CART Champ Car qualifying transcript from final qualifying with Adrian Fernandez, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia ERIC MAUK: Welcome to our qualifying press conference for the Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com. We are joined...
CART Champ Car qualifying transcript from final qualifying with Adrian Fernandez, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia
ERIC MAUK: Welcome to our qualifying press conference for the Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com. We are joined by two of our top three qualifiers for tomorrow's event. My name is Erik Mauk with CART Communications.
We'll start with the third place driver on tomorrow's starting grid, Oriol Servia, driver of the No. 20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford Cosworth, with the second best time of the day with a lap of 44.289 seconds, 93.477 miles per hour. Oriol starts in the top three for the third consecutive event and will be looking for his third consecutive podium. Tell us about your run.
ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you. I'm very upset to be .036 seconds back from the pole. I really wanted that. I was fastest Sunday and I think Saturday I was fastest for whatever reason in Denver and still don't have a flag. I think Adrian deserves the flag but our team with the orange colors, that's what we need. We still have the race tomorrow to go to try and get it. But the important thing was to have a good qualifying here. We all know this place, it's relatively tough to overtake and improve from where you start. We are not in a bad spot. It's a change that really opened things up for tomorrow, we have 135 laps maximum, two pit stops, so anything can happen, a lot more than what we think. We will see if we can still have a good shot to win this race tomorrow. And I'm really happy with how things have been working, last race has been fantastic, Steve (Krisiloff) has been giving me a great car. Not only that, we are able to improve it. Yesterday it was okay but today was definitely better.
But apart from that, I'm happy. I think I did a very good lap. I was happy with myself, my performance. It will be a challenging day tomorrow because there are a couple of problems that will make our life difficult. Like Turn One is a little bit bumpy and easily you can flat-spot your tires very easily. So we have to take care of that. Apart from that, I am just happy, and Adrian on his lap, I think he did an outstanding job to beat me. So I am happy for him.
ERIC MAUK: Very, very warm today. How much different was the track today from what you had to work with yesterday?
ORIOL SERVIA: It was a lot better, a lot better. You could see some black marks on the track. Yesterday we went in qualifying, at least me -- I was the fifth car out but there was no marks out at all. It's going to be really hard. I live here and I go out and train, but I'm a bit of a sleeper. Bruno, he goes and trains at 7:00 am, I go at 11:00 or noon. I am used to running in the hot weather like that.
ERIC MAUK: Second place on the grid by virtue of his Friday performance is the driver of the No. 1 PacifiCare/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Bruno Junqueira, who takes the second spot after leading Friday qualifying, 44.521 second, 92.990 miles per hour. He starts in the second spot, earning a front row starting spot for the seventh time this season. Bruno, tell us what happened out there today.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: The morning session, I was really confident that we could repeat yesterday's performance. The first lap was good, the second lap I approached a little bit harder. I knew I just had to push a little bit more. Maybe I went a little bit over the top. I really pushed hard on the last lap. I took Turn One very good, Turn Two very, very fast. When I came to Turn Three and Four, I braked through the front, just locked it a little bit, and the front of the car went a little bit towards the left side; and my right went close to the wall, I broke to the left of the inside wall and it was straight into the wall. A little bit of frustration for me, a second crash on the weekend, and I don't think there should have been any crashes. It was my last opportunity to get the pole and an extra point. I think I had a very good car and I didn't pull the lap. Maybe I push too hard to get the pole, I guess I didn't know to go that hard. I made a mistake today but I hope we can overcome it. Tomorrow is very important for me on the points, when Tracy is starting fifth or sixth and that is an opportunity that I can -- to finish in front of him and get closer on the championship.
ERIC MAUK: Your first turn on the front row is obviously a different first turn than you had to deal with last year. How do you face that tomorrow?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: For sure, going on the outside is going to be really difficult. But I hope I can keep the second position on the first turn and keep Oriol and everyone behind me at least.
ERIC MAUK: Our pole sitter is the driver of the No. 51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex, Adrian Fernandez, taking his first pole of the year with a lap of 44.253 seconds, 93.553 miles per hour, his first pole since taking the top qualifying spot at Milwaukee last season and fourth in his career. Adrian, congratulations, how does it feel to be on the pole today?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: It feels fantastic, but Bruno trains in the morning and Oriol trains in the afternoon. I spent last night at the Kid Rock show until about midnight and hung out checking out the concert, and I'm up here (laughter) . Actually we thought it was coming together here and it is good to see everything work out. Now the guys they did a fantastic job on the car, just quick, came out super fast in the rain. Actually we had some old tires this morning and ran some good times. So, I felt pretty comfortable. We made changes with the new tires and I didn't put a time on them but I knew they'd be good. Coming out of the last corner is still an issue. It's one of those things that I came into my last lap, and I knew the time that Oriol had done, so I had to push a little bit further. The grid, I went right past it, I wanted to take it flat-out. The harder you get, the more launch you get. In general, the qualifying, the tires came the way we wanted to come so it was pretty good.
ERIC MAUK: As Adrian said, the CART stewards and CART officials worked on that bump coming out of the final turn for more than three hours last night and actually ended up breaking the grinder, they were going at it so hard. They are going to go out tonight to see if they can take more off of that. Heading into that first turn tomorrow Adrian, how do approach that knowing that you have a snarling pack behind you looking to try to get you out of the way as quick as they can.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I think qualifying on pole, especially on tracks like this -- it will be very important, especially when they are so tight. I just hope that there are not too many yellows where everybody has to come bunched up after the yellow because it's so tight here. It feels tighter than Long Beach. People can get hurt because we are so on top of each other. They are on top of me, and every time I lead, you really have to be careful because the rear of the car swoops too much. But as long as we have good, clean pit stops, I think the car looks good enough to win the race tomorrow.
Q: How bad is your car, what kind of damage is it? Will you use that one or is there a backup?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Front suspension, right and left and the front wing is not really badly damaged. But I have a very good team and they are going to fix it. They are going to be ready for tomorrow.
Q: You've had can a couple of podiums and quite a few over ten finishes, too. How rewarding is this for to you run so well, particularly heading into Mexico?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: It feels very good. The problem is I think our team is ready to win the championship, the problem has been we haven't been able to have a stable engineering situation and that has not worked. We've taken a much simpler approach since a few races ago and everything is working really well. So I think things are headed in the right direction. We have been good on pit stops and the car is running really well. I have been on other very good teams, and I think our team is up there. Unfortunately when you don't find that balance, it's too late to make a run. In Denver, I came out strong on the first day and I think we had a shot at qualifying on pole there, also. I could have had a chance but it was raining. Just little things that happen like that, sometimes has put us back. But I'm very proud of my guys. The important thing is that the results are coming, maybe the consistency is still not there but I think we are getting close.
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: We have been so close to winning races, and for some reason things don't happen. There's so many elements. Oriol was in position to win a few races this year but things have happened. Bruno was in the some good situations early in the year but for some reason things were not working, but now he's winning races and all that. All you have to do is just keep working and try to massage a little bit of things and the results will come.
Q: Oriol, you have another good chance to win a race, how do you handle your race tomorrow?
ORIOL SERVIA: Actually I have my plus and minuses with everyone around me. We kind of know each other. I don't know it doesn't change anything for me. I'm out there, obviously the championship the better but as everybody knows a win is a win. I just have to do a little bit more. I still want to win because they are going to get more points obviously but at the end of the day, you know, it doesn't make a difference if Paul is behind. He still needs the points. I don't know what can I say, you should ask him. I will definitely do the best that I can and just keep pushing all the way.
Q: Adrian, ToM Anderson was in Portland and he is here in weekend. Is it a requirement that he comes to the races?
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ: I haven't spoken to him all weekend. I haven't seen him and we actually will have our first meeting tonight, but it's nice when he is here because I can focus on driving and that helps us.
ERIC MAUK: That concludes our press conference for this afternoon, thank you for attending.