CHAMPCAR/CART: Elkhart Lake: Top three qualifiers press conference, part I

An interview with Bruno Junqueira Cristiano da Matta Alex Tagliani Part 1 of 2 Merrill Cain: We'll get started with our top-three press conference. We're joined by the top-three drivers as they'll start tomorrow's Grand Prix at Road America...

An interview with
Bruno Junqueira
Cristiano da Matta
Alex Tagliani

Part 1 of 2

Merrill Cain: We'll get started with our top-three press conference. We're joined by the top-three drivers as they'll start tomorrow's Grand Prix at Road America Featuring the Motorola 220. We're joined by Alex Tagliani, Bruno Junqueira and Cristiano da Matta.

We'll begin today with Alex Tagliani who finished second in the session this afternoon. Driver of the #33 Player's Indeck/Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone. He posted a best time of 1:42.684, that's a speed of 141.919 miles per hour and a lap that puts him in the third spot on the grid for tomorrow's event. Alex makes his third top-three start of the 2002 season tomorrow and the first since the Chicago event where he started on the outside of the front row. He also qualified third in 2000 and led 23 laps before mechanical trouble left him with a 13th place finish.

Alex, if you would, talk about your qualifying effort this afternoon.

Alex Tagliani: Well, the car was very good. The Player's team had a very good car the past two years here, so we had some good data to show for on Friday morning. Yesterday on my last lap, I didn't have a clear lap, so we could have been third. Today we proved that.

I don't think we had the speed to be on pole. It was 5/10ths, maybe with another 2/10ths in the car, but not more than that. Tonight we're going to chat a little bit more on the car and hopefully we'll be more competitive and closer to Bruno tomorrow.

Merrill Cain: We're joined also by Cristiano da Matta, driver of the #6 Havoline/Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone who will start second tomorrow by virtue of his provisional pole winning effort from yesterday. That time was 1:42.640 seconds, a speed of 141.980. Cristiano makes his seventh front row starting spot of the season and takes his best ever grid position here at Road America.

The session didn't go probably as well as you would have liked, but you still, by virtue of yesterday's effort, start second tomorrow and it should be an interesting race. Talk about your qualifying effort today and your approach to the race tomorrow.

Cristiano da Matta: Today I didn't have as good of a run as I had yesterday. On my first set of tires, I got caught out on Fernandez' red flag. I was able to go out on that set and put a lap in which was still my best lap of the session because on the second set I went out and just got traffic and traffic and traffic. I probably had Scott Dixon ahead of me three times. I was actually asking Bruno here if they forgot to put a mirror in his car or not. But I never got a clear lap, not even one single clear lap.

Then on my last lap, I finally got my first clear lap, and there was Bruno's incident in front of me. I ended up with no clear laps on my second set [of tires] either.

But I'm happy with the car. I'm not sure if I could have challenged Bruno for the pole or not. He did a very, very fast lap time. I think it was difficult for me to know because I was so far off from what my car could have done that I don't even have an idea what I could have done with my car.

Overall, I'm happy with the balance of the car. I think we should have a good race car for tomorrow. I'm a little disappointed because on a four-mile track, you should get better track position for qualifying. It's just a shame that some guys play qualify like this.

Merrill Cain: Bruno Junqueira is your polesitter for tomorrow's Grand Prix at Road America, driver of the #4 Target/Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone, he takes the pole with a best lap of 1:42.151 seconds, a speed of 142.659 miles per hour. He earns his second pole of the season, taking the first road course pole of his Champ Car career. Bruno also claimed the pole in Motegi, Japan earlier this year, a race he would go on to win. He earns one championship point for the pole position. That gives him 87 for the season and leaves him eight points behind Patrick Carpentier in second place in the standings, of course behind Cristiano da Matta.

Bruno, obviously an exciting qualifying session for you. You posted the best lap and it actually looked like you were on a flyer that was 3/10ths of a second ahead of your pace. Talk about that last lap, your approach and your approach to the race tomorrow.

Bruno Junqueira: I think Team Target gave me a very good car this weekend. Yesterday my car was good. I thought I left a little bit on the table. But today I wanted to make sure that I would get the right lap.

On my second lap, I did my best lap. Then on the third one, I pushed too much and went a little bit wide in one of the corners. It just wasn't that good of a lap. Then I knew that the fourth lap was the last one. I was pushing very, very hard. I saw [Shinji] Nakano like 10 car lengths in front of me. The balance of the car was good. I was 3/10ths faster until the Canada corner [Turn 12]. I think I could even have done more. Nakano went in the gravel a little bit wide on Canada corner. I couldn't see, because I thought he would stay on the gravel and I could continue to finish my lap. Suddenly he just came back to the track. I was almost going to the outside of the corner on the curves. I broke and pushed the car to the right to avoid the crash. I spun inside and hit the inside wall. I think that was a shame because, as Cristiano said, I think a lot of people could improve the lap times, including me.

But luckily the checkered flag was out and they didn't take out my lap. That was good. But I think my second best lap would stay on the pole, as well. I have to thank Team Target. The car was really, really good. I enjoy driving here very much.

Merrill Cain:  You certainly do.  That's a question I was going to ask
you.  You're the defending champion here.  It seems like this course
brings out your skills.  Can you talk about that a little bit?

Bruno Junqueira: I think this is a proper racetrack, a proper road track, with really fast corners. I just like the fast corners. It has long corners, short corners and all kind of corners. I just love it. This is my favorite track of the year, not just because I have done well. But I think this is a course where I can really drive the car. It's really exciting. Team Target gave me a good car and everything has gone fine for me so far.

--CART--

Top three press conference part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Scott Dixon , Cristiano da Matta