CHAMPCAR/CART: Alex Tagliani press conference transcript Part II

Obviously going into a weekend like this, do you visualize how you're going to perform; do you sort of think the weekend out? ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, I don't -- I don't visualize or try to expect something because you can be disappointed if it ...

Obviously going into a weekend like this, do you visualize how you're going to perform; do you sort of think the weekend out?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, I don't -- I don't visualize or try to expect something because you can be disappointed if it doesn't happen. The strength of our team right now is that we kept our focus and the positive into the team even though we had really six bad races at the beginning of the season and so the secret is not to expect and coming back strong. But when I approach a race I just, you know, approach it with confidence, honest confidence because I think the car is strong on that type of circuit. It was strong in Toronto. I don't see why it is not going to be strong in Vancouver. And then when the first practice start I am keeping really eye level of concentration into the team engineers, guys and car and try to take the best out of the car and push when it's time to push and be, you know, do the best you can. But expectation or visualize where I am going to end up, you know, if I start to do that I will visualize be on top of the podium every race.

The street circuits are certainly unique for CART among open-wheel series in America. Do you like these circuits a lot and how important is it for you to do well in front of Canadian fans?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yeah, it's really important. You need to do well in front of your fans. Right now they come and support us twice a year. Canadian fans are really into the CART Racing. I think the interest of the CART Series in Canada is really high; so high that we're going to have three races next year and race in Montreal, so that's pretty good.

And the street course are a good event. It's good for the crowd, for the fans. They have a very good sense of the speed when they see a race car going into the streets at 200 miles an hour. The atmosphere in the stands all around the track is really different than on an open road course like Mid-Ohio or Elkhart Lake. It seems that the city just live for that weekend and it is really going into the week. So it's good for the economy. It is good for the fans. It is good for everybody in the city.

Like I said, the atmosphere when you are driving on the track, totally different. Being in between walls, surrounded by stands and crowd, it is totally different than the trees like Elkhart Lake, even though I think that Elkhart Lake is one of the nicest road course in the world. It is just different perspective, different feeling when you drive it, and if you like it, I think that's only a matter of if your car is working well. If it's working well on the speedway, on the road course, on a street course you are going to like the track. If your car is terrible, you are going to hate the track.

What you are saying is you pull into victory lane in Vancouver and you will love this track; is that it?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Exactly. I would say this is the best track in the world (laughs).

Next year you are going to Montreal?


This is the first time CART has been in French Canada in a very long time. Do you that that will make a huge difference in the French Canadian population as far as their following the series or have they been the baseline race fans all this time?

ALEX TAGLIANI: They have been race fans all this time because they have a Formula 1 race down there at the track. And it's very popular. I raced there on the same track in the same weekend of Formula 1 in Atlantic, and really for, like, almost everybody that was there for qualifying stayed for the Atlantic race.

The people that are in charge of promoting that event were in charge of the event for Formula 1 and they know what they are doing. They know everything about racing and if they are organizing a race in Canada and Montreal especially it's because they saw Montreal is going and they have a lot of fans for CART and the interest for CART in Montreal is just rising dramatically. So it's the proper time to bring CART into the city of Montreal. And Pat and myself being French Canadian, we were born in Montreal, it's just like a picture perfect for a very successful event.

Are you in Las Vegas?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Calgary. I arrived in Calgary for some promotion here with Players and spent time with the media in Calgary just before Vancouver.

Obviously you are on an upnote right now because you have been doing so well in the races. How did you keep your attitude up when things weren't going so well at the beginning of the year?

ALEX TAGLIANI: It was really easy because for myself what I am really looking forward is to -- I mean I am not just looking for the success looking at the end of 90 laps or 100-something laps we're doing. I am looking for strong team, a good car, and potential. That's what we had. I drive the car in Seabring in winter testing of 2001 and I drive the car in Seabring in 2000 and it was a totally different car to drive. So I was approaching the season really confidently because I thought the car was better. So more competitive than I thought the team was stronger; people in place were doing their job and really, really with a very positive attitude and with the, you know, the anger to win. That's -- I really like that attitude in a team.

And even though it was not running right because we were not scoring points, I was still driving a very fast car and I was-it was easy to keep the attitude positive because I knew that when we're going to start being reliable and finishing races, there was no way we were not going to be in the Top-10.

You have proven it so far. Hope the streak continues this weekend and thank you.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Hopefully. Thank you very much.

You talked about your relationship with Tony in setting up the car; then you talked with Doug about this question about how you approach different turns at a track. Do you and Tony go out on the track when you get there on Thursday and take a ride around and talk about things as you are riding around or do you just go out and ride around by yourself?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Actually I don't see Tony until Friday morning. So I go out -- sometimes I go out with Kelly Loewen, that's the chief engineer at the racetrack and we're talking about the track and looking at different spots where maybe the car was lacking last year and you know, just bringing up some points where we can improve and sometimes I go around just by myself because there's not much to see with Kelly and Kelly probably knows the track, so I am just going and try to visualize the track by myself.

What are you particularly looking for, any changes or any differences in the surface from what you remembered from the last time?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yes. I mean, when you have experience in CART, I know now all the cars are reacting. What is important in qualifying, what is important in the race and then I can bring that perspective to Kelly and also can tell him where the car was very weak last year; why I was not able to pass in the race at that particular spot and also where I was not quick enough in qualifying or where I had trouble to drive it very aggressively in a certain corner of the track where the car was too understeer or I was not able to put the power down. We were trying to find if the track has bumps or if because the surface is slippery or it was just because the car was not right.

When we're able to see things like that and compare it with different corners on the track, we have a much better idea of what kind of compromise we're going to need to do in the race week for setup. Because there's no way you are going to have a perfect car. It is just -- you try to have the best car out there, everyone. But it is not going to be perfect. It never going to be perfect. So you know, like Tony says, if you are on pole, you are going to like your car. If you are not on pole, you are not going to like your car. So it is just the fact that you are trying to have the best car out of the 26 cars out on the track and do your best. You cannot expect to have a perfect car. So it is a full compromise thing that we're doing.

I just want to know when Patrick did win this year I just wondered what that did sort of for your confidence too. Obviously as you have talked about you have an awful lot of confidence, you felt your car was right, but to see a guy like him go through a stretch and he had not won and had a lot of things happen, can you sort of tell me what it did for your confidence?

ALEX TAGLIANI: It didn't do like a big thing for the confidence because I think to be confident as a driver you need to feel that your car is right and when you drive and you feel that you have a competitive car, you are confident that it is close, it is coming and it is just like you are knocking on the door. The fact that Pat won the race I was really happy for him because we're friends and he has been through some really tough times. It's his fifth year in CART, so it was like the right time for him. It was like good for his confidence, for himself and also for his attitude and just for his career so I was really happy for him. And like when I was second in Toronto on the podium in front of the crowd, it is also really tough because I am the rookie on the team and it was a first podium for the team, so it was tough for him so I was really happy that he pulled it off in Michigan.

I have a question for you about the qualifying changes this year. Do you feel that for your type of driving does that help you now that you only qualify on Saturday or did you prefer (inaudible) between the two days between the CART setup?

ALEX TAGLIANI: I mean I have a -- my opinion in qualifying is that last year, this year, it's not fair. It's not fair for nobody. I mean, qualifying, it's speed, all about speed. Racing and strategy, a little bit of luck, different things, but I think the fact that we're qualifying on Saturday, it's a good thing. I don't see the difference. The only thing is now that we don't have testing in the winter, you know, we need more running in the weekends and Friday becomes a test day. So I agree on that, it's pretty good. But on the two group thing, that's not good. There's too many margin -- too many things could affect a qualifying grid whether, you know, track condition, rubber, different (inaudible) running in the same weekend. You know, it's terrible. So when you qualify and when you're in the fast group on the street course, especially, you have an advantage. I don't think it is right because sometimes you show up to a weekend and there's going to be some guys that are in the first group and they will, you know, normally they will be like probably in the front qualifying in the second group and they deserve that in that particular weekend because their car is fast; their team is good; and they deserve to be in the front and they are not going to be because they are the first group and that, I don't think is fair. So I don't care qualifying on one day but I really like to see some changes into the qualifying procedure for the future.

T.E. McHALE: Thanks. We'll wrap it up for the afternoon. I want to thank Alex Tagliani of Players Forsythe Racing for joining us this afternoon. Alex, thank for being with us, best of luck in this weekend's Molson Indy Vancouver and through the rest of the FedEx Championship Series season.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thank you very much. Thank you Dawn.

T.E. McHALE: Thanks to all of who you joined us this afternoon and good afternoon.

Part I


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani