Originally created 11/06/02

Series runner-up to replace champion at Newman-Haas



LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. -- Bruno Junqueira has been signed by Newman/Haas Racing to replace Brazilian countryman and boyhood friend Cristiano da Matta in 2003.

Hours after it was announced Tuesday that da Matta, the runaway CART champion this season, will drive next year for the Toyota team in Formula One, Junqueira was signed to drive for the team co-owned by actor Paul Newman and Chicago businessman Carl Haas.

Going into the final race of this season, Nov. 17 in Mexico City, Junqueira, driving for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, is second in the CART points and battling to stay ahead of Dario Franchitti and Patrick Carpentier.

"Paul and I were very impressed with Bruno's ability," Haas said. "We think he can win many races for us."

In his two seasons in the Champ car series, both with Ganassi, the 25-year-old Junqueira has won four poles and three races, including victories this year in Motegi, Japan, and Denver.

He came to CART after winning the European F3000 championship and being used as a test driver for the Williams F1 team.

"I'm happy to join Newman/Haas Racing," Junqueira said. "They have been the team to beat all season long and they have worked hard to win the championship.

"They have won many races and four championships over the years and they are one of the most experienced teams."

Da Matta has won seven of 18 races this season and clinched the title with three races remaining.

The second Newman/Haas driver, Christian Fittipaldi, will leave CART for NASCAR and a ride with the Petty Enterprises team in 2003. Haas has said fielding a second car next season will depend on finding sponsorship.

Newman/Haas, which has been in CART since 1983, leads all current Champ car teams with 70 poles and 68 race wins.