CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Top three finishers transcript (part 1)

Champ Car Post-Race Press Conference Transcript Denver, CO August 15, 2004 Sebastien Bourdais - Race winner Paul Tracy - Second Bruno Junqueira - Third ERIC MAUK: Welcome to our post-race press conference, the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of...

Champ Car Post-Race Press Conference Transcript
Denver, CO
August 15, 2004

Sebastien Bourdais - Race winner
Paul Tracy - Second
Bruno Junqueira - Third

ERIC MAUK: Welcome to our post-race press conference, the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver Round Nine of the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car powered by Ford. We're joined by our top-three finishers in today's event starting with our third-place finisher, driver of the #6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno earns the 21st podium of his career, the fifth of the year. He led 39 laps on the day before settling for the podium spot. Bruno, tell us a little about your race today.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think it was an okay race. Didn't have really good balance on the car. I took the lead at the start. I tried to stay ahead, between one and two seconds, maybe two seconds on Paul Tracy and kept that. I was getting very good mileage, but like just two laps before, I got like three cars in front of me, and then gave the opportunity for Tracy to beat, to came to the pits very close of me. He did a good pitstop and just passed on the pitstop. Then my car was really bad on the second set of tires, I couldn't brake.

I had a lot of traffic, and I lost one of the brakes, just passed a guy and went wide and Dominguez, he was not even close, but he still passed me, because I made a mistake. I tried just to keep the car on the track, it was really difficult. Jourdain had a flat tire and I had to pass him outside on Turn 1 and 2 and got a little marbles on my tires then Sebastien came to pass me and there was nothing I could do. Then I just tried to keep the fourth place. Then there was the yellow and Sebastien and Mario had a contact in the restart. I went third. And I tried to make some ground up to Tracy, but my car wasn't that good. I couldn't attack the corner though. I was just not feeling comfortable to drive. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to maintain the car on the track. Then it's a different situation when you cannot attack the corners; especially when I tried to pass someone like Paul Tracy at the end of the race, then I settled for third, and I think it was okay result, didn't have the car to win today. Going to work very hard for Montreal, which I can get a good car again and get a win.

MAUK: Still in second place in the points, you head into Montreal that will be race 10 of 16 races on schedule. When does it get to a point where you start thinking I have got to start getting a couple of wins here to stay in the title hunt?

JUNQUEIRA: I am trying to win from the first race of the year. Unfortunately I think there was maybe three races that I was the strongest guy out there and for some reason I didn't win, you know, and today I wasn't the strongest guy out there, I was maybe second or third, and I finished third. I finished pretty much where I deserve to finish. Maybe Montreal going to be another story. I hope I can be strong there and get a first win.

MAUK: Congratulations. Today's runner-up, driver of the #1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, the defending series champion, Paul Tracy. Paul led a race high, 40 laps today and earning the 62nd podium of his career. He's just three behind Emerson Fittipaldi for the most podiums in the Champ Car Modern Era with 65, a number that would be fifth place on that list. Paul, runnerup finish, you ran strong for most of the day. How do you feel about the way it went?

PAUL TRACY: It went better than I expected. The car was not handling well throughout the whole race. I thought we had the race in hand until the yellow came out, and you know, really it was a shame because we were able to just keep Mario and the rest of the field at bay. I was able to hold it at about four to five seconds. The car was -- it was okay. It wasn't the fastest car in the field, but it was adequate enough to maintain a consistent pace and I could run the same pace from the start of the stint 'til the end; which is important. My team did a great job on the first pitstop. I was running behind Bruno and trying to save fuel and saved quite a lot of fuel because we were able to do quite a shorter stop than Bruno and got out ahead.

It was my first opportunity to have some clear track for myself with not having a car in front of me. I was able to open up a gap for about 6 or 8 seconds. Then from there Bruno had some problems and Mario got by him. Mario started closing but I was able to hold it between 5 and 6 seconds. From there I felt that we had everything under control, then the yellow came out and Sebastien obviously had a fantastic car today and in the last five or six, you know, the last 10, 15 laps of the race he was able to come from -- the 6th, he just had a superior car and was driving better and once he got to me, there was really nothing I could do except give way and just try to get the best finish I could.

MAUK: The pit rules in place for this event today, worked pretty much the way you thought they would; any problem with those?

TRACY: I think it was a great race, entertaining race. Obviously the first corner we said yesterday there was going to be action, so I think it made for a very entertaining race. I think it was probably one of the best races on a street course that's hard to pass, that I think we have had in a long time.

MAUK: Congratulations on the run. The winner of today's Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, our current points leader Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien takes his fifth win of the year; the 8th of his career. He also earns his 7th podium finish of the season in just nine starts. Sebastien, five wins this year but this one has to be likely one of the most satisfying you have had?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it is the most beautiful one for sure, when you start on pole and have a difficult start and then work your way back from 13th to 14th to first, I think it's pretty amazing; especially since the rules couldn't help us out to try and gamble the strategy, we just had to pass guys on the racetrack. And we have achieved that with the car. We had an awesome car the whole weekend, straight out of the track. As Paul said, I think we just hit the setup right and we're probably the fastest guy out there. I don't have the lap times but I think it's probably the case. So I am just -- terrific weekend for us and I am very, very happy to be up there at the end.

MAUK: Go back to 13th on the first lap spin. Within 6 or 7 laps you are already starting to make your way back in the Top-10. What point in the race did you get in your head -- that you thought you could come back and win this thing ?

BOURDAIS: Well, I think once I got to fourth, I saw I was coming back on Bruno and quite quickly and I thought it was possible. I knew it was going to be difficult to pass but if I could come back very quickly and don't stay behind for a lap or two and watch, you know, the tires, and pass straight-a-way, I could do something. That's what I did. Push to pass, obviously helped me big-time and I think, as Paul said, that was probably the best street race we have seen in quite a long time now.

MAUK: Take us through that final restart, going into Turn 1, got by Mario. What did you see there? How did you get through ?

BOURDAIS: I think now the rules are pretty clear, you are not supposed to change your line and he was kind of staying in the middle of the racetrack. I used the push to pass; he used it two seconds later, so I had kind of a jump. I was alongside him. He squeezed me in the braking zone and made the turn when I was still there. I tried the curb, but there was really nothing I could do and we had a contact. I don't know what happened to him. Been very, very lucky to stay on the racetrack. I thought it was pretty much over because the steering wheel was turned, the front suspension was bent and the steering wheel was not straight anymore. But well, the next two laps were difficult and then I think Paul must have made a small mistake, probably went off-line just very slightly and put some marbles on the tires. From then he was struggling so bad and I thought I wouldn't have a hard time to pass him, but it was surviving basically and I took the shot and passed him and from there, nobody could really stop us. I don't know what happened at the end because I think we had a suspension failure or flow failure, whatever, but the thing was bottoming very bad and was pulling to the right, so right before the last turn of the last lap so I think I am pretty happy that we didn't have 107 laps or something like that, because probably we would not have make it.

MAUK: This is Sebastien's 6th win from pole in his career making him just one of seven drivers in the Champ Car modern era which is from 1979 to the present, to win as many as six Champ Car races from pole. Paul Tracy is obviously one of those gentleman. Our top-five unofficially in points after 9 events, Sebastien Bourdais has 248 points; Bruno Junqueira is second with 192. Tracy moves up to third with 180. Alex Tagliani is fourth with 164 and Patrick Carpentier rounds out the top 5 with 154 points. We'll now take questions from the media.

Q: Bruno, and Sebastien, both could you tell us what happened on the first lap?

BOURDAIS: I think Bruno told you on the podium. Said it was not -- I couldn't agree with that, so I am not -- it's not my job to kind of treat that kind of concern. It's a team issue. There's going to be a meeting and we'll sort it out later.

JUNQUEIRA: I think I did a very good start and went right to Turn 1. Came outside of Sebastien, gave him room, but I don't know, he tried to outbrake me and I braked and was clean, I mean, I don't know, I play hard, but clean, and I said we're both lucky that we keep in the race.

BOURDAIS: You are very lucky, Bruno, that I am a gentleman because I could be pretty hard on you.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Emerson Fittipaldi