CHAMPCAR/CART: Papis, Allmendinger press conference, part II

CART Champ Car World Series Teleconference Max Papis and A.J. Allmendinger Part 2 of 2 Q: I can assure you there's a lot of people in Portland that are real excited about you coming back. Max Papis: I tell you this is one of the places...

CART Champ Car World Series Teleconference
Max Papis and A.J. Allmendinger

Part 2 of 2

Q: I can assure you there's a lot of people in Portland that are real excited about you coming back.

Max Papis: I tell you this is one of the places that I enjoy the most since I came over here the first time in 1997, the atmosphere, the people how you guys made me feel in the last three years, it's something that you couldn't buy with the money. You better make sure that I will do everything is in my power to be able to give back to all the people that here supported me. It's pretty cool to know that I am the only winner that that's going to be racing this weekend.

Q: Tell me how you are feeling.

Max Papis: I feel that I mean, everybody is entitled to their opinion and I don't want to comment on any speculation. The only thing I know is that I just came back from a 24-hour race where we had an excellent finish, drove for about 9 hours or something like that, so I think that it's still going to be a different deal being seated in the Champ Car. You have to set realistic goals. But I am a great believer in fate and I know it's going to take a little bit of time to jell together and create the right situation, but I am a person who builds his career with a lot of will and determination. On the physical side, on the mental side I think that I have never been as strong as I am right now. Being out of the car last year, watching the racing from the TV, or from the pit lane, made me realize I am back, I am ready with even more fire and determination than I had before. I know that God, you know, takes care of good people. I just that's one of the reasons why I think I am back here.

Q: You come back a winner for patience and for fortitude because other people would have quit in your situation.

Max Papis: One thing I am I know I am a very consistent person, and unfortunately in difficult situations when the economical situation are tough, it's difficult to make -- people can't make all the decisions that they really would like, and therefore, they are forced into certain decisions because of other reasons that are not sometimes racing or sports reasons. I felt that I knew my time was going to come, you know, just a matter of being patient and wanting to be involved with a very professional organization Russell Cameron has been running PK Racing from the beginning of the season. He has a great history of, you know, of being one of the top guys at PacWest and I am really, really glad to be back mere with Mauricio Gugelmin, who was a great supporter of me at the beginning of my career in Champ Car.

He taught me a lot. Of course I had kicked his ass several times so he stopped telling me fix right and left after I started to be a little bit quicker than him. I feel he's a great person, great to have him back and it's fantastic to have the eyes of a race car driver, so that means I will be able to come over and actually ask him what I am doing, when I am coming out of the car and I knew that I will get a straightforward answer from the guy.

Q: I have already a headline for the story, Emperor of Portland. Win the race, congratulations?

Max Papis: Thanks so much. I will make my best to make that happen.

Q: A.J., I am wondering the success you have had does the Champ Car circuit suddenly seem a lot closer?

A.J. Allmendinger: I realized certainly this year, especially -- my dream of achieving Champ Car is so much closer than I have expected it to be. But right now as I have told everybody that you know, now there's still eight races left in the Toyota Atlantic Championship and as much as the press wants to talk about my future and what possibility there is, I have signed with RuSport to win the Toyota Atlantic Championship and that's my goal and right now I am looking straight at that, putting 110% effort towards that, and I know and I realized last year with Barber Dodge that if I do all the right things and I be myself, and I go out there and win races like I know how to, and that my opportunity will come. So right now I am just kind of taking that one step at a time and as I said, there's eight races left, eight races that I want to win, in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, and I think with the team that I am with that that's a possibility of winning every race.

Now obviously you have got to click every weekend, but contending every weekend is something that we're going to be able to do. And right now, that's what I am going to do, as the year gets on down the months, around August, September, then we'll see where we stand as a team and what our plans are, and what the next step is, but right now I am just having fun where I am at, and letting everything come to me and so far it's worked and I believe that if do I all the right things that I have done so far and just keep doing it, that I will get that opportunity.

Q: They say so much of that chemistry with the team is so important. Yet so many guys struggle with that communication thing. You come to a brand new team, you guys have clicked like a hand in a glove. Maybe that tells you something about your abilities.

A.J. Allmendinger: Yeah, I mean, that's something that I am learning about myself. That's something that my owner Carl Russo told me when he signed me that I had to be one of the leaders on this team because the crew feeds off of me, you know, my engineer and I, we feed off of each other, and I take good pride in knowing that right now that I am able to communicate with my crew and my engineering staff and the whole team as one and help bring the team closer together and as quick as could be done. I am just going to keep learning from everything that I do, the mistakes that I make and I think, for that, I have good people surrounding me and they keep me in tune with what's going on and what I need to fix, if I feed to fix something or if as one we need to fix something. But, yeah, I mean, I am having so much fun and learning so much and I look forward to the chances and opportunities in the future, not only in racing, but as you said, as a leader, and being able to bring a team together. So it's been great so far and I know it will be down the line.

Q:   Max, I saw the e-mail that you were coming back and made my whole
day.   What kind of opportunity is it to be with Kevin Kalkhoven and
Craig Pollock?  What kind of opportunity do you have with this new team?

Max Papis: First of all, let me tell you that I am extremely proud of being back over here. As I told Robin before, you know, it really give me a lot of joy to be back first of all, in Portland with what happened last year and when I had mixed feelings with great satisfaction before and the great sadness the year after and it's just -- I mean, it's just amazing for me. I am really, really proud. I am going to put my head down and you know, work as hard I can as I have always done in my career, keep working in a humble environment, and I feel that you know, Mr. Kalkhoven has been giving a lot to the sport this year. He started up a brand new team together with Craig Pollock. I know Craig for many years because I raced with Jacques Villeneuve in Formula 3 back in Italy, so it is a long time relation and I feel that I tell you, I really enjoy the -- just the few hours I spend over here with the guys and I feel that I am fitting right back in like almost like if I never left. It's pretty amazing for me. Of course we need to set realistic goals because there are people out there are not stupid, I mean, people that are winning races, they deserve great success and great respect, but I am not afraid of anybody. I know that I can stand on my own and I can go out and prove the ability of the team and prove the ability of myself. All these guys over here they need some satisfaction, they have been working really their ass off since the beginning of the season and I hope I am going to be the man to bring them the satisfaction because if the satisfaction of success will be based on will and determination, it will definitely come because I think that I will put whatever it takes to achieve that.

Q: The paddock is going to be a sunny place this weekend since you will be in Portland.

Max Papis: Thank you so much. Your words make me very proud. That's the reason why I had a smile on my face since I start talking to you guys.

Q: Obviously glad to have you back Max very exciting to have you around actually driving the car rather than watching them. I guess that's maybe one of the questions I have is I mean, I remember certainly running into you at Spring Training this year and trying to think maybe a couple of other times over the course of the year and just wondered, you know, if maybe from your perspective of spectating, you know, either you know, in person, or on television, kind of what your -- what your take on you know, the Champ Car Series is this year, and maybe if that time watching things you know, in person and on TV wasn't you know, wasn't wasted and maybe fun, you have learned some things that maybe you could apply to you know, apply it to when you get in the car on Friday morning?

Max Papis: As I said to you, first of all, for me it's a great pleasure to be here talking to you guys as a Champ Car driver, not just someone who is walking around the paddock, and the reason why this is happening is to thank Kevin Kalkhoven, Craig, Pollock, Russell Cameron and the team to create the situation for me. And you know, you saw me around talking and creating some situations and opportunities from the beginning of the season and that I think that's one of the reasons why I am over here at the moment because I always kept contact with all the people. I am a professional person and I am a very dedicated fellow to what I am doing, and watching things from the outside definitely contributed in creating more will to succeed inside of me and more determination to achieve my goals because I am not the kind of guy that looks from the, you know, from behind the fences and say wow, I would like to do that, my time is gone. I look behind the fences and I go and say just wait for a second when I come back I am going to kick your ass. That has always been my attitude since the beginning -- since I have been out of a car.

But I always felt that this is a very competitive series you know, they have incredible races, multiple winners, and it's definitely not an easy job to be out there and compete for success. We all know over here I personally know about it because I have been in that position with achieving great success with big teams and having to prove yourself with some other teams. I feel that I have been in kind of all the situations possible and I am ready to come out there and take what it gives me and add a little bit more because that's what I think I can do. I can add a little bit, I can take the situation, shake it up, and make it become more of a situation that will help us achieve our goals. Of course, as I say to you again it is a get difficult series it's very difficult. It's very difficult to achieve success no matter if you have ten cars competing for the lead or 30 cars. I am pretty much aware of that, but I am more determined than ever. I tell you, if it's going to require for me to jump out of the car and push it, I will. I will do whatever it takes.

Q: Hopefully not. So far the reliability of the Fords has been pretty good I don't see you pushing the car much?

Max Papis: (Laughs).

Q: Talking about standing and observing. Can you perhaps talk a little bit about just what it is that a guy like you know, an experienced guy like Mauricio can bring to the program and particularly to you as another set of eyes out there watching what is going on?

Max Papis: First of all, I am really glad to see Mauricio just to see him over here and to see his involvement and to talk to him, you know, he was pretty important on me being over here and I think what it is going to be able to do for me would be a little bit for what I did at Fernandez Racing for Shinji Nakano when I was not driving last year, the eyes of a driver see certain things that nobody else can see. And I was able last year to spend a little bit of time with Shinji, especially Elkhart Lake and share a bit of -- share a bit of time together and talk face-to-face, in a straightforward, telling him I think that I saw this, I saw these things, why this is happening, and been trying to do this another way.

I believe that a pair of eyes of someone who really knows why you are holding the steering wheel in the way you are holding it, why you are turning it the way you are turning it is going to contribute a lot to achieve my success. You have got to be humble because I realize that all these people, all the guys here in the series have been racing since the beginning of the year, but I am not afraid of -- I have been competing and beating all of them before as they beat me sometimes. So I feel that -- I like challenges. This is a big one, but I am ready to take it and it's a great task and I am going to do everything it takes on my side to achieve my goals. As I say, the determination is not what is missing at this stage.

I want to congratulate as well A.J., I followed A.J. on the internet and all those things that he has been doing I am glad that a -- some of his dreams are coming true, because he seems that he's putting a lot of effort into achieving his goals and his dreams. I think that for me from the outside is really nice to hear a young guy that has a particular idea on how he wants to achieve his success in the sport. Best of luck to him as well.

A.J. Allmendinger: Thank you, Max.

Q: A.J. obviously you had a pretty -- you enjoyed a pretty successful, pretty dominant weekend at Laguna Seca. Just technically speaking do you think that just the setup in the car and what you learned about the car at Laguna Seca how that's going to apply to a fairly different racetrack at Portland?

A.J. Allmendinger: Well, I mean, obviously as you said, there are two different race tracks and weekends like that don't happen every weekend. I wish they would obviously. But we didn't test here because our engineering staff has a good baseline from what they ran last year here with Dorricott and Luis winning the race. So I feel confident that we're going to have a good setup right away. I have experienced winning the Barber Dodge Pro Series race here last year so I am not too worried about having to learn the track in the Atlantic car. I feel like with my ability I can run a racetrack very quickly in any car that I get into. So it is just kind of the same attitude going into this weekend as it was last and every weekend that we go into, just if the car setup is there right away then just fine-tuning on it, but if not, not panicking, and knowing that you know, we have the right people and with my communication with the engineering staff and my feedback and theirs back to me that we can get the car right for me by race time. We'll just take that same attitude into this weekend and for the rest of the season. So far it has been working for us; hopefully it won't be any different from this weekend.

Eric Mauk: We'll wrap up for today. Appreciate you taking the time to come out and best of luck this weekend at Portland and down the rest of the 2003 season.

A.J. Allmendinger: Max, I look forward to seeing you there this weekend.

Max Papis: Thanks, everybody, for always keeping the great support that you always gave me. For me I'd like to talk about people and I am really proud of being back with all this support. It really makes me proud and makes me proud of all the things I have done in my career, as I have always said I am always looking for the best win and the one is going to come. Don't count me out.

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Part I

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About this article
Series Atlantic , IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Max Papis , Mauricio Gugelmin , Shinji Nakano , A.J. Allmendinger , Carl Russo , Kevin Kalkhoven