PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Cristiano da Matta is driving so well, his Champ car just seems naturally to avoid trouble.
A few breaks don't hurt, and da Matta needed them to maintain his terrific start in the CART FedEx Championship Series.
Da Matta won for the third time in six starts this season, holding off fellow Brazilian Bruno Junqueira to capture the G.I. Joe's 200 on Sunday at Portland International Raceway.
Da Matta, trying to give Newman-Haas its first team championship in nine years, started from the pole and essentially had the victory secured when Target-Ganassi's Kenny Brack lost a wheel on the 61st lap. But da Matta also withstood pressure from Junqueira the rest of the way.
"Kenny had the problem with his pit stop, then I had Bruno behind me, so I just didn't have any time to breathe," da Matta said. "I was just pushing as hard as I could all the time. It was probably one of the toughest races I've ever driven."
Da Matta has won five of the last eight races dating to last season. All three of his 2002 victories have come on road courses.
He completed the 110-lap race in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 19.113 seconds, with an average speed of 105.381 mph. Junqueira finished 0.625 seconds back, while Kool Green's Dario Franchitti was third, 7.761 seconds behind the winner.
"I had a great car today, but I had one of those gremlins that occur from time to time," said Brack, who finished 15th.
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