CHAMPCAR/CART: Bruno Junqueira press conference, part I

An interview with Bruno Junqueira Part 1 of 2 INDIANAPOLIS (September 3, 2002) - What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART FedEx Championship Series driver Bruno Junqueira. Merrill...

An interview with Bruno Junqueira

Part 1 of 2

INDIANAPOLIS (September 3, 2002) - What follows is the transcript of the CART weekly teleconference presented by WorldCom featuring CART FedEx Championship Series driver Bruno Junqueira.

Merrill Cain: We are happy to welcome to the call today two big Mile High winners from this weekend's action on the streets of Denver. American Jon Fogarty will join us in just a few minutes, fresh off a win from the CART Toyota Atlantic series finale that allowed him to claim the Atlantic Series title on Saturday. But first up on the call today, we welcome Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #4 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Bruno, congratulations on last weekend's victory and thanks for joining us today.

Bruno Junqueira: Thank you very much. It is a pleasure.

Merrill Cain: We know you are down in Miami, so we won't keep you for too long, but we do want to talk to you about this weekend's action.

Bruno had a nearly perfect holiday weekend in Denver, the pole position in final qualifying on Saturday and led all 100 laps in the Shell Grand Prix of Denver Sunday to claim his second win of the season and third of his short career in CART. Most importantly, his victory enabled him to move back into second place and he now trails Cristiano da Matta by 52 points in the race for the Vanderbilt Cup, with five races remaining on the schedule.

Bruno, it was a great weekend for Team Target in Denver with you obviously taking the win and Scott Dixon, your teammate, grabbing second place. How were you able to conquer the slippery and bumpy circuit there in Denver with so much ease, while so many other drivers struggled to find the setup?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, that was one of the toughest racetracks of the year. Because as a racetrack, we have two completely different tarmacs, one was concrete and another part was asphalt - very smooth but no grip at all. It was really difficult to find a good car. But what we realize at Team Target is that we're never going to find a good car on both factors.

Merrill Cain: How were you guys able to get so much speed? Cristiano da Matta pointed it out in the post-race press conference; that he just could not have the speed you guys had. Did it roll off the truck very quick when you got there on Friday, or was it just a matter of you finding a setup you were able to build on through the course of the weekend?

Bruno Junqueira: No. This time, at least myself, I had to work hard because I didn't know a lot and it wasn't that good. We had to make big changes, especially Friday to Saturday and then Saturday car was much better.

I think it was a good team effort from Team Target because when the car is good right away, it's easy; and we had to work really hard to make this car very good.

Merrill Cain:  It certainly looked like you guys put in your homework for
the weekend.  We'll open it up for questions.

Q: It's coming to the end of the season, you've got to be a looking ahead to next year. Stories are out there saying that your team may move in a different direction next year. Your background has been open-wheel and varied surfaces and various tracks. Is it your intent that you would like to stay in CART, or are you under contract that you have to go where you go next year?

Bruno Junqueira: No, I'm a free agent at this moment, and I'm looking for some opportunities for next year. I'm talking to Team Target and they haven't decided what they are going to do next year, and I am kind of waiting to see what they are going to do.

But I'm talking to other teams, as well. I'll be really happy if I can continue in CART because it's a pretty nice series, and let's see what's going to happen.

Q: How possible is it to catch your countryman for the Vanderbilt Cup in these last few races and what has to happen to keep somebody other than Cristiano from having that championship when you get to Mexico City?

Bruno Junqueira: It's going to be really difficult because he's scoring good results, even when he doesn't win, like this weekend. He was a little bit lucky, especially in Montreal, when I lost second place and then he got the second place and I lost 16 points, and then he opened big lead on me again.

But, I mean, I would like to have very good races until the end of the year. So actually in each race, I know that it's not possible to win all of the races, but if I can finish out the races until the end of the year and with strong results, I can catch him. I don't know. I concentrate on myself and see what's happening then.

Q: You guys have run now four consecutive weeks. Do you feel that right now? Obviously, it's great to be in Miami at any time, but does it feel good to relax this week after you've had four in a row like this?

Bruno Junqueira: Well, it's really tough, but I think it was really good. Before the mechanical problem I had in Montreal, I had really good results. I was on the pace, and I felt pretty good about that. After four races in a row, with a win, it's pretty nice.

Now, for sure, I need to relax a little bit and concentrate for the next race in England. And that race will decide if I can catch da Matta or not. If I can beat him in that race and get close to him on the points, then I will have a chance.

Q: You did really well in Japan. I know when you come home you guys are all going to share the home road advantage when you have the Grand Prix Americas in Miami. I wonder how many of your countrymen may come up - nothing will top the World Cup in Brazil, but the fact that Brazilians could sweep virtually every open-wheel in the United States, 1-2-3 finish in the IRL and 1-2-3 in the CART FedEx Championship Series, talk about what that means to you, and do you get some sense of how proud everybody is back home of what you guys are doing here?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, for sure, the Brazilians are really proud and they love racing. They love open-wheel racing, and I'm sure that the race in Miami, they are going to see a lot, lot of Brazilian fans.

Merrill Cain: We saw a lot of fans, a lot of Brazilian fans in Denver this weekend and took you by surprise a little bit to see the amount fans in victory circle there, a ton of them that were chanting your name. Does it surprise you when you see these fans in every market that we go to, how much of a loyal following the Brazilian fans are, that they flock out to support you guys?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, I think that was a big, nice surprise to see all of those Brazilian fans. It's nice. I think the Brazilians, they love racing. I'm pretty happy when I see them, and I try to make some kind of relationship and thank them for their support. I think it's really important.

Merrill Cain: They really enjoyed seeing you win on Sunday, I can tell you that much.

Q: Talk a moment about racing against Cristiano, because I know not only the two of you are countrymen, but you are also good friends. Do you guys discuss the championship at all?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, after we did the top three lap after the race, I said, "Cristiano, you are" - I can't say the word - "I wonder, if you are going to finish third, how am I'm going to catch you. Even to make the championship more exciting, I have to catch you, even if you win. But let me get close, let me get close." I think he's doing a very good job and I'm doing a good job, as well.

But, I mean, he is in a very good position in the championship.  He's
been running strong everywhere.  I mean, I love the match, I'm going to
try to catch him.  It's nice that we are friends and all, and it's really
good to race against a friend.  But when you put the helmet on and get
inside the car, there is no friendship.  You just want to be number one.

Q: Is it hard to race in a championship against a friend, especially in your position, because in order for you to beat him in the championship, you've got to do extremely well, and he's got to have some bad luck along the way?.

Bruno Junqueira:  That's one thing that I don't like.  I don't want him to
have bad luck.  I want him to do well, but I want to do well as well.

For sure, if I can think a little bit about the championship, what is going to be nice in my opinion, and I think that's what the fans want to see, is if we can have more head-to-head racing between the end of the year, with me and Cristiano, like we had in Portland and Chicago.

But at that point in the season, I was a little bit careful and didn't attack him much. But on these last races of the year, we can have another race like we had - Road America was pretty nice, but unfortunately we had a problem on the strategy.

I want to see me and Cristiano fighting for a win in one or two races until the end of the year. That's going to be exciting.

-cart-

Bruno Junqueira press conference part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Scott Dixon , Jon Fogarty , Cristiano da Matta