrees ambient (F).