Welcome back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as Champ Car fans await the start of the CART FedEx Championship Series Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300. At 1:21 p.m. the temperature is 68° with a 9 mph breeze, providing another day in paradise just off the Pacific coast in Monterey, California.
After an incident at Turn 9 in the warm-up session which resulted in heavy front-end damage, #22 PAPIS will start today's race as scheduled 17th on grid. The Sigma Autopsort team worked diligently after the incident to repair the car.
#51 FERNANDEZ is starting his 150th CART FedEx Championship Series race today.
Alex Zanardi holds the current race lap record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a 1:10.148 mph (114.854 mph) in 1996.
#6 DA MATTA starts on pole this afternoon with a qualifying time of 1:09.473 (115.970 mph).
CART FedEx Championship Series rookie #55 DOMINGUEZ was very impressive in this morning's warm-up, turning the fastest lap at 1:11.623 (112.489 mph).
At 1:27 p.m., The command Gentleman Start Your Engines is given to the field.
At 1:29 p.m., Champ Cars roll off the grid.
At 1:36 p.m., The pace car dives off in Turn 11 and CART FedEx Championship Series Starter Jim Swintal waves the GREEN FLAG over the field as the Champ Cars negotiate their way down the frontstretch in heading for Turns 1 and 2. YELLOW FLAG for a multi-car incident in Turn 2 involving #8 VASSER, #9 JOURDAIN, #20 BELL, #51 FERNANDEZ, #55 DOMINGUEZ and #27 FRANCHITTI. #6 DA MATTA held the lead through the first lap followed by #12 BRACK and #4 JUNQUEIRA, #10 KANAAN and #11 FITTIPALDI. #27 FRANCHITTI is out of the car and his day is done, along with #51 FERNANDEZ.
On Lap 4, #39 ANDRETTI, #20 BELL, #55 DOMINGUEZ and #9 JOURDAIN all on pit lane and return on course.
On Lap 5, #8 VASSER and #9 JOURDAIN back into the pits. #52 NAKANO is up to 10th after starting 18th.
On Lap 6, #39 ANDRETTI, #20 BELL, #8 VASSER and #9 JOURDAIN all make another stop.
GREEN FLAG on Lap 7 as all cars are safely through Turn 1and 2. #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 0.521 seconds.
On Lap 8, #6 DA MATTA leads by 1.277 seconds over #12 BRACK, followed by #4 JUNQUEIRA (2.582 seconds back), #10 KANAAN (3.514 seconds back) and #11 FITTIPALDI (3.982 seconds back).
On Lap 11, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 1.961 seconds. #6 DA MATTA has turned the fastest lap at 1:11.707 (112.357 mph).
On Lap 13, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 2.810 seconds, followed by #4 JUNQUEIRA (6.280 seconds back), #10 KANAAN (8.561 seconds back) and #11 FITTIPALDI (9.784 seconds back).
On Lap 15, #6 DA MATTA opens up to a 3.549-second lead over #12 BRACK.
YELLOW FLAG on Lap 17 for #26 TRACY who lost the left rear tire and spun backwards into the tire wall in Turn 4. The car will go on the hook and his day is cut short.
On Lap 19, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK, followed by #20 BELL, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #8 VASSER after cycling through pit stops. #55 DOMINGUEZ and #39 ANDRETTI in the pits. #10 KANAAN will go to the back of the back after a pit safety violation when he ran over the air hose of the #5 TAKAGI team.
GREEN FLAG on Lap 21, #6 DA MATTA leads the pack through Turns 1 and 2. #39 ANDRETTI passes #55 DOMINGUEZ coming out of Turn 2.
On Lap 22, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 1.848 seconds, followed by #20 BELL (2.746 seconds back), #4 JUNQUEIRA (3.335 seconds back) and #8 VASSER (4.362 seconds back).
On Lap 24, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 3.396 seconds.
On Lap 26, #6 DA MATTA leads by 5.148 seconds over #12 BRACK, followed by #20 BELL (7.146 seconds back), #4 JUNQUEIRA (10.125 seconds back) and #8 VASSER 11.188 seconds back).
On Lap 29, #39 ANDRETTI is now 13th after completing a daring pass of #22 PAPIS at the top of the Corkscrew in Turn 7.
On Lap 30, #20 BELL, #8 VASSER and #9 JOURDAIN all in for routine stops.
On Lap 33, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 9.018 seconds, followed by #4 JUNQUEIRA (16.759 seconds back), #11 FITTIPALDI (18.950 seconds back) and #44 DIXON (22.852 seconds back).
On Lap 38, #6 DA MATTA extends to a 10.644-second lead over #12 BRACK.
On Lap 42, #10 KANAAN in the pits along with race leader #6 DA MATTA.
On Lap 43, After the pit stop cycles, #11 FITTIPALDI comes out in front of #4 JUNQUEIRA for third and #32 CARPENTIER beats #44 DIXON out for sixth.
On Lap 45, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 11.206 seconds, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #32 CARPENTIER. #39 ANDRETTI in the pits for a routine stop.
On Lap 51, #4 JUNQUEIRA has his hands full, now just 0.327-seconds ahead of #32 CARPENTIER for fourth.
On Lap 52, #32 CARPENTIER looks inside and forces his way by #4 JUNQUEIRA in Turn 2 for fourth.
On Lap 54, #32 CARPENTIER turns the fastest lap of the race with a 1:11.703 (112.363 mph).
On Lap 56, #6 DA MATTA leads #12 BRACK by 10.209 seconds, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #32 CARPENTIER and #4 JUNQUEIRA. #20 BELL, #8 VASSER and #9 JOURDAIN all in for routine stops.
On Lap 59, #32 CARPENTIER gets loose and has an off-course excursion driver's right at Turn 6, but keeps the car running and continues.
On Lap 60, #6 DA MATTA leads by 6.468 seconds over #12 BRACK, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #44 DIXON.
On Lap 61, #6 DA MATTA leads by 4.977 seconds over #12 BRACK.
On Lap 62, #6 DA MATTA in the pits for a routine stop. #12 BRACK assumes the lead.
On Lap 63, #44 DIXON and #12 BRACK in for stops.
On Lap 64, #11 FITTIPALDI assumes the lead, followed by #6 DA MATTA, #12 BRACK, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #32 CARPENTIER.
On Lap 67, #32 CARPENTIER in for his last stop.
On Lap 68, #10 KANAAN, #11 FITTIPALDI and #4 JUNQUEIRA all in for their last stops.
On Lap 69, #6 DA MATTA assumes the lead after pit stop cycling, followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (7.259 seconds back), #12 BRACK, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #32 CARPENTIER.
On Lap 70, #6 DA MATTA leads #11 FITTIPALDI by 7.146 seconds, followed by #12 BRACK (7.880 seconds back), #4 JUNQUEIRA (29.903 seconds back) and #32 CARPENTIER (37.076 seconds back).
On Lap 73, #6 DA MATTA leads #11 FITTIPALDI by 10.919 seconds, followed by #12 BRACK, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #32 CARPENTIER.
On Lap 75, #8 VASSER in pit lane for a stop.
On Lap 83, #6 DA MATTA leads #11 FITTIPALDI by 18.161 seconds.
On Lap 86, #5 TAKAGI spins in Turn 11 and stalls the engine. He will remain there until the finish.
WHITE FLAG for #6 DA MATTA as he takes his final tour of the 2.238-mile course.
CHECKERED FLAG for #6 DA MATTA, followed by Newman/Haas Racing teammate #11 FITTIPALDI for the one-two sweep, then #12 BRACK, #4 JUNQUEIRA and #32 CARPENTIER. #6 DA MATTA records his second win of the season and takes over the point lead.
Bridgestone Tire engineers report that track temperatures ranged from 116° to 119° F, and air temperature from 72° to 80° F, during the event.
CHAMP CAR TOP-THREE QUOTES
CRISTIANO DA MATTA (#6 Chevron Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): It was a perfect day for me and the whole team. I was worried about the start but I managed to get a good one. My car was good and I was able to run away in the first stint. I got caught up in traffic the following stint and as a result, we changed our pit stop strategy, but still ran into traffic. After getting through it I was very comfortable because Christian [Fittipaldi] and Kenny [Brack] got caught up and I was able to relax. (On the Bridgestone Potenza tires) The tires were a lot better than I thought they could be. The compound Bridgestone brought here was great and I wasn't concerned with our tire wear at all.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (#11 Lilly Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): My pit stops were very quick today. My crew is doing a very good job and as a result we are leading the [Craftsman] pit crew challenge right now that pays $50,000 at the end of the season. I would love to share that with the team along with the money for winning the championship, but the battle in the championship is very tough. Everyone thought our pit stops were the key today. They were key I'll admit, but another thing that was key is when we were able to extend the gap we had while running in clear air.
KENNY BRACK (#12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone): It was a good day for us and the car ran well all weekend long. We got caught some traffic in the middle of the race so we decided to pit early, but we came right back out into traffic. We'll take third place behind Newman/Haas Racing because that's all we had for them today. (On da Matta pulling away) We made some changes on the car during the second stop that didn't work for us. But it is what it is. If you look at Newman/Haas Racing, then you have seen the success they've had here in the past with testing and everything. So it's no surprise that their cars are as good as they are. But we intend to close the gap and make life dreadful for them.
Townsend Bell (#20 Visteon Toyota/Reynard/Bridgestone) posted the best finish of his Champ Car career by taking the seventh spot, scoring his first championship points and taking the lead in the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year standings.
Michel Jourdain Jr. finished ninth and will roll into Portland in the second spot in the standings, five points behind da Matta. Jourdain's finish makes him the only driver in the series to have finished in the top 10 in every race this year.
This concludes the CART FedEx Championship Series pit notes for Round 5 of the 2002 season. Next up for the series is the CART FedEx Championship Series G.I. Joe's 200 from Portland International Raceway for the running of Round 6 on the 1.969-mile permanent road course, June 16. Congratulations once again to Cristiano da Matta of Newman/Haas Racing for winning the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey Featuring the Shell 300. On behalf of Championship Auto Racing Teams, have a safe weekend and thank you once again for your interest and continued support of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Good Night!