ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. We'll have our top three finishers press conference from the US Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix, round nine of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by ...
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. We'll have our top three finishers press conference from the US Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix, round nine of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
We are joined right now by the third place driver for this evening's race. Paul Tracy will be along presently. He stopped at medical; slight case of dehydration. Sebastien is also on his way. Third place tonight goes to Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who earned his fifth podium of the year and the 12th of his three-year career. Bruno also earns his best ever Cleveland finish and strengthens his hold on second place in the Champ Car points. Bruno, congratulations, tell us about your run.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you. First of all, I did a good start. I moved up to third. I could even get Sebastien, but I didn't want to get in a fight with my teammate on turn three, on the first lap, because he went straight on turn one on the start. I kept behind him and the track was a little bit damp. My car was good on old tires. Then I started to build up so much understeer, and Paul Tracy and Sebastien start to pull away. I saw that both were driving very fast and making small mistakes.
Was impressed because, I mean, I saw Sebastien putting the wheel off a lot of times, same as Tracy. I think these guys going to make a big mistake, but they didn't. They start to drive away from me. I had understeer. And I keep calm. I opened a gap to fourth, I think after Carpentier. I keep my pace. I think that some yellow flag or something will happen in the race.
And then the end of the first stint, I started to push, started to get close to them. I think one of the others, as well. But on the first pit stop, I came out of the pits. I was in pit and suddenly the car is broke down and I lost like five seconds, then they drove away from me. Then I again keep my pace, kept consistent during the race. I had some problems. I start to run slower because a lot of flies were hitting me and it was really difficult to see. Plus I have a drink on the car, and is like a camel bag that you bite the thing and drink the water. But on turn six, seven and eight, because of so much g's, every lap the water, it came out by itself. And it got on my visor. I mean, was really difficult to see. I had the option to take out that thing, but then have no water. And I prefer to have it.
I run a little off like on the last half of the race, and I wasn't pushing hard, and I know they going to go away. On the last pit stop, I took that thing out, took that off, then I could see, you know. Then I did some laps. Then I saw Tracy, he was like five seconds in front of me or like six seconds. I said, "Let's start to make some pressure on him." I knew by that time he would be like, I mean, he wasn't too fast at the start of the race. I said he must be struggling with the car or tires, because it was a very physical race, was concentration. And I start to put some very fast laps up. I started to go half a second faster than him every lap. And the difference was like two seconds until they all came in. And I never had one lap try to pass Paul Tracy before. I know that is important for the championship. But on other hand, after 114 laps, I didn't want to take everything out, you know.
Then I did a move on him on turn three. I out-braked him. For sure I lifted a little bit between three and four. I thought that he going to give me a move on turn four and do a better exit. Then I slowed down too much to Paul. I think Paul made a great maneuver to keep outside and get around me outside. I said, "Oh, there is one driver in the world that do that, and that guy is Paul Tracy."
But the end was good. I think I lost four points because -- I lost two points to a good car and two points to Tracy's car. Is important to keep consistent. I think the PacifiCare-Newman/Haas team gave me consistent car. The car was good. I mean, I had so much understeer compare with Tracy and Sebastien. I couldn't keep up the pace that they had. But was okay, I'm quite happy with the result.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run. We're joined by the second and first place finishers for tonight's race. Second place goes to the series points leader, Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Paul led 67 laps on the day to take the points for the most laps led, now holds an eight-point advantage over Bruno after nine races. This is Paul's sixth podium of the year and 54th of his career. Take us through the day. Pretty taxing race out there, apparently.
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, this is always a very tiring race. The humidity was very high tonight. The temperature wasn't so bad, but just a lot of humidity. You know, it was a great race. You know, seems like Sebastien and I always make a nice start, lead the field out nice. You know, Sebastien elected to go all the way to the inside. I thought, "Where is he going over there?" I guess he was protecting the inside to stop guys from coming up the inside. But it makes the corner too tight for yourself. I was able to just sweep by on the inside when he had to stop at the apex to try to get around the corner.
From there, I felt the car was good. I was just kind of pacing myself. The last few laps before each pit stop, I was able to pull away a little bit. The first two stops went good. Going into the third stop, I wasn't really able to pull away from Sebastien. I tried for a few laps, and got away, then he caught me back up a little bit the lap previous to coming in. And on that stop, I think they short-filled or something because they had a little bit quicker stop, he beat me out of the pits. And that was pretty much it.
It took me five or six laps before I could get back into the low one-minute bracket and 59's. By then, Sebastien had built up about a four-, five- second lead and he was too far down the road for me to catch him because I knew that once I got going, we pretty much ran the same pace. I just figured, "Well, you know, I'm not going to be able to catch him. If I do catch him, passing him is another thing."
I just kind of settled in and tried to build up a lead on Bruno going into the last stop. At that stop I had about a 10-second lead. From there, I mean, my hands got real tired at the end from the bumps. The last 15 or 18 laps was pretty tough. My hands were really tired from the bumps. The steering got really heavy tonight with the temperature drop and the amount of rubber that was on the track. You know, my hands got pretty tired. The last few laps was pretty tough.
ERIC MAUK: Take us through the last lap with you and Bruno. He talked about the move he made in five and six to get by.
PAUL TRACY: I was going to try to challenge Sebastien, but he made a good restart. I didn't get off the last corner very well. Bruno was right there. I braked late into the first corner, and then I didn't get off it very well, and then I saw Bruno coming. I spun the tires coming off. I tried to get on the power pretty quickly and I spun the tires getting off the corner, and it kicked out a little bit.
Then Bruno, I saw him coming. He had a good draft. We raced down the back straightaway side by side. And I went in really deep past the one marker and I kind of swept out to the outside on the braking zone, and got on the braking zone, and I was able to go in deep. But Bruno was kind of in the dirty part of track and he slid wide of the apex and then had to really slow down for the second corner, turn four. I was able to just be on the line and sweep right around him on the outside. And it was clear sailing from there. But it was fun.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. The winner of the US Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix is Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 McDonald's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Sebastien claims the third win of his Champ Car career, and is the first rookie to win three races in a year since Juan Montoya in 1999. Sebastien ran the fastest lap of the day with a 58.9. He led 33 laps and won from the pole for the second time this year. He also moves back into the top five in the standings with the win. Sebastien, congratulations. How does it feel?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It feels very good, obviously, because the car turned red for this event with the arrival of McDonald's to complete the Lilly partnership. I'm very glad of that because it looked like the black car was a synonym of bad luck and now it's gone (laughter).
I'm just very proud to score my first win in US. It was an awesome race. I think Paul and myself pushed as hard as possible, that means 100 percent and even more, all through the race. And that's why we draft together. He said he couldn't handle the steering wheel anymore, but if you could see my blisters, you won't believe it. But it's been a very, very tough race, and obviously I'm very, very happy for the McDonald's/Lilly crew.
ERIC MAUK: Towards the end of the first fuel run, between the three of you guys, you swapped fastest laps six times between laps 29 and 40. Were you aware of how hard each one of you were pushing during that stint?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I mean, it looks like the weight of the car had a big influence on the pace. As more the fuel was going down, as quicker we were. So I was -- I had a pretty good balance at the end of the stints all the time, so I was able to catch up very close to PT. Obviously, I had a very quick entry in the pit lane which helped me to close the gap and to be really on his tail. When we decided to short-fill and to use the set of tires we had, we really put everything together and that work. And after that, I did a very great stint, pushing as hard as possible. As Paul said, we've been able to create a gap, and after that the race was pretty much done.
ERIC MAUK: Take us through what goes through your mind the last three laps, have you an 11-second lead, it's all over but engraving the trophy, we bring out a yellow flag and you have to protect the lead from these two beside you.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, actually I was really upset in the car because I saw that. "Why did it do this, throw this yellow?" I mean, we could continue like that for the last three laps. It was really no problem. So I was pretty upset, especially because I saw that Mario (Haberfeld) was between me and Paul, and they asked him to back off. I said, "Come on. There was a car there. It was pretty good, actually." I was really happy to see that because obviously I was so tired in the car. I didn't know where was Paul, but I knew how I was. I thought was going to be difficult to be very concentrated to get the checkered. And I got a bit of a rest, and I've been able to do it, put it together for the very last lap. I went away from PT and Bruno's fight, and I didn't see what happened, but I'm pretty glad of that.
ERIC MAUK: We'll go ahead and open it up to questions from the media.
Q: After the race, Sebastien, Paul Newman pointed out that your left rear tire was shredding. Were you aware of the damage to your car? Perhaps that caution maybe really did help you.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I didn't know. But we had it some front wing each single stint except the last one because the balance was pretty good. I didn't have any new tires anymore. So I just try to -- I think I touched on the apex of one turn a tire, and that probably damage the front wing, but not bad actually. I didn't see very much of that.
But I was more scared about the contact with Adrian because I really have no idea what happened. But he backed off, and I thought he saw me. Apparently it was not the case. And he touched me. I said, "No, not again." After three corners, I was just scared about a puncture. I saw that the balance was consistent and the car was okay, so I was a bit more confident. But I was so scared that something happened during the last eight laps, it was very mentally difficult.
Q: Any readings from the tire pressure sensors? It was okay?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, yeah, no, it was no problem. The tire was very damaged at the end only because of my (inaudible). I completely destroyed the tires. Obviously, I'm very surprised they didn't blew because I pushed very hard on that (laughter).
Q: Paul, did you know of the damage to Sebastien's car; you might have had a chance to pass him on that last lap?
PAUL TRACY: No. They told me on the radio coming into the race start, but everything happened so quickly. There was only one lap of yellow. They told me that he had had some type of a coming together with somebody and maybe there was damage, and his previous lap was a little bit slower, so maybe I could attack. But, you know, he made a good restart and jumped it pretty good, pretty far back on a straightaway. That was that. I mean, you know, then I had my hands full with Bruno, so there was no challenge.
Q: Sebastien, could you take us through your run into turn one at the start, how Paul got around you? What was your vision of it, your side of what happened, on the start into turn one?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, basically I protected the inside because I didn't want to have a big surprise. I prefer to be second and to go through the soft turns than to see someone jumping on the inside and bugging me out of the race. So I was really, really taking care about going through this first turn, even if I had to lose a position because obviously I knew that the best solution was to keep outside, and I told that to the team on the radio. But they told me, "Do as you want because, obviously, we don't want to take the responsibility for you." I said, "All right."
There's two solutions. Either I say it's everything for everything, I just try to take care a bit my position. Even if it's a bit wet, I'm going to slow for sure a bit at the apex and slow down more than I had to. But that was the safest way to do it.
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien and Paul have made up of the front row in four races this year. In each of those four races, one of those two drivers have come home the winner.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I really want to say with Paul, there never been any problem and I'm very proud of that. Because obviously it looks like everybody's complaining about Paul. But I really have nothing to say about him. No, but seriously, seriously. It's the third or fourth start that we did together. We never had any problem. I'm very glad of that. I'm just expect it going to continue like that and we're going to have a very good relationship together.
ERIC MAUK: Bruno, you going to let that go?
PAUL TRACY: Bruno likes me, too.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I like Paul. No, I like Paul.
PAUL TRACY: He's still in the closet, though.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I prefer apple pie. Apple sauce is kind of... The only problem, Paul is a nice guy, but he doesn't ride bicycles very well, you know.
Q: You had a pretty good three or four weeks here. Sometimes in the past seasons you've not had the best of June, first part of July. Talk about that and the confidence it gives you going into your home track.
PAUL TRACY: It feels good. I remember Greg Moore used to always call us the "June Swoon". You'd go through June and not make any points at all.
You know, we've gotten through the pretty tough races with three podiums. So I'm very happy about that. You know, we want to continue to keep running well and qualifying well, finishing all the time because that's what it's going to take to win the championship.
Right now, I mean, the guy that we really have to focus on is Bruno because he's finishing in the top five every race. We've had a couple DNFs and bad finishes. With those three races where I only scored a point in each one, it really hurt us, and he's been in the top five every race. So we need to continue to do that, as well.
Q: You're sitting next to multiple winners. You're still contending for the championship. How tough is it for you to finish the podiums and contend, this close to victory?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, its strange. I think I already won races in the past, you know. It's not like I never won the race and be running always strong. It's sometimes a little bit frustrating, but I'm trying not to think about that. I'm trying to look for my main goal, that's to win the championship. I know that half of the races this year I had a car to win, and for some reasons I didn't win. Like Laguna, I couldn't get past Patrick. I don't know. I'm just giving example. Brands Hatch was a few things.
Today I didn't have the car to win. I had too much understeer. But even so, I just keep on the track and I knew that if there is any yellow, and I was very fast on cold tires, because I had a lot of understeer, and I knew that I could -- I mean, if there is a yellow, and I pass one of these two guys, I can get the other one, I can even win. I was very combative on the race.
But, on the other hand, after three or four laps, when everybody got their tires up to temperature, I knew that I fight too much understeer, and I just keep my pace, you know. Unfortunately, the race wasn't 200 laps, then they would get tired and I could get by them. But that's all right.
ERIC MAUK: After nine races our top five in the points, Paul Tracy is our leader with 117, Bruno second with 109, Michel Jourdain Jr. is third with 97, Patrick Carpentier is fourth with 82, Sebastien fifth with 74. Next up for the Champ Cars is the Molson Indy Toronto next weekend at Exhibition Place in Toronto. That brings an end to the press conference this evening. Thank you for attending. Gentlemen, congratulations.