CHAMPCAR/CART: Newman/Haas Motegi Thursday notes

CRISTIANO da MATTA, ...

CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The tow is pretty big here. The wind effected us pretty big in the afternoon session. The track felt different. We would make some changes to the car and I wasn't sure if the changes made the car feel different or if it was the wind. It took us about 30 minutes to get the balance of the car like it felt in the morning. It wasn't an easy day for us. We had to work hard to get back to up there. Toyota has supported me over the years and I would like to win this race for them since it means so much to them. They work really hard and it is important for them to win this race. Especially since they came so close last year (Montoya led until a problem and Michael Andretti/NHR won). We didn't close the deal last year so we are really trying to win for them this year."

* NOTE: da Matta considers last season's race at Twin Ring Motegi one of his best in 2000. He started 19th and finished fourth. at Nazareth after winning the 1997 and 1998 Indy Lights races here. This will be his third Champ car race in Japan.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "I'm reasonably happy with the car. We are much better than the time sheets show. We lost some valuable time when we had to switch to the backup car because we lost fuel pressure in the primary car. I think it will be unbelievably close in qualifying. I think we will do well in qualifying. We have run well here over the years and we are planning to continue that trend this year."

NOTE: Fittipaldi is the reigning oval track winner in CART after driving to victory in the Marlboro 500 at The California Speedway in the 2000 season finale. Will be his fourth start in Japan. Best finish was third place in 1999 and best start was sixth in 2000.

The race will be televised on a tape delay basis on ABC on Sunday, May 19 at 1 PM ET.

-NHR

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti