CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Top-three qualifiers press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q</I>: What do you think about the barrel to be used at the start tomorrow? PAUL TRACY: Well, I guess I hope nobody hits the barrel like a football and kicks it into somebody. We'll have to see what the plan is...

Continued from part 1

Q</I>: What do you think about the barrel to be used at the start tomorrow?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I guess I hope nobody hits the barrel like a football and kicks it into somebody. We'll have to see what the plan is in the drivers meeting. You know, Tony has been pretty proactive on what he's been doing this year. He's going to tell us what he wants to see. We'll see if we can do it in the first corner. Our goal is to try to get to the first corner first and then try to be out of the first corner first.

Q</I>: What happened in the first (Toyota Atlantic) race was that someone got squeezed below the yellow line and then had to cut across the field. Can that happen tomorrow?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: They shouldn't be able to do that anyway. The barrel is there's like a yellow line, I guess, in the middle of the racetrack. The barrel is going to be right over the yellow line and you shouldn't be able to go over the yellow line in the new rules.

Q</I>: But they did in the first race.

CRISTIANO da MATTA:  If they are there, then I think they are doing the
wrong thing.  You shouldn't be there.

Q: Are you guys happy with the changes made at the start?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think something needed to be done to try to narrow the racetrack so it's not so tempting and you don't have the wide-open racetrack, so you don't have the P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6 and P10, and obviously everybody is shooting for the same apex, didn't make it.

I don't know about the barrel. But for sure if somebody crosses the line, he should be penalized and he should know about it. Then he should not even try to make the corner; just try and reposition himself afterwards. If you try to sneak back into the pack, for sure is going to be a big crash.

ERIC MAUK: Paul, any thoughts?

PAUL TRACY:  Pretty much the same.  I don't know what the situation is
going to be.  I didn't hear about a line.  I just heard about the
barrel.  I'm sure it will catch somebody out.

ERIC MAUK: Cristiano, you were here last time we set up cones, I believe it was '01 or '02, where they tried something similar going into turn one. Your recollections on how that worked out?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: I remember they're trying to do something similar, and I don't remember how were the results, but I remember they were trying to do something similar.

If you imagine it makes a little bit of sense if you have a very wide track and the hairpins right here, the way it happens on the start, there are some guys on the inside, right on the right side of the racetrack. You can imagine the difference on speed going into the corner of a guy that is taking it, you know, all the way tight and a guy that is taking it all the way wide. Plus the tempting factor that Sebastien mentioned. I think it makes sense to narrow it a little bit. It just makes the minimum speed for everyone sort of more similar. Give it a try. We know the other way doesn't work (laughter).

Q</I>: Paul, how do you attack tomorrow?

PAUL TRACY: I mean, we'll just have to see how our cars perform. Our car is good. We'll just see what the pace of the race is. I mean, it's hard when you have guys like these two guys. You're not going to drive away from anybody. You know, the question mark is always how much fuel do you burn or how fast do you go. We'll just have to see how our car starts the race off handling-wise, try to go from there.

Q</I>: Has the track changed much?

PAUL TRACY: It's fast for sure, that's for sure. Hasn't changed much. The track is fast. There's a lot of different series here this weekend, so there's a lot of rubber on the track compared to years past. The track is getting quicker and quicker.

ERIC MAUK: Pole time this year is lower. This is about a 10th lower, a little over a 10th lower than it was last year.

Q</I>: Paul, you were caught up in a wreck in the first turn last year, how do you avoid that this year?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean for me, I don't feel that -- there wasn't much that I could do. A car came from three or four rows behind, kind of out of control, locked up. One car saw it and swerved out of the way and ran into me.

You know, hopefully with what is going to happen tomorrow we'll alleviate some guys trying to go up the inside and not be able to make the corner.

Q</I>: Paul, you've been here quite a bit, how many times have you been involved in a first-turn problem?

PAUL TRACY: I've actually been pretty lucky in turn one, in fact, for getting through there. I started races from the back and gotten through big crashes and picked up 10, 11, 12 positions. So career-wise I've been pretty lucky to get through unscathed, and last year was for sure a disappointment, especially when you start from the pole.

Q</I>: So one or two incidents?

PAUL TRACY: I think just one.

CRISTIANO da MATTA: I raced here four times in Champ Cars before. I race here in Indy Lights. I've only got taken out once, and I've never taken anybody out. So don't want to try to change this statistic tomorrow.

Q</I>: Paul, you mentioned before about how Tony Cotman has been increasingly proactive with his officiating. Can you expand on that?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I'm sure everybody has their little issue with them. For me, it's throwing a yellow at the end of Milwaukee for no reason. It didn't really satisfy my feelings. But, you know, for sure he's going to make a call here or there that people don't like.

But, you know, that's I guess his job. Not everybody likes when they get a penalty. Today we took a penalty. At least he's proactive in doing something. I think Mexico maybe got a little bit crazy, it got out of hand there, there was a lot of incidents throughout the whole field, and not really much happened. But since then, you know, everybody's been driving pretty clean. It takes a few penalties to get thrown out and then people realize they better not do something.

Q: Cristiano?

CRISTIANO da MATTA: No, I think I agree with Paul. I think he's doing a good job. It's been a little bit tougher than the other guys that have been there before, but in a good way. I think -- I mean, is making work. He's just like making the rules work the way they should work, like Paul said, sometimes maybe a call or two may upset a couple guys, but I think overall, the percentage they've been getting everything right in the percentage of guys that have to do his job I think is much higher than before.

PAUL TRACY: The bottom line is he's doing a job that whatever he does, somebody's not going to like it.

CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yeah.

PAUL TRACY: You have to be tough enough to make that call. I think he can stand the heat.

Q</I>: How will the yellow line rule affect the start?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, if there's a yellow line and you treat that like a wall, I mean, if that's what they call the rule, if you go over the yellow line, you're going to get a penalty. That's been at NASCAR, at Daytona, the yellow line on the apron of the track, you treat that like a wall. If you go under it, you're going to get a penalty.

You know, we'll just have to see what happens tomorrow. If it was a street course, you wouldn't run yourself into the wall.

Q</I>: Sebastien, you have a new teammate now in Oriol Servia, how do you get along?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, very well. I mean, I've known Oriol for a very long time now. We raced from the same categories. We went through La Filiere, Formula Renault, Formula 3. I've known him since '94, '95. He's a good guy. I really have a lot of respect for him. We're working well together.

It's just it's always tough to just be thrown in the team like that and just have to take over for Bruno who is a very good driver. It takes a bit of time.

Q</I>: How is Bruno doing?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it's not up to me to say anything. But he's doing pretty good. I mean, you know, it's going to take some time. I guess in a month he probably could drive the car. If he gets another hit, you take a chance to be paralyzed. It would be not the way you want to approach the problems.

ERIC MAUK:  That brings an end to our press conference.  We go racing
tomorrow 94 laps.  We take the green flag tomorrow at 2 p.m.  Thank you.

-ccws-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Oriol Servia