CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: Top three qualifiers press conference, part 1

Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America Final Bridgestone Pole Qualifying Press Conference Transcript An interview with: DAN CLARKE SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS CHARLES ZWOLSMAN ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started...

Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America Final Bridgestone Pole Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

An interview with:
DAN CLARKE
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN

ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference, final round qualifying, Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, round 12 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Before we get started, I'd like to introduce Mr. Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone Motorsports to come up and give the Bridgestone Pole Position Award to Dan Clarke.

(Presentation.)

ERIC MAUK: Mr. Speyer, if you would, Bridgestone has had quite a challenge this weekend. It's dry, it's wet, it's dry, wet. Keeping you on your toes. Tell us about the performance, how things have worked out for you this weekend.

AL SPEYER: I don't think it's much of a challenge for us. I think it's a big challenge for the drivers and team dealing with the different conditions. We kind of sit back and watch everybody.

It is unique in that we're going into tomorrow's race, and I don't think any team has put significant laps on the alternate tires. That's going to be another challenge for them as well. I hope it's dry tomorrow.

Going into a little bit more depth, Dan and Charles yesterday put on dry tires right at the end of the session. Still a little wet out there. I'm a little surprised no other team tried that. They ended up about two seconds quicker than anybody else. It underscores just how important tire selection still is in the series, and how much of a difference tires can make in different changing conditions. I just wish them all the best of luck tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: While I've got you here, let's talk a little bit about Bridgestone stepped up, made a commitment to the recovery efforts for Cristiano da Matta, put together a great race package for a family to bid on eBay. We have our award winners here today.

AL SPEYER: Ron Dooley is here. He presented the pole flag award to Dan Clarke. They were the winners on the eBay bid for Cristiano da Matta, raised over $1400 through that effort. We're trying to give them a special view of Champ Car activities. Turns out they're very big Champ Car fans. We auctioned off some tires, a special bicycle last night. Tomorrow during the race we're going to be presenting Cristiano's neurosurgeon, Dr. Johnson, with an autographed tire from all the drivers. We are happy to be helping out in all those activities to support Cristiano in his recovery.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you. As always, we really appreciate the support from Bridgestone. Welcome to Road America.

We'll get started with our top three qualifiers. Our third place starter, driver of the #34 Mi-Jack Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing, Charles Zwolsman. His quick lap today, 2:11.121 seconds, 126.063 miles per hour. Starts third tomorrow. Best ever starting spot in the young Champ Car career of Mr. Zwolsman. Charles, tell us a little bit about how you feel about starting third tomorrow.

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: Feels great. Yesterday I was happy, but I was a bit like could happen today that it dried up and I'd lose the spot. Today I'm really happy because now it's final and I'm starting in third. I'm Really looking forward to that.

ERIC MAUK: Have you thought much about how you approach tomorrow's start?

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: No. Just go out and race. At the start, you always have to anticipate what happens there. You have a million of preparations in your head for every scenario. Out there you just got to go with what feels right, just see what happens.

ERIC MAUK: Still kind of unclear as to what the weather is going to look like tomorrow. You got to run a full dry session this morning. How was your car?

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: It was pretty good. I think we can still make a little bit of improvement there. All in all, we were looking pretty strong in the dry, as well. Also in the end of this session, I opted to go out in the wet to get some feel for it because yesterday morning we didn't run a session when it was fully wet. Also there I just found some lines, some stuff to work on for tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.

CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: Thanks.

ERIC MAUK: Starting on the outside of the front row, the leader of today's qualifying session, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais, two-time defending champion in the Champ Car World Series. He puts up a quick lap today of 2:06.460 seconds, 122.517 miles per hour. His ninth front row start of the year, his fifth front row start in a row. It also gives him a championship point, boosting his total to 311. Much more importantly, widening his gap to 63 over A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson as he looks to close in on the third consecutive Champ Car title.

Big run for you today, Sebastien.  You needed a point.  Went out there
and got it.  Tell us about the run today.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think as everybody saw, these conditions were really nerve-wracking. The whole team was just monitoring radar and everything to see when it was going to be optimal to run. It was extremely unclear. We elected to go right off with the used tires that we had yesterday. We could only afford to use one set of new tires, rain tires, otherwise if tomorrow it's raining we're going to run out.

It was a little complicated.  We just happened to be the track at the
right time.  Pretty quick lap, which ended up being good enough.
That was quite a hell of a session.  Just glad it turned out this way
because yesterday was pretty frustrating.  We had probably the fastest
car in the morning session.  It was wet.  We were fairly happy.  We
parked it.  Then it dried all the way.  Just hats off to these guys.
They decided it was going to be good enough on dries.  I didn't really
think it was going to be.  On the last lap they got us.

We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. It surely feels good to start from the first row. That point is also very important. We'll see how it shakes out tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Talk about tomorrow a little bit. You need to outscore A.J. and Justin by seven points to clinch your third consecutive Champ Car title. Obviously you're a race car driver, you want to go out and go as hard as you can and win the race, but is there a little bit in the back of your mind that is going to do some scoreboard watching? Are you going to keep tabs what the other guys are doing or do you keep it out of your mind and wait for somebody to tell you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I'm sure the team will be on it. The truth is you're really going to try and win that race, see where our opponents are going to end up. If we get our job done, we'll need a little bit of help from whatever happens, wherever the other guys are finishing.

We're going to need to be a little lucky tomorrow.  We start in a better
starting position than they do.  Hopefully it plays well for us.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.

The polesitter for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, driver of the #14 CTE Racing HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Dan Clarke. Dan earns the first pole of his young Champ Car career. It is the first time a rookie sat on a Champ Car pole since Sebastien Bourdais won the pole in Australia in 2003. Also the first time CTE Racing HVM has been on the pole since Ryan Hunter-Reay took the top spot in Milwaukee back in '04.

Dan, now it's completed. You're on the pole. Tell us about how it feels.

DAN CLARKE: It feels really good. You're right, it's great for the team 'cause I think it really signifies that they're on the up, we all are together. We strained to have some really good results this year, now we've got a pole award to add to that, a nice sticker to put on the car.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us what was going on through your mind. You saw the Atlantic session. The track was starting to get damp. When did you know you were in pretty decent shape?

DAN CLARKE: Well, you know, we were just waiting really. If it was going to go dry, we knew we'd have to go out. It was just a case of sitting in the car waiting for a whole hour. In the end, I didn't have to go out.

As the session was panning out, I think by the end of prequalifying, it looked like we were going to go quicker overall. But then it rained a little bit, then it dried, then it rained again. That was pretty much certain that we were okay.

It was just waiting and waiting. You know, some of the mechanics thought that we'd done it early, like 15 or 20 minutes to go, so they started to take the helmets off. That's just asking for bad luck.

In the end, it worked out. It's still raining now, I think.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Cristiano da Matta , Dan Clarke
Teams Conquest Racing