WHO'S HOT Â· Cristiano da Matta ( ...
· Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) has proved once again that he can put on a show in Monterey. Da Matta regained the championship point lead he held after winning Round 1 of the CART FedEx Championship Series in Monterrey, Mexico with another road course win last weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Da Matta led a one-two Newman/Haas Racing assault with teammate Christian Fittipaldi (#11 Lily Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone). He now holds a five point advantage (51-46) over Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and is the first multiple winner of the season. Da Matta also recorded his first-career pole last weekend at Laguna Seca.
· With a ninth-place finish in last weekend's Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300, Michel Jourdain Jr. is the only driver to have finished in the top 10 of each of the year's first five races, becoming the first driver since Paul Tracy (#26 KOOL Honda/Lola Bridgestone) in 2000 to start the year with five consecutive top-10 placings. If he can extend the streak this weekend, he will become the first driver to start with six straight top 10s since Christian Fittipaldi reeled off seven straight to begin the 1999 campaign.
· Townsend Bell (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) scored his first championship points of the season and posted a career-best finish last weekend with a seventh-place run at Laguna Seca. Bell will be looking to extend his four-point lead in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year standings over Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) as he returns to the Portland track where he won the pole twice during his Dayton Indy Lights career and once in the Barber Dodge Pro Series.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
· Max Papis (#22 ROCKWELL FIRST POINT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is the only active CART driver to have won a pole at Portland, taking the top spot last year with a best lap of 57.785 seconds (122.669 mph). Papis (2001) and Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola Bridgestone) are the only active Champ Car pilots to have won a race at Portland, Andretti having won three-straight from 1990-92.
· Ford-Cosworth has six Champ Car wins at Portland International Raceway over the years (1984-87, '92, '01), followed by Honda with four (1996, '98-00).
· Reynard has had success at Portland, manufacturing wins in this event every year from 1996-00. But Lola holds the rights to the most recent win for a chassis manufacturer here (2001) and total victories with seven (1985-87, '90-92, '01) since the CART FedEx Championship Series first came to the Pacific Northwest in 1984.
· Toyota-powered drivers have won three of five CART FedEx Championship Series events contested this season, including wins in the Tecate Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey (Round 1) and the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300 (Round 5) with Cristiano da Matta (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) and the Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Japan (Round 3) with Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone). Honda holds the rights to the remaining two victories in the 28th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Round 2) and the Miller Lite 250 in Milwaukee (Round 4) with drivers Michael Andretti (#39 Motorola Honda/Lola/Bridgestone) and Paul Tracy (#26 Honda/Lola/Bridgestone), respectively. But don't count out Ford-Cosworth who won at Portland International Raceway last year with Max Papis.
· Toyota swept the podium and six of the top seven spots and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last weekend. The podium sweep was Toyota's first in Champ Car competition. With the dominant performance, Toyota assumes the Manufacturer's Championship lead with an 88-77 advantage over Honda.
· Lola has won seven of the past eight CART FedEx Championship Series events, dating to a victory by Max Papis in the Honda Grand Prix of Monterrey Featuring the Shell 300 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year. Also included in the run are three consecutive victories by Newman/Haas Racing driver Cristiano da Matta (Australia and Fontana, 2001; Monterrey, 2002), Bruno Junqueira in Japan, Paul Tracy in Milwaukee and da Matta again last weekend at Laguna Seca. Reynard interrupted Lola's streak when Michael Andretti won at Long Beach in Round 2. Ironically enough, Andretti has since made the switch to the Lola chassis.
· This Sunday's live broadcast of the CART FedEx Championship Series G.I. Joe's 200 (CBS, 3:30 p.m. ET) from Portland International Raceway will be the second of six events to air on CBS
Sports this season. Friday qualifying, CART Friday Night and Saturday qualifying for the CART FedEx Championship Series G.I. Joe's 200 will all be broadcast live on SPEED Channel.
· Portland International Raceway is the site of the closest race in CART FedEx Championship Series history as Mark Blundell nipped Gil de Ferran by 0.027 seconds to win the 1997 event. It is also the site of the sixth-closest race in the annals of the series as Mario Andretti nipped his son Michael by 0.070 seconds to win the 1986 race title.
· Plan on attending the Ultimate Block Party this Friday night at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland at SW Broadway and Morrison for a mix of glamour, entertainment and racing celebrities. CART FedEx Championship Series drivers Bruno Junqueira (#4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone), Kenny Brack (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) and Scott Dixon (#44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone) from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing stable will be on hand along with a number of local bands. SPEED Channel's coverage of the event will air later that night on their "CART Friday Night" program at 10:30 p.m. ET. This is a FREE non-ticketed event!