Da Matta handles heat for Chicago GP win

Monday, July 1, 2002

CICERO, Ill. -- Cristiano da Matta fought off the challenge of fellow Brazilian Bruno Junqueira and oppressive 90-degree weather Sunday to win the Chicago Grand Prix for the second time in three years.

Da Matta raced to his third straight victory, his fourth of the year and sixth in nine races.

His team had struggled on oval tracks this season, while dominating road courses, but da Matta turned things around at the track where he earned the first of his eight career wins in 2000.

"Everybody had a lot of doubts about our teams on the ovals," he said. "The team worked hard to get it right. It's just a lot of things, not one thing or another."

Junqueira finished second by 0.639-seconds -- about five car-lengths. Dario Franchitti, who started from pole and led the first 68 laps, was close behind in third.

It was the second straight race in which those three have finished in that order, marking the first time there have been duplicate 1-2-3 finishes since Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy and Emerson Fittipaldi did it at Mid-Ohio and Loudon, N.H., in 1994.

BUSCH SERIES: Greg Biffle won the GNC Live Well 250 for the second year in a row after leading the race for much of the way at West Allis, Wis.

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.

Biffle held off Jason Keller for much of the race, finishing ahead of him by 0.438 of a second. Wimmer finished third.

NHRA: 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 at Madison, Ill.

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.

OUTLAWS: Missourian Danny Lasoski won the 75th feature race of his career at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway late Saturday, passing Stevie Smith late in the ninth lap and leading the final 31 1/4 to win the NAPA Classic. Lasoski's victory of the season pushed him back into a tie with Steve Kinser for the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series points lead.

-- From wire reports

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