DA MATTA BACK ON TOP WITH LOLA IN PORTLAND 2002 Champ Car titleholder Cristiano da Matta used an alternate fuel strategy early in the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland to earn his 12th...
DA MATTA BACK ON TOP WITH LOLA IN PORTLAND
2002 Champ Car titleholder Cristiano da Matta used an alternate fuel strategy early in the 105-lap G.I. Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland to earn his 12th career Champ Car checkered flag and the first for his Bell Micro/PKV Racing team. Driving the #21 Lola/Ford- Cosworth/Bridgestone machine to a dominant 10.127-second margin over reigning champ Sebastien Bourdais' #1 McDonald's Lola, the Brazilian celebrated his second straight Portland win (he last won in 2002) from 10th on the 18-car grid.
Da Matta knew he had "an excellent car and could move up" if given the chance. "I've always liked this track and I had a good race car. When it is hot like this, it's a matter of whoever got the car more balanced for the race." Today it was da Matta and PKV. Bourdais found his Lola "quite good today. We had the best lap time of the race and it was quite a consistent performance throughout the day," despite being forced to try and save fuel throughout
Paul Tracy started and finished third in his #3 Indeck/Forsythe Championship Racing Lola and noted his team is "very competitive this year. We had a good, clean dice with Sebastien." Teammate Mario Dominguez was fourth with the #7 Indeck/Forsythe Lola and said his Lola "was good. It was both quick and consistent which is what we always shoot for." Second starter A.J. Allmendinger took fifth with the #10 RuSPORT Lola.
PKV team co-owner Jimmy Vasser earned sixth place in the #12 Gulfstream Lola and rookie Andrew Ranger was the final driver on the lead lap, seventh in his #27 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lola.
It was a clean contest on the reconfigured 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway road course with a single, five-lap caution period for polesitter Justin Wilson, who was one of only three drivers who failed to finish the contest, all due to mechanical failures.
Heading to next week's Cleveland Champ Car Grand Prix Presented by US Bank round, Bourdais holds first place in the chase for the Vanderbilt cup with 106; Tracy moves up to second with 95 points, Wilson is third with 77 points, Allmendinger holds 74 fourth place points and da Matta vaults to fifth in the standings with 73 points.