Da Matta wins third CART event in a row

Posted: Monday, July 01, 2002

CICERO, Ill. -- Diminutive Cristiano da Matta has become the biggest man in CART.

Da Matta made it one more win for Brazil on Sunday, fighting off the challenge of countryman Bruno Junqueira and oppressive 90-degree weather to win the Chicago Grand Prix for the second time in three years.

Still jubilant about Brazil's 2-0 victory over Germany earlier in the day in the World Cup final, da Matta raced to his third straight victory, his fourth of the year and sixth in nine races.

Da Matta arrived at the track at 6 a.m. to watch the soccer match, celebrated with his fellow Brazilian drivers and joined them in spontaneously getting haircuts just like Brazil's soccer star Ronaldo -- with the whole back of their heads shaved to stubble.

''After the game, I met with my engineers and you just start to get into your work and forget about it,'' da Matta said. ''The happiness is in the back of your mind all the time but, for me, driving is a lot more important than soccer.''

Da Matta proved his focus was back on track, dominating the second half of the 250-lap race.

His team had struggled on oval tracks this season, while dominating road courses, but da Matta turned things around on the 1.039-mile Chicago Motor Speedway oval, where he earned the first of his eight career wins for PPI Motorsports in 2000.

GNC Live Well 250

WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Greg Biffle won the GNC Live Well 250 for the second year in a row after leading the race for much of the way.

Biffle, who took the lead for the final time after pulling past Scott Wimmer in lap 132, has won three times at The Milwaukee Mile in the Craftsman Truck Series. He won in 1999, finished third in 2000, and has finished third or better in his last four Busch series races.

Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals

MADISON, Ill. -- Kenny Bernstein earned his first victory at the home track of his sponsor, winning the Top Fuel title at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.

Bernstein, the defending Top Fuel champion, turned in a 5.056-second pass at 293.22 mph to beat Andrew Cowins' 5.291 run at 263.87.

John Force, Jeg Coughlin and Angelle Savoie won their respective categories.

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