CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Newman/Haas preview

Newman/Haas Racing Molson Indy Toronto - Toronto, Ontario, Canada Round 8 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship Driver Stats and Quotes: CRISTIANO DA MATTA, ...

Newman/Haas Racing
Molson Indy Toronto - Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Round 8 of 20 in the CART FedEx Championship

Driver Stats and Quotes:

CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:

Â* IN TORONTO: Will be his fourth Champ car race here and second with NHR. Started 14th and finished 12th in 2001 event after dropping back due to stopping on course in order to avoid the stalled car of Moreno. After resuming the race he later was collected by the aftermath of a collision between de Ferran and Max Papis. Led his first CART race ever here in 2000 event. Led 73 laps but finished fourth after those in second place-back pitted under caution and he ultimately had to make a late race pit stop for fuel which dropped him to a fourth place finish in 2000. Contact ended his first race here in 1999.

Â* 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER: Led 52 laps in route to victory in the 2002 season-opener in Monterrey Mexico which was his third consecutive win in the series dating back to the final two rounds in 2001 (Australia, Fontana). It was also his second consecutive victory in the season-opener in Mexico. At the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, da Matta looked set to match a CART record fourth consecutive victory when he built a seven second lead after taking over the top spot for the first 30 laps before he was taken out of contention when hit departing his second of three pit stop 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 forced a 10-pit stop race (instead of 3) and dropped him to an 11th place finish. Ran in front of eventual third place finisher Max Papis. Won his first pole as well as his first win from the pole in Monterey, Calif. (6-9-02) after leading 82 of 87 laps. Won all 23 points available after being fastest in provisional qualifying, final qualifying, winning the race and leading the most laps in Portland to build a 20 point lead over second place, Bruno Junqueira. After scoring 21 points for his win in Chicago and leading the most laps, he increased his lead to 25 over second place Junqueira. To date, da Matta has led series-high 219 laps on road courses.

Â* SIX WINS IN NINE RACES/MOST CONSECUTIVE WINS: With his victory in Chicago (6-30-02), da Matta scored his sixth victory in nine races dating back to his win in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia. At the season-opener in Monterrey, Mexico, da Matta won his third consecutive event in the CART FedEx Series (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) and became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). Wins in Monterey, Calif., Portland, Ore., and Chicago earned him another three in a row. A win in Toronto would put him in a three-way tie for the most consecutive wins in CART at four with Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi.

Â* DIVERSE TALENT: With his EIGHT wins in CART, he has won on each of the four different types of tracks the series competes on.

Â* 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:

Â* IN TORONTO: Will be his eighth start in Toronto where his highest start was fifth place in 1998 and 1999 and highest finish is third place in 1999. Ran as high as fourth in 2001 but was in sixth place when he attempted to pass Junqueira and the two collided. In 2000, he was in fourth place before contact in the pits dropped him to 17th. He finished third in 1999. Started fifth and led one lap in 1998 but Gil de Ferran, who was pitted beside him, hit one of his tires that was to be put on his car and finished 16th. Dropped from 13th to 28 after a mistake by the polesitter led to a turn one, lap one incident. He charged back to an 11th place finish. Finished seventh and ninth, respectively, in 1996 and 1995.

Â* FIFTH IN 2002 CHAMPIONSHIP (only 52 pts. out of first): Has three top-4 finishes in seven 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. Was third fastest in provisional qualifying but failed to improve his time on Saturday and started fifth. A mid-race collision with Paul Tracy, who attempted a pass, dropped him 10 laps down to the leader by the time he resumed racing although he ultimately retired from the race in 13th place with seven laps to go. A probable top-six finish eluded him in Chicago after his left rear wheel came following his second pit stop.

Â* OTHER 2002 RACING PLANS: When the 2002 race schedule permits, Fittipaldi plans to compete in six NASCAR-sanctioned Busch Grand National (BGN) events after enjoying his first experience in the BGN 2001 season finale near his home in Fla. He qualified his Mike's Hard Lemonade Chevrolet 33rd out of a field of 43 for the GNC Live Well 300 and retired in 39th place due to contact with Hank Parker Jr. after completing 106 of 200 laps on November 10, 2001. He ran as high as 10th place.

Â* 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."

Â* 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 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "I'm looking forward to the Molson Indy Toronto. It helps that our car is working well and the team is confident in the work we have done up until this point. It also helps that the set-up for the car is good and that we have built some momentum. To be successful in racing, there are many factors involved. Everyone on the Havoline team - from the engineers to the mechanics to the pit crew are working very well together and the Toyota engine, Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires are a strong combination. We ran very well (on the streets) in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach but the fact is that the Toronto street course is a very different track even though they are both on city streets. The track has many different surfaces so not a lot of information from Long Beach applies so just because our car was good in Long Beach it will be good in Toronto but hopefully some of the information does because the car was very good. Toronto is probably the most different street course we go to so we have to keep our eyes wide open beginning with the first session and adapt our set-up to that type of track but the team has won many times there so that's a pretty good indication that they will know what to do when we get there.

(On the atmosphere in Toronto for the race:) "The same thing that makes the race good for the drivers also makes it good for the fans. When the driver likes an event a good part of the reason is because of the crowd. Of course how much you like the track is part of it too but the overall atmosphere of the event is what makes it special and the Toronto Molson Indy is just a big party and we like it a lot."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone: "After not scoring any points in the last two races and for a total of three so far this season, we need to go to Toronto and score a good chunk of points to make up for some lost opportunities. Losing a wheel in Chicago was a big disappointment for the team but those things happen when so much pressure is put on the guys to make up positions. Obviously Newman/Haas Racing has been strong on road and street courses this season so we need to qualify up front in Toronto so the guys don't have to make up so many positions on the pit stops. The Lilly pit crew was leading the Craftsman Pit Crew Contest when the bad pit stop happened so that shows you it can happen to anyone and has to four guys in the past three races. The Toronto race is a tough one to get a good set-up for the car because of the different racing surfaces. We didn't run very well there last year but we started to improve our car on street courses after running there last year and the progress has continued over from the off-season testing into this year so we know we can run well this year. The Championship is really heating up now and everyone is going to dig deep to try to get a one-two finish for the team not only in the Toronto Molson Indy but also in the Championship. Each year it has gotten harder and harder to score each point and this year is definitely not an exception although we seem to be in a better position to be competitive at most of the races. "The Toronto race is a great event for the fans and the drivers. The fans are really involved with our sport and know what is going on from race to race. Apart from that, I have a good time off track as well in Toronto. I don't have much free time when I am there but I enjoy the restaurants."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Hank Parker Jr. , Gil de Ferran , Bruno Junqueira , Max Papis , Alex Zanardi , Al Unser Sr.