An interview with Bruno Junqueira Part 2 of 2 Q: What have you learned in racing for a championship this year? Bruno Junqueira: I've learned a lot I think in my second year in CART, I learned a lot last year, and I'm putting a lot of...
An interview with Bruno Junqueira
Part 2 of 2
Q: What have you learned in racing for a championship this year?
Bruno Junqueira: I've learned a lot I think in my second year in CART, I learned a lot last year, and I'm putting a lot of things that I learned last year in this season.
But I know that especially at the start of the series, I could do better than what I did. And maybe I lost some important points there.
But I think now I'm really concentrating to score points and trying to finish the race, and I think that's the most important thing for me. I'm second in the championship because I'm racing for points, and when I have a chance I'm going to go and win. When I don't have a chance to go and finish second or finish third, that's important in the championship.
Q: This is my final question. I saw where [Team Owner] Chip [Ganassi] said after the race that he was really glad there was a good talk before the race about racing for the championship, and the fact that [TCGR teammate] Scott [Dixon] at times got so close for you, were there times when you were looking in your rear-view mirror saying, "Okay, Scott, remember I'm racing for the championship," more or less talking to yourself about that?
Bruno Junqueira: No. There is one thing that is important to say, there is no team order, there is nothing like that, okay. And what Chip said in the race meeting of this race and pre-race meeting of Montreal was that we are at the time of the season that we have to see that Bruno is the driver of the team that has more of a chance to win the championship, or that can maybe catch da Matta, so let's make sure that we don't crash each other - let's try to keep clean, but especially because I'm fighting for the championship. Apart from that, everything was fine. I think I had like an average ten-second gap on Scott during the race and on the last three laps, he pressured me but he knew he couldn't get by because we were at same speed, you know, and if he tried to get by me, there was a big chance he could crash. It' the same way I was on Cristiano in Portland, but I knew it was so close, if I tried to pass him, we would crash likely, then I would pass him, you know. I think not because I was Scott's teammate, but because Scott was clever and he's better off getting the second place than nothing.
Q: Thinking about Scott Dixon, this marks the first win for the Ganassi since Scott came on board. Halfway through that arrangement, can you better judge if adding the third car has been more of a help or hindrance to your own program?
Bruno Junqueira: I mean, at some point, it was a help and at some point it was difficult.
I think Team Target showed that they are very good because they handled it very well, but what was really difficult is to add a third guy in the middle of the season. I think the team is more than prepared - if they had a chance to prepare themselves before the season, it would be much greater. But now, after two or three races, they figured out the way to do it and now it's running pretty smooth.
Q: Chris Pook recently indicated he sees CART in its present incarnation as a feeder series into Formula 1. With that in mind, is that something you still have any aspirations for in the future, or do you look at Jensen Button and say, "What if I had gotten the Williams ride?"
Bruno Junqueira: My dream when I was a kid was to race in Formula 1. If I had a chance to drive for this one, a winning team in Formula 1, I would take it. But it's not something that - because I already drove Williams for such a long time, I'm not worried if that doesn't happen.
As I said, I want to have fun here in America. I'm very well, thank you. But if the opportunity came and if it would be a good opportunity, I'll think about it and maybe we'll take it.
Q: In Denver, I'm wondering if your suspension setup and the mechanical grip side was anywhere close to a rain setup to deal with all of the bumps; and on the aero side of things, if you set it up for maximum grip or maximum lift to just take you over the bumps.
Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, that was a pretty different setup as I said before. All of the cars were really difficult to drive. Not just because of the track, but because it's very high there, and they lose a lot of downforce, a lot of pressure, and then the wings, they don't well as they work on other racetracks. Knowing that, you make some changes to make less bounce, and to work a little bit more efficient than in other places.
Q: Two weeks from now at Rockingham, that's going to be a quite a switch from a slippery road course to an oval. Are you looking forward to getting back to the oval?
Bruno Junqueira: I'm looking forward to going to England because I lived there two years. I like England a lot. It's going to be a lot of fun. I hope we can get good weather this year and put on a good show in Rockingham. I think that's a pretty fast oval, with a lot of grip, and I hope we can have a good race.
Q: Do you have setups from last year that you think will work, or if it's dry, you're going to have to kind of start from scratch again?
Bruno Junqueira: I'm going to start from scratch - we couldn't practice before I raced last year, and really nobody made any setups. In that race, I felt it was more of a guess than anything because we didn't have practice time. I hope this year we can do some practice and have a good setup for the race.
Q: You're not going to be able to get any test time in though before the actual practice, are you?
Bruno Junqueira: No.
Q: Are you going to be visiting old friends or looking for any possible rides over there if something doesn't work out over here?
Bruno Junqueira: I don't know. Maybe. If they have a good chance in Formula 1, maybe I'll take it, but it looks to me like all the top-three Formula 1 teams already have drivers. It's more likely that I'm going to continue here in America.
Merrill Cain: We've been in this mode here of four road courses in a row. It has to be tough for you to make that switch, and for the team, as well, to make the switch over to ovals, especially when you don't have a lot of information from Rockingham last year. With not getting a lot of track time and getting out early in the race, how challenging is that going to be for Team Target?
Bruno Junqueira: It's going to be really difficult, but, I know that you have a good oval setup to be really fast, in Motegi, Milwaukee and Chicago. And I also try to find a good balance for the car and have a good race.
Merrill Cain: Do you feel that this is really your best opportunity? Let's be honest, Cristiano has not had the greatest of success on ovals this year, but with Rockingham and Fontana, you might be able to take advantage of your skills on ovals and hope that maybe you can make up some ground on Cristiano there.
Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, it's kind of difficult because Cristiano did well in Rockingham last year and he won the race in Fontana, and I think he'll be good, as well. I'm not counting him out.
For sure, I'm going to see if I can finish in front of him and get the points a little bit smaller.
Q: I just want to ask your impression, the especially last two weeks in two new cities, Montreal and Denver and the huge crowds especially in Montreal, and three days over 100,000 in Denver. Obviously, people love these urban Grand Prix type races. I wonder if you guys sense the same thing; that you have so many people coming to your races, but all anybody wants to talk about is why there may not be a CART somewhere down the road. Do you find that odd since you are in the paddock seeing all these fans there?
Bruno Junqueira: I believe in CART. After someone that was in the Montreal race, you could not believe that crowd. That was the nicest race of the year, I have no doubt about it, I think everybody enjoyed it. I maybe didn't enjoy it because ten laps to go, my car stopped, but I think it was really fun.
And you know, the first time that you race there, all of the grand stands were packed, and I believe a lot in Chris Pook. He will find a way to make CART get back next year and get stronger and stronger. I believe so much in Chris Pook that in two or three years, CART will be stronger than ever.
Q: It just seems that this format, we had you out here in Long Beach, and of course we get to see you on an oval and street course where we are, but it seems like no matter what the future of open-wheel racing is, that they have got to look at the huge crowds you had in Canada, what happened in Denver, Long Beach, everything else, it just seems to me like it's a no-brainer; they have got to continue to do these things with open-wheel racing in America?
Bruno Junqueira: Actually, I think the sponsors want to see people watching the race, and that's what CART has, you know, live. It's not just something that you can measure, but when you go to the race and see those people screaming your name, supporting you and watching your car racing, that's what the sponsors want and that's what makes you exciting, and I think that's going to make CART stronger than before.
Merrill Cain: Thanks for taking a few minutes to speak with us this afternoon. Congratulations on a great job this weekend and we look forward to seeing you.
The Champ Cars will be idle this weekend, but the CART FedEx Series returns to action on September 14 with the Rockingham 500. Thanks to all who participated in today's phone call and have a great afternoon.
Bruno Junqueira press conference part I