CHAMPCAR/CART: Laguna Seca: Top-three finishers press conference, Part I

Top Three finishers from the Grand Prix of Monterey press conference. Part 1 of 2 Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy. Eric Mauk: Welcome to the today's press conference with the top three finishers in the Grand Prix of Monterey...

Top Three finishers from the Grand Prix of Monterey press conference.
Part 1 of 2

Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy.

Eric Mauk: Welcome to the today's press conference with the top three finishers in the Grand Prix of Monterey Round 7 of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We're joined by the second and third place finishers now, third place today goes to the driver of the No. 3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola Bridgestone, Paul Tracy who earned his 4th podium of the season and his first at Laguna Seca since 1995. This is Paul's 52nd career podium finish and moves him within eight points of the series lead. Paul, first half of the race you were all over Patrick; you had a little rough going in the pitstop there.

Paul Tracy: I was trying hard to get by Pat. It's difficult here because there's not really anyplace where you can really get up behind somebody and he made a couple of mistakes and one time I said: Ahh, I am going to go and then he started coming across the track. He ran wide instead of coming across the track at me. And I backed out of it. And I thought my best opportunity was going to try to beat him on a pitstop.

We came in on the second stop and I think we had a better stop than Pat but the guy from Fernandez came out, he was looking right at me and he put his tire way out in the corner of the box to make it difficult for me to get out, so I swung out and I hit the tire and then got going and went down into Turn 1 and I tried to go on the outside of Pat on cold tires and I locked both front tires up really badly and made a huge flat spot on the tires, on the front and that was it. I was struggling from there on. I had very bad braking and very bad handling and a bad vibration. I tried to hang on as long as I could and I ended up understeering right off the track in Turn 6 going up the hill and almost hit the wall. Bruno got by me there. Then I was -- I backed up to his teammate, Sebastien, I was able to keep him at bay, but I think ultimately he had a problem. And then from there, just struggled around and came in on the last stop. Last stop was clean; fresh set of tires and the car was good. I ran the same time as the leaders, but I was 20-something seconds behind. I had a big gap to Michel and basically just settled for third and get some solid points.

Eric Mauk: Once the tires heated up later on you were pretty quick. Did you feel you were quicker the later you went?

Paul Tracy: I think my car was good at the end of the stint. It was okay at the beginning. Pat was pretty fast at the beginning and the middle of the part of the stint he'd pull away from me a little bit. But I was really trying to play on not overusing the tire. In both stints, at the end of the stint, I was on him for the last five, six laps. I just couldn't seem to find a way around. I mean, I tried every which way and I had a lot -- there were a lot of lap cars that were kind of playing into it, so I was trying to set it up the right way but it just never seemed to happen. And Pat got it, you know, he was in a hurry to get by the lap cars. A couple of times he took to the dirt and took to the outside and tried -- you know, he wasn't wasting any time, so it was going to be difficult for sure.

Eric Mauk: Congratulations, nice run. Our runner-up is the driver of the No. 1 PacifiCare/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno matches his season best finish with a second place run earning his fourth podium of the season and the 11th of his career. Bruno moves into second place of the Championship; and also earns his best ever finish here at Monterey, Laguna Seca. Congratulations, tough run there, the last part you came out about three-quarters of a second behind Pat and did everything you could but didn't quite make that up.

Bruno Junqueira: It was a really tough race, I don't know what happened. Now I saw on the tape on the first start and they waved it off and on the second stop I think, Patrick, I don't know, because he was worried, but he put the power down much, much earlier than the starting cone. Going outside of the last turn and I guess passed by Paul and then Paul made a mistake, pass him, but there's no space for two cars in the Corkscrew. I went half off the track, but then I was just following Paul and Patrick. I decided to make more pressure on Paul and I lost the front from half of the first stint and had a flat spot on my left front and by the end of the car, my car was really bad and looked like a Flintstone car.

I kind of hung around, the two Players had a big lead on me, and then once we got to the first pitstop, we put stickers on, then the car was very, very good and it start to lay down some very fast laps, I was nine seconds behind Paul and Carpentier. Then I start to pick up on them and after, ten or fifteen laps I was just close behind Paul and then I thought on the last pit stop, see what happened and as Paul said he had a problem after the second stop. He was very slow and I start to put some pressure on him, but even if he was slow it was really difficult to pass him. Then I was waiting for him to make a mistake. Then he made a mistake; then I start to push hard because I was like seven seconds behind Patrick. Then I caught Patrick again. Patrick was driving very well. He made no mistakes. We were coming to the pits for the next pitstop and he almost crashed into the pits. It was close and I almost crashed behind him because there is no space. The only time he made a mistake and there was no room for me to pass him. Then we came out of the pits and Newman/Haas team did a great pitstop, Patrick's team, was close, maybe I was a little bit faster, but not enough to get a run on him. Well, it was important to finish second in the Championship -- to get points for the Championship.

Eric Mauk: Moving into second place in the Championship seems like you have done everything except win so far this year, your second 2nd place finish of the year. Are you feeling pretty good about the way things are going right now?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, it's kind of strange, I think. Everybody thought that I would be winning a lot of poles and winning a lot of races and so far, I think at least half of the races I was fast enough to get the poles and fast enough to win the races, but it didn't happen. I finish 2nd, 3rd; I had some unlucky things or not, you know, very close wins like this race. I don't know, the luck just didn't knock on my door, but at least, we're working hard and if we keep consistently fast and consistent in finishing the races we're going to win some races this year and we're going to get some poles. Just have to keep working hard and keep focused and I know that we have very good drivers and very good teams like Player's and Michel and my teammate, and I have to keep working hard. I think we're able to get a great result if we do that.

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Part II

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy