The Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver pre-race Quoteboard PAUL TRACY ( ...
The Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver pre-race Quoteboard
PAUL TRACY (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We still have our work cut out for us in the battle for the championship. It's definitely not a two-man race between Bruno (Junqueira) and I because Michel (Jourdain) is now right on our heels. And now we're heading to a Denver track that Bruno dominated in winning from the pole last year. But street courses have been a strong point for Team Player's throughout this season. We've been able to win all four street-course races thus far, and we're determined to do everything we can to continue that streak in Denver. The single-car qualifying is good news as far as I'm concerned. There aren't going to be any complaints about being blocked or running out of time to get a really good fast lap. You just have to put all your focus into squeezing every tenth you can out of the car. The Denver street course poses some different challenges, not only because it's a course that's slick and has transitions from asphalt to concrete, but also because of the thin air. It's not so much a case of the drivers adapting to the thin air, because we have a number of races like Cleveland, Road America and Mid-Ohio for instance that are a test of stamina and physical conditioning. It's probably even tougher from a car aerodynamics standpoint because the thin air affects such things as grip and braking. That makes finding the proper set-ups as quickly as possible a key factor. Before our first race in Denver last year, a lot of people, including drivers, thought the slickness and tightness of the track would lead to a lot of incidents on race day. But there was only one caution in the entire race and only four cars failed to finish."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "The 2002 race in Denver was a very good weekend for me. I started on pole, led all 100 laps and won the race. I think the PacifiCare car has been very consistent and with the good performance that I had last year in Denver, I really think we have a shot to win the race. I think this year has been a big battle between Paul Tracy and me. We have both been fast everywhere and have been consistent. I think it will be really important for me to win in Denver. I want to earn my first back-to-back win there. I already won twice at Road America but not back to back and it will be Newman/Haas Racing's 350th race and would be really special if I can give Carl Haas, Paul Newman and the whole team a win. Plus it is a big PacifiCare city and they will have 150 guests going to the race and if I can have a good result it would be very good for them too. The Denver track is a very, very difficult track. It's also challenging because you are racing at a high altitude and you lose a lot of downforce on the car. Then the car is light - much more than you are used to and you have to be really competitive to keep the car on track and run fast laps. In Denver we are going to have single car qualifying for only the second time because it's a street course but it's a very short track. Every driver is going to have a three-lap opportunity to put together a good lap time. I think it will be good because there is not going to be any traffic and not be any excuses. The guy that goes fast is going to be on pole."
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante/Centrix Financial Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Montreal was a big win for the Gigante team, because it can set the tone for the rest of the season. There are still five races to go and it won't be easy, but we can catch Paul. I can't worry about what he is doing, I can only control my team and my car and try to maximize our points and run as strong as possible. We need to win and we need to be on the podium. Our goal is to be on the podium every race the rest of the year. It won't be easy but that is what we have to do if we are going to have a chance at the championship. Qualifying is always important on the street courses, but it will be critical to being successful this weekend. The track at Denver presented some real challenges to the drivers last year, especially when it came to overtaking. I know they have done a lot of work on the circuit to make it more conducive to passing. I drove around the track in a passenger car with Jim Michaelian a few weeks ago and you can see they have put a lot of time and effort into smoothing out the racing line. The atmosphere was truly fantastic around race last season. Denver is a great city and there was a lot going on with all concerts and football games and the race. I know this will be a busy week with Centrix Financial, a Denver based company and one of my sponsors serving as the title sponsor. We have had a fast car on the street courses this year and I think we have some real momentum coming into the race so now we just need to take advantage of that momentum."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 McDonald's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We are going to run the McDonald's/Lilly paint scheme for the second time this season and I hope it is going to have the same result in Denver as it was in Cleveland where we won! I think the red colors give us good success and I think it should be a good event because last year didn't work that well for Newman/Haas (third place) but Bruno had a great weekend. We're going to learn a lot and should be just fine. It's a really difficult street course. You really need to find a good mechanical balance and great grip and the lap time is going to come from there. We're probably going to change a lot of things from what Newman/Haas had last year. It should be a mix of what Newman/Haas had last year and Bruno's feedback. Single car qualifying is fairer for everybody. You have three laps and are alone on the track and it's equal for everybody. If you make a mistake it's only your fault and you don't have to point to anybody and say 'You blocked me.' I think it's very important for Denver as well as the other street course we have been to because on a street course when you are driving between the walls there is always blind turns and if you if you do a slow lap you can block someone even if you don't want to. When you bring the event into the town, the crowd is easy to access. When you bring the show to them, there are more people able to see it than ones where people have to drive 100 miles or more or fly."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I don't expect an emotional letdown after our home race in Montreal. Actually, we're looking to use the momentum from that race to keep moving forward in the championship. The last three races have been good ones for us, and in each case, the car seems to have gotten better as the race went on, which means the Team Player's crew has been doing an excellent job. It will be interesting to see how things go in Denver with the Lola this year. For the first race on the Denver course last year, we were running with the Reynard, and I remember we struggled quite a bit with our set-ups on the first day, but improved in the final qualifying. I like the fact that the series has changed the rules this year and we'll be having single car qualifying. It's really the best way to go on a street course that is short and narrow, because when you get a lot of traffic out there at the same time in qualifying, it's really tough to get a clear lap. Plus, you run the risk of having a lot of incidents that might disrupt the session and maybe even affect the safety of the drivers. It's going to be very important to do well in qualifying because Denver, like the other street courses we've raced on this year, has limited passing opportunities during the race."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's great to be back in Denver. This is a cool city and we came in earlier to acclimatize, but also to enjoy the city before we get busy racing on the streets downtown. The team is still pretty pumped about last weekend (in Montreal) and how well we did, even though we didn't get the results we wanted. The engineers, the crew and I are really getting into synch' and everything is coming together for us. All of our hard work is paying off and as a team with such a positive attitude, it's great to be welcome into an exciting race city."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "We had a very good car here last year, and I feel we will be very competitive this weekend. Denver is a great city and this is an important market for our team and the series. We have a lot of fans here and we are looking forward to putting on a good show for them. The track is challenging and, like any street circuit, qualifying is important. I think the new single car qualifying procedure for this race is good because the track is so tight and the corners are one right after another. The track was very slippery last year and if you got off line you lost everything. We have been strong on the street circuits this year, and I am looking forward to the race."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Denver was a fun race last year so I'm really looking forward to returning. The crowd was good and I think now that the people of Denver have gotten a taste of Champ Car racing that it should be even bigger this year. We've struggled a little bit on the street circuits this year but I think we've improved a lot so I'm optimistic. We had a good weekend in Montreal so it's nice to come to this race with a little bit of momentum. For sure we'll be looking to post another top-five finish - maybe even a podium!"
MARIO HABERFELD (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Our street circuit record has been improving, thanks to a lot of hard work by our crew and especially the engineers. I'm looking forward to our team's first trip to Denver, a city we have heard a lot of good things about. I'm especially anticipating the one car qualifying, as it will eliminate all the controversy and excuses, and be fair for everyone."
ROBERTO MORENO (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I love going to Colorado for skiing but this will be my first time to go there for racing! It's difficult to get a street circuit to be as smooth as a road course but I have heard the organizers in Denver have really tried to improve the track in this area. For me, I don't like to complain about a bumpy track - I think it brings another type of challenge to our racing! I'm really looking forward to this weekend in Denver because I feel that Herdez Competition is really building momentum now. Last weekend in Montreal we were able to recover very quickly from the problems we had on the first day and bring home a good result at the end of the weekend. We've all been working very hard and now we are in a position to be fighting for podium finishes every weekend. The team is strong - we just need to put it all together on one weekend."
JIMMY VASSER (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Single car qualifying should give the fans an opportunity to see who's got their can figured out. Since there will be no traffic issues you will see who is fastest. CART's done a great job with a brand new event and the Denver fans gave us a warm welcome last year. It's a cool city and for me one of the highlights of the circuit."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I've been looking forward to returning to Denver ever since I started on the front row there last year. My day ended early because I spun due to oil on the track so I feel I have some unfinished business there. The inaugural event was a great race and I'm sure this year it will be even better."
TIAGO MONTEIRO (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Denver is really important for us. We have a lot of sponsors and contacts there, so it's really an important race for the team. I don't know a lot about the track. I've heard it's small and narrow, but still nice to drive, so we'll see. We been in good form for the last 6 or 7 races, but have not been able to finalize the results we'd hoped for, so I'm really motivated to have a good result here."
GUALTER SALLES (#19 Alpina Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It is a new track for me like Montreal. Qualifying will have a new format with single-car qualifying; that should be interesting. We had a decent car in Vancouver so we go from there."
MIKA SALO (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I am excited to have this opportunity with PK Racing. I enjoyed the test at Mid-Ohio and have been getting to know the team since then - it is a good group, and I think we will work very well together. Street racing is my favorite, so I am happy that my first race will be on the streets of Denver."