CHAMPCAR/CART: Milwaukee: Top three qualifiers press conference

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA AND A.J. ALLMENDINGER ERIC MAUK: Welcome to our Champ Car qualifying for the Time-Warner Cable Road Runner 225 here at the Milwaukee Mile, Round 4 of...

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, BRUNO JUNQUEIRA AND A.J. ALLMENDINGER

ERIC MAUK: Welcome to our Champ Car qualifying for the Time-Warner Cable Road Runner 225 here at the Milwaukee Mile, Round 4 of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We will be joined by all three of our top qualifiers, Bruno Junqueira will be making it in momentarily. Before we get officially started, I would like to introduce Joe Barbieri from Bridgestone who will be giving the Bridgestone Pole Position Award to Sebastien Bourdais.

JOE BARBIERI: Congratulations. It pleases us very much to have a pole here in Milwaukee for your team, first time in a in a long time -- first time in 11 years. How old were you? Congratulations.

ERIC MAUK: Along with this trophy, Sebastien will be awarded $5,000 on behalf of Bridgestone and also $2,500 on behalf of the Hole In The Wall Camps. Congratulations. You brought a little different tire this weekend. Tell us how things are going for you.

JOE BARBIERI: It's going to be interesting to hear some of the drivers' comments after qualifying. But we did bring a new construction, new compound to this event. Although it was a pretty good race last year we decided to make a few changes with compounding, construction engineers, and Bridgestone did a heck of a job we think and it should be a exciting race for tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: This is Sebastien's third Bridgestone Pole Position Award of the year, and also puts him in the lead obviously for the end of year Bridgestone Pole Position Award which is a $20,000 award given to the driver and his crew chief. We'll start with our third place qualifier, driver of the #10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger puts up a best time of 21.398 seconds, 173.624 miles per hour. This marks the fourth time that A.J. has started in the top four. So you have three fours, going which is a nice little start.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I'm really enjoying the second row, getting used to that.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about your run.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yesterday was a little bit of a struggle as we tried to learn the new tires. So today the team did a great job to really work on it and practice really good. And qualifying, we just got I think just a bit too loose, so I was pretty pleased to be able to come out third, and, you know, just kinds of hang on to it. The last lap was a bit exciting, so I knew after the first lap I was probably like T-4, T-5, so to get up to P-1 at that point at second lap, I was happy with.

ERIC MAUK: A.J. has finished top five in both of his previous Champ Car starts here, and with the previous results, do you feel a little extra confidence coming into this weekend?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I think so. I've learned how to race here and what it takes to do the whole race and figure out how to maintain your tires and everything like that. So, with that said, if we can just have a good start and really warm up tomorrow and work on the balance, I think we probably have a better race car right now than we do qualifying car. So that's exciting and just keep working on it and get a good start, and it's a long race.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations and good luck tomorrow.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Starting on the outside of the front row, driver of the #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno puts up a best lap of 21.275 seconds, 174.627 miles per hour, his second front row start of the 2006 season, his best-ever starting spot here at Milwaukee. And Bruno you had to go a little overtime today, but you did it, you had one lap to use and you got in the second spot with it. Tell us about your run.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It was a mixed emotion today. This morning we started really well. My Newman/Haas car was quite fast, unfortunately, low-speed lap I ended up crashing and going up to speed when the tires already hot, slow down and try again. It was a shame because the car was really, really good and the car that we tested yesterday for the long run, it was great. But I was quite happy that I had a big crash and I had no problems at all in my back, so a little bit mixed emotion on that.

Then I went to qualify, and the backup car, did not have all the parts that we had on the primary car but still guess a little bit at the setup, make sure the car has a little bit more understeer, and with the car being quite loose, I just drove around and didn't really want to push, and I had just one lap, I was very conservative, especially three and four. But it was good, I end up in second position, front row. So I hope I can do it with the race tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us about the new Bridgestone tires here, tell us how the tires feel from your standpoint?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: The Bridgestone tires are really good. Yesterday put some laps on the tires, and I had no problems at all. They are pretty consistent and for sure, they did a good job. I think it's been better than in the past. In the past the tires always fall off a little bit, but at least here today my car was consistent throughout the run, so I'm quite happy with that.

ERIC MAUK: Good run today. Best of luck tomorrow.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Bridgestone Pole Position Award for the Time-Warner Cable Roadrunner 225, driver the No. 1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola for Cosworth Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien puts up a time of 21.182 seconds, 175.394 miles per hour, third pole of the year, 21st pole of his career putting him in sole potion of ninth place on the all-time Champ Car list ahead of Gordon Johncock. He also gets a championship point for leading today's qualifying, giving him 103 for the year widening his lead over Justin Wilson to 26 points. And Sebastien, you run one lap you put up a 21.1 and pretty much showed them what you had right out of the gate. How do you feel about how it went?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think I'm very happy, very happy for me and for the team. This team has been struggling quite a bit here, especially during the race. But still, it really never is a smooth ride, so I just really enjoyed it. This morning looked just like Bruno, the car really started strong and I was a little bit chicken to start with and didn't feel like we had the balance exactly right there.

So I took it easy and guys kept on crashing and it's, you know, for me doesn't really add a whole lot of experience. When I go back out I'm always wondering from there's going to be something wrong with the track. So I just took it a little easier and I took a little bit extra time to kind of bring myself up to speed and it paid off. I mean, we made some nice changes and the car came to us; the track came us to, too, and after that, we were fairly confident that the car was going to be good for qualifying, which happened.

We were right where we wanted to be, and you know, I looked at the last time, I knew I could do a little bit better but in the meantime, there's no need to be 3/10s, 4/10s ahead of everybody. If you're taking chances to achieve that, and I knew the second lap was going to be a little bit riskier, I just decided that, you know, it really might be a little painful.

So we just called it a day and I'm very happy with what we got. Especially very happy for Bruno because I think he's had the toughest beginning of the season that I've seen for a long time. And not that he's not been fast; just he's had terrible luck and this morning was not a very good example. As he said his car wasn't exactly what it was supposed to be, but still to be on the first row, very happy for the team and very happy for Bruno, and hopefully we can have a clean and nice and smooth race tomorrow and solid finish.

ERIC MAUK: Yesterday you were the quickest in the afternoon session, but you still after the session were kind of guarded and didn't want to get too optimistic. Does today's performance give you a little more confidence; a little more optimistic headed into tomorrow?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think confidence leads to be overconfident and this place bites you when you do that. So I'd rather be a little conservative and think, you know, we might have a little bit of work ahead of us and kind of take it small step by small step, rather than just going at it and making a big mistake and hurting myself. So at the end of the day, I'm fairly confident with what we've got, but we'll see where we're at and that's just going to try and stay concentrated all weekend and you know, just get the job done, really.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll take questions from the media now.

Q: Bruno, what happened in your crash?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I just put my first set -- start the day with new tires. I just put my first set of new tires, and I did a couple of laps. The second one still was at that time a good lap, not my best lap, there was a little bit of traffic, and I saw two guys in front of me. So I slow down on the back straight there, was nobody behind me. So turn three, a little bit through turn three, I start to accelerate again to go up to speed to start another lap. I did turn three, I was on turn four, it was already full throttle and just stepped out in front of me. Really, real strange feeling, actually. Didn't race as much, I've been racing in America for six years but I have like 17 or 18 oval race, first time ever apart from the start here, but first time ever running that I crash, a part, or engine blows up. Pretty strange feeling, here I'm stepping out and not a lot you can do.

So it was important because I wasn't like on the first lap. For sure I was trying to start the lap well because we're on new tires and the car was pretty good. I think once we were up to speed, I would never crash because the car still had a little bit of understeer and still left a little bit of mark on the car, but feel a shame for the guys but at least we recover well from that.

Q: Did the SAFER walls help?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I mean it was a hard crash but it wasn't as hard when I crashed at the start of the race and it wasn't as hard as when I crashed in Indy. I don't know, that's actually my fourth time that I crashed on an oval. It's pretty hard but painful, I did not hurt anything. The only thing I had is I bite my tongue, that's it. I got a little bit of blood on my tongue, that's it. It hurts. (Laughter) I'm sure that tomorrow I'll wake up sore, but it's part of the job.

Q: Bruno, how was your car for qualifying?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, this is just two laps and the car was very, very loose. It's strange because we set up the car, we did not have the same parts, so have to kind of guess. But set up the car that's supposed to be understeer, so at the same time we were hoping to get top five, top six, whatever, and pretty loose and then stop and have some changes went out and the car is still a little bit loose. My best lap was a little bit loose.

Q: Bruno are you pleased about getting your backup car and still running second?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, a little bit because I know that I have my primary car for maybe challenge Sebastien for the pole. It's hard. It's a mixed feeling; I'm in the pole, but I could be in the hospital because of the crash. You know, it's like I'm P-2, I cannot complain. At the end of the day I'm happy with the result.

Q: The veterans seem to be having more trouble than the rookies so far? Is there anything to that?

@!BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think this oval is really hard, especially turn four, the way it is today, because you have a tailwind going like this direction that actually gets the back of the car on the exit of turn four. So sometimes the car has understeer in turn one, in turn two, turn three, and then came out of turn four and it just steps out of you. But being experienced or not, it's hard to say. For sure it makes it a little bit easier, but one of the reasons of my crash maybe -- I mean, I try -- I was slower, but you still want to start the lap fast. So because I have so much confidence, you know, it's probably like I go down -- inaudible -- I have confidence to just slow down one lap and go fast on the next one so, that can be -- I don't know what happens with that.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think the truth is when the rookie sees the veteran guys starting to crash all over the place, it's really kind of difficult, so they are going to take it easy a little bit.

Q: Do you guys have good cars for tomorrow?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: A.J. felt like he had a pretty good car and we both felt like we had a good car yesterday, so we'll see where we're at. You're always kind of guessing. You have things that go right for and you the next day it's not right anymore. The conditions, the wind and everything is having a huge effect on your setup. So, yeah, we'll see how it goes. Yeah, I think the Newman/Haas team did a good job.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yesterday my car was really good on this long run, full tank and I could run right behind Tracy's car. But unfortunately I crash my car, so this other car is not going to have all the parts maybe. It will be different. It's a different car, so going to be a little bit of a guess. You cannot put the straight test up on a fast car to this car.

But I think Newman/Haas is such a great team that they are going to give me a good race car. And again, what Sebastien said again, the team did a very good job. We've been struggling at this track before, and last year we were a little bit better and this year, I mean, we seem to be even better. So at least we have the qualifying and let's see for the race. I hope we can have good speed for the race as well.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I agree, but I think the RuSPORT team is doing a good job -- that's the only thing I agree with. I'm not part of that team, so I can't say that the Newman/Haas team is doing a good job. So the RuSPORT seem is doing a good job, and the rest of it I agree with.

Q: Are you going to be able to race tomorrow?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Even if I didn't think so, I wouldn't sit here and tell them that I couldn't. Yeah, we're going to go race with them.

Q: What do you guys expect from Paul Tracy tomorrow?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: So what happened? Because we don't know. That's the thing, you know, you never really know quite what to expect. So if his car is good tomorrow, you can expect it pretty smooth or you call it whatever you want. He's going to go for the race, everybody knows that, he's very good in the first two laps, he's going to gain position. But if the car is not right and he tries and he spins it, well, he's going to hit the wall. We'll see what happens. It can go either way. I think it looks like the Forsythe team has been struggling quite a bit. We'll see how good Tracy will be tomorrow. Things can kind of turn around between poles, and I think we understand what's going on and we have a good knowledge of the setup and we can only worry about what we've done and what we'll be doing tomorrow. After that, yeah, I was very surprised that Tracy got caught like that because with the kind of experience that he's got, you know, he'd be high up, but it just shows how difficult this whole thing is, really. It's just when you think you've got it, don't expect it.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think Sebastien and Bruno said it the best. The biggest deal right now is the wind, and the wind is playing havoc with the racetrack. And, you know, as Bruno said, I've been experiencing it the last two days. Through one and two, the car feels really good because the wind is kind of a headwind and sitting on your front wing and helping your car turn and your car stick. Through three it feels pretty good, and middle of three it all changes on you.

They said it the best, and that's -- you're going to experience that the whole race. And if the wind is like this tomorrow with dirty air behind cars and having to judge that, I think you're going to see a lot of cars that are moving around and probably a lot of passing and probably a lot of mistakes. So, you know, the best thing you can do is try to get an overall balance of both corners and just stay cautious and plan your moves out and just try to save your tires as best you can during the race.

Q: How quickly will the tires be coming up to speed?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You can't really say that. You put a new set of tires and you try to put a good lap together and sometimes you overshoot the thing and spin it. It's so easy, it's like a very, very fine line, especially at the end of the day. So it really doesn't have anything to do with how quickly you start or a balance thing. I guess A.J. felt he was coming in pretty quickly because he took the third time by.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I couldn't hold my breath that long, I wanted to get it over as soon as possible.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: To me I think Tracy showed it very well. I was surprised he took his time. You can stand on it, if you feel really confident, you can stand on it, just take it easy on three and four and one and two you're all right.

Q: Are there two grooves on this track?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Only way to use your groove is like (makes motion with hands). The truth is, you can run side-by-side for the first 20 laps -- and you should try, you need to pass and commit before you get to the corner otherwise you just -- you dig in yourself. Make we can pass a back marker but not racing for position. I think as I said, it's like on the limit to get the spot.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Ask Tracy how it feels like side by side when you push the button between three and four. I tried to and it doesn't really work so good past 40 laps, so not a good idea.

ERIC MAUK: If you have that on video, I need to have Bruno's explanation. (Laughter.) Thanks a lot, we go racing tomorrow at one o'clock. Thank you.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Gordon Johncock