CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Lola Cars Saturday qualifying report

Da Matta makes it look easy nabs second pole in a week. It took Cristiano da Matta three and a half years to secure his first Champ Car pole position, but now that he's crossed that bridge, it's "all in a day's work," as one of his Newman/Haas...

Da Matta makes it look easy nabs second pole in a week.

It took Cristiano da Matta three and a half years to secure his first Champ Car pole position, but now that he's crossed that bridge, it's "all in a day's work," as one of his Newman/Haas Racing team members joked. Da Matta backed up his provisional Friday fast lap with another quick tour of Portland International Raceway's 1.969-mile road course, handling the 12-turn circuit in 58.679 seconds (120.800mph) in his #6 Chevron Lola/Toyota.

The Brazilian gave engine maker Toyota its 14th CART pole position and third of the season. "Of course I'm very happy today and pleased we've got a good race setup," da Matta noted. "This is a hard race, physically, because it's the longest road race we do all year," running 110 laps of the G.I. Joe's 200 that starts at 12:30pm PDT Sunday.

Kenny Brack again took second place in final qualifying, this time with a lap in the #12 Target Lola/Toyota of 58.963 seconds (120.218mph), his time .284 seconds behind da Matta. "We'll see if we can swing it around tomorrow," Brack admitted. "That was all I had today." He lost much of the morning practice session chasing technical problems. "We have to keep up with this stuff and keep working. We're not good enough yet."

Bruno Junqueira grabbed the third slot, qualifying the #4 Target Lola/Toyota at 59.026 seconds (120.089mph), for an all-Lola sweep of the top three starting positions, mirroring last weekend's contest at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Junqueira hit his jackpot in the first stint, logging his quick tour on the 5th of 14 laps. "The team has done a very good job on road, street and oval circuits this year. We've been very consistent and we've made a big improvement from yesterday," when he was eighth.

Christian Fittipaldi had to rest on the quick lap set in Friday qualifying, unable to wrench more speed from his #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota and falling to fifth place. Dario Franchitti starts seventh in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, the fastest of Honda's six drivers, and Franchitti feels he is "moving ahead with the Lola."

Fifteen of 18 drivers turned laps within one second of da Matta's quick time, seven of the top ten rode with Lola chassis on a day when the sun declined to shine until after time trials commenced at 1:45pm. Cooler temperatures (75-77 air; 97-105 track) helped most entrants attain higher speeds for their time trials and similar conditions are expected for the near-noon Father's Day start. The race is televised live on CBS.

-lola-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta