LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (November 8, 2000) --- Ending months of speculation, Newman/Haas Racing announced today that Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, 27, has signed a multi year contract to drive for the team beginning with the 2001 CART-sanctioned ...
LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (November 8, 2000) --- Ending months of speculation, Newman/Haas Racing announced today that Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, 27, has signed a multi year contract to drive for the team beginning with the 2001 CART-sanctioned FedEx Championship Series season. Da Matta will join Christian Fittipaldi, who begins his sixth season at Newman/Haas Racing, the team formed in 1983 by actor and racecar driver Paul Newman and entrepreneur Carl A. Haas.
"It is great to join one of the most successful teams in the CART series," said Da Matta. "I'm looking forward to driving for Carl and Paul and having Christian as a teammate. Newman/Haas Racing is one of the most prestigious teams in racing and I am proud to be associated with the great drivers that have been with the team."
Da Matta scored his first CART Championship racecar victory in 2000 at Chicago Motor Speedway and finished 10th in the Series Championships. He will add his name to an illustrious roster of previous Newman/Haas Racing drivers including Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell and Paul Tracy among others. Da Matta won the 1997 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year honors and followed that up by claiming the Indy Lights Championship in 1998. It will be da Matta's third season in the FedEx Championship series and first with a Lola chassis.
"Both Paul (Newman) and I are excited about having Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta driving for us in 2001," said Carl A. Haas, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing. "Both drivers will work well together and the team will pick up where we left off with Christian's season-ending Marlboro 500 victory. Cristiano is a talented young driver who will win many races and we expect both Christian and Cristiano to be Championship contenders."
Also new for 2001, Newman/Haas Racing will be powered by Toyota engines. Toyota-powered cars won five races, seven pole positions, and led a series-high 1017 laps in the 2000 season. Da Matta has raced with Toyota engines for the past two seasons while it will be the first for both Fittipaldi and Newman/Haas Racing who ran Ford/Cosworth engines since 1992.
"We're thrilled to add a championship caliber team like Newman-Haas Racing," said Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports. "They are an excellent team with two proven race-winners behind the wheel. We feel that we can help put them in position to win a record-tying fourth CART championship, while the team can bring Toyota one step closer to our ultimate goal - the CART Manufacturer's Championship."
"Since they became involved in the CART series, Toyota has displayed a high level of commitment, not only on the race track, but also in the marketing arena that is to be commended," said Haas. "We are looking forward to winning many races for them and being a championship contender."
Newman/Haas Racing has won 58 races, 63 poles and three Championships with Mario Andretti (1984), Michael Andretti (1991) and Nigel Mansell (1993). In 2001, the team will compete in 22 CART-sanctioned FedEx Championship Series races in eight countries around the world. Testing for the 2001 season will begin in mid-November for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship series season opener in Monterrey, Mexico on March 11.