CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi: Newman/Haas Racing Thursday practice report

Newman/Haas Racing DAY 1 Thursday, April 25, 2002 Bridgestone Potenza 500 - Motegi, Japan Round 3 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship Havoline driver da Matta fourth fastest on first day of practice for the Bridgestone Potenza 500 while Lilly...

Newman/Haas Racing
DAY 1
Thursday, April 25, 2002
Bridgestone Potenza 500 - Motegi, Japan
Round 3 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship

Havoline driver da Matta fourth fastest on first day of practice for the Bridgestone Potenza 500 while Lilly driver Fittipaldi dropped from sixth fastest in the morning to 15th in the afternoon.

1st: Bruno Junqueira 25.983 / 214.479
4th: Cristiano da Matta 26.082 / 213.665 mph (5th fastest in the AM session)
15th: Christian Fittipaldi 26.406 / 211.043 mph (6th fastest in the AM session)

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I'm very relieved. After our test (on the oval) in Homestead, I didn't think we would be in the top-five here. We made a big list of things to accomplish before coming here and they have helped. There is a lot of drafting going on out there so some of the times might not reflect how qualifying will be. I don't think we are that far away. There is a bump going in to turns three and four that is bigger than in the past. You have to brake and downshift and then carry the momentum around the track. This is a fun oval because it is more complicated."

* 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 Japan would be his fourth in the past five CART events. Will be his fourth race here. Of three races here, he only finished once. Highest finish here is fourth place in 2000 and highest start is 12th place in 2001. Was taken out of the 2001 event in Turn 1 of Lap 1 by the spinning car of Bruno Junqueira who was attempting to avoid an out-of-control car in front of him. Did not finish the 1999 event due to transmission failure.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "We definitely went backwards from this morning which is very unusual. I had much more understeer than I had this morning. We tried some things with our set-up but they didn't help. We will go back on our changes and see where we are tomorrow time-wise."

* NOTES:  Will be his fifth start here.  Best finishes were 3rd in 1999
and 4th in 2001.  Best start was 6th in 2000 and 7th in 1999.

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: The Bridgestone Potenza 500 will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel beginning at 12:00 PM as well as on TSN beginning at 11:30 AM on Saturday, April 27. Practice will air at 11 AM on Thursday, April 25 while qualifying will air at 2:00 PM on Friday, April 26. CART Friday Night will air at 9:30 PM on Friday, April 26.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta