CHAMP CAR POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM EDMONTON WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, PAUL TRACY AND JUSTIN WILSON 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 JUSTIN WILSON
ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post-qualifying press conference. West Edmonton Milwaukee Grand Prix presented by The Brick, round eight of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
Before we get started, I'd like to welcome Mr. Al Speyer, executive directory of Bridgestone Motorsports to the platform. He will award the Bridgestone Pole Position Award to the driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais.
Mr. Speyer, tell us a little bit about the challenges involved in putting together a good tire for an airport circuit that you guys don't get a chance to see until you roll in here on Thursday.
AL SPEYER</B>: It is a challenge, of course, to design tires for tracks that we can't test on. We have quite a bit of experience with many years of Champ Car racing, a lot of similarities here with Cleveland, the airport circuit. Really, I'd say probably our biggest thing that's affecting us right now is it's quite a bit hotter than we thought it was going to be up here in Edmonton. We'll continue to work on the alternate tire concept, the Bridgestone red sidewall tires or alternates really don't have as mush of a differential from the standards as I'd like to see here. I have a challenge out for our Bridgestone engineers to make it an even greater difference and help the racing that way.
But it's kind of a laboratory here for us. We're constantly working on many different things. Since it seems to be a new track record here, Sebastien did use the red alternates to set that time. I guess we're doing pretty well.
ERIC MAUK: As always, thank you, Mr. Speyer.
We're joined by 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. His fast time 58.665, 121.074 miles per hour. Justin has started fourth or better in seven of the year's eight events so far.
Justin, tell us how it went for you today.
JUSTIN WILSON: It went quite well. You know, not quite as good as we were hoping. We thought we had a bit more potential in the car and in myself.
I overdid it a couple of times, got carried away. Got held up. It just didn't quite fall into place.
I think we've got a very good race car. We were able to go just as quick on used tires as we can on new tires. We feel we've got everything in the right place. It's just a matter of making no mistakes in the race now.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about how tough it is to get your rhythm when you have a session kind of like we had today with such a choppy session.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it's pretty difficult because you go out there, you're trying to find a gap on the track. It gives you a couple of laps to get into a rhythm and a routine. That's what this track really needs. Each lap you carry a bit more speed into each corner, try to take the power a bit earlier. If you can't get into a rhythm, it's very hard to go out and hit just one lap. That's what everyone is trying to do.
Just as everyone gets into that rhythm, red flag comes out, you know, it's time to do it all again. You got the race out of the pits. It's quite comical in a way. But it's frustrating for the drivers.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
Our second place qualifier, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. His fast lap, 58.622 seconds, 121.163 miles per hour. Paul's first front row start of the season, his first since Denver last year.
Paul, since we've been doing this new qualifying concept here starting in '04. Can't remember the first time you were ever the first car off pit lane on to the track. A new strategy for you today.
PAUL TRACY: Well, we thought the session could be pretty choppy. I ended up causing the first red. That was a little bit frustrating. We had an electronics failure, a voltage regulator go bad. The dashboard went crazy with lights. The no-lift shift stopped working and the car wasn't shifting properly. I was trying to complete a lap on it that way to see what kind of a time we could do. I locked up the gearbox, had the thing spin around on me.
The crew did a great job fixing the car. We had to replace the rear wing. Lost our quick time. Went back out and had to do two laps to qualify second. One that was taken away was quick enough for pole. Kind of a mixed fortune today. Overall, pretty satisfied with how we bounced back and ended up on front row.
ERIC MAUK: Given the fact you bounced back so well, are you confident for the way things are going to go tomorrow?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I feel good. I feel we've been fast all weekend. I feel race pace-wise we have a really good car. My car was very, very quick this morning on old tires. I feel confident for tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
The winner of the Bridgestone Pole Position Award for the Grand Prix of Edmonton, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He sets a new track record, 58.560 seconds, 121.291 miles per hour. His fourth pole of the year, 22nd of his career. Gives him another championship point to go with the one he got yesterday, boosting his total to 193 for the season and giving him a 25-point gap over second place A.J. Allmendinger.
Sebastien, you put up a couple real good laps at the end of the . session Tell us about how it went .
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think when you look at the charts, it could have been any of us in the center. So it's good to put the McDonald's car in this position. It's very good for tomorrow. I think obviously, you know, there's a lot to be said about track position here.
I'm just glad we got it. No, I think, you know, I was going a little quicker, was 2/10ths up on my lap time, then lost it going into turn five. I think just about everybody made mistakes. As Paul said, it was pretty broken up, the session. We just got lucky that we could put one good lap on the first run, been able to match it on the second, but not quite where we would have liked it to be. It's going to resume now in the race with a car that we're pretty happy with. But it looks like both of our opponents are very satisfied with their race car, too. It should be a pretty frantic pace tomorrow. We know how tough it is around here. If it's flat-out racing tomorrow for 85 laps, be sure to see a lot of mistakes.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about what you expect going into the first turn tomorrow, not necessarily what your strategy is going to be, but what you're concerned about heading into that first turn.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I'm just glad to be where I am. I think it's definitely the best place to start from. It's kind of a one-line deal through turn one. You know, I'm just glad we're on the inside. We'll see how things play out.
Yeah, very happy to see where we're at. Hopefully it's going to be a clean start where everybody goes through, then we'll go racing.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow.
We'll open it up to questions from the media.
Q</I>: Sebastien when you talked about Paul earlier you said that he needed to show in qualifying that he was going to get it done in the race. Do you think he has found something? Do you think this means he found it?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think he's found it. It's been 15 years he's found it. It's just like us, you've got some streak with a lot of success, streak where you are struggling a little bit more. You can't really know why, but you keep on trying and at some point things turn round. Forsythe has a good car again this weekend. A good car with a good driver is usually a strong package. That's what's happening again. He's in an ideal position to finish up front again.
Q</I>: And, Paul?
PAUL TRACY: Just really my main struggle this year has been the alternate red. This weekend it's a slightly different construction and compound than what we've typically ran. My car has been working well this weekend. You know, obviously I would expect to be in the top five all the time. Obviously, the best position to be in is in the front row.
But the way the teams have shaped up right now, I would really look at between myself and Sebastien and Justin and A.J. that's probably going to be the top four guys in any order till the end of the year really.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: If you look at things, it's really kind of bunched up. It's like a 10th of a second from P1 to P4. It doesn't take much for that.
Q</I>: A.J. who was behind you in fourth has struggled here. Do you think he will be a factor tomorrow?
PAUL TRACY: I wouldn't say being a 10th or a 10th and a half off is struggling on a track this fast. With 14 corners and the speed you go through the corners, to only be a 10th and a half off is really nothing. He's in a good position as well.
Q</I>: Justin do you reckon that the lap that Will Power blocked you prevented you from taking the pole position?
JUSTIN WILSON: It's hard to say. You know, I think we had more potential than we showed. That's if's and but's; everybody's got them. The end of the day, we got third. I think we've got a good car for tomorrow. That's when the prizes are handed out. We've got to make sure we don't make any mistakes, put it all together, and just do the best job we can.
Q</I>: What is your situation with the tires?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I feel that we're very good on used tires. You know, we're right up there in similar times to what we can do on new tires. I think we'll just have to wait and see what happens, see what happens with the weather, see if it gets any hotter yet.
It's going to be a strong pace. We found last year we can do all the parts that make a quick car and make a car win. We can save fuel, we can do it all. We're looking forward to it.
No spins this time.
Q</I>: Yesterday you were not happy with your car even after getting the pole. Are you happy with it now?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, we made a few changes. But I think most importantly the track kind of came to us. The grip raised. It's a lot easier to work when you have a bit more grip. We had all sorts of problems yesterday, you know, a little bit of understeer, a little bit of oversteer. It was just difficult to identify what we were going to work on. Today we got a little bit of a more connected balance. That feels a lot better. It's a lot easier to fix.
Is the car perfect? No, it's never perfect. You know, it's getting close to it.
Q</I>: Starting the race tomorrow how are you going to handle the first corner?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. Just like every other corner, for me it got a little better. I think the rubber really helped. We had a headwind yesterday. Today we had a tailwind which should have made it harder. But for me it actually connected the car.
Just everybody's going to have a different opinion on it. The more rubber there is, the higher the grip is, and the better the car behaves. It settled things down for us.
PAUL TRACY: I think obviously having -- the track seems to have a lot more rubber than it laid down last year. Obviously, it's the second year. We have the cash cars here, which is 40 cars, they run a lot of different lines, put a lot of rubber down, drifting cars are all over the place laying rubber down. The groove of the corner of where you have grip seems to be much broader than it was last year. You can miss the apex maybe by half a car width and it doesn't really cost you that much time in some of the faster corners. Whereas last year, if you missed it by, you know, six inches, you were -- had you to slow way down.
It seems to be a lot better this year.
Q</I>: Paul how will you handle the start tomorrow?
PAUL TRACY: I think, you know, it's like any other road course or street course. Obviously, Cleveland is an example to here. Toronto is a tough track to get through the first corner. Everything was clean. We went a long distance before we had a yellow in Toronto.
I think if we can get through the first corner, everybody, we'll have a good race.
Q</I>: The winners tend to come from the top five positions consistently week in and week out, why aren't the guys that qualify in the back coming up to the front to be in contention for wins?
PAUL TRACY: I think it's just a combination of, you know, these four -- these three teams: Our team, Sebastien's team, and Justin's team are the three best teams out here. They're the most well-funded teams. We have a lot of technology in the cars. The younger drivers that are out there like Ranger, Will Power, they're on smaller teams with less at their disposal in terms of getting the car faster. They're close, but just that little bit behind. I think that's pretty normal in any series, whether it be NASCAR or Formula One. There's always the top echelon of teams that always have a chance of winning and then you have the second group. There's different levels of teams.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our press conference. Be aware, we do go early tomorrow morning, starting here at 11 a.m. local time. Thank you.