CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi winner Bruno Junqueira press conference, Part I

CART Media Teleconference Presented by Worldcom April, 30, 2002 An Interview with Bruno Junqueira Part 1 of 2 - Bruno on Motegi and Indy 500 Merrill Cain: Thanks for joining us on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain...

CART Media Teleconference Presented by Worldcom
April, 30, 2002

An Interview with Bruno Junqueira

Part 1 of 2 - Bruno on Motegi and Indy 500

Merrill Cain: Thanks for joining us on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with CART public relations, and we're happy to be joined this afternoon by our latest race winner in the CART FedEx Championship Series, Bruno Junqueira of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who captured the checkered flag in Saturday's Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Motegi, Japan.

Bruno, thanks for joining us this afternoon.

Bruno Junqueira: Thank you.

Merrill Cain: Bruno's win at Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday was his second career CART victory, the first coming last season at Road America and it was his first oval victory in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The win completed a superb weekend effort for the No. 4 crew of Target Chip Ganassi Racing as that Target Loyola Bridgestone was at the top of the timing chart at the end of each day, including qualifying which saw Bruno capture his second career pole position.

With the points earned from the pole and the race victory, Bruno moves up to fifth place in the season point standings with 23 on the year, and he now trails only points leader Dario Franchitti, Michel Jourdain, Jr., Cristiano da Matta and Alex Tagliani in the CART FedEx Championship Series after three rounds in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

And with that, we will now open it up for questions for Bruno.

Q: You are coming off a win on an oval and now you get to look forward to another oval at Indianapolis. I'm wondering, from where you're sitting at, can you talk a little bit about that field? It seems like it would be a little bit intimidating.

Bruno Junqueira: I think it was a very good race to win, this race at Motegi. First because I think it was one of the most important CART races of the year; it was really important for Toyota to win that race.

And that's the last race, and it's an oval race before Indianapolis. That's going to boost up the team, Target and myself, for this month of May. I think that's going to give me a lot of confidence for this race.

And I'm not intimidated. I think I did a good race at Indianapolis (in 2001). I finished fifth. I think this year's experience, and I will have time on the car to practice and to make a good car for me for the qualifying for the race, I think I can do better than last year.

Merrill Cain: Just to clarify, Bruno, along with a number of other CART drivers, will be competing in the Indianapolis 500 at the end of May.

Bruno, I know you will be doing some testing there. I think you have done some testing there. Can you tell us how testing for Indy is going and what you're looking forward to as the event approaches?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, I did test before I went to Japan just to make sure that the car was ready for this month of May. I ran pretty good laps, faster than last year's qualifier, or faster than last year's pole. But I think this year, everybody is going to go much faster than last year, anyway.

The car is looking good. I think Target is a very good team. We have a good car and going to try to win this race again as the team did in 2000.

Q: Getting back to Indianapolis just for a second, will you be sharing notes with the IRL team that Ganassi is running? Is that part of the operation? Is Jeff (Ward), in fact, Jeff's team, sharing notes on setups for your G4 Chevrolet?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, for sure. You are just one team, really. Going to be me, Jeff and Kenny (Brack).

I think one of the good things about Team Target is that we are one team and you share everything between the drivers, between the engineers. I'm sure that they are going to learn a lot. They are going to learn with us, as well, because I think we have good cars for the last two years on the Speedway, and I think we're going to try to be competitive as we can.

We'll be three shots during the race. I think Kenny already won the race once, Jeff finished second, I think in '99, and then I already finished fifth in my first race. I think we are going to have three shots to win the race. So let's see if one of these guys can win the race.

Q: With three ovals in a row, essentially, because you go to Milwaukee after, do you see that as an advantage for you? Now you have a chance to -- by the time you hit the Milwaukee Mile, you will have two ovals in a row. So do you feel good about the Target Team Ganassi's chances going into Milwaukee?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, that's really good, because you pretty much put yourself in an oval mode. Like do three oval races in a row; that's going to be good.

But another thing, on the CART series, it's really difficult because we have to be good on all kinds of tracks. Like you're going to be testing in Milwaukee -- in Milwaukee, we're going to be testing Mid-Ohio and Portland on the month of May; that's our road courses. So I think you have to be able to go to ovals and after that road courses with no problem.

But that's going to be good to have three races on ovals in a row. When I go to Milwaukee, I will be ready, ready to go.

Q: Would you classify this as a bigger win than your first win at Road America last year?

Bruno Junqueira: It's difficult to say because every time that we win, it's usually our biggest win. You are feeling if -- I think, for sure, this win was the biggest win for Toyota. I think it was for them the best thing they could have was to win in Japan.

For me, it's really important, because early on in the season, it puts me in a good position on the points championship and gives a lot of -- gives me a lot of courage to go and race Indianapolis, and confidence. I think that this win came at the right time to prepare myself for Indianapolis.

Q:  Speaking of Indy, last year you were kind of forced to wait until the
second weekend to qualify.  It was the last minute, because Chip waited
until he had his two primary drivers qualified.  This year, that won't be
the case.  Does that take a lot of pressure off you?

Bruno Junqueira: No. I think this year -- I don't care about pressure, but this put pressure on me because I see it as a close race and everything that I did was a bonus.

But this year, yes, I'm going to pressure myself because I want to work hard this whole month, and I want to work hard and get the win. Last year, I really just came and sat in the car and drove four laps and qualified, and after, I went to the race. I was really happy to finish fifth without working that hard, but now I want to work hard, but I want to get the better result than last year.

Q: A lot of people picked your teammate, Kenny Brack, to be the champion this year. You've been performing pretty well against him this year. Do you measure yourself against Kenny, in terms of your performance? Is that how you measure yourself?

Bruno Junqueira: I think Kenny is a very good driver. He was a little bit unlucky in the first race, but for sure he's a tough contender to this championship. He finished second last year, and I don't know how he lost the championship. Because myself, I thought he would win more races, win everything. The guy that finished first is not in the championship anymore; then naturally he is the top contender. I think he will be strong. He is a very good driver. I'm working really hard to be on his level.

But on the other hand, I want to perform as well, not just against him, but against everybody. Lots of drivers think, "Oh, I have to beat my teammate and then I will be fine." I don't think about that. I want to beat everybody and win the race, because if I finish ninth and my teammate finishes tenth, I'm not going to be happy.

Q: Last year when you were at Texas, you were quite taken aback with that track and the speed, like the rest of us were, and to me you didn't seem real comfortable on the ovals. Are you getting a bit more comfortable on the ovals?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, it's like I think if you look, Texas, that race wasn't ready for CART, I think. But after Texas, my next oval, my first oval race, was Nazareth and I started on the pole. I think I was really comfortable for a beginner because Team Target give me a lot of oval track time to run by myself, to do qualify laps.

But on the other hand, the race is different. You race with turbulence, with a lot of people on the track and it's really different. And I think that after just one year racing on this kind of track, I got experience. You're not ever going to be really comfortable running behind someone. And the car feels really light; it's not comfortable out there. But now I know what I have to do. I know how much I have to push and how fast I can go when I am behind someone, when I am in traffic, and that's just experience that I got.

I think, yes, I'm more comfortable this year, but I have more experience. I know pretty much what I have to do to get a better result.

Q: Are you going back to Indy -- everybody who lives in the United States has this history about Indianapolis and holds it in high regard. Have you learned any of the history of Indianapolis over the past year, and are you understanding more about the traditions that surround that particular race?

Bruno Junqueira:  Yes.  I live here in Indianapolis and I pretty much know
how big this race is.  Since I was a kid I used to watch Emerson
(Fittipaldi) racing here.  I remember '89 the first time I watch him the
first time that he won his race, and in Brazil.  That race is really big.

Being an Indianapolis citizen, living here, I know exactly how big it is and gives more input to try to win my home race because I live here.

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Ovals, Team Target and a lap of Indy Part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Dario Franchitti , Kenny Brack , Chip Ganassi , Michel Jourdain
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing