CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Top three qualifiers press conference

CHAMP CAR PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM TORONTO QUALIFYING WITH JUSTIN WILSON, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference...

CHAMP CAR PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM TORONTO QUALIFYING WITH JUSTIN WILSON, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference for the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, round seven of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We will be joined by all three of our top qualifiers. We have two of the top three at the moment.

We'll start with our third place qualifier, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He will start third in tomorrow's event after putting up a top lap of 58.345 seconds, 108.287 miles per hour. Sebastien has started in the top five in every event so far this year, as has A.J., and Sebastien has also finished in the top five in each of his previous three visits to the Grand Prix of Toronto. Sebastien, tell us a little bit about how it went.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think the McDonald's car was really back to business today, so it was really enjoyable to drive. First run could have been better timing. We got some traffic, had to back off, probably just like everybody else, and then the track got better for sure. Then on the second run, if I thought the first run was bad, it was a disaster because I did not even do a lap. The last one was looking pretty good. I was a 10th and a half ahead. Jan Heylen was trying to get out of the way of the quick cars, unfortunately he crossed the line in turn five just in front of me. I lost the rear of the car, then I had to take it easy on turn six. Still did an 8.37 or something like that.

It's always disappointing when you feel you have the car to get the job done. I guess today there were probably three cars to be able to be on this pole. So, you know, good job to these two guys. We'll fight hard tomorrow anyway.

ERIC MAUK: A little disappointed today, but how do you feel your prospects are for tomorrow?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it's always tough to say. This morning the car felt very competitive again on all tires. We'll see where we're at. Fairly confident. I think we've always had a very good race car here for the last three years. Hopefully we can keep that streak alive and score good points again.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Starting on the outside of the front row, the driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger. He puts up a quick lap today of 58.264 seconds, 108.437 miles per hour. This is A.J.'s third front row start of the year and his third in a row.

A.J., went back and forth with Sebastien there, playing a little leapfrog, Justin got you at the end. Tell us how it went for you.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think it's been a great weekend so far for the whole Forsythe Indeck team. Compared to the first two weekends I was with the team, this has been the most of a struggle, probably the most difficult track we've been to so far. The team has worked really hard. We've struggled at times, we've been good at times. We made a change for the Bridgestone reds. I think we just went over the top just a touch.

The car has been close all weekend. It kind of brings me back to Portland where we were just close all weekend, got it exactly right for the race. My engineering staff has been amazing so far this year getting the car perfect for the race. Congratulations to Justin and the whole CDW team that just nipped me at the end. Carl (Russo) keeps saying a RuSPORT 1-2. I'm just kidding, it's not a RuSPORT 1-2. But I'm pleased. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: You ran your first stint, you did a quick turnaround, went out almost right away for your second stint, you got clear track again. Were you surprised like yesterday that second stint where you had so much clear track?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: We decided to do the same thing again. I think with the red flag from Dan (Clarke), it made the turnaround a lot shorter than it would have been. I was going to go out fairly early with the blacks in the beginning of the session. So we got the clean laps. I put in a pretty good lap. The car just -- we just didn't have it perfect enough to get Justin. It will be great tomorrow. I think we can have a good race throughout the whole distance.

ERIC MAUK: Before we introduce our polesitter, I'd like to welcome Joe Barbieri, director of Bridgestone Motorsports, to present today's Bridgestone Pole Award to driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson.

JOE BARBIERI: Justin, congratulations. Obviously, you're in great company up here with these other pole winners. I'd like to award this trophy on behalf of Bridgestone. Along with that a $5,000 check, and also in addition to that another $2500 will be donated to the Hole in the Wall Camp.

JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Joe, while I've got you here, we've seen a pretty big difference time-wise between the reds and the blacks. I know that's what you guys are shooting for, to bring more strategy into play. Tell us about how you feel about how it is going.

JOE BARBIERI: Certainly a lot different than Cleveland. We're looking forward to a lot of different strategies from the teams, hard running. I guess it's averaging about 5/10ths or so difference between the Bridgestone alternates and the primaries. It's going to be a great race tomorrow. Looking forward to it. Great weather, great fans here in Toronto. It's going to be a great race. Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you, Joe. Polesitter for the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, as we said, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. His pole winning lap 58.182 seconds, 108.590 miles per hour. Justin's first pole of the year, the third Bridgestone Pole Award of his three-year Champ Car career.

Justin, looked like you were having trouble getting up to speed.  You
didn't actually better your Friday time until your last two laps.  The
last one counted.  Tell us about it.

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, just getting a little bit of traffic, getting held up. No matter where I was on track, I always had Oriol Servia in front of me. It was getting a little bit frustrating. Had to stay calm. Fortunately, he'd gone out early, so he pulled off, left me two clear laps. Just managed to put it all together and make it count. The car felt great. It's been working well all weekend. Just really pleased to have finally put that one lap together and make it count.

ERIC MAUK: As you're trying to better your lap, you talked about getting frustrated, did you know you had a lap that could challenge A.J. and Sebastien or were you hoping for the clear track just to see what you had?

JUSTIN WILSON: At that stage, I was just hoping for the clear lap to see what I could do. I thought maybe I could do a 4 or something like that. But this last lap really came together. The car gripped and turned the corner. Just got to thank my team, the whole crew on the CDW #9 car.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. This is the fastest pole lap in Toronto since 2002, the fastest in four years. Also earns Justin another championship point, giving him 141 on the year, closing the gap to front-running Sebastien Bourdais to 25 points. A.J. Allmendinger is five points behind Justin for second.

We'll take questions from the media.

Q: Justin, all the drivers talk about how technically difficult this track can get. You won here last year. You're on the pole this year. What will your background do for you tomorrow?

JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's a number of things. We talked about it. Yesterday, the way the track flows through turns 9, 10, 11, then some of the more technical stuff down at turn one, turn eight, it's just all those kind of things you have to put into place. You're pushing the car over the limit on many occasions, then you get to those very tricky corners, you hit the concrete patch, you have to tiptoe through the corner.

It's just being able to switch between the different techniques. My crew have done a fantastic job, given me a car that's very drivable.

Q: Justin how has the attitude been at RuSPORT with all the driver change over the last weeks?

JUSTIN WILSON: The attitude has been pretty good. Everyone's optimistic and very positive about learning to progress. You know, I think we've not stopped, we've been pushing hard for the last three races. We've been very close to getting a win.

There's been certain things that let us down, whether it's luck or whether it's our own doing. We've learnt from that. Hopefully we're going to get even stronger yet.

Q: A.J., how does it feel to still be up here battling with the guy that was your former teammate?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, I think since I've joined Forsythe, we've been kind of near each other on the grid every race. It's been no different. He was the one that challenged me at Portland. I think it was coming down to at least myself and him and a couple people at Cleveland until he had the mechanical.

As everybody said, Justin won here last year.  They had a great setup.
We just keep trying to work away and get closer.  As I said, it's been a
bit of a struggle at times this weekend for us here.  But Forsythe has
worked really hard.  We just keep getting closer and closer.  Hopefully
by race time tomorrow, we'll be at our best.  I know I have the best pit
crew in the game.  When it comes to pit stops, we're going to be on our
game.  I look forward to tomorrow.

Q: Sebastien, any change in attitude on the team chasing instead of being chased?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think you obviously have your share of luck and timing, good timing, things like that. It seems like everything was going really, really well for us in just four races. Since the start of Portland, it really kind of slipped away a little bit. But it doesn't mean we're out of the game. We just don't get the success we had at the very beginning.

But the McDonald's car is still very good. All we need is just the little help from wherever you want to call it. In the end, all I really want to do this weekend is, again, try and go through the start and the first lap clean and then we'll go racing.

Q: Justin, other than the fact that A.J. is a quarter of an inch taller than your teammate there...

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It's like three inches. Don't sell me short. Cristiano is like 5'2" or 5'3". I'm 5'6" (laughter).

Q: Cristiano is a former champion. Have you been able to learn anything from him that perhaps A.J. wasn't able to pass along?

JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's very similar in many ways. Myself and A.J. have joked about the fact that I think Carl did the switch because he actually wanted to be able to say he got the tallest and the shortest drivers. Now he has. You know, things have been working really well. We just concentrate on what we're trying to do, get the feedback from both cars, as we did before, and as we'll continue to do.

Q: His experience hasn't given you an extra leg up?

JUSTIN WILSON: The biggest difference is it's the third data point for the team. The areas where we struggled, where we're working on to improve, Cristiano has come in and said exactly the same as what I've said, what A.J. said, being able to really focus on that now. It's not just us getting used to the car. It has helped. You know, we're all saying the same.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Don't lie, Justin. You got me fired because you couldn't handle me in miniature golf. I had you smoked in the championship and you had to get me off the team.

JUSTIN WILSON: It's not over yet, A.J. (laughter).

Q: Can the three of you speak to how you've been received here in Toronto by the fans?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think it's been a great event so far. I don't know the exact numbers, but it seems like the crowd's way up, there's a lot of people here. Everybody is excited. Seems like there's a lot of people in the grandstands today for qualifying. It probably should be a full race tomorrow.

For me at least it's been exciting, a lot of fun. I look forward to being on the grid and getting in the car tomorrow to see all the people cheering and excited about the race.

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I mean, every time we come here, it's amazing to see the fans who are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about what we're doing. They know who we are, what we're doing, where to be to find the autographs. It's always a fantastic feeling to come to race in Toronto.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess everything's been said. You know, one of the very successful historically in the Champ Car. It's always great to come here.

Q: Can you tell us how you are going to handle your fuel loads tomorrow and how that strategy will play out for the use of your reds and blacks.

JUSTIN WILSON: Sebastien, tell us your strategy (laughter).

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: He pretty much asked you if you were going to be able to go as far as I do. I mean, we're obviously not going to talk about that in public. Everybody has got his own way of seeing things. When everybody goes out there and tries something, it's usually to go a lap further than everybody else. You do that only if you're able to keep up with the guys in front or behind you, which means in the end the best car goes further.

We've just had a very competitive race car this year. Hopefully have that again tomorrow. Clean air is at a premium here. For sure, if we can pick up a spot or two, it would be very appreciable for the race.

Q: A.J., the last two races have been kind of like a dream for just about everybody that can drive one of these Champ Cars. Is this weekend like that or how would you describe this?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I always live in my own dream world. Yeah, it's been great. You know, just 'cause you've won a couple races in a row and you're having great success, it can turn around in a hurry. Come here with the same focus and the same attitude. Forsythe is working just as hard, probably even harder than before, because we want to stay on top.

The one problem about finally winning a couple races, you feel how good it feels. You want to do it more. We're going to keep trying to do the same thing.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen. We go racing tomorrow at 12:30.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Jan Heylen