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

ERIC MAUK: We are joined right now by our 2nd and 3rd place qualifiers. Third on the day is the driver of the ...

ERIC MAUK: We are joined right now by our 2nd and 3rd place qualifiers. Third on the day is the driver of the #32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola Bridgestone, Patrick Carpentier who used his last lap of his 15 to climb into the 3rd spot with a lap of 58.449 seconds, 129.713 miles per hour, defending race Champion, Patrick is on the qualifying podium for the second time this season. He took one pole earlier this year at Laguna Seca. An eventful evening for you out there. Tell us about it.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I was done spinning. We decided to go for a lap. I was just pushing really hard and pushing maybe a little bit too early and the tire pressure was not up to what it was supposed to be and the car was really snappy. That lap came through. But the guys did a good change. I was struggling in corners 5 and 6 and the car wouldn't change direction. They did a bit of a change and it really helped me so I got through there faster.

ERIC MAUK: Was there much of a problem with the Trans-Am rubber on the track. Take a little time for it to get up to grip for you?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: No, not really because when I went out that first early on it was a 58.7 and I thought the car had definitely a little bit more into it so it was not so bad today. Last night for me seemed to be a lot more slippery that it was today.

ERIC MAUK: Best of luck tomorrow. Paul Tracy, made his provisional qualifying time for Friday night holdup for the second spot in tomorrow's grid, the driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone led Friday's run with a best lap of 58.405 seconds 129.811 miles per hour. Paul will start in the front row for the sixth time this season and has started lower than third just once in the year's nine races. Paul, came out early, put up a 58.7; things were looking good and then had the spin and it wasn't worth bringing up a set of tires?

PAUL TRACY: I had a good -- my last quick warmup lap was 58.7. I was pretty surprised by that and then I was going for it on that lap and I got to Turn 1 and I split it halfway down the backstraight, I was a couple of tenths up on my quick lap and then I said, oh, this is going to be good, I am really going to push it. And I went through 3, 4 and I was hard on it through 4 and flat, you know, holding the throttle down then it just broke away from me. I spun, and caused a red, so we were going to have to -- on the second set of tires we were going to have to do two lap times to achieve one because we would lose our quick time.

So we sat there for a little bit and thought about it, times weren't really coming down and guys were struggling and dropping wheels off and a lot of dirt was flying in the air. Just decided well, we're going to save the tires for the race and start on a set of stickers and then we didn't think it was going to happen. I had my fingers crossed and then right with about a minute to go Sebastien put his time in. We were watching, we could see that he was going quick. So a little bit disappointed because we felt that we could have done better, but it just -- seems like the first day qualifying should be my day and that's a good day to do it on.

ERIC MAUK: Light conditions out there tonight, much better than last night?

PAUL TRACY: Better than last night. I didn't think it was going to get dark so quick; then it got cloudy. I had like a half smoke screen on and I didn't have any trouble seeing it all. So it was good. They moved some lights around and I felt it was much better.

ERIC MAUK: Our pole-sitter, the driver of the #2 McDonalds's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Sebastien Bourdais who takes his fourth pole of the year after putting up a top laugh of 58.014 seconds, 130.686 miles per hour. Sebastien earns his first road course pole since Mexico; takes the Championship point for his efforts giving him 54 on the year. Sebastien, two very quick laps at the end. Did you have any idea you were going to get that fast at the end.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I mean, yesterday during -- in these conditions we had a very good car and we worked a lot on the setup, which achieved something very good. So we were fairly confident and I didn't do the same time, it was just a matter of the remaining time in the session, we were running out of laps so I was okay with that and I knew it was going to be okay as long as we had good conditions. We stayed in the pit and I was a bit afraid it was not going to work very well. Didn't put a lap together after 5 laps, we had a red, so it was not -- things were not going so great. And the second run I started pretty late in the session and I had quite a lot of space to achieve something good so I took my time to get up to speed and tried to put good laps together and step by step and it worked fairly well. I was a bit scared when Patrick spun and I said oh, shit, it is a red, now it's over, so it was -- I was not completely confident, but obviously we didn't have a big problem and been able to put quick laps at the very end.

PAUL TRACY: (As fireworks go off in the background) You are making us miss the 4th of July. We're supposed to be out watching fireworks and drinking beer. (Laughter)

ERIC MAUK: Not my fault man, we've got work to do. Let's open it up to questions from the media.

PAUL TRACY: Can we open up the curtains so we can see the fireworks?

ERIC MAUK: (Patrick goes to the window to open the curtain) Give Pat the microphone so he can call a play-by-play of the fireworks.

Q. After you turned your fast lap, was it just confidence or you were worried about maybe Pat coming back and taking the pole away from you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, you know, 'til the session is not over, you never know if you are going to get pole or not. And I didn't feel I had very -- achieved a very great job so I thought some guys were going to be able to be better, simply, so I just tried to be smooth. I didn't want to cause a red and lose my lap time but also a quicker lap, so it was kind of in between, you know.

Q. Everybody is talking about the start at this event like every year. But you made a couple of comments, I think at Portland there was trouble getting a good clean start at Portland. Have you guys talked about the starts with the officials?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think both Sebastien and I both have an understanding, we've done this already three times together already and it's always been very fair, there have been no games played. You know, the last few starts the starters done have not been very successful. This is a difficult track to start from because the guys from a couple of rows back always try to make a maneuver in the first corner. This is a difficult one to start, but I think that Sebastien and I have a good track record with each other. It has been fair and clean and we have been able to lead the field away pretty good. So I think that's what we both want to achieve tomorrow.

Q. What is it that got you to the pole so fast so many times Sebastien this year, is there any trick, any clue, any anything in your style that's getting to the front?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think I have always been a very good qualifier, there's no doubt about it. I did five poles out of six in Formula 3000 at the beginning of the year so there is no doubt about getting the best out of the tires. It is the package, the package between the engineers. I need to be thankful because I could not do it on my own.

Q. How was the track tonight?

PAUL TRACY: I think it is just -- the track, I mean, once you get out there, we went out after the Trans-Am, it was very slippery and then the track got better and better and then you get -- everybody starts trying really hard and you see the amount of cars going off and dirt is flying all over the place. This is a tricky track - very high speed corners, and when a car throws a bunch of dirt on the track right in front of you it upsets probably three or four cars, the next three or four cars through. And it doesn't take very much to lose a half a second here because if you just miss the line a slide, you know, it kills the lap time. So when the track conditions are right, I mean, when Pat and Sebastien did their time at the very end, there wasn't many people left on the track and there wasn't all this dirt flying all over the place, and the track was calm. There was only three or four cars left. I think that was the difference. Most everybody had done their laps and come in.

Q. With the changes made to the lights was it better for you tonight, Sebastien?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: To be very honest, I didn't get pretty much of a problem yesterday, so I didn't pay much attention with the changes. It looks like everybody is satisfied.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: For me it was good, just at the end there at the back, one of the corners down at the back there, there was a couple of lights in our eyes. For me I just had a clear visor and I just -- they changed those and pointed in different angles and today I didn't really see it. It was pretty good today.

Q. How many guys had the titanium skidplates on today and what are you expecting tomorrow with them. Do you expect it to be a distraction tomorrow?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: No, nobody did. The rule was not passed and nobody switched to titanium floors. They were talking about it, but it never materialized.

Q. I guess there were some other changes that you guys talked about last night in terms of different cones or -- and redoing the tires and some other markers, I saw that they painted the tires at the apexes with fluorescent paint. Any of the other changes make any particular difference today?

PAUL TRACY: I didn't notice any difference. It looked the same to me. It always looks the same. There's always tires there at the apexes, quarter way into the race and they are gone because people hit them and they disappear, so you know, (laughter) I try to stay on the track as much as I can.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It is true as long as you go through the corners, the less you see the tires, very true. (LAUGHTER)

PATRICK CARPENTIER: You see a few pieces of front wing passed the corner.

ERIC MAUK: That will wrap it up. Thank you all for attending.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais