CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Top-three qualifiers transcript

Champ Car Post Qualifying Press Conference Transcript with Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Patrick Carpentier ERIC MAUK: - We will go ahead and start our post-qualifying press conference for the Bridgestone 400 presented by Corona, part of...

Champ Car Post Qualifying Press Conference Transcript with Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and Patrick Carpentier

ERIC MAUK: - We will go ahead and start our post-qualifying press conference for the Bridgestone 400 presented by Corona, part of the Double Down in the Desert event here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the superspeedway oval we will go racing tomorrow at approximately 10 p.m., 166 laps.

We are joined by two of our top-three qualifiers at the moment for tomorrow's event. We'll start with our third place qualifier, our series points leader, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien puts up a quick lap of 26.300 seconds, 205.323 miles per hour. Sebastien keeps his streak alive of 13 consecutive top-three starts, which is a Champ Car modern era record. Sebastien, starting in the top three, doing it all year, how do you feel about the way things went?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't really know what to say about it. You know, the team did a pretty good job. Again, I just feel that it's not really challenging for the driver, at least in qualifying. We know it's going to be a different affair tomorrow for the race. I'm just glad we're starting up front and we should be able to keep ourselves out of trouble, which would be good for once. You know, it's just a tough break in the season for us right now, so we're expecting to have a good result and to score big points.

ERIC MAUK: Given the fact that you have had a couple miscues in the early laps in the last couple races, given the fact it's a long race tomorrow, do you think about that and take it a little early or just kind of check things out in the first couple stints tomorrow or do you attack early?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It depends what you mean "attack," because you can only put the throttle down and see what it does. No, that kind of race is somewhat different to what we are doing the other times. I think the car should be plenty fast on full tanks. I'm going to be able to take this out tonight and to have a great race setup.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. Starting on the outside of the front row, Las Vegas, Nevada, resident, driver of the #12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy starts on the front row for the first time this season with a time of 26.278 seconds, 205.495 miles per hour. Jimmy, good strong run. Are you happy with the way it went?

JIMMY VASSER: Yeah, of course. We haven't had this kind of consistency near the front all season long, so we're striving to make the race team better. The engineers did a good job to try to figure out what the best pieces were. We found a good engine a couple races ago, and we decided we'll put this one aside for Las Vegas, because it's going to be very important to have a good engine. Even if it's just a little bit better than another, it makes a big difference, I think. Then also to try to maximize the aerodynamic package, the load over drag.

Mostly here it's just taking drag off the car and trying to make the car very free. I think most of the guys that qualified up front try to take the shortest line around. I think some other guys might not have figured that out yet. Certainly the shortest line around here will be the fastest. So I was pleased, you know, that everything came together well for us.

ERIC MAUK: The mandatory pit windows tomorrow, you have to pit every 37 laps. Tell us a little bit about how that affects the tire wear and how you approach tire strategy tomorrow.

JIMMY VASSER: I think the Bridgestones are fantastic. I don't think anybody's worried about their Bridgestones for tire wear. They've done a great job all season long for us. I'm fully expecting the tires to be there for us all race long. But nonetheless, we have four or five sets of sticker Bridgestones, like I think everybody does, ready to go. And really it's just going to be a matter, in my opinion, of staying up at the front, having good stops. Track position is going to be paramount. And I think if you can stay up there all day, then you're certainly going to be in a best position for the last stint. It's going to be very close racing. I think it's going to be also important this evening to get your car working well right on the other car's gearbox. I ran up on a couple of guys today, albeit track temperature was hot. I lost front grip and had to lift a little. A little lift cost me like a second and a half in lap time on that lap. So I think you're going to have to keep your foot down and have a car that's able to do that, too, in traffic situations.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. Our polesitter for the Bridgestone 400 presented by Corona, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Patrick Carpentier. Patrick comes off a race which he was the winner at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago. He has two consecutive podiums. This is his first pole of the year, the fifth of his career.

Patrick, really seem to be on a roll. How do you feel about the way it's going?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: I feel really good. The team has gained momentum and everything's going well so far. We'll touch wood for the race. But it's been going great. The guys did a good job with the car today. Everybody's pretty much flat out out there. We changed the line a little bit, and tweaked it a little bit this morning. We thought we needed more speed. We gained a little bit of speed from this morning, and it made the difference.

But the guys did a good job with the car. Was pretty stable. Just kind of turning easily into the corners and scrubbing a little bit less speed. So it was good.

ERIC MAUK: You came out here. You tested fairly well. Did you think you had a shot to win the pole today?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: I knew we were going to be up in the front there in the top four. To get the pole, I'm not sure we were going to get it. We missed the last part of the practice. A couple of guys seems to be going really fast by themselves. We still made a few change that we're supposed to test at the end of the practice, and put them in the car. It worked out well. It was the right direction. Like I said, it was just scrubbing a little bit less speed. The car was fast.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. The championship point Patrick earns for winning the pole today gives him 215 on the year, and moves him into a tie for third place with Paul Tracy. We'll take questions from the media now.

Q: Give us your impression of the oval today, Sebastien.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't really know what to say. Every type of racing is different. Oval is obviously very special in its kind. You know, it's something I don't have a lot of experience with. But it's always enjoyable. And the most important thing is to try and win. So just, you know, do the best we can.

Q: Any difficulties?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Not here. For sure, the one-mile oval is something that is very difficult for me still. I still have to learn a lot of things. I still pretty much consider myself as a rookie on that kind of racing. But on the superspeedways, with big wings, it's kind of averaging the difficulty for everybody. It opens quite a lot the possibilities.

Q: You're going to run your race after the trucks run. Can you talk about the kind of track you expect after the rubber is laid out?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: It's going to be different. Every time we tested the run after the trucks, the rubber doesn't seem a hundred percent compatible. I'd say for the first stint, it's probably going to be a little bit more slippery. And like Jimmy said, I think for us the biggest difference, it's going to be more -- once everybody's going to be together, there's going to be a lot less aerodynamic pressure on the car, and I think then the car's going to start sliding around. And if you have to lift couple of times to get back down in the groove, then it's going to be a long race.

So the setup of the car for the race, even though I think we have a lot of downforce, is still going to be really important, and it's going to be important so that we're able to stay pretty much wide open for the whole stint. And that's where you're going to see the differences.

Q: Patrick and Jimmy, is it a little more special to be able to start on the pole in your second hometown?

JIMMY VASSER: You're on the pole.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: I'm on the pole. Jimmy's been here a lot longer than me. No, I'm very happy. We bought a lot of tickets. A lot of friends are coming. We got a lot of friends that do the shows, Celine Dion, Andre Philippe, few guys, the guys at karting, here and there. So it's good. A lot of guys from Ford that came, stopped by today. So, no, it's always good. Especially I go back and sleep home tonight. No planes to catch, no nothing. That's fantastic.

JIMMY VASSER: I can second that. I got a lot of family and friends in town, as well. Paul and I, as a matter of fact, had so many people, we went and purchased a suite for all our friends and people. It's going to be a pretty festive atmosphere. Like Patrick said, I'm really looking forward to getting up in the morning, sleeping in, and smelling my mom's cooking, because she's staying at my house, downstairs, going for a swim before I come out to the track late in the day.

Q: What a life.

JIMMY VASSER: What a life.

Q: Jimmy, you said you were coming up on other guys' gearboxes here. Are we going to see a lot of drafting. Is it like we used to see with the Handford devices on these things?

JIMMY VASSER: Not to that extent, no. Handford device put a big hole in the air. We had closing speeds of sometimes 10, 15 miles an hour more than the car in front. You're not going to see that. The draft here now is minimal. But you do get it, you can get a clean slingshot, it will be difficult to go around the outside. It's possible. I think you're going to be able to get side by side. But to pull it off all the way around on the outside is going to be interesting to see how possible that's going to be. I think it's going to be real difficult.

What I was alluding to earlier is to be able to come up on a pack of cars that are racing two or three wide and get right up underneath them to get the maximum slingshot advantage and still have the front grip to maneuver your car and hold it down low in the corner. That's I think what you'll see guys working on tonight in practice.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Same thing as Jimmy. But one thing with the HANS device, the Handford device, in Michigan, I remember coming out of turn four and lifting and the car kept accelerating. You aren't going to see that here.

-ccws-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy