CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Top three finishers press conference, part 1

An interview with: Will Power, Robert Doornbos and Paul Tracy ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we will start our post race press conference for the Vegas Grand Prix, Round 1 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series. We are joined by our...

An interview with: Will Power, Robert Doornbos and Paul Tracy

ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we will start our post race press conference for the Vegas Grand Prix, Round 1 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series. We are joined by our top three finishers.

Our third-place finisher, driver of the #3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. Paul's 73rd podium of his career. Paul, good strong day. You ran up front early. Were in the top five most of the day. Tell us about how it went for you.

PAUL TRACY: It went really well. Obviously, to lead the beginning of the race, I made a good start, was able to get by Will on the start. We spent a lot of the first part of the race under yellow. Then once we got going, I made a small mistake, hit the curb, the chicane, bounced up high off the ground. Will really capitalized off that, drafted up on me. I got a slow entry onto the straightaway. Really couldn't put up much of a fight about it. Really, I just sat in behind him saving fuel. Came to the first stop glued to the back of him.

We came in and did our first pit stop. The car didn't take any fuel for us. We spent 15 seconds and ended up getting like four laps of fuel. So that was a bit frustrating. We came back out and chased, then had to come straight back in and take fuel again. That really took the fight out of the race I think for Will. I think we could have put a lot of pressure on him. Obviously, by then we were 45, 50 seconds behind him after doing another stop. We just had to fight, push hard all day, continue to catch people up, get by them. It was a good day for the Forsythe team and Monster Energy.

ERIC MAUK: How important is it for you to come out here and have a start like you did this weekend after what you went through last season?

PAUL TRACY: Well, it's good. Obviously, you know, we had a bad season last year. It didn't finish very well. Come out, hometown race, qualify front row. We have little problems to work through. Obviously we got to get the pit stops right. If you're going to win at this level in any sport, everything's got to go right on the day. We have some things to do for next week. But, you know, we're here, we're in the game, right there where we want to be running. .

ERIC MAUK: Our second place finisher, driver of the #14 Muermans/Jumbo Supermarketen/Mediamall Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Minardi Team USA, Robert Doornbos. Robert finished second. He is the first driver to podium in his Champ Car debut since Nigel Mansell won the season opener in 1993. Robert, great run today. Tell us a little bit about it.

ROBERT DOORNBOS: Thank you very much. Good to be back here. Different seat. I'm moving up maybe for the next couple of races (laughter). No, I really enjoyed it. A great start to the weekend. Already yesterday to have qualified in the top three, we couldn't have dreamed of a better start really. Was a bit worried this morning because it's a different routine that you have than in European racing with these rolling starts. At the end of the day, I thought it was more like a safety car start.

It did cut me out a little bit in turn one when I saw Junqueira with I think a smoked wheel coming on the inside. I thought, I want to have a long afternoon, so I let him go. I got him back in the end. It took me a couple of laps. It was quite tough on these red tires. We had no idea how long they would last. I mean, my engineer is a great guy, Michael Cannon. He's so calm on the radio. He tried to calm me down. He said, No worries, the race is long. Keep on pushing, this and that. It really just came towards us. Obviously the safety car situations, yellow flags, never seen so many in one race to be honest.

The pit stops went well. A very long one, the second one, because we had a different strategy. Then I had to save fuel, which is also a new thing for me because he kept telling me, You have to save more fuel, more fuel. I was like, I'm racing, what do you want me to do (laughter)? Valet parking or something?

Just came to us. I'm so pleased for everybody, especially for my sponsors here, they come all the way from Holland. It's been a long winter. Really a good decision to go racing in Champ Car.

ERIC MAUK: Looking back at what you may have expected, what you thought you were coming into, and now that you've been through it, how did what happened meet with your expectations out of the entire weekend?

ROBERT DOORNBOS: It's a relief to be straightaway competitive and hopefully people start pronouncing my name right like this. You're doing a very good job, by the way. (laughter)

ERIC MAUK: Thank you.

ROBERT DOORNBOS: It's a good start. Gives confidence, especially because we have three weekends in a row now. Then I have to go back to Europe for my F1 duties. It's great fun. I can't wait to go to Long Beach. Might have a go to the casino tonight.

ERIC MAUK: The winner of the Vegas Grand Prix and the Champ Car World Series points leader after Round 1, driver of the #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone for Team Australia, Will Power. Will becomes the 246th different winner in Champ Car history. He wins from the pole today. Will, congratulations. Tell us a little bit about how it feels.

WILL POWER: Yeah, it feels really good. This is the first of a long marathon 'cause, you know, we really want to win this championship. But I lost the start to Paul. I was a bit worried about it because we were on the dusty side. You know, I was sort of expecting to get wheel spin, and he got me there. Then, like he said, he made a bit of a mistake in the chicane. I got a good run on him with 'push to pass', passed him. He pretty much pressured me all the way to the pit stop, especially at the end when my tires went off. I struggled with the rear tires. I expected him to come out behind me. But I think he had a bit of a problem in the pits.

After that, I mean, I was pretty much alone. I caught Katherine Legge for a while, she held me up. But after that, it was a pretty cruisy race really. We had a good car. It handled well all day. The only issue I had was a really long brake pedal at the end of the race. But we had an 18-second lead, so we just brought it home and brought Derrick Walker his second win since '99. It's his birthday. So a pole and a win, I think that's a pretty good present for him.

ERIC MAUK: Talk about what you felt the last three or four laps of this thing. You had a 18-second lead and you did have to deal with Bruno Junqueira coming up trying to unlap himself.

WILL POWER: I didn't even know he was behind me. I backed off after I went through the checkered flag. The guy came past me. I was like, Oh, shit. I thought, yeah. I wasn't even looking behind. All I was was just saving fuel and saving brakes because the brake pedal was getting pretty long.

ERIC MAUK: How close were you on fuel at the end? Was that a concern?

WILL POWER: No, not really. Easily saved enough fuel. I had plenty more to push if anyone wanted to attack. It was just one of those days. When you got a good car, if you just do a good job, get all the pit stops. We did actually have a bit of a moment in one of the stops. I knocked the right-hand guy over because the brake pedal was so long, it just locked up. We lost a fair bit of time there. It still wasn't an issue.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Great win today. Will also earned a bonus point for posting the fastest lap, along with the point that he got for leading yesterday's qualifying, giving him 33 on the year and a six-point lead over Robert after the first round. Paul is just one point behind Robert in third place. Also Alex Figge earned a point for gaining the most positions in today's event.

We'll take questions from the media.

Q: Will, any problems with the fueling today?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I guess our fueling was better than everyone else or the same as some people. But the toughest part of the race is probably the end when the brake pedal was getting long, you just want it to end. He kept saying, 15 laps to go. There's no one pressuring you, there's no one to attack. You're just sort of cruising around hoping nothing is going to go wrong.

It's good when you have someone on you early in the race, you're really pushing. That's racing. That's the fun bit. You also have to save fuel, as well, to stop at the same time as the guys. Yeah, I would say the end was the toughest bit.

Q: Any problem at all with the black tires?

WILL POWER: No, the black tires were really good. I mean, they were really good. At the end it was just like driving on new tires every lap because the track rubbered up pretty good. The reds went off pretty badly at the end.

Q: Paul, since you live here, you have a certain familiarity with the whole area, what was your take after going through this race as far as what this race means, and what could be better next year to make it a better event?

PAUL TRACY: I think the city and the organizers and the promoters, everybody, the workers that paved the track, when they first said they were going to have a race in downtown, I said, Man, there's no way you could have a race down there, the roads are so rough, you can hardly drive a nice car on them. You know, the city got behind the race. They made the track beautifully smooth. We had one small issue with a bump on the track. They came in and worked all night and fixed it.

You know, I guess talking to a lot of friends here, no complaints about anything except the difference between the Fremont Street and pit area, trying to get back and forth from there, it's a very long walk. The lines for the shuttle bus are very long. I would say that's probably the only thing that I heard people complain about, is trying to get back to their hotels on Fremont.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Robert Doornbos , Katherine Legge , Alex Figge , Will Power