CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Top-three qualifiers press conference

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH AJ ALLMENDINGER, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND JUSTIN WILSON ERIC MAUK: Ladies and gentlemen, we will get started with our post-qualifying press conference, final round of qualifying for the Champ...

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH AJ ALLMENDINGER, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND JUSTIN WILSON

ERIC MAUK: Ladies and gentlemen, we will get started with our post-qualifying press conference, final round of qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, presented by U.S. Bank, the 25th running of the Cleveland Grand Prix, round Number 6 of the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Before we get started with our Top-3 qualifiers I'd like to welcome Mr. Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone Motorsports to present today's Bridgestone Pole Award to A.J. Allmendinger (applause).

Bridgestone hung up a track record today. These guys are running with 200 less horsepower than they ran when Jimmy set this thing back in 1998. A.J. lost almost 2/10 over the record. Tell us what role Bridgestone played in that.

AL SPEYER: Well, it is quite a run for A.J.. Certainly we congratulate all the drivers that qualified today, but to be honest with you, we wish there was more difference between our alternate tires here and our standards. We're shooting hopefully to get, maybe around a second, and we're nowhere near that here today. We still have our work cut out for us. We'll keep working on it. But a new track record is certainly something to brag about for all of us and we're glad we have the fastest tires out here this weekend.

ERIC MAUK: We'll be joined by all three of our top qualifiers, and we will start with two of our three, starting with the third place qualifier driver of the number 9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, for RuSPORT Justin Wilson. He puts up a quick lap of 56.651 seconds, 133.830 miles per hour. Justin's fifth Top-5 start of the year; his second Top-3 here at Cleveland. Tell us how it went today.

JUSTIN WILSON: It was okay. Working on the car all day getting it faster and just trying to get it set up right. Yesterday was a little bit off. I was quite pleased; ended up putting a good time early on and we put the option tires on and it didn't go faster. In traffic I caught one car in the hairpin, he lost momentum and went wide. The car was struggling so I was hoping he was going to let me by into 3 but he kind of closed the door. I was up a 10th and a half at that point; which at that stage of the game, was quite crucial because A.J. hadn't put in his blinding lap. So I was a little frustrated at that. It is what it is, and I think we have got a good car to race tomorrow and hopefully we can change things around since last weekend.

ERIC MAUK: You have run here twice in the Champ Cars previously two vastly different races, your rookie year started in the front row and race lasted about 14 seconds for you. Last year you started 16th, made up nine spots, finished 7th. Tell us about what kind of race we should expect here tomorrow and what your expectations are.

JUSTIN WILSON: I just hope that I am in the right spot on the grid and we can get to the first corner without anyone getting too excited. Then it's going to be interesting to see how it works out; whether people save fuel or whether we go for it. Portland was a very different race to what we have seen previously with no full course yellows. A.J. decided to take off, so I had to go after him. It was very different to the usual fuel saving that goes on in the first half of the race before we get into the racing. So I am really not sure. I think whoever comes out in Turn 1 in the lead, whether it's A.J. or somebody starting 12th - (LAUGHTER)- They will dictate the pace.

ERIC MAUK: Good result. Good luck tomorrow. The pole sitter for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by U.S. Bank driver of the number 7 Indeck/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger. He sets a new track record today with a time of 56.283 seconds, 134.705 miles per hour. Breaking a mark that was set in 1998 by Jimmy Vasser, one of the longer held track records on the Champ Car circuit. It is A.J.'s first pole of the year; second of his career, gives him 103 Championship points. He sits 29 behind Justin Wilson in second. Tell us about that flying lap, the last one.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think the whole Forsythe team today was quite amazing. In practice we were fairly close, but by everybody seeing the times, everybody was really close, and my engineer Mike Canon just kept fully working on the car as the practice went on. We kept getting it better as the practice went on. But we never got to really do a new tire run to see what the car was like so in qualifying, the car was really good on the blacks. I didn't get the lap that I needed on the blacks, even though it was fairly quick. Then in the reds the car was just about the same and a little more grip from the red tires, and it was just kind of a pretty stable lap and it was really good. I was nervous I knew Sebastien was out there, so I had one more lap to go. I was on a big quicker lap and I ran out of fuel, but fortunately enough, we were able to hold onto it and I really think the car is going to be pretty solid for tomorrow's race.

ERIC MAUK: You have been fast all weekend. Any one part of the course where you are feeling especially hooked up?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, I mean, it is a tough course to get around because it's so fast and if your car has just one handling characteristic, whether it's understeer or oversteer, I think it really hurts you here because the corners are so fast, so really what you need is just a stable car and the whole Forsythe team has given me that. I am really feeling like I am connecting with my engineer and we're just kind of feeling what each other needs for me to tell him what to do to the car; how he has to go about it and what he has to give to the car to make it quick. So I am just really happy right now, really having a lot of fun with the whole Forsythe team and I think IF we can come out tomorrow's race with at least a podium; if not another victory, I will be really pleased with the weekend.

ERIC MAUK: Our second place qualifier, our current points leader driver of the number 1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone, Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His official time today goes up as 56.638 seconds, 133.861 miles per hour; Sebastien's fourth front row start of the year. He starts the outside of the front row after leading yesterday's qualifying. Sebastien, tell us a little bit about your day.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess we lost our best lap for running too many laps. Ken called me on the radio that I was out of laps when I was already on the wrong side of the track coming into pit lane. I guess it really didn't change much of anything anyway, but I guess today we just missed it. The car was good, but not good enough, just a great job from A.J. and he just put a very strong lap together. We seem to be struggling a little bit in qualifying on the second day. Every year it's the same, we just -- we lose a little bit the balance on the car. We're trying to get rid of the understeer that we build up. We just don't seem to find a really good way, so the car is a little harder to drive and we just don't go as fast -- we don't make as big an improvement as the others. It's a little tough, but yeah, we're right there and we'll start from the first row tomorrow and hope to have a solid start without any incidents and if that's the case, then we'll go racing.

ERIC MAUK: Clarification, Sebastien had a quick lap today of 56.520 but that was taken away as he ran over his allotment of 15 qualifying laps here by running 16 laps. So he was penalized your fastest lap for that. That's what Sebastien was referencing. How different was the racetrack today, Sebastien, how did the Bridgestones perform on it?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We had the reds on. It is tough because we don't do a complete direct compare and in the 15 minutes we were starting with some changes and we're not too happy with it so we just bailed out and went back to this morning's setup. And feels like it is a little bit of a problem as the car moves around a little bit more. I wasn't exactly as happy, but -- speed-wise it looked very similar. I don't think it will be a big deal either way tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: We'll take questions from the media.

Q: Does this go farther in proving that last week wasn't a fluke and that you really are one of the best drivers here and that Carl (Russo) made a mistake in letting you go?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I wish our adrenaline helped the car handle better otherwise I'd a had a couple victories. No, I mean, going into Portland the whole Forsythe team and my engineer Mike told me that they always struggled a bit at Portland, and after I won the race they told me that now they are going to tracks that they were good at. So you know just coming into this weekend, obviously had a lot of confidence off of last weekend's victory and finally got the monkey off my back and just really jelled with the team in the first weekend so coming here we always knew how tough it's going to be in the Champ Car World Series to be up front. So just come in here with a positive attitude and really excited about the weekend. It's just kind of when you start with a good car, as Forsythe has done for me the last two weekends and first practice session makes the rest of the weekend a lot easier so, as I said, we're just kind of keep picking away at the car and making it a little bit better each session, and you just never know going into qualifying because the guys are so tough. You know, the race is going to be the same way tomorrow but I am really looking forward to it.

Q</I>:: Was the track very slippery today? It seemed a lot of guys had trouble in the Carousel area.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: For me I think the track was pretty consistent. The pre-qualifying session I was a little nervous because we didn't seem to be that quick. I ran a 56.9 on new tires, but I expected it to be a bit quicker, so I was a little nervous going into the qualifying if we were going to actually even be quick enough to beat Sebastien's time from yesterday, but the Bridgestones they worked great and for me, I think the track seems fine as Sebastien referenced yesterday, that the curbs are a lot better here instead of just having the cones out on the track, which they have had in the past. Just makes being consistent and consistent lap times a lot easier because the track is always the same when you come around.

Q</I>:: Why is the track so much faster this year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You can definitely use the curbs a little bit where you couldn't use the tires, so it makes the line a little, you know, easier to use; the chicane is a little more open and the last turn also is before, the chicane is a little more open so it makes life a little easier for sure a bit faster so it is always a compromise.

Q</I>: A.J., you said yesterday that you hit every corner perfectly yesterday, just never on the same lap. Did you get them right today?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think there was a little bit more to improve on. The last lap was actually quicker until I ran out of fuel but at that time, compared to yesterday, it was just a really consistent lap and I didn't leave much on the race track at that point where yesterday I kind of made a lot of mistakes and would miss the corner just a bit and just overall helped the lap time, so that lap was close to being as good as I can get. I think as I said, the next lap if I would have gone through the back half of the track about the same, it would have probably been a tenth. If I would have hit it a bit better maybe 2/10. It was a really solid lap and there wasn't much left out there for myself.

Q: Are the red Bridgestones still throwing your car off-balance any?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think as I said yesterday the red tires are a little bit quicker, but you have to have a better balance on the tires and I think after coming off the blacks after the first run in qualifying because that's what we used since we used the reds yesterday, my car was really consistent. So putting the reds on, we didn't make a lot of changes because we felt the car was pretty consistent, and after running the reds yesterday, I kind of knew what parts of the track to look out for when my car was a little unbalanced and got through those corners today where yesterday I was just probably overdriving it trying to get everything out of it.

Q</I>:: Do you think that you guys could do standing starts like the Atlantics?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think without cause we would be quite -- either you leave all the tire on the racetrack or you stall it so it might be a little complicated with the turbo engine.

JUSTIN WILSON: Because of the turbo, the power is either on or off. There's no in between. Everyone is going to be trying to find that ultimate stop and half the cars will stall and half will spin the wheels the first corner. They have got a little bit of work to do before they can just simply bring that into Champ Cars. I think they have to work on the package itself rather than saying oh, yeah, we're going to do standing starts.

-ccws

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH AJ ALLMENDINGER, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND JUSTIN WILSON

ERIC MAUK: Ladies and gentlemen, we will get started with our post-qualifying press conference, final round of qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, presented by U.S. Bank, the 25th running of the Cleveland Grand Prix, round Number 6 of the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Before we get started with our Top-3 qualifiers I'd like to welcome Mr. Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone Motorsports to present today's Bridgestone Pole Award to A.J. Allmendinger (applause).

Bridgestone hung up a track record today. These guys are running with 200 less horsepower than they ran when Jimmy set this thing back in 1998. A.J. lost almost 2/10 over the record. Tell us what role Bridgestone played in that.

AL SPEYER: Well, it is quite a run for A.J.. Certainly we congratulate all the drivers that qualified today, but to be honest with you, we wish there was more difference between our alternate tires here and our standards. We're shooting hopefully to get, maybe around a second, and we're nowhere near that here today. We still have our work cut out for us. We'll keep working on it. But a new track record is certainly something to brag about for all of us and we're glad we have the fastest tires out here this weekend.

ERIC MAUK: We'll be joined by all three of our top qualifiers, and we will start with two of our three, starting with the third place qualifier driver of the number 9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, for RuSPORT Justin Wilson. He puts up a quick lap of 56.651 seconds, 133.830 miles per hour. Justin's fifth Top-5 start of the year; his second Top-3 here at Cleveland. Tell us how it went today.

JUSTIN WILSON: It was okay. Working on the car all day getting it faster and just trying to get it set up right. Yesterday was a little bit off. I was quite pleased; ended up putting a good time early on and we put the option tires on and it didn't go faster. In traffic I caught one car in the hairpin, he lost momentum and went wide. The car was struggling so I was hoping he was going to let me by into 3 but he kind of closed the door. I was up a 10th and a half at that point; which at that stage of the game, was quite crucial because A.J. hadn't put in his blinding lap. So I was a little frustrated at that. It is what it is, and I think we have got a good car to race tomorrow and hopefully we can change things around since last weekend.

ERIC MAUK: You have run here twice in the Champ Cars previously two vastly different races, your rookie year started in the front row and race lasted about 14 seconds for you. Last year you started 16th, made up nine spots, finished 7th. Tell us about what kind of race we should expect here tomorrow and what your expectations are.

JUSTIN WILSON: I just hope that I am in the right spot on the grid and we can get to the first corner without anyone getting too excited. Then it's going to be interesting to see how it works out; whether people save fuel or whether we go for it. Portland was a very different race to what we have seen previously with no full course yellows. A.J. decided to take off, so I had to go after him. It was very different to the usual fuel saving that goes on in the first half of the race before we get into the racing. So I am really not sure. I think whoever comes out in Turn 1 in the lead, whether it's A.J. or somebody starting 12th - (LAUGHTER)- They will dictate the pace.

ERIC MAUK: Good result. Good luck tomorrow. The pole sitter for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by U.S. Bank driver of the number 7 Indeck/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger. He sets a new track record today with a time of 56.283 seconds, 134.705 miles per hour. Breaking a mark that was set in 1998 by Jimmy Vasser, one of the longer held track records on the Champ Car circuit. It is A.J.'s first pole of the year; second of his career, gives him 103 Championship points. He sits 29 behind Justin Wilson in second. Tell us about that flying lap, the last one.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think the whole Forsythe team today was quite amazing. In practice we were fairly close, but by everybody seeing the times, everybody was really close, and my engineer Mike Canon just kept fully working on the car as the practice went on. We kept getting it better as the practice went on. But we never got to really do a new tire run to see what the car was like so in qualifying, the car was really good on the blacks. I didn't get the lap that I needed on the blacks, even though it was fairly quick. Then in the reds the car was just about the same and a little more grip from the red tires, and it was just kind of a pretty stable lap and it was really good. I was nervous I knew Sebastien was out there, so I had one more lap to go. I was on a big quicker lap and I ran out of fuel, but fortunately enough, we were able to hold onto it and I really think the car is going to be pretty solid for tomorrow's race.

ERIC MAUK: You have been fast all weekend. Any one part of the course where you are feeling especially hooked up?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, I mean, it is a tough course to get around because it's so fast and if your car has just one handling characteristic, whether it's understeer or oversteer, I think it really hurts you here because the corners are so fast, so really what you need is just a stable car and the whole Forsythe team has given me that. I am really feeling like I am connecting with my engineer and we're just kind of feeling what each other needs for me to tell him what to do to the car; how he has to go about it and what he has to give to the car to make it quick. So I am just really happy right now, really having a lot of fun with the whole Forsythe team and I think IF we can come out tomorrow's race with at least a podium; if not another victory, I will be really pleased with the weekend.

ERIC MAUK: Our second place qualifier, our current points leader driver of the number 1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone, Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His official time today goes up as 56.638 seconds, 133.861 miles per hour; Sebastien's fourth front row start of the year. He starts the outside of the front row after leading yesterday's qualifying. Sebastien, tell us a little bit about your day.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess we lost our best lap for running too many laps. Ken called me on the radio that I was out of laps when I was already on the wrong side of the track coming into pit lane. I guess it really didn't change much of anything anyway, but I guess today we just missed it. The car was good, but not good enough, just a great job from A.J. and he just put a very strong lap together. We seem to be struggling a little bit in qualifying on the second day. Every year it's the same, we just -- we lose a little bit the balance on the car. We're trying to get rid of the understeer that we build up. We just don't seem to find a really good way, so the car is a little harder to drive and we just don't go as fast -- we don't make as big an improvement as the others. It's a little tough, but yeah, we're right there and we'll start from the first row tomorrow and hope to have a solid start without any incidents and if that's the case, then we'll go racing.

ERIC MAUK: Clarification, Sebastien had a quick lap today of 56.520 but that was taken away as he ran over his allotment of 15 qualifying laps here by running 16 laps. So he was penalized your fastest lap for that. That's what Sebastien was referencing. How different was the racetrack today, Sebastien, how did the Bridgestones perform on it?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We had the reds on. It is tough because we don't do a complete direct compare and in the 15 minutes we were starting with some changes and we're not too happy with it so we just bailed out and went back to this morning's setup. And feels like it is a little bit of a problem as the car moves around a little bit more. I wasn't exactly as happy, but -- speed-wise it looked very similar. I don't think it will be a big deal either way tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: We'll take questions from the media.

Q: Does this go farther in proving that last week wasn't a fluke and that you really are one of the best drivers here and that Carl (Russo) made a mistake in letting you go?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I wish our adrenaline helped the car handle better otherwise I'd a had a couple victories. No, I mean, going into Portland the whole Forsythe team and my engineer Mike told me that they always struggled a bit at Portland, and after I won the race they told me that now they are going to tracks that they were good at. So you know just coming into this weekend, obviously had a lot of confidence off of last weekend's victory and finally got the monkey off my back and just really jelled with the team in the first weekend so coming here we always knew how tough it's going to be in the Champ Car World Series to be up front. So just come in here with a positive attitude and really excited about the weekend. It's just kind of when you start with a good car, as Forsythe has done for me the last two weekends and first practice session makes the rest of the weekend a lot easier so, as I said, we're just kind of keep picking away at the car and making it a little bit better each session, and you just never know going into qualifying because the guys are so tough. You know, the race is going to be the same way tomorrow but I am really looking forward to it.

Q</I>:: Was the track very slippery today? It seemed a lot of guys had trouble in the Carousel area.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: For me I think the track was pretty consistent. The pre-qualifying session I was a little nervous because we didn't seem to be that quick. I ran a 56.9 on new tires, but I expected it to be a bit quicker, so I was a little nervous going into the qualifying if we were going to actually even be quick enough to beat Sebastien's time from yesterday, but the Bridgestones they worked great and for me, I think the track seems fine as Sebastien referenced yesterday, that the curbs are a lot better here instead of just having the cones out on the track, which they have had in the past. Just makes being consistent and consistent lap times a lot easier because the track is always the same when you come around.

Q</I>:: Why is the track so much faster this year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You can definitely use the curbs a little bit where you couldn't use the tires, so it makes the line a little, you know, easier to use; the chicane is a little more open and the last turn also is before, the chicane is a little more open so it makes life a little easier for sure a bit faster so it is always a compromise.

Q</I>: A.J., you said yesterday that you hit every corner perfectly yesterday, just never on the same lap. Did you get them right today?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think there was a little bit more to improve on. The last lap was actually quicker until I ran out of fuel but at that time, compared to yesterday, it was just a really consistent lap and I didn't leave much on the race track at that point where yesterday I kind of made a lot of mistakes and would miss the corner just a bit and just overall helped the lap time, so that lap was close to being as good as I can get. I think as I said, the next lap if I would have gone through the back half of the track about the same, it would have probably been a tenth. If I would have hit it a bit better maybe 2/10. It was a really solid lap and there wasn't much left out there for myself.

Q: Are the red Bridgestones still throwing your car off-balance any?

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think as I said yesterday the red tires are a little bit quicker, but you have to have a better balance on the tires and I think after coming off the blacks after the first run in qualifying because that's what we used since we used the reds yesterday, my car was really consistent. So putting the reds on, we didn't make a lot of changes because we felt the car was pretty consistent, and after running the reds yesterday, I kind of knew what parts of the track to look out for when my car was a little unbalanced and got through those corners today where yesterday I was just probably overdriving it trying to get everything out of it.

Q</I>:: Do you think that you guys could do standing starts like the Atlantics?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think without cause we would be quite -- either you leave all the tire on the racetrack or you stall it so it might be a little complicated with the turbo engine.

JUSTIN WILSON: Because of the turbo, the power is either on or off. There's no in between. Everyone is going to be trying to find that ultimate stop and half the cars will stall and half will spin the wheels the first corner. They have got a little bit of work to do before they can just simply bring that into Champ Cars. I think they have to work on the package itself rather than saying oh, yeah, we're going to do standing starts.

-ccws

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger