Newman/Haas Racing Returns To The Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach In Search Of Third Consecutive Victory In The CART FedEx Championship Series LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 5, 2001) --- After winning the past two CART FedEx Series races, Newman/Haas...
Newman/Haas Racing Returns To The Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach In Search Of Third Consecutive Victory In The CART FedEx Championship Series
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 5, 2001) --- After winning the past two CART FedEx Series races, Newman/Haas Racing heads to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in search of their third straight victory. A victory for either Newman/Haas driver Christian Fittipaldi or Cristiano da Matta will also be their third each in the highly-competitive CART series.
Kmart Toyota driver Fittipaldi started the streak with a win in the 2000 season ending Marlboro 500 at The California Speedway in Fontana, where he drove to victory and claimed the million-dollar prize. Fittipaldi bettered his previous best 500-mile finish of second place in the 1995 Indy 500 with his first win in a 500-mile race. Fittipaldi was in second place in the 2000 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach before the exhaust system failed causing his car to ignite in a spectacular fire thus ending his race.
"Long Beach is one of the most popular races in CART because we put on a good show due to the nature of the track," said Fittipaldi, whose car will feature a surprising new paint scheme for the race. "There is some passing and it is really interesting for the fans. California weather is seldom bad and Long Beach is a venue where we have raced for the past 25 years, so it has become very popular. The people who live in the area know that we always go there. Hopefully this year will bring me some luck, unlike the past couple races I have raced at Long Beach. It was very disappointing last year when my car caught fire after running second almost the whole race. In my opinion I think we could have finished in the top three. A win in this race would mark a big victory for our team. The race will definitely be exciting to watch."
When Texaco/Havoline/Kmart driver Cristiano da Matta presented the team with a win in his debut for Newman/Haas Racing in the 2001 season-opening event in Mexico, he added his name to an illustrious list of previous team drivers who have done the same. Although Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy and Christian Fittipaldi have added to Newman/Haas Racing's win total of 59, only Mansell and da Matta have won in their debuts for the team. Da Matta hopes to get back to the Long Beach winner's circle this weekend for the first time since his victory in the 1998 Indy Lights race.
"I am looking forward to racing again after a big break," said da Matta. "We have proven to ourselves and others that we could be competitive on a street or road course and hope to carry that over to this weekend. The car will be set-up a little different than it was for Mexico because the track has more bumps and the faster guys will be the ones that have a car that works well over the bumps. We tested well in the off-season on this type of track so I imagine that we are going to have a good, competitive car and hopefully there will be no big surprises while racing. I would love to win two-in-a-row in CART for the first time and also keep the team in Winner's Circle. This race is important to (our sponsor) Texaco as well as Toyota so we will have a lot of people behind us this weekend - and hopefully a lot of drivers as well!"
The event will be the 17th for Newman/Haas Racing in Long Beach. A victory in Long Beach would not only be the third in a row for the team -- it would be their 38th win on a road or street course of the 60 total victories for CART's second most successful team.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on ABC from 4:00-6:00 PM ET. Log on to Newman-Haas.com, fittipaldionline.com or damatta.com for updates throughout the weekend.