CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Top three qualifiers press conference

An interview with: Sebastien Bourdais Oriol Servia Jimmy Vasser ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference for the Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 here at Las Vegas Motor...

An interview with:
Sebastien Bourdais
Oriol Servia
Jimmy Vasser

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference for the Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400 here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We are joined by our top three qualifiers today.

Before we get started, I'd like to bring up Joe Barbieri from Bridgestone to present the Bridgestone Pole Award to driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais.

(Presentation)

ERIC MAUK: Joe, tell us about how the tire went today from your standpoint.

JOE BARBIERI: This is a brand-new tire. We ran extremely well last year, but we decided to make a couple changes to the tire. We did some testing out here with a couple teams about a month or so ago and found another good compound and construction to use. We are really pleased the way the testing went. We expect the race to be run really well tomorrow, too.

ERIC MAUK: Thanks a lot, Joe.

For those of you who didn't catch that, Sebastien Bourdais is donating his $5,000 portion of the Bridgestone Pole Award to the hurricane relief, to the Red Cross. Sebastien, a very nice gesture. Thank you very much on behalf of Champ Car.

Our third place qualifier, driver of the #12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy put up a top time of 26.477 seconds, 203.951 miles per hour. This is Jimmy's best starting spot since he won the pole at Milwaukee back in June.

Jimmy, tell us a little about how it went.

JIMMY VASSER: We played little funny game waiting because we figured, it was Jim McGee's idea, Jim McGee, our general manager said, "There's still an hour to go, it's still kind of hot, maybe the wind will die down a bit. We need everything we can get for qualifying." So we waited it out a bit. The boys in the shop did a tremendous job over the last few weeks to try to make the cars as slippery as possible, even down to putting special waxes on the underwing. Whether they work or not, who knows, but it's the effort that counts, making the body fit work.

I think it shows in PKV, with myself and my teammate Cristiano da Matta on the second row, it shows a lot of hard work has paid off, at least for qualifying. I do know also we need to do a lot of work for our race setups tonight. We weren't all that happy in today's afternoon session. But, you know, all credit to the guys in the shop, they did a great job.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little about what this does to the confidence level. You have been needing some good qualifying results. You came out and put up a couple today.

JIMMY VASSER: Again, you know, it's all a product of engineering and the guys in the shop. Cristiano, myself, just a couple of spacers sitting in there putting our foot down, just driving around in a circle with our foot down.

But the race will be a different story. Race craft is going to come into play. We do need start to make some momentum. The both of us, our goal for the rest of the season, the last four races, is to at least have one of our cars in the top five. I think two of them in the top five is a little bit out of reach, being realistic. But one of us has an opportunity to be in the top five in the championship. This is a good start for that.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.

JIMMY VASSER: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Starting on the outside of the row for the third time this season, the most recent winner in the Champ Car World Series, driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Oriol Servia. Oriol puts up a time of 26.388 seconds, 204.633 miles per hour. You're right there with Sebastien.

ORIOL SERVIA: How much slower?

ERIC MAUK: 7/1000ths. Not a whole lot you can do.

ORIOL SERVIA: He's proven his driving skills before, so what can I say?

No, it was great. I think we already in practice showed that we were probably going to be up there. No surprises. The car was very good even with the wind. We knew that no other team was going to beat us, with or without wind strategy. We went out there with the big wind. It was very good.

I'm just very happy. The car felt actually quite decent in traffic earlier, so I think once now we change it a little bit for the race, going to be even better. Again, the race is very long. Is the last lap that counts, so we need to get there safe. That's the main thing. Hopefully we can put the PacifiCare car again in the top of the podium.

I mean, Sebastien doesn't need wins any more. He has 60 points' advantage. The important thing for the team is to secure 1 and 2 in the championship. The best way to do that is for the #2 car winning. That's the goal.

ERIC MAUK: For those of you who were wondering how Oriol was going to react to getting his first win, "No teams are going to beat us," I believe is how that worked out. Tell us how you will attack the night practice tonight.

ORIOL SERVIA: I mean, everybody has the same objective, which is to run with a lot of traffic, see how the car handles with cars around, which is very different from what we did now, and also at night with colder temperatures. We'll see. We are just trying to do like a race simulation as close as we can.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.

The winner of the Bridgestone Pole Award here for the Champ Car Hurricane Relief 400, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He earns his fifth pole of the season, the 18th of his career. That moves him into a tie with Bobby Rahal for 11th on the all-time Champ Car list. His fast lap, 26.381 seconds, 204.693 miles per hour. He also gets a championship point for winning the pole today, boosting his lead over his teammate Oriol Servia to 62 points with four races to go.

Sebastien, another pole, another strong run here. How do you feel about the way it went?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it feels very good. It just felt like there was a mechanic on every single piece of tape on the car, you know, pushing me around. It's pretty much a good summary to what happened today. I think it's all to their credit what kind of performance we get in this qualifying. Kind of taking myself out of the picture really because in qualifying, just really put the foot down and it's all about the team effort. Obviously they proved to be extremely good at that.

So during the race it's a bit different story, and you have to have a good ending in traffic. Hopefully we'll be able to achieve that again as well as we did last year. It should be a good race.

It was really spectacular last year. I'm not looking forward to another one like that. You know, as long as we can --

ORIOL SERVIA: I have a solution for your problem.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I know your solution, but it's not an option (laughter).

We'll see what we can get out of this weekend. Really, it's just a bit of a nerve-wracking race really because anything can happen. Obviously, it's really tough on the car, extremely difficult on the engine. Not too concerned about the Bridgestone tires, they're just fine. Mechanically anything can happen. That would be the most single painful thing we can encounter during this end of the season, not to finish a race. Hopefully we can have our nose clean and a reliable car and move on.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow.

We'll go ahead and take questions from the media.

Q: Sebastien, before the interview started, you just donated the pole award to the American Red Cross for the relief for those victims of natural disaster. What goes through your mind when you see that kind of stuff happening? It's a kind of thing with racers have big hearts. Talk a little bit about that.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess it's going to take a little bit of everybody to try and overcome all this bad weather. It's just apparently the beginning because I'm pretty sure it's going to be a tough again this Rita hurricane.

All I can say is I'm living by the water, enjoying it. If anything bad happens to me, I'd be pretty happy if people are not leaving us behind. It's just normal, I think, try and help a little.

Q: All three of you guys have the experience from last year to draw on for the race. What do you expect is going to be different or do you look for the same thing as last year?

JIMMY VASSER: I learned a long time ago not to expect anything racing. I think a race like this, in particular, the drivers are going to have to be on their toes and expect anything really. You know, close proximity at these speeds, flat out in bunches, it's not really something that we're used to. We're doing it one time a year. So it's very exciting for the fans. We're going to go out there and put on a good show, try to take care of each other.

But I think, you know, I can't speak for these guys, but I learned long ago not to expect anything or presume anything, for sure.

ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our press conference. Again, we practice at night, 8:00 to 930, and obviously we go racing again tomorrow after the Craftsman Truck Series.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta