Newman/Haas Racing G.I. Joe's 200 - Portland, Oregon Round 6 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship DATE: June 16 RACE BROADCAST: CBS, 3:30 PM EST RACE LENGTH: 110 laps/216.5 miles (originally scheduled for 115) TRACK LENGTH: 1.969-mile permanent...
G.I. Joe's 200 - Portland, Oregon
Round 6 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship
DATE: June 16
RACE BROADCAST: CBS, 3:30 PM EST
RACE LENGTH: 110 laps/216.5 miles (originally scheduled for 115)
TRACK LENGTH: 1.969-mile permanent road course
DEFENDING WINNER: Max Papis
DEFENDING POLE SITTER: Max Papis
Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) - Portland, Oregon Track Stats
BEST FINISH: The team has won five races (Michael Andretti - 1990, 1991, 1992; Mario Andretti - 1985, 1986).
BEST STARTING POSITION: NHR has two poles here (Nigel Mansell - 1993; Mario Andretti - 1984).
WINS ON ROAD/ STREET COURSES: The team has won 41 of their 63 victories on road/street courses.
POLES ON ROAD/ STREET COURSES: The team has won 49 of their 64 pole positions on road/ street courses.
DA MATTA'S BEST START/FINISH: 2nd - 2001/5th - 2000.
FITTIPALDI'S BEST START/FINISH: 3rd - 1997/3rd - 1996, 2000 and 2001.
Driver Stats and Quotes:
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
* CART FedEx POINT LEADER: Led 52 laps in route to victory in the 2002 season-opener in Monterrey Mexico. He scored his third consecutive win as well as back-to-back wins for the team in Mexico. Looked set to match a CART record fourth consecutive victory at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after he built a seven second lead that totaled 30 laps at the front before he was taken out of contention when hit departing his second of three pit stops and ultimately finished eighth after starting second. He started 8th in Japan but mechanical failure sidelined him near the end of the race in 13th place. Was in sixth place in Milwaukee when a fuel pressure problem dropped him to an 11th place finish. Ran in front of eventual third place finisher Max Papis. Won his first CART Champ car pole in Monterey, Calif., and drove to victory after he led 82 of 87 laps. To date, da Matta has led a series-high 164 laps on road courses, almost four times that of second-place Michael Andretti who has led 43 on road courses.
* IN PORTLAND: Will be his fourth Champ car race in Portland. In 2001, he started second but went off-course after tapping the leader while in second place under caution on a slippery track. After dropping to the back of the grid, he charged back to finish 10th and salvaged some championship points. Ran 2nd in the 2000 race here but finished fifth due to late pit for fuel and he finished fifth. Finished 11th in 1999.
* FOUR WINS IN PAST SEVEN RACES: With 2001 wins in the final two races (Australia, Fontana) in addition to his victory in the 2002 season-opening race in Mexico, he became the first driver to win three in a row since Juan Montoya accomplished the feat in 1999. His win in Round 5 of 2002 was his fourth in the previous seven events.
* DIVERSE TALENT: Of his six wins in CART, four of them have come on one of the four different type of tracks the series competes on (Chicago '00 - oval; Monterrey, Mexico '01 and '02 and Monterey, Calif. '02 - road course; Australia '01 - street course; Fontana '01 - Superspeedway/500-mile).
* CART FedEx ALL-STAR TEAM: Was nominated to the five-driver 2001 CART FedEx Championship All-Star Team. The elite group is voted on by drivers, a select group of motorsports media and fans.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
* IN PORTLAND: Has four top-four finishes in previous seven races here. Finished third in 2001, 2000, 1996 and fourth in 1997 in his return to racing. Led seven laps here - all in 2001. Highest qualifying here was third place in 1997 on his return to racing from his injury in Australia. Could not yet walk and had to also be lifted in and out of his car. Ran in second place until the last lap when he dropped to fourth after two drivers, who gambled on the track drying and made a late pit for racing slicks, passed him. Started in the top-10 all but one time in Portland. Finished in the top twelve all but twice.
* THIRD IN 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP (only 8 pts. out of first with 43): Has three top-4 finishes in five races to date. At the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, Fittipaldi ran the fastest qualifying lap but it was disallowed after he brought out a red flag due to hitting the concrete barriers. His second fastest lap resulted in a fourth place start and a subsequent third place finish after running as high as second. In Long Beach, Fittipaldi set the second fastest time in provisional qualifying but dropped to a 9th place start in final qualifying, ran as high as 3rd and retired in 13th after gearbox failure. Struggled at the first short oval race of the season in Japan and finished 11th. Team improved their short oval set up for the race Milwaukee where he finished fourth. Drove to his best finish of second place since his victory in the 2000 season-finale at the California Speedway 500-mile race in Monterey, Calif.
* CART VICTORIES - 2: Scored his first CART victory in the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America (7-11-99/71st CART start), He bettered his previous best 500-mile finish of 2nd place in the 1995 Indy 500 by winning the 2000 season-finale Marlboro 500. For his 2nd place finish to (eventual 1997 Formula One World Champion) Jacques Villeneuve, he was also named 1995 Indy 500 "Rookie of the Year."
* CART POLES - 1: Fittipaldi set a track record en route to his first CART pole in his homeland of Brazil on May 14, 1999.
What They're Saying About
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Chevron Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "Winning the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey was great for the team since we hadn't won since the first race of the season in Mexico. This weekend's race in Portland should be another good race for us. I can't wait! We didn't score as many points as we should have after winning in Mexico so it is good to get 22 of the 23 points available at the last race. We're going to try to do even better in Portland. After winning in Mexico we dominated in Long Beach but a silly pit accident ruined our chance at winning. Then we didn't run well in Japan but were better in Milwaukee but had a fuel pressure problem. It's good to get back to the road courses where we run well.
(On potential to win second CART pole in Portland:) "We know we have a good car for Portland because we almost got the pole there last year and started second. Lola has made improvements with the car since then and we have improved our set-up as well so we are pretty confident about being a contender for all 23 points. There are so many variables in racing that can change the situation quickly but we should run well again this weekend.
(On why he dropped from 2nd to 19th place:) "I still don't completely understand what happened last year. It was a strange incident. Under the yellow (flag), (race leader) Papis went on the throttle then suddenly got on the brakes hard and it caught me by surprise and I ran into the back of him and went off course. I learned that I have to be switched on more of the time. You always have to be 100 percent switched on - even if the yellow (flag) is out. I was just trying to keep the heat in my tires and was caught by surprise. It cost me a lot - I went to 19th place and had to work hard just to get back to 10th place and score three points. This year I want to change that story."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I always look forward to the race in Portland. We are good on these types of tracks so we need to capitalize on the points available when we come to them. I'm am aiming to win $1 million for the Championship, $1 million for another win at the California Speedway and $50,000 for the guys in the pit stop contest so we have our work cut out for ourselves. To finish one-two (last Sunday in Monterey, Calif.) really motivated the team. It would be a dream weekend for me to continue this momentum in Portland, which is a very special place for me.
"Last year the race in Portland was the best for me all year. The track was very slick and Helio went off and I had to go off track as well to avoid hitting him. Then we dropped back to 19th place and had to work our way back up the field. We were doing almost all of the passing that day and it was a good race for us to finish third. I just wish there were more laps because I am confident we could have kept moving up the field. Of course it would have been much easier if we had worked our way up to the front from our seventh place start rather than from 19th. With the number of positions we managed to pick up, a win would have been possible from seventh place. We are in much better shape this season to win in the wet or the dry so it should be a good race for us. We were able to put the Lilly car on the podium twice so far this season and I have more points now than I did last year at this time so we are really motivated. A good finish in Portland can only put us in a stronger position to fight for the Championship."