CHAMP CAR POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM EDMONTON WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, PAUL TRACY AND BRUNO JUNQUEIRA ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference,...
CHAMP CAR POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM EDMONTON WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, PAUL TRACY AND BRUNO JUNQUEIRA
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference, following the first round of qualifying for the West Edmonton Milwaukee Grand Prix, Presented by the Brick, round number eight of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
We are joined by our top three qualifiers on the day. We'll start with our third place qualifier, driver of the #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. He put up a third best lap of the day on his last lap of the session, 60.085 seconds, 118.213 miles per hour. Bruno, as most of you know, did not compete here last year in the inaugural Champ Car here at JAGflo Speedway due to the injuries he suffered at Indianapolis. Bruno, first question, first time around the track, what are your impressions of this layout?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's a very nice track, very fast, very hard to drive. I like it a lot. This is I think one of the toughest tracks that I ever drove in my life, and funnest. It's difficult because there's just high-speed corners, so it's very easy to spin, to go off track, as you can see during the practice session, qualifying session. It is really fast. I like it. I mean, when we have the car on the track, it's a lot of fun. And it's going to be very physical to drive, as well. It's going to be the most difficult as well. Very nice, I like it a lot.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us about that last lap you ran in qualifying today.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It was a good lap. I mean, I got some traffic early on the last outing, then I did a lap, then traffic again. I slowed down. I said I had the last lap to do it. My car was very difficult to drive, very much on the limit, oversteering some corners, understeering others. But I knew I could get the good lap. I was P4 at the time. I said, I can do a little bit better.
Being top three is great first time on the track. I picked up the track quite fast, although is a difficult track. After all my years racing in Formula 3000, had to learn the track pretty fast. I had that ability. It's very nice to be on top three on the first day to see this track.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
Second place qualifier, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. His quick lap, 60.067 seconds, 118.248 miles per hour. Paul, as many of you remember, started and finished third here a year ago. Paul, you went out on the reds in that second stint, put some good laps together, but didn't get that top step.
PAUL TRACY: It was difficult. The first run went well. We went out of the pits, got a red right away, then had to come in. Did a short run, did a good lap. With six minutes to go, went back out and went basically right into traffic. You know, I couldn't really get a complete lap without catching somebody, you know, two corners from the end. Seemed like every lap I would catch Alex (Tagliani). Really probably cost me, you know, a couple, 3/10ths a lap. I know there's a lot of time in the car, we just have to get the lap. The reds seem to be a lot better for me today. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about changes in the racetrack. Did you see any noticeable changes in the surface, the way your car handled this year as opposed to last year?
PAUL TRACY: I think our car was pretty good last year. Obviously, they've smoothed the track out a little bit. Some of the big bumps that were in the last chicane that made it very difficult, they're not there. There's a couple of bumps over in all the twisty corners in turns six, seven, eight. They've smoothed those out a little bit. It's not as tough as it was last year, but still very fast, very unforgiving. If you make a small error on your turn-in, you miss the line, you're flying off the track at 130 miles an hour. It's a fun track. Definitely challenging.
ERIC MAUK: Leader of first round qualifying, the series point leader and two-time defending champion, the defending winner here in Edmonton, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His fast lap of the day, 59.895 seconds, 118.588 miles per hour. Clinches a front row start for Sunday's event, the fifth front row start of the year for Mr. Bourdais, gets a champion point, boosts his total 192, widening his gap to 24 over second place A.J. Allmendinger. You ran the only sub 60 lap of the day, and you do it on the black Bridgestone Potenzas. Tell us a little bit about your day.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it was a pretty big surprise to be able to bring the cars 1 and 3 in the qualifying. Last year obviously we struggled quite a bit with the speed. The Newman/Haas team did a pretty good effort to try and come up with something different, which we did.
Not ideal yet, but we're still working on a few different changes. I think we'll get it right. It's just a matter of trying to get some testing. Obviously, this morning was a pretty short session with all the red flags. We didn't make as much progress as we would have liked to. In the end, pretty happy with the way things went in this qualifying session. It's good to get this point and this front row start. We'll try and get it better to keep A.J. behind us.
ERIC MAUK: How important is it to get your result that you got today and not use that set of alternates?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think the Bridgestone tires are always good, even if they're only standards. But the fact that Paul got stuck in traffic and didn't get pole using the reds is a good thing for us. We'll have two sets tomorrow. We'll try and get the best out of it.
Q: Three or four straight laps at the end. How did you get such clear laps?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The team did a very good job at putting me in clean air. There was only Nelson (Philippe) that was in front of me. He had some time to slow down. Let him completely go, I was free of traffic. That was perfect. I had a lot of clean laps, like three or four in the end. I kept on clicking the same lap times, but in completely different fashion. I'm pretty sure there's some good lap time in the car. As Paul said, it was extremely hard and very unforgiving. Made a few different mistakes.
So far, you know, I think the car is just a little too hard to drive to really get the best out of it. That's what we'll focus on tomorrow, trying to get it a little closer and a little easier to drive, because otherwise it's going to be a real struggle for the race.
Q: Can all of you talk about the heat factor, how it is going to play out.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't think it's going to play a big factor. The track is very hard and bumpy. But the heat, you know, is not going to be anything terrible. We've raced in much warmer places than that in the end. It's not humid, so I don't think it's going to be extremely hot. It goes pretty fast, so you get quite a bit of air inside the car. The outside temperature doesn't really affect.
Q: You were mentioning yesterday how fatiguing it is to drive this track. Does the heat add to that?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't think so.
PAUL TRACY: I think whether it's hot or cold, this is a hard track. It's bumpy, it's fast, it's unforgiving. It's really the steering effort is very high here, like Sebastien just said. Temperature, all three of us live in very hot places. Florida, I've been in Vegas the last few weeks. We're kind of used to the hot, hot temperatures. This is actually for me, coming from Las Vegas to here, a bit of a relief from the heat.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, but I think I agree with them that the track -- the most difficult here is the track. Doesn't matter if it's hot or cold. Although it's not too hot as in Miami, when it's hot, you work out more than when it's cold. So it's going to be extra factor for the race. I think maybe 20% more difficult. I think the track is 80%, what going to make it really, really hard.
Q: Were you not able to drive the way you wanted to today, and will that change your approach for tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it more affected us in this morning's first practice session. In qualifying, you know you're going to get that kind of problem every now and then, so you don't count on qualifying to really get the car where you want it to be.
But this morning we left with some 40 minutes to go. By 20 minutes to go, we still had done absolutely nothing. You know, it affects you more when you're trying really to test.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: For me was hard because I didn't know the track, so I had even less laps. I had a problem with the engine early on. But what I think is this track is like an oval. The corner is so fast that you do some corners at the speed you do in an oval. As Tracy said, it's very unforgiving. You cannot have oversteer because if the rear end steps out, that's it, you lose. It's unbelievable, have so many really fast corners. It's like driving an oval turning right and left all the time.
Q: We haven't had a chance to talk to A.J. Pretty hard hit out there. Any sense of what happened at this point?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, he just said he's struggling a little bit with the rear end of the car. It's a little bit oversteery on him. Obviously, this was his first attempt to do a qualifying lap on new tires. You know, he's been very fast. Confidence is sky high. He was going for it. You know, it stepped out. He got out in the kind of dirty part of the track. He kept trying to catch it. You know, just kept going for the wall. Not too much damage. You know, just a little bit of a bad spot for him, that's all.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I was behind him. I almost hit him. He just lost it and went to the wall.
Q: Sebastien, any advice for A.J. about how to come from the back and win like you did?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I hope not (laughter). I hope you don't need to start P10 to win this race. Anyway, he'll be back tomorrow. It's not going to be raining like last year. I don't think he'll start 10. If he could stay off of the pole, that would be a very nice thing.
ERIC MAUK: In the last couple weeks during qualifying, 10, 12 minutes in, after you guys come in on your first stint, Allmendinger would go out, have clear track, he would benefit. First stint today, he waited. When he went out, six or seven of you guys went out with him. Is that coincidence? Are you looking at what he's doing? Not going to give him a free ride this time? Coincidental you all went out at the same time?
PAUL TRACY: I think I was really the last guy to leave. AJ went. Sebastien went out, then Bruno went out, da Matta went out. I was the last one to leave. We didn't really plan that off of what A.J. was going to do. It just kind of happened.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Personally, I think I wanted to have a fairly long first run to make sure I was going to get the best out of the car so I started a little early. The red flag came out after three laps. That was that.
Q: Justin said he major moment in turn one and then saw that A.J. had his problem soon after when he went through. Did you notice that turn one was slippery at that point?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think everybody got caught a little bit between the old tires and new tires. It got warmer, too. Maybe it concerns the balance a little bit.
No, I think this place is tricky. I mean, I personally lost it in the 15 minutes, too. I don't know if you saw it. I lost it coming off turn one. It went all the way to turn three. I did a pretty nice session of drifting over there (laughter).
PAUL TRACY: It's a fairly tricky corner, turn one. It's big, long, wide, but it takes a long time before you can get back to full throttle. You can carry a lot of throttle, but to put it all the way back to full throttle is tough. When you try to go too early, you get out to all the way to the very end of the corner, it wants to break traction. It's pretty tricky.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: That's basically what I did, I lost it coming off of turn one, got sideways like this in two, coming off three I was like this. Not nice.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I had a big moment when A.J. crashed. I was behind him. I was trying to avoid him.
Q: Sebastien, can you talk about having a guaranteed front row spot on this track?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's always a fundamental thing. You need to start to the front if you want to ease your day a little bit for Sunday. It's one of the nicest things of the Friday. There's only one spot that you really want. The rest you know you'll have to do it again all over next day on Saturday.
No, I think it's perfect the way it played out, especially with A.J. making a mistake like that. Maybe he's going to break a little bit his momentum. We could use some of that, for sure. But, you know, I'm sure he'll be back tomorrow. We'll have a tough fight in our hands.
We're not shooting for starting second; we're trying to get the pole.
ERIC MAUK: All right. That will wrap things up here. We set our final grid with qualifying tomorrow beginning at 2 p.m. Thank you.