CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: Friday top three qualifiers press conference

Post-Qualifying Champ Car Press Conference Transcript With Ryan Hunter-Reay, Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira Eric Mauk:: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post-qualifying press conference, opening round ...

Post-Qualifying Champ Car Press Conference Transcript
With Ryan Hunter-Reay, Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira

Eric Mauk:: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post-qualifying press conference, opening round of qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, presented by the Chicago Tribune, round eight of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. My name is Eric Mauk, Champ Car news manager.

We are joined by our top three qualifiers from today's session, starting with the third-place driver, your defending champion here at Road America, a man who is no stranger to success here. He finishes third in the opening day with a best lap of 1:44.529 seconds, 139.414 miles per hour, driver of the #6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno, fairly eventful session for you. How do you feel about how it went?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, it was kind of difficult. I mean, I guess I have a problem with the gearbox, and it didn't downshift very well. On the first set of tires, on my first time lap, I went to downshift in turn one and didn't downshift. I went up a gear taller throughout turn one and I went wide on the grass, then the red came out.

Second set of tires, I did my second lap, I did like I think 1:44.5, 1:44.0, and at that time 1:44.0 was the best. I said, "Okay, maybe I'm on the pole, but now it's time to push." I went through turn one, downshifted one gear, downshifted the second one, and it didn't downshift. Then I went to the taller gear and I thought I not going to make like the previous thing. Then I try to downshift again, really make a lot of effort. And the car downshifted but it went down two gears and I spun.

I'm a little bit frustrated, because not I spun because I was pushing the car and I just lost it, just because of a gear thing, and spinning, almost crashed. It was a shame that I lost my best lap. Especially I think I was just starting my best lap at that time when the tires were up to temp. I still finished third. But I feel that we have to improve a little bit the car. Doesn't feel good as last year. But I'm sure that the PacifiCare team is going to work tonight and we going to be strong tomorrow.

Eric Mauk:: This is Bruno's fourth race here in the Champ Cars at Road America. He has finished on the podium in each of the previous three starts. He has led at least 10 laps in each of those three previous starts as well. Tell the media, if you would, what it is about this racetrack that seems to fit your driving style.

Bruno Junqueira: I mean, Road America is my favorite racetrack. I love it. It is where I have had a lot of success. But I love it because it's a proper, long, high-speed corners road track. First time I was here testing 2001, I said, "This track is great." I enjoy.

I mean, for sure it fits my style because down in Brazil and in Europe, I always drove on those kinds of tracks. Is the kind of track I enjoy every moment. I mean, every time I come here to Road America, I put a big smile on my face and enjoy the moment. It's really frustrating. I always do well here. It's frustrating not to put a really fast lap. That's maybe the nicest part of the year, is when I go qualifying, put four sets of new Bridgestone tires, try to put a fast lap. Today I run short of that. I'm a little bit frustrated. But we have tomorrow. Hope we can do better tomorrow.

Eric Mauk:: Good luck tomorrow. Our second place qualifier on the day, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Patrick Carpentier. Patrick finishes second on the day with a time of 1:44.076 seconds, 140.021 miles per hour. You battled for that pole all session long. You come up just a little short. You're standing second. How do you feel about how things went today?

Patrick Carpentier: It feels pretty good. I'm very happy. We changed the car completely from the 15-minute practice to qualifying. Changed the front, the rear, everything. The car was sliding a little bit too much. It was a good improvement. I was hoping to keep the pole there. If the red flag would have been a little bit earlier would have been good, or a little bit later, 'cause we think there would have been quite a few guys in the 43's if we would have kept going. So we think we have a good car, though, for tomorrow.

But here if you get a red flag, it's very costly because it takes so long to do a lap. You only do a few laps. And just to do five laps takes seven or eight minutes. The chance of getting a red flag is pretty high, and that's why we went really early in the session. That's when we did the lap.

Eric Mauk:: Like you mentioned, a lot of guys only got five or six laps in because of the red flag. Do you expect tomorrow to see a lot more guys getting out there earlier or not?

Patrick Carpentier: I don't know. Maybe so. But in Vancouver, it worked out for the guys that went out earlier. Here seems to have worked out today again. So some place with the red flags and the way it plays out towards the end of the session, the guys are really pushing hard to put a lap in, and there's more chance for a mistake, and you get a little bit more traffic, get more frustrated.

So sometimes I think on tracks like that, I don't think whether you go early or late it makes very much of a difference. I think the track just has grip and doesn't gain much grip throughout the session. So tomorrow I think you'll see people going out all the time during the qualifying.

Eric Mauk:: All right. Best of luck tomorrow. Our provisional polesitter, leader of first day qualifying, driver of the #4 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ryan Hunter-Reay sat on pole at the Milwaukee Mile two months ago, led every lap there, went on to take the win. He leads today's qualifying with a time of 1:43.909 seconds, a speed of 140.246 miles per hour. Ryan, you lock yourself into that front row starting spot for Sunday. How do you feel about the way the day went?

Ryan Hunter-Reay: It's great really. The best thing is that front row starting spot. The day has been a struggle for us really. We started out the first session, all we did was a bunch of in-and-out laps. We didn't really get any time on the track for many reasons. My teammate had a rear wing failure, so we made sure that that wasn't going to happen on my car. It's an important thing, especially on such a high-speed track like this.

So we took the time, made sure the car was okay to go out. Then we just had everything go wrong. The radio didn't work, the pit lane speed limiter didn't work. A whole bunch of stuff. We got through that, went into the warm-up, the car had huge understeer. So we had to develop it further. Pat had the same thing. We both really changed our cars for qualifying.

And the car just got so much better my first run out in qualifying, and then it still had huge understeer. Then we changed it again a lot. And in I think -- I was only on my second lap there when the red came out, second or third lap, but the car was going faster and faster. It was coming down. I know I would have gone a lot quicker if I would have kept going in that run. It's a great job by the team to turn around the day like that. The best thing is, you know, it worked out to where we're now starting on the front row on Sunday.

We had a great test here when we came here just prior to the Milwaukee race. So this area has been great to me. The state has been good to me. Hopefully it will continue that way. So, yeah, look forward to it. Look forward to making the car a lot better tomorrow.

Eric Mauk:: You've got some experience here, you ran in the Atlantics. Obviously, you competed here last year. How tough is it to put together a good lap here? It's a high-speed track but there are a lot of places that can catch you out.

Ryan Hunter-Reay: Yeah, there is. This track is the best track in the United States, in America, by far. It's phenomenal. This is what I feel jealous about for the European series, you know, like Formula 1 and those series when they get to run on tracks like this. I can't even tell you how rewarding it is when you get the car right and you can really feel it through the corners, these high-speed corners at 130 miles an hour through the middle of the corner, it's really unbelievable to get it right. That's what feels really, really good, when you get it right on this track.

You're right. If you get too gritty here, it's real easy to throw it away. And you watch the time coming down on your dash, you're thinking, "Man, I can get a little bit more here and there." And then, boom, you're stuck in a sand trap. It's an easy thing to do. It's such a rewarding racetrack and it's for sure the most fun by far in a Champ Car.

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

Q: Ryan, it's got to be also encouraging because you've kind of struggled a little bit in the recent races, the street races. To be back on the pace in a road course has got to be an encouraging thing from your point of view.

Ryan Hunter-Reay: Yeah, it is, for sure. I look forward to all the road courses, the open road courses like this. The street circuits this year, we've been just struggling for front grip. I mean, it's been horrendous for us so far. We're making some progress. We're getting there bit by bit. But it's been a tough uphill progress for us.

We came here and we got the time to test our bits. It goes to show, when we actually go get a good car, it's in the top. So, you know, like you say, it is great to be up here on a road course, and especially most of all at Road America. So I hope that tomorrow we can go a lot quicker and be back up here again talking to you folks.

Q: How much time do you think it was on the track this afternoon? Sebastien did a very quick lap this morning. Nobody got anywhere near that.

Bruno Junqueira: I guess Sebastien's very quick lap this morning wasn't right. He had a problem. He think the car can go faster. That's very strange, but that's what happened. I don't know. I think could run 43.5. I don't know. For sure not 42.9. Even Sebastien couldn't run that.

Patrick Carpentier: Sebastien's lap, he made 6/10ths this morning on a couple hundred feet early on the front straightaway. We figured that there was something there (laughter).

Eric Mauk:: All right, final qualifying tomorrow will start at 1:45. We'll set the grid for Sunday's race. Thank you very much.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Ryan Hunter-Reay