CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING TRANSCRIPT FROM DENVER WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND JUSTIN WILSON <I>ERIC MAUK: We'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference from the Grand Prix of Denver, sponsored ...
CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING TRANSCRIPT FROM DENVER WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND JUSTIN WILSON
<I>ERIC MAUK: We'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference from the Grand Prix of Denver, sponsored by Bridgestone, round 10 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Before we do, I'd like to have Al Speyer, the executive director of Bridgestone Motorsports, give today's Bridgestone Pole Position Award to Sebastien Bourdais.
Al, tricky street course here. A lot of different surfaces you have to deal with. You come out here, put another solid effort on the board. Tell us about how you put together your tire and how you feel it performed this weekend.
AL SPEYER: Well, it's actually the same tire we had in San Jose, so not a lot of difference for the tire. Most of the cars that ran the red alternate sidewalls picked up a little bit of speed, anywhere from about 1/10th to about 4/10ths. But, Sebastien, I think if the math of our PR person, Mark Robinson, is correct, you have six poles this year now. I think that will also clinch the Pole Award at the end of the year for you. I think the most anybody else can get now is five. I don't know if that steals any of your thunder, Eric.
But one other thing I did want to mention. We had a nice dinner with Champ Car and many of their supporters last night. I learned something new myself that had to do with the alternate tires. We talked to the people from Performance Friction Brakes, who are on most of the cars here. They said it's very readily effort when you put on the alternate tires that the temperature of the brake rotor goes up by about a hundred degrees, which is very substantial. I think that definitely shows in one clear piece of data the fact that the alternate tires do have more traction, especially under braking.
We're glad to be here in Denver. Big supporters of the Denver Grand Prix. Congratulations to all of our qualifiers here today.
<I>ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much. Our top three qualifiers for tomorrow's event, we'll start with our third place qualifier, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. He puts up a top lap of 59.878 seconds, 99.623 miles per hour. This is his best starting spot here in Denver in his three Champ Car starts. Justin, a tough day as far as getting a clear track. Once you got one, you put down a good lap. Tell us how it felt from your end.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it felt okay. My car was generally getting better as the day went on. We made some improvements. I felt that we're going the right direction, unfortunately not quick enough to challenge the two sitting to my right.
We've got a little bit of work to do to get ready for tomorrow's race. We're just going to go away, work on it, see what we can find, see if we can get a little more grip out of the car. That's where we are just struggling a little bit for overall grip really. The balance is not too bad. Slight understeer. You know, we just got to do a slightly better job.
<I>ERIC MAUK: Satisfying qualifying result given everything you had to deal with this weekend?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, like you said in the first question, I got a little held up. The first one I was frustrated. The second one went a little with it better. We didn't get a performance we were looking for. Prequalifying went a lot better. I think we were second, only a 10th off the pace. We got to study what happened and why we didn't get the performance we were looking for.
<I>ERIC MAUK: Starting on the outside of the front row, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger. His fast time 59.350 seconds, 100.509 miles per hour. As we alluded to yesterday, his fourth front row start of the year.
A.J., tell us a little bit about your session.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think today has been kind of a struggle for us. In practice we were way off the pace. We made some changes. The whole Forsythe Indeck team did a great job to get the car right in qualifying. I was really, really pleased with the first set of tires. We used the Bridgestone blacks. The car was spot-on. I think I could have been even a little bit quicker. Just didn't get everything out of the last lap. Right now we're just struggling a bit on the reds just trying to get an overall balance.
I think obviously there's been -- most of the drivers went a bit quicker. It's our job as a team at Forsythe to figure out why we just keep kind of losing the pace when we put the reds on, since we're going to have to at least run one set tomorrow, figure that out and go from there.
<I>ERIC MAUK: You finished in the top five every time you've turned a wheel here at the street course of Denver. A, does that give you a little more confidence heading into tomorrow? B, just how confident are you in your equipment for tomorrow?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, I think the other two races are completely different situations. Here at Forsythe, we have a great car. As I said, a little bit of a struggle. But these guys usually get it right when it comes time for the race. I have the best pit crew in the game. I think if we get on the track and get a good balance for the race, we have a great chance of being on the podium if not going for the victory.
<I>ERIC MAUK: The winner of the Bridgestone Pole Position Award for the Grand Prix of Denver sponsored by Bridgestone, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He sets a new track record, quick lap of 59.096 seconds, 100.941 miles per hour. As Mr. Speyer alluded to, his sixth pole of the year, the 24th of his career, giving him sole position of eighth place on the all-time list. He's just one pole behind Paul Tracy, who is the leader among active open-wheel drivers in Champ Car poles.
Sebastien, 59.09. Any idea you'd be that fast today?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: No, I guess it was difficult to anticipate what the red Bridgestone tires were going to do for us. I still don't quite know exactly because we were not too happy with the balance of the McDonald's car in the prequalifying run, so we made a change, not dramatic, but every little bit counts around here and has a big influence because the mechanical grip is such an added premium.
We were just a lot happier as soon as we took the track with the reds on. Yeah, it just clicked. We just went a little quicker lap after lap. It was pretty much spot-on. I was a little questioning, you know, whether we should go back or not. Obviously, when we analyzed things, we knew A.J. was on blacks, so we said, you know what, if he clicks another quicker lap on reds, we were going to really look stupid again.
It was just a tough call. But wish we could have kept that second set for the race tomorrow. It would have been nice. Anyways, it was a good qualifying, you know, another pole. Definitely a good place to start from the front here.
<I>ERIC MAUK: From your standpoint, tell us a little bit about the grip that the Bridgestone Potenzas give you. A lot of different surfaces out there, some areas that are ground down, some concrete patches. How do you get the most out of your Bridgestone tires?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: Well, it didn't really feel like there was a big difference between the blacks and the reds related to the different tarmacs, asphalt or concrete. In the end, it just connected the car and the balance was a little better. There's probably some in the change we made and some in the tires.
<I>ERIC MAUK: We'll take questions from the media.
Q</I>: Sebastien, you clipped the wall coming out of the corner at the end of the pit straightaway. Can you sort of talk about that. Did it do any damage to the car?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: Well, I don't think so because we've been able to go just as fast on the second run, although it was quite messy with traffic. We just didn't fall in the right gap.
No, the last lap on the first run I just decided to go for it and backed off the brakes, turned in, the car didn't really turn, then I went back on the throttle expecting it to turn, and didn't quite make it. When it finally kind of stepped out, it was too late. I was too close to the wall. It was rear, front, bam, bam. It wasn't too hard. I was already quite parallel to the wall. It was just a little brush.
Q</I>: Justin, how has being a one-car team hurt you this weekend?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think the biggest thing about being one car is we don't have Cristiano with us. Everyone is thinking about Cristiano, hoping he's going to get well soon.
Yeah, it's been a slight distraction. Everyone is being very professional, doing their job. We just don't have the data to look at with two cars. We're having to make our own path and go in one direction, whereas when you have a two-car team you can have two separate directions or the same directions for the both guys, they're both saying the same thing. You back each other up. It's slightly different, but we just do the best under the circumstances.
Q</I>: Interestingly enough, you guys are the only three to win this year, and here you are sitting one, two, three in Denver. Thoughts on that situation? Four more races to go, you guys have won them all so far.
JUSTIN WILSON: What do you want us to say? Hopefully, from my point of view, I'd like to keep it that way, but more to this side of the table (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: Yeah, I'd like to challenge some other guys, would be good. It doesn't seem to happen. It looks like it's a three-man battle right now. There's not much we can do about it. If you've got the top three being the best drivers, well, it's going to happen over and over again. But P.T. could be right there. He's just making a lot of mistakes. That's getting a big hit on him, for sure.
<I>ERIC MAUK: My apologies. I did fail to mention Sebastien earns a championship point for winning the pole today, giving him a 32-point advantage on Justin Wilson, sitting to his left.
Q</I>: There have been incidents in the first turn in each of the last two years here, how do you make it through here tomorrow?
JUSTIN WILSON: I just want to make it through. You know, we'll take what we're given, see if we can go racing after turn one.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: Well, I think no matter where you start the race, it seems like, you know, turn one is always a struggle. There's a little more room in turn one than what it was before, which is now turn five. But still it's very tough, very slippery. It takes like a whole weekend to rubber in the track. As soon as you get guys on the outside, it's very hard. I'm even more happy to be on the pole.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I just think I'm going to try the Bruno Junqueira trick in '04 and go around the outside of Sebastien and see if he spins (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: It's okay, you're not my teammate (laughter).
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I tried running into you last weekend in San Jose. All that did was fold my wing underneath. I'm going to try the side trick now.
JUSTIN WILSON: Like I said, try harder (laughter).
Q</I>: The weather is supposed to be a lot cooler this year. Does that make any difference to any of you guys?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, we sweat less during the race (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: Well, I hope it's not going to change too much. If it does change something, it's going to be the balance of the car. Obviously, it would not be a good thing because you've got what you've got right now, and it's going to be pretty much whoever hits the right setup for tomorrow's conditions. If it happens to be raining, well, it's going to be a big, big gamble game because obviously we haven't been testing the Bridgestone tires around here. We've got no experience on it. Might be an interesting race to watch.
Q</I>: When this race was first run several years ago, the track was sort of known as probably one of the bumpiest tracks anyone had ever raced on. Obviously over the years they've made improvements. Curiously yesterday I was talking with Graham Rahal. He likened it to Monterrey, saying it was as smooth as the track in Monterrey, Mexico.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: No wonder why he's winning. If he doesn't feel the bumps, he's got a hell of a car (laughter).
Q</I>: I just wondered if you could talk about the condition of the track itself this year compared to last couple of years. Better, the same or...
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS>: I think all the improvements have really been made between '02 and '03, a little bit between '03 and '04. But for '04, '05 and '06 have been pretty much the same. I think the track did get beat a little bit during the winter. You can see some more hilling and bumps and holes. It doesn't seem really to influence too much the setup.
Q</I>: What are your thoughts on potential reunification?
JUSTIN WILSON: I don't think we have much influence on what happens. As drivers, we want to race against the best teams, the best drivers. We would like to see one championship. We got to rely on the businessmen doing the business; we got on with driving the cars.
It's down to them to do what they think makes sense and gives us all a bright future.
<I>ERIC MAUK: We're going to go ahead and wrap it up now. Thank you, all, very much. We go racing tomorrow 1:45, 97 laps.