Da Matta ties CART consecutive wins mark with fourth straight; all three podium finishers laud performance of Bridgestone Potenzas. Cristiano da Matta has become the "Little Big Man" of CART, reeling off his fourth consecutive victory today to...
Da Matta ties CART consecutive wins mark with fourth straight; all three podium finishers laud performance of Bridgestone Potenzas.
Cristiano da Matta has become the "Little Big Man" of CART, reeling off his fourth consecutive victory today to equal the series record previously set by Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi. Da Matta, driving the Havoline Toyota/Lola on Bridgestone tires for Newman/Haas Racing, led all 112 laps around the street course at Exhibition Place and crossed the finish line 4.398 seconds ahead of Kenny Brack.
It is da Matta's ninth career victory, all in the past three seasons. It is also his fifth triumph with Bridgestone, which entered competition and became the Official Tire of CART this year. Afterward, da Matta paid high compliments to the Potenza racing radials, as did fellow podium finishers Brack and Christian Fittipaldi.
"I wasn't trying to go for any record, I was just concentrating on the championship," da Matta said. "Of course, I had the opportunity in front of me: a good car, good team, good pit stops, good starting position. It was even better than I thought it was going to be. I was very happy with the Bridgestone tires during the race. During the weekend I was talking to the Bridgestone technicians because I felt the tires were dropping off a little more than I wanted, but we did a couple things with our setup for the race and it suited the car better to the tires. The tires were fantastic during the race. There was a lot of grip out there, especially in the last stint the track was picking up more and more rubber. It's a very good thing when you don't have to worry about tires during a race."
"The tires were good all day," said Brack, driver of the Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. "I was surprised with this heat in a street race that they held up as well as they did, but the car was really consistent all day. There's more opportunity to pass somebody when their tires go off a little bit, but everyone is running the same package here and the Bridgestones are really good, and they're really holding well."
"The Bridgestone tires are too good," said Fittipaldi, da Matta's Newman/Haas teammate who drives the Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. "They're all the time way too good. That's why the cars are pretty equal out there and that's why it's very hard to pass. Bridgestone makes too good of a tire."
Page Mader, Manager, Race Tire Development, Bridgestone Motorsport:
"It was appropriate and special that Cristiano took the checkered flag today from Alex Zanardi, one of the great drivers whose consecutive-wins record he tied. Alex is a dear friend to the Bridgestone/Firestone racing programs and we were all delighted to see him this weekend. With nine wins in the past 2½ seasons, Cristiano is well on his way to joining that elite group of special drivers. We're proud that, like Alex Zanardi before him, Cristiano has achieved all those wins on our family of race tires. And with words about the Bridgestone tires like those spoken by today's podium finishers, we don't need to say any more."
Race temperatures ranged from 110 to 115 degrees track and 78 to 85 degrees ambient (F); Race temperatures ranged from 43 to 46 degrees track and 26 to 29 degrees ambient (C).