Laguna Seca post-race interview

Laguna Seca -- IMSA World Sports Car post-race interview: Emcee: ...[third place] Jeremy Dale. Jeremy, first of all, congratulations. A solo drive for you this time, and I heard you mention down in victory circle that it's nice to be on the ...

Laguna Seca -- IMSA World Sports Car post-race interview:

Emcee: ...[third place] Jeremy Dale. Jeremy, first of all, congratulations. A solo drive for you this time, and I heard you mention down in victory circle that it's nice to be on the podium. You've been chasing for the lead a couple times late in the going and things have cropped up. A good, strong podium finish. Nice job.

Jeremy Dale: Thank you, Greg. We've struggled a little bit, and it's really nice to drive this car across the finish line and finish the race, and be in contention. I think it was a great race today. I think that this series is really coming along. Andy Wallace did a fantastic job early on. I mean, I couldn't believe where he was going. He was just gone. Eliseo and I were running very close that first stint -- we were very close the whole race. Both of the pit crews did a fantastic job to get us in and out of the pits very quickly. Again, I would come out of the pits every time and he'd be right in front. It was very frustrating. A really fantastic race, I think. Fermin [Velez] and Andy [Evans, the winners] did a great job. They were able to do the race on two stops. I think that was very important for them. And, of course, great racing at the end. What more can you ask for? I would have liked to have been in the thick of it, naturally. On the restart right at the end there, something came off from under Fermin's car and hit the nose of my car and took the splitter off, and I had a lot of high-speed understeer. I was on fresh tires, and I thought I was going to be able to challenge Eliseo [Salazar], but I just couldn't do that.

Emcee: That's what I was going to address next. On that last stop, under the yellow, you were the only one to take on four new tires -- going after it, obviously. But things developed which took it away from you.

Jeremy Dale: Yeah. We figured, it was under yellow, there was 15 minutes to go, so why not put a set of tires on and really go after it? I was feeling really good about that. And then, literally just as we got the green flag, I was very close to Fermin... It was probably just a piece of rubber or something kicked up from underneath the car. It just took the whole splitter off right on the nose -- right on the center section of the car. That was it. I was able to do a couple of good laps, but then the car just really went away. Then, as I said, I wasn't able to challenge Eliseo.

Emcee: Nontheless, a great podium finish. It's nice to see you guys up there. Congratulations.

Jeremy Dale: Thank you, Greg.

Emcee: All right, we move over to Eliseo, who took a very solid second place on the heels of three consecutive wins. A good race, as well. A good weekend, although this time the competition was there throughout the weekend perhaps a little bit more, but a good run to the finish for you. First of all, congratulations.

Eliseo Salazar: Well, thank you. Obviously, I'm a little bit disappointed because we ran the whole race at the beginning with Andy [Wallace], hoping to catch him, and then I was in the lead, chasing with Jeremy. We had a good lead, but then that yellow situation happened and the car wasn't the same afterward; the tires were gone. I think I had a slow puncture maybe at the front, because the car was terribly turning left. Fermin got a very good run and passed me cleanly, so that was it. Also, I think they made a better job in the pitstop with the fuel. I'm happy to be second, but I would be happy to have won. I look forward to the next race.

Emcee: In that yellow-flag pitstop, when you did come in, you did not change tires. You did take on fuel -- and it looked like you took on a lot of fuel; you were stationary for quite some time. Were you heavier at the end than you thought you needed to be?

Eliseo Salazar: Yes. I don't know; I haven't talked with my people yet, so I don't know what was the fuel situation, but the car was very different. The balance changed completely, because I was able to do '23 just before the yellow, and then was struggling to do '25, so something must have happened.

Emcee: Nonetheless, a nice job, and a good second-place finish for Gianpiero [Moretti], who I'm sure was cheering you on from over in Italy. Congratulations.

Eliseo Salazar: Yes, thank you.

Emcee: Now we move to the middle here. Again, interestingly enough, it was the one team in the top three that did driver changes that ended up winning, and that was a topic of some discussion. Andy Evans, obviously, team owner, started it off in the Apex Scandia Ferrari. Talk about that, first of all. Did this yellow here at the end maybe help you out in terms of time spent? I mean, obviously, you got away with the two stops, but the driver change... Was that sort of negated by the yellow, or wasn't that ever a factor?

Andy Evans: Well, the yellow actually hurt us. If there hadn't been the yellow, then we think wouldn't have had a shootout at the end, because we only had to do two stops, and we knew Jeremy and Eliseo had to do three. For whatever reason, I think they had trouble getting fuel into the car on their first stop, so they had to make it a three-stop race. We've been lucky to do it as a two-stop race in the standpoint of it really strategized our start -- I get better mileage than Fermin because I'm not as aggressive a driver. So the big difference this time versus IRP it that we wanted to be within 30 seconds of the leader. We were within 28 when I changed with Fermin. At IRP, I was 60 seconds behind, and that's a big difference. I'd like to say that, for '95, it's ridiculous not to have a two-driver series. It's very impossible for us to compete with Jeremy and Eliseo if they're driving by themselves. If they hadn't had to stop three times, we couldn't have beaten them. They'll get their situation straightened out where they'll do two-stop races, and then it'll be impossible for a two-driver team like Fermin and me to win. We need to get more drivers; we need to get name drivers to come. They're not going to race with a Scandia if they have to race with me, because I'm not as fast, and they have to race against single drivers. So I'm lobbying for a mandatory two-driver series. It worked in Camel Lights in '92 -- everybody fought it -- but it can work here again. But Fermin's a great champion; it's great to be back with him. We won a lot of races in '92 with the Camel Lights team, and this is a great win. I grew up here. I spent time on that hill when I was 12 years old -- wanted to run Can-Am when I was an adult. It's great to come back here and win.

Emcee: Well, obviously, you've proven today a two-driver team can be pretty effective. Congratulations. Fermin, when you took the car over, you ran obviously with two stints yourself. What was your plan once you got behind the wheel? In that middle stint to be a little conservative, watch the field and have a good car at the end? What was the plan?

Fermin Velez: No, I mean, we did use the same strategy we had at the last race at Indianapolis. Andy did very well in his first stint because he lost very little time. The driver change then wasn't too good, but it wasn't too bad, I mean, it was [facial expression]. I would like to repeat what Andy said: It always costs us much more time than a driver that doesn't have to change, no? This is a big disadvantage. And then, from this point on, I just tried to go as fast as I could, but keeping the car safe and keeping the tires and not making any mistakes. And the race slowly came to me.

Emcee: After the yellow, the fact that you didn't have to stop -- you didn't change tires and you didn't fuel -- did the fact that the car was fairly light and that you had nice warm tires and not fresh tires or anything, that combination, did that make it easier to run down everybody and get to the front in a hurry?

Fermin Velez: Well, I didn't know that they had to stop once more. So I thought I wasn't going to catch them -- especially Salazar. But when I saw the yellow, I said, "Well, that's my chance." That was going to be my only chance. The tires, I think we chose the right compound. Basically, I went for it. Salazar gave me a little room here in Turn 11 [pointing to Turn 2, where the pass was made] and I went for it, and that was it. I mean, it was then too late for him to catch me. So I thought that the yellow was my lucky opportunity, but I didn't know that they had to stop twice. But the car was great. The car had perfect balance. Jeff Brown, our engineer, is doing a really good job, and all the crew, everybody... It was just perfect. Especially here, because I don't think this is our race track. I think it's the worst place for the Ferraris, because we have no torque, and the Chevies, I mean, they blow us out of the corners, no? But [??????].

Emcee: Well, I would say so. Sounds like it was a great setup matched with great strategy and great execution. Nice job. Questions?

Questioner: Could you describe the pass for the lead, please?

Fermin Velez: Yes. After the one green at the end, I followed Eliseo for two or three laps, and then I got a good shot here at the last turn before the pits, and I went in his tail and I just outbraked him here at Turn 11 [pointing to Turn 2, where the pass was made]. I went to the inside, and I had to push really [chuckles]... I wasn't intentionally...

Emcee: Another question?

Questioner 2: It looked like there was some banging of sheet metal -- or, fiberglass -- down there. Was there contact?

Emcee: The question was, "Was there contact?" I think that was... And you said there was? But not intentional?

Fermin Velez: No. The problem I had was that I had to brake so late, and with the sequential gearbox it's really hard; sometimes you don't know which gear you're on. So, I was on the wrong gear. Instead of being in second, I was in third. So I really couldn't hold the car.

Voice in crowd: That's why you passed him!

Fermin Velez: Heh, right! I got a little extra speed that I didn't count on! I said, "Geez, this thing won't stop!" But luckily Eliseo was there and he held me. [laughter]

Emcee: [to Eliseo] How do you feel about that?

Eliseo Salazar: Well, I had to brake early for that corner in the whole race. The car wasn't behaving well there. He went very fast on the inside, and we made contact. When I saw him, it was too late -- we were making contact, and that was it.

Emcee: Well, this is the seventh round -- two more to go. Let's really quickly look ahead to the remainder of the season: Portland, Phoenix. Jeremy, we'll start with you. Trackwise, enginewise, chassiswise, are those going to work for you, or...?

Jeremy Dale: Yeah, we ran a 4.5-liter configuration here, unlike the pole car, which ran 5 liters. And, as Fermin mentioned, the torque here is very very important. The hills, you know, it's just horsepower to get up those hills, and I think our 4.5 will be better at Portland for sure. I've never raced at Phoenix. I know Andy and Fermin have raced there, and maybe we'll get down there and get a look at it. We've got a big break after Portland. At this point, we're not really thinking about Phoenix. We've got some changes we're going to do to the car before Phoenix, but I think at Portland we'll be in reasonable shape. You know, this series just keeps on getting tighter and tighter. Andy Wallace proved that this weekend, as did Fermin and Andy with their win, so it's not getting any easier, that's for sure. But I think we'll be right up there.

Emcee: Andy?

Andy Evans: I think that it will help us at Portland and Phoenix, because they're not as much torque tracks; they're momentum tracks. I think Jeremy's right: the 4.5-liter, once it's up to speed, can carry, and their car is working really well. And we expect our car to work well at Portland. And Phoenix, the same thing: It's not really a torque track; it's a momentum track, and our car works really well at high speed. So I expect that the Ferraris and the Chevies and the Oldsmobiles will still be fighting for 1, 2 and 3 on the front grid, and we'll see how it turns out for the last two races. You have to do a lot of preparation; you have to have a lot of good luck to win a race. And it is good, tight racing.

Emcee: All right, and I'm guessing Eliseo is happy to hear that Portland and Phoenix sound like good Ferrari tracks.

Eliseo Salazar: Well, my disadvantage is that I don't know any of the tracks; this is my first time everywhere. So I don't know what to tell you about the track -- only what my team says is we will look better there because it's not such a torquey track.

-- Ron O'Dell `Keeper' keeper@cats.ucsc.edu keeper@armory.com keeper@ucscb.ucsc.edu

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About this article
Series IMSA Others
Drivers Andy Wallace , Eliseo Salazar , Fermin Velez , Andy Evans , Jeff Brown