CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Newman/Haas Racing Friday qualifying report

Havoline driver da Matta guaranteed front row start with provisional pole for the Molson Indy Montreal; Lilly driver Fittipaldi fifth. CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Havoline driver da Matta guaranteed front row start with provisional pole for the Molson Indy Montreal; Lilly driver Fittipaldi fifth.

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "It is a very nice track and I had lots of fun today. It will be a tough track in the race because of all of the hard braking on each lap. It's going to be hard on equipment and hard for the drivers. I'm pretty satisfied with today - it was a good first step. There is a lot less pressure on us for tomorrow. (On making it look easy:) It wasn't that easy inside the car. When the car is working good, it's less complicated -- especially on a new track. There was not a lot we had to do to get the car decent. All of the basic things were pretty sorted out by the time we got on track. The team did a good job preparing for this new track. They did a lot of guessing and the guessed right. It was a smooth (qualifying) session for us. The car was good on our first set of tires. On the second set we made some changes to the car and it wasn't as good so I'm glad we were able to hold our position. We were able to get one point today and guarantee a front row start and that is going to make a big difference for the race. It's only Friday and the place is packed. The more people watching our races, the better it is. Everyone has been very polite. If they ask for your autograph and you say you are rushing somewhere, they understand. They thank you and you know they mean it. I always enjoy racing in Canada!"

· NOTES: This will be his eighth front row start of the season. He has won EIGHT of past 14 CART events dating back to his first three-peat (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) where he became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). Led 30 laps in Long Beach and built a strong lead before a pit accident derailed his bid for a CART record-tying fourth consecutive win. Wins in Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto enabled him to tie two others (Unser, Jr., and Zanardi) with a CART record fourth consecutive win although he failed to score a fifth consecutive win in Cleveland after he lead the first 19 laps from pole but retired with mechanical failure. Led 36 laps in Vancouver before a drive shaft failure ended his race. Was in second in Mid-Ohio when he slid off-course and ultimately finished 13th. His win last Sunday at Road America was his eighth in the past 14 races. Will be his first event at the track. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 144 points.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "It seems that the track is smoother than when I was here for the Formula One races but I know they didn't do anything to the surface. It's just that our cars have an easier ride here. I also remember that the curbs were higher but in the Champ car, you hardly feel them. I'm happy fore all of the fans. It was packed today and I am sure it will be even more crowded before the race on Sunday. Our performance was just good today. It wasn't a disaster but we have a couple of changes we need to make to improve. This morning the car was pretty bad but we improved for qualifying now we have a couple of more changes to improve a little more. If we start in the top-three or top-four, we'll have a shot at it on Sunday."

· NOTES: Was as high as third in provisional qualifying before ending in fifth place. Will be his first Champ car race here. Competed in the 1992-1994 Formula One races here. Started 25th and did not finish in 1992; started 17th and finished 9th in 1993; started 16th and finished 6th in 1994 but was disqualified due to being slightly under the minimum weight. He is currently 5th place in the point standings, 62 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.

ON TAP FOR TOMORROW: The morning practice session will take place from 10-11:15 AM ET which will be followed by a one-hour final qualifying session from 1:45-2:45. SPEED Channel will televise qualifying live.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta