Da Matta breezes to Shell 300 victory. Lola claims top four slots at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Cristiano da Matta had a fine Sunday drive in the 87-lap Shell 300 Champ Car race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, leading 82 tours of the 2.238-mile...
Da Matta breezes to Shell 300 victory.
Lola claims top four slots at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Cristiano da Matta had a fine Sunday drive in the 87-lap Shell 300 Champ Car race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, leading 82 tours of the 2.238-mile road course in Monterey, CA en route to an overwhelmingly fast victory in his #6 Chevron Lola/Toyota. He set a new race record, completing the distance in 1:55:28.745. Second place went to his Newman/Haas Racing teammate Christian Fittipaldi, who brought the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota home 19.087 seconds behind da Matta. With this victory, the da Matta re-takes the point lead for CART's Vanderbilt Cup (51-46) over Michel Jourdain Jr., who finished ninth in the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford. Fittipaldi's finish earned him third place in points today.
Second starter Kenny Brack persevered to take third place for Team Target in the #12 Lola/Toyota, just .323 seconds behind Fittipaldi. Brack led stablemate Bruno Junqueira, driver of the Target #4 Lola/Toyota, who took fourth. A third #44 Target Lola/Toyota entry for Scott Dixon claimed sixth place. The race had two caution flags that eliminated three cars due to contact. Seven Champ Cars finished on the lead lap and 16 were running at the close on a warm (72-80 degrees ambient, 116-119 degrees trackside) and sunny northern California day.
Regarding his dominance da Matta noted, "Laguna Seca is a difficult place to pass. I had to push to the max, to the very edge all the time. The race was probably more interesting for me than for some of the spectators in that regard, but you know I don't do this all myself. I have a great Lola chassis, great Toyota engine, fine Bridgestone Potenza tires. My Newman/Haas team gave me good pit stops and we were able to overcome a weak third stint and recovered to take our big lead," he shrugged.
Fittipaldi acknowledged his crew's contribution in giving him quick pit stops, but said, "my second stint was the key to this finish because I stayed out a couple of laps on hot tires and pulled out a good gap. This race might have been boring for you," Fittipaldi laughed, "but it was great for us!" Brack acknowledged the gains his Target team has made since coming here in February for Sneak Preview. "We now know the direction we need to go and can close the gap." Junqueira was pleased with "a good, solid fourth place," solidifying his title hopes in fourth place, five points behind Fittipaldi.
The three-week Champ Car dash continues next weekend with the G.I. Joe's 200 at another road course circuit, Portland International Raceway in Oregon.