Press Conference with the top three finishers in the Molson Indy Vancouver with Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais. Eric Mauk: We'll get started with our post-race press conference for the Molson Indy Vancouver. I'd like to ...
Press Conference with the top three finishers in the Molson Indy Vancouver with Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais.
Eric Mauk: We'll get started with our post-race press conference for the Molson Indy Vancouver. I'd like to announce the attendance numbers for today's event. Today drew 66,077 fans, giving us a three-day total attendance figure of 162,271. CART Champ Car and Molson Indy would like to thank everyone for coming out. We'll start with our runner-up, Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Bruno gets his seventh podium of the season, the 14th of his career. Bruno led 21 laps on the day before finishing second for the third time this season. Bruno, before we talk about the start, let's talk about the rest of your day. You come in with the second place finish, how do you feel?
Bruno Junqueira: I feel okay. I mean it is not bad to finish second. Unfortunately, second again to Paul Tracy. To be true, not by Paul Tracy, because 11 races, we been always very fast, but didn't win yet. But I think all the PacifiCare, Newman/Haas team are doing very good job. We are being very consistent. That's the most important thing. I think now there is going to be this stretch till the end of the year, a lot of back-to-back races. I think the best way to win the championship is to be consistent, and that's what we're going to try to do. Eventually, I hope we can win a race until the end of the year.
But, anyway, today was quite difficult for me. I passed Paul Tracy on the start, and on the third lap after the start, I flat-spotted my right front. I did like five or six laps not pushing very hard, just make sure that the right front get back in shape, get the tires a little bit in place, just behind me, but I saw even if I wasn't pushing, I was able to open a big gap on the third place, that was Patrick Carpentier. And after like 10 laps, whatever, 12 laps, I said, "Now it's time to push a little bit." I start to run 62's. I felt I was lapping like 2/10ths faster than Tracy for like four or five laps in a row. I was already like two and a half seconds in front of him. And I was feeling pretty good. I think I had a small flat spot on the tire, I had a little bit understeer on the corner, but the car still handled well, and I was feeling really confident.
When the team told me that I had to let Tracy by, I couldn't believe it. That has never happened in my race car career. I felt a mix of emotions. And I think when something like this happen, you have two things that can happen. Most often, you get very angry. And this time I didn't get angry, I just get really disappointed because, I don't know, I just get disappointed. I try to control myself not to get angry. After turn five, when I let Tracy by, I couldn't believe it. Was a strange feeling. I lost completely the concentration. I was lapping half a second slower. Tracy pulled away from me - not because he was faster, just because I was slower. I couldn't get back to a rhythm.
Then we came to the pit stop and the guys told me, "I don't know, we'll have to see what will happen." Then I lost some positions again. I went down to fourth. Then we did a good pit stop, then I passed Sebastien on cold tires, moved up to second again. Then I just keep a good distance from Sebastien because I knew that he would pit two laps later. Then I keep just like five seconds. Did a very good out-lap. I beat him out of the pits easy on the last pit stop.
It was just a matter to finish the race, I mean, get the second place home. You know, I think you always want to win, but today Tracy was strong. I think I was strong, as well. But in the end, I think track position makes a difference, who is in the front is going to win. After I have to let him by, I just fell off a little bit. That's what happened.
Eric Mauk: You talked about maybe losing focus a little bit. You came in that first pit stop, had a quick stall, came back out, lost those positions. The last half of the race, you were pretty much on the beam. Was there anything you can point to to get your focus back or was it just a thought process?
Bruno Junqueira: I think halfway through the race, I get my focus back. I mean, when I let Tracy pass, was like five, six laps before the pit. I just felt down. I lost the concentration, let him go by, take away from me. It was a strange feeling, I tell. Was really strange. I hope that doesn't happen anymore.
Eric Mauk: Bruno remains in second place in the points. Paul Tracy had 161 points, Bruno has 141. There are 23 points available on a race weekend. We're joined by the third place driver, Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Sebastien led two laps on the day, earned his fourth podium finish of the year despite making six pit stops. He also turned the fastest lap of the race on lap 98. Podium finish, Sebastien, how does it feel?
Sebastien Bourdais: It feels pretty good. I felt a bit sorry on what happened the first lap, because I didn't really want to put anybody out of the track. But I was right at the inside. I think we were three side-by-side with Moreno and somebody else. I cannot say. I did a great start, then I was side by side with Bobby. Obviously, didn't see me. He turned, I had no room to go, we touched each other. Then the whole wheel fall apart, and I had to pit. Coming out of the pits, I didn't see no yellows, to be very honest, then there was two cars right in the middle of the track. I locked all four wheels and went straight into the guards. Lucky for me, there was no marshal there. Again, sorry for them if I just scared someone.
Then the start of the race was pretty bad, and I thought it was going to be a very long, long, long afternoon for me. The guys just told me, "Stay there, we have a shot. We're going to be shifted on the pit window, and we still have a chance if we're quick." Obviously, we were really quick this afternoon. I really have to thank this Lilly crew #2 because they did a great job. I think it's not the first time of the season, but definitely we had a great car this weekend. Just a shame we didn't start in a bit better shape. But we went through the entire race and made big progress, finished third. I think it's a pretty good result.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations. With the finish, Sebastien moves up to fourth in the points standings and widens his gap in the Rookie-of-the-Year points to 40 over Darren Manning. We are now joined by the winner of the Molson Indy Vancouver, Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. This is Paul's fifth win of the season, matching a career best. He now has 24 wins over his career, tying him with Bobby Rahal for fourth on the all-time CART list. He wins from the pole the sixth time in his career, becoming one of just six drivers to accomplish that feat. Also you're the first Canadian driver to win back-to-back Canadian races. How does it feel?
Paul Tracy: It's an unbelievable feeling. To win two races in a row is very difficult anywhere. To do two races in a row in Canada, being a Canadian, driving for a Canadian team, the pressure is always very high. The media pressure is very high. And the support from the fans is very high. That all adds up, compounds on itself. It's sometimes very difficult. You know, we were able to focus this weekend and replicate what we did in Toronto, score maximum points. We're very, very happy at Team Player's.
Eric Mauk: Five wins already this year. You're starting to get into career year territory. You've led 500 laps already this year. Are you starting to think this could be your best year you ever had?
Paul Tracy: To right now, it is. My best year I ever had, '93, was five wins in a season. I've matched that now, with more podiums. You know, there's a long way to go in the championship. All the races coming up I feel I do well at. In particular, Elkhart and Australia. The only place where I haven't had much success is at Fontana where we've had a lot of engine trouble. But we've been fast there. I'm looking forward to every race coming up on schedule, it's a good track for me. Usually in my career, I've usually started to come to life the second half of the season.
Eric Mauk: I'll ask you, before they do, take us through your thoughts on the start of the race today?
Paul Tracy: Well, I think, you know, Bruno did what he felt he had to do. The opportunity is always there to try to make a better start. You know, I came out of the corner second gear, waited for him to get lined up, to make it a nice, even start, have a couple of rows lined up. Bruno just -- I was in second. I think Bruno went by in fourth. He was doing about 60 miles an hour quicker than me. That was that. I mean, I wasn't happy about it. We made a complaint to CART. They reviewed it for quite a long time.
About five laps before Bruno let me by, I knew that the call was coming. They told me that, "He's going to have to let you by." So I slowed down a little bit because we were pushing pretty hard. Bruno was driving at a pretty good pace. I was staying right on his gearbox waiting for a mistake. At one time he locked the brake at the end of the straightaway for quite a long time and nearly ran wide in the corner. I was trying to keep a lot of pressure on him. We were pulling away from Pat. I backed off a little bit, cooled my tires down just a touch, didn't run the corners so hard. Once we switched positions, you know, I pulled away I think about six seconds in about six laps before the pit stop. From there, we had it under control.
Eric Mauk: The first four laps after you made the pass, Paul ran the fastest four laps of the race. Went on to lead 77 laps, giving him over 500 laps led already this season. We'll take questions from the media.
Q: Paul, considering the events of the last 48 hours, has your confidence in the series been restored?
Paul Tracy: Well, I'll just say that what I said is how I felt. I put it past me. You've known me a long time. You catch me at the right moment, you'll get me to say how I feel at that moment. You know, that was Friday, and this is Sunday, and tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow is a new day. I won't be thinking about the Molson Indy Vancouver. I'll be thinking about Elkhart Lake. For me, it's behind me. I didn't carry it over into the next day's qualifying. I didn't carry it over into today. What I've done is been able to concentrate on what I have to do, the job in front of me. And my concentration is not what happened on Friday or what's going to happen in the future, because it's out of my control. The only thing I can control is what I'm doing in the car and what I'm doing with my team and sponsors, and that's trying to win races and win a championship.
Q: Bruno, can you talk about the start from your point of view, what you thought was going on at that point?
Bruno Junqueira: I mean, on the start, just after the last corner, you have a cone that's supposed to be the start cone. At that point you have to start to accelerate. 99 percent of the time the drivers that are leading on the pole, everybody just accelerated a little bit before the cone because if you accelerate on the cone, the guy that's in second knows you're going to accelerate there, just accelerate a little bit earlier. I felt that in Toronto Paul accelerated earlier than the corner I was expecting to. Then he got a big jump on me on the start. Today I thought that he's going to do pretty much the same and accelerate a little bit before the cone, and he didn't. Then pretty much I pass him.
But I don't know, I have to see on the replay because is difficult anywhere on the car. But when the green flag go, you pretty much side-by-side. But for sure when I was on the start/finish line, I was in front. I don't know, like in Portland, I wasn't on the front row, and they try to do a lot of starts with Paul Tracy and Michel. It's difficult. I mean, it's difficult for me to say anything because I didn't see the replay. But for sure it's much, much worse than lose the pole on Friday, lose in the middle of the race a little bit worse.
Paul Tracy: You should watch some tapes of how me and Sebastien do it, because we always do it perfect.
Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, but I mean, you and Jourdain don't do perfect. And even Sebastien, Brands Hatch, didn't start in the first time or second. Brands Hatch, start wasn't on the first time. I mean, I did everything all right. I just pass you. It's not my problem. The green was showing the first time.
Q: Paul, after you got into your rhythm, after you got past Bruno, you seemed to be moving through traffic fairly effectively. Can you explain how it was going through the back markers? Did it go to plan?
Paul Tracy: No trouble at all. I came up on some back markers the first time just before the second stop, and I didn't try to pass any of them because they were all kind of tightly grouped together and they were all kind of racing. So I kind of slowed up a little bit so I didn't have to pass anybody before the pit stop and maybe get tangled up. There was a group of cars, Max and Lavin, somebody else, they were all fighting each other. I had at that point about a 12- or 13-second lead.
I just took my time the last two laps, maybe didn't have the fastest in-lap. When I came out of the pits, I had a very quick out-lap. They pitted after that last group of cars and I beat them out of the pits. For the most part, everybody I came across was very easy, no trouble at all.
Q: Paul, as you were behind Bruno for the first 20 laps, 22 laps, are you fairly confident that you had the car to at some point get past him? Bruno, before you came in, talked about how he lost some concentration after you got by him, that he fell off a few laps. Are you pretty confident that you had the car that would have got by him at some point?
Paul Tracy: I think for sure we were quicker. I was staying right behind him. Like I said, when I knew the penalty was coming, I slowed up for a couple laps just to get my tires back under control because we were pushing pretty hard. It's always a little bit more difficult to stay right behind a car because you're in the turbulence of the other car, so you're using the tires quite hard, sliding it a lot. There was one opportunity coming onto the back straightaway, I was close to Bruno, and I had a big sideways in the fast sweeper behind him. I was definitely pushing him pretty hard, and I think he was pushing hard, at the limit of how quickly he could go. You know, once we got around and switched positions, I had clean air, which is always better. He was behind me. It's much more difficult to stay right behind another car, I was able to pull a gap.
Q: If CART were to take any action against you monetarily or with points for your outburst the other night, what would your feelings be?
Paul Tracy: They haven't done that, so I can't really say what my feelings will be because they haven't done that yet.
Q: It's in the rules. I guess they could for conduct detrimental to the series.
Paul Tracy: Well, I had somebody suggest to me maybe I should buy one share, put a suit on, and as a shareholder say I could make comments, not as a competitor. At this point, it would only cost 10 cents.
Eric Mauk: This concludes our post-race press conference. We race next weekend at Road America, second of three consecutive weekends. Thank you for attending.