CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Top three qualifiers press conference, part I

An interview with Cristiano Da Matta Dario Franchitti Bruno Junqueira Part 1 of 2 Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We'll start out with Bruno Junqueira this afternoon in final qualifying for tomorrow's Molson Indy in ...

An interview with
Cristiano Da Matta
Dario Franchitti
Bruno Junqueira

Part 1 of 2

Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We'll start out with Bruno Junqueira this afternoon in final qualifying for tomorrow's Molson Indy in Montreal.

Bruno Junqueira joins us, driver of the #4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. He takes the third qualifying spot this afternoon with a best lap of 1:19.347 at a speed of 122.908 miles per hour, marking the ninth time this season he has qualified in the top five. Target Chip Ganassi Racing has top-five efforts in all but two races, with Bruno representing very well for the team.

Bruno, talk about your qualifying effort this afternoon. It was an interesting session with the long red flag. Was it tough to get back up the speed after a long down time?

Bruno Junqueira: When I was on the pole I just thought, 'why are we stopped now?' When I first got out on the first set [of tires], I got a really good run. And I've been having problems with the brakes all weekend, but after this morning's practice, we found a problem. I think everybody is having problems braking because braking is very difficult on this track. But I was having a little bit more than usual. Because with the all of those brake marks, I tried to carry [speed] into the corner and it changed a lot of things on the brake system for qualifying. It was a big gamble because you don't know if it's going to work or not. Luckily, the car works much better, and on the first set, I got a good lap.

On the second set of tires, I was behind da Matta and I had a very good lap. I'm not going to make excuses, but a very funny thing happened. I saw a squirrel and I kind of lost a little bit of concentration, and not just concentration, I was hoping to keep that very fast lap. The shame was that I damaged the car and lost da Matta, too. Then on the next lap, I did my best lap by myself, and we all know, with a long straight you get behind a fast car so you can get a couple of tenths faster.

I think it's okay. I think it's a little bit frustrating to drop to third, but after all of the problems that I had today and yesterday, I'm quite pleased with the job that Team Target did to improve the braking on my car. It's difficult to control.

Merrill Cain: You've had a few problems during the course of the weekend. You still have to feel pretty good with the car that you have going into the race, don't you?

Bruno Junqueira: I think we have to do a little bit for the race to try to put pressure on Cristiano. I think today he was a little bit faster. But I think on the qualifier, everything starts from zero for me because I was having so many problems this morning and yesterday in qualifying. And especially this morning, I couldn't attack the corner. I couldn't get speed into the corners, and then one of the engineers asked how the balance of the car was. I said the balance is good, because I'm not carrying speed through the corner. I just can't stop the car and I'm having problems braking. Now I can brake better and I started to feel some balance shift in the car and when I tried to fix it.

Merrill Cain: We'll take questions for Bruno.

Q: Seriously, how about overtaking tomorrow, where do you see overtaking places in the race?

Bruno Junqueira: I mean, it's a long straight here. You get to the first corner before that straight pin and it makes it possible. You just have to get really close to the guy in front of you. But the problem is if you go to Turn 14, two cars cannot go side by side in that turn because of the chicane. It is not too fast off of the chicane, but you can't go side by side because you have to pass before the braking. That's what makes it a little bit difficult to pass.

On the other hand, I think this track has been really difficult on braking. I think it is going to be quite easy for everyone to make a mistake.

Merrill Cain: We're joined by Dario Franchitti, driver of the #27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone. He will start on the outside of the front row tomorrow after putting up a best lap of 1:19.334 at a speed of 122.980 miles per hour. That puts him on the front row of the grid for the third time this season and the first time since he won the pole earlier this year at Cleveland.

Talk about your qualifying efforts. At one point you were at the top of the charts. It was certainly an interesting last few laps out there qualifying with a lot of action.

Dario Franchitti: Yeah, after the weekend, it was hard, but I feel we had a pretty good result today. We really struggled with the car all weekend. I think we made some definite gains this morning. We were on pretty old tires, so we didn't know how it was going to translate into a qualifying car. It was just standard work to make an engine change, because I over-revved it this morning, between practice and qualifying.

I managed to get a pretty reasonable lap early in the session.  I'm
surprised.  I actually made a big mistake at the hairpin.

We got a pretty good lap early on with the second set of tires and then I started to experiment on the chicane to just see how much curb I could get away with, and how much speed I could carry and that kind of stuff. I'd get two or three right back in the thing. I never managed to adjust, so I was always a little quicker through one and I'd make a mistake and I was just trying to gain some more time from somewhere, but it wasn't there. So I was very happy to be second today with the struggles we've had all weekend.

Q: Just one question for Bruno. Have you ever had an animal run on the track in front of you before?

Bruno Junqueira:  A lot of times, (laughter), like when I used to race
go-karts.  One of the normal things is having dogs go along the track in
Brazil.  That's standard.

Q: Racing in Montreal, racing on a Formula 1 track and with what you are driving, do you have any feelings or sensations that you were in Formula 1?

Dario Franchitti: Absolutely not. The only sensation I have is that I am driving my Champ Car and I am pretty happy doing that.

I think these cars are a lot of fun to drive, and I'm enjoying doing that.

Q: I wanted to ask how the reaction is with the fans and the crowd. I think the stands were pretty full today.

Dario Franchitti: Yeah, again. That's pretty impressive when you see the stands being full and the reaction the fans have, in particular, for the Player's [Forsythe Racing] guys, which is understandable. It's great to see that, to see a passion like that from the fans is amazing.

You know, as drivers, we like to see people enjoying the sport.  What can
you say?  It's everything I expected it would be.

Merrill Cain: Cristiano da Matta joins us, the pole winner for tomorrow's Molson Indy Montreal. Driver of the #6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. He wins the pole with a best lap here of 1:18.959, a speed of 123.512 miles per hour, which establishes a new event record here in Montreal for the CART FedEx Championship Series. Cristiano's last three laps were each good enough to give him the pole position, and it's his sixth pole this season, giving him another championship point on the year. That brings his total is now 145 points for the season and widens his series lead to 44 points over Patrick Carpentier and Bruno Junqueira.

It seems like on those last three laps you were just trying to top your own effort. It has to feel good.

Cristiano Da Matta: It feels good, but I also didn't know what was coming behind me because I knew Bruno and Dario were on new tires. The guys on the team tried to talk to me, but they couldn't. So I didn't know when I did the first 19.1 [1:19.000]. I didn't know how far behind everybody else was, or if I was close enough [to the pole] or if I was in last. I saw on the board that I was P1 [position one] at the time, but I didn't know what was going to be the next lap on the board, so I kept pushing. The countdown for the qualifying time stopped working on the clock beside me in the car. So I figured I'd better push it until I see the checkered flag. So I kept going. I was very fortunate in my run because I didn't have any traffic. It was just clear from the beginning to the end, so I have nothing to complain about.

It was perfect a qualifying run. The tires were there and I was able to hit the tire pressures all at the same time. I had enough laps and enough fuel to go all the way to the end, so my only concern was to push it.

-cart-

Top qualifiers press conference, part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Dario Franchitti , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing