OVERALL: Newman/Haas Racing is hoping to win their third CART FedEx victory in the past four events this weekend and is the reigning oval track winner in CART after Christian Fittipaldi won the previous oval event - the Marlboro 500in Fontana, ...
OVERALL: Newman/Haas Racing is hoping to win their third CART FedEx victory in the past four events this weekend and is the reigning oval track winner in CART after Christian Fittipaldi won the previous oval event - the Marlboro 500in Fontana, Calif. Cristiano da Matta drove to victory in Monterrey, Mexico and finished second in Long Beach. Neither driver tested at the track prior to this weekend due to the fact that Newman/Haas Racing typically has had a good baseline set-up on ovals. Of their 59 victories, the team has scored 21 wins on an oval track.
Kenny Brack Pole sitter (22.954)
Christian Fittipaldi 9th (23.079)
Cristiano da Matta 11th (23.105)
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The car is running completely wide open. We took all of the downforce out of it and just went flat out. There is no more in the car on this type of track. It will be a lot harder to pass here than on the Superspeedways. The people with the good qualifying engines were able to qualify well. I think the key to tomorrow will be having a lot of luck. The speed difference between the top speed and the low speed is maximum seven-mph and if you compare that to our other tracks it is nothing. The guys that are on track when the checkered flag comes out and have had a trouble free race with good pit stops will do well. If something happens to you like what happened to Mauricio or Cristiano, you are just a passenger. They just lost the airflow and spun without doing anything wrong. We are going to be like a bunch of fighter pilots in the race because of all the G forces we will be taking for an extended amount of time. The race will definitely be hard on the motors as well because we will be running wide open all day. This race is going to be one that people will want to watch."
CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "I didn't have a qualifying engine in the car so it (11th place) is not as bad as it looks. Maybe if I was in my primary car I could have gone faster. I'm probably the only guy in the field that didn't qualify with a qualifying motor and ran the same revs as I will in the race. Because of that, 11th place was due to a tremendous effort by Toyota. The team does a tremendous job of making sure the cars are exactly alike but the difference was my primary car that I crashed had the qualifying motor in it. I think we are set for the race though. It won't be easy to start in 11th place here but it is a long race so we can pace ourselves and work our way forward. This race will be tougher mentally than physically. It's tough to say what caused the accident in practice. The banking falls so quickly and I think I got turbulence as well. Those kinds of things combined with a track like this can lead to trouble. It was completely unexpected. There was a lot of oversteer in the car but I don't know what happened. A car was going into the pits in front of me. Maybe that unsettled the air when I was going over the transition or it could have been a combination of things. I don't really know what happened. I feel fine though."
NOTE: da Matta qualified in his back-up car that he drove for approx. 15 laps at the beginning of practice on Friday for an installation check.
The race will be televised live on ESPN TV on Sunday, April 29 at 3 PM ET.