An interview with: Patrick Carpentier Michael Andretti Paul Tracy part 1 of 2 Q: What happened to the car late in the race? It looked as if you had a body panel coming off the left side. Michael Andretti: I was pushing hard. All of a...
An interview with:
part 1 of 2
Q: What happened to the car late in the race? It looked as if you had a body panel coming off the left side.
Michael Andretti: I was pushing hard. All of a sudden I wasn't getting lap times. I assume maybe that's why. I think I dropped off a half a second a lap. I know losing that thing probably shorts you about 400 pounds of down force, so it's a pretty big deal.
Q: Can you give us a comment on Patrick's win?
Michael Andretti: Yeah, I'm really happy for him. I am just mad he had to pick this race to do it.
He drove a great weekend. His qualifying run was pretty phenomenal. He really pulled it out. Then he ran a strong pace in the race. He deserved to win.
Q: Your last one was with the Reynard. Patrick was with the Reynard. Wish you had a Reynard again?
Michael Andretti: I've got to say, I think we finally have a good hold on this Lola. I think we're finally getting it to suit my style a little bit. We made big changes in the last week. They really seemed to work. So hats off to the Team Motorola engineers for giving me a good car this weekend.
Q: How close a run was it with the engine?
Michael Andretti: Real close. I didn't think I was going to finish. Last three laps, the thing was just limping. So I just tried to short shift and coast through the corners. We did get enough to bring it home.
Q: Despite what happened today, do you see anyone catching Cristiano [da Matta]?
Michael Andretti: Yeah. It's not over yet. There's a long, long way to go. We saw he had bad luck today. He could hit four of these in a row and all of a sudden it's a new ballgame.
One thing, you know, you can't get too confident in this game because things can turn around real fast.
Q: Was this as rough a second place as you've ever had in the 299 starts you've made?
Michael Andretti: It was a tough one. First, the pace is just phenomenal. We were running 58-second laps around this place. That's what we were qualifying at last year. The g-forces that you pull here are really unbelievable. So physically this track is tough. Then you add 15 more laps, and you have yourself one heck of a long race.
Q: Talk about extending the race?
Michael Andretti: I think it's crazy. I don't know why they're doing it. They say TV. But I think there comes a point where they have to look at the physical element. I just don't think that was a good rule. I'm hoping they don't do that at a place like Mid-Ohio.
Q: What can you tell us about your plans for next year?
Michael Andretti: I have a lot of balls in the air right now. We'll have to see what comes down. There are some things that can happen pretty quickly, and there are some things that may take a little while.
There is no plan at the moment. Everybody can put out whatever rumor they want because that's all they are- rumors.
Q: What about plans for [son] Marco next year?
Michael Andretti: Marco actually just qualified second. I just found out today he's racing in South Bend [IN]. Hopefully he has a good race this weekend.
He'll do karts this year and maybe we'll look at Skip Barber stuff for him next year because he'll be 16. He's getting of age. It's a little scary.
Merrill Cain: We are now joined by Paul Tracy, a very slim and trim looking Paul. Driver of the #26 KOOL Honda/Lola Bridgestone, he takes his second podium finish of the season and first since his Milwaukee win earlier this year by taking a third tote today.
The podium is his third here at Cleveland, giving him 50 points on the season, the 11th consecutive season in which Paul has scored at least 50 points in The CART FedEx Championship Series.
We'll open it up for questions for Paul Tracy.
Q: How long was the race for you Paul?
Paul Tracy: I weighed 179 before the race. I weighed myself when I just got out of the shower. I weigh 172. That's how hot it was.
Q: Yesterday you were not very happy about your car. I would even say you were upset. Today everything has changed. How can you explain that?
Paul Tracy: I wasn't so much unhappy with the car because we had a great car all weekend. We just, for whatever reasoning, in both qualifying sessions, made a lot of mistakes. We didn't get the tire pressures right and didn't have the right amount of fuel. That, along with traffic, people blocking and just all kind of things, compounded itself on the first day and on the second day. So that was very frustrating because I had a good car all weekend and I was at the top of the list for most of the sessions and very strong in practice.
So we made some changes this last night to Michael's [Andretti] setup to try this morning because he was really very happy with his car, and obviously he qualified really well. We put the same setup that Michael had on.
The car was really good this morning. I made a good start and I was going along. It was going to be hard to pass Tony [Kanaan] on the track. Then we came in and did our pit stop. We had a problem with the right rear. I lost three positions on that stop, which was frustrating because I think if we would have beat Tony out of the pits, we could have chased up toward that next group of Michael and [teammate] Dario [Franchitti] at the time.
We got 12 seconds behind or so. The next stop was good. I beat all three of those guys out. I was about 12 seconds behind Michael. I was chasing, chasing, chasing, and got it down to about three seconds. On the third stop, we had to use another qualifying set. We had a sticker set on the second round. The third set was a qualifying set. I struggled a little bit with that set of tires.
And Michael was able to open the gap back up to about nine seconds. And then after that, I just decided he's nine, 10 seconds in front, it's going to be hard to chase him down, as well as pass him.
The race was long. I radioed in at the third stint. I said, "How many laps to go?" They told me 40. I was like, "Man, okay." I just decided I'm going to go as quick as I need to go to hang on to third place because we need the points. It was a good day for us.
Q: What do you think about Carpentier's win?
Paul Tracy: It's great. He was frustrated last week in Toronto and said some things in the papers that I heard about. I actually gave him a call and said, "You know, you have to be careful of that because I've done that before." You need to be careful.
He's looking for a ride. He's not confirmed yet. This is the best way that you can solidify yourself in a team- to win races. But when things aren't going well, being critical is sometimes not the right option.
Q: The team has to be pretty happy with getting two or three drivers on the podium. Comment about that. Also you must be pretty happy getting adjusted to the Lola package now.
Paul Tracy: I am very happy. But it's such a long race today, I'm glad we didn't have mechanical problems. I guess a lot of guys had problems mechanically, either engines or problems with their cars.
The three leaders in the points went out, and obviously Cristiano went out quite early, and Bruno [Junqueira]. So is the mechanics of the car along with the reliability of the car has that's been our biggest stumbling block.
We're finding the speed out of the car quite quickly. The hardest thing is to have reliability when you change packages in the middle of the season.
MERRILL CAIN: We're joined now by the champion of today's Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by U.S. Bank, Patrick Carpentier, driver of the #32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone. He had his second career victory today, his first ever on a road course. His only other win came on an oval, Michigan last season. This is the first win on a road course for the Player's/Forsythe team. That last win for Player's came in 1997. The win is also the first of the year for a Ford-Cosworth powered car and the first since Max Papis won at Laguna Seca last year.
Patrick also won for the most laps led in the day today. That gives him 62 points in the season and moves him into a tie for fourth place for the championship with Michel Jourdain, Jr.
Patrick, this one had to feel particularly good for you. Your second career victory couldn't have come at a better time for you. I know you faced a lot of internal pressure lately. A good result for your team.
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, for sure. Our team wants to win. Player's, he's putting a lot of money in the budget. We expect to win. We have been struggling since the beginning of the year. We had a lot of problems, mechanically and other things. Toronto seemed to be one of our worst weekends we've had since I've been with the team. It seemed like nothing was ever going to happen.
I didn't expect that this weekend. But I don't know if it made the team or I step up. We came this weekend and we had absolutely no problems. Ford-Cosworth did a fantastic job with the engine. They gave me exactly what I wanted. They worked on the traction control and really improved it for this track.
It's a track that suits me a little bit more. They had great power. The team did a perfect job in the pits. The guys were really fast and the car lasted the whole way.
It was completely the opposite of Toronto, actually. It was one of my best weekends. And I'm pretty happy. Actually, I'm more happy to get this win on a road course than I am on an oval. So it was good for us and it's my first one. I'm going to sleep on that tonight.
Cleveland press conference, part II