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

Top Three finishers from the Grand Prix of Monterey press conference. Part 2 of 2 Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy. Eric Mauk: Congratulations. We're now joined by the winner of the Grand Prix of Monterey, the driver of the...

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

Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira and Paul Tracy.

Eric Mauk: Congratulations. We're now joined by the winner of the Grand Prix of Monterey, the driver of the No. 32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola Bridgestone, Patrick Carpentier who led all 87 laps today in taking his fourth career victory and his first of the year. Patrick beat Bruno to the line by 0.844 seconds, marking the third consecutive CART Champ Car race to be decided by less than a second. Was also the fastest race since 1997, an average speed of 107.986 miles per hour. Patrick, congratulations, nice run, how does it feel?

Patrick Carpentier: It feels great, and one thing to note is we finished that close and there was no yellow flags, so it was a pretty good race. I hope the fans enjoyed it. For me, it was felt like I stole a car and I had a bunch of policemen running after me and I was looking in the mirrors and these guys were really, really close. When I got out of the pits, seems like for the first part of the stint my car was better; then Paul was trying to get away every time and when I got to halfway then these guys, Paul and Bruno were faster than me. So I was just trying to stay ahead of them, and there were a few back markers which made it more interesting, and it was a fun race. I really liked it. My guys did a really, really good job in the pits. The series is so competitive now with these cars and I think there's so many good drivers and these guys are really aggressive and everybody is, and to win, it takes everything to happen right and we had it today.

As far as the first start goes at Milwaukee I thought that the start was not fair. I thought they shouldn't have given the start. Bruno was behind me and I knew he was trying to play a game there and to get a good start, so I just kind of slowed down when he accelerated. I want to make it obvious, but Paul helped me to make it really obvious. He hit me at the back and my car went up in the air, didn't get the green flag; then the next start I left a little bit early, but it was a good start. We always try to pull a fast one, but it worked out and the end we ended up winning the race. It was really fun. I really like what the series has done with the car, no traction control, you see those changes and makes it really interesting.

Eric Mauk: No easy trips down pit lane for you today, twice you come in with Paul right on your tail then the last one with Bruno. Take us through those.

Patrick Carpentier: I think Paul was the closest one I could see and didn't get the ruler out, didn't have much time. I thought he was going to pass me inside there where the apex was and it was really close. These guys were coming in a little bit harder. Then one time Bruno was behind me I said, oh, this time I am really going to come in hard and I couldn't make the turn so I almost hit the cars and Bruno almost got me to the inside. So it was pretty happy there was no more pit stops after that.

Eric Mauk: This is also the first victory for team Player's here at Monterey Laguna Seca, the top five in Championship points after seven races, Michel Jourdain Jr. is still your points leader with 89. Bruno is 6 back with 83. Paul is 8 behind with 81. Patrick moves into 4th, he has 70 points now and Sebastien Bourdais, 5th with 53. We'll go ahead and take questions from the media.

Q: Pat, did you see Paul when he locked the brakes behind you and were you aware of his vibration problems or your team telling you that he was falling behind?

Patrick Carpentier: No, actually we don't -- I don't talk about what the other guys are and what the team was telling me they could see on the lap times when I was looking in the mirrors and just trying to drive hard to get away and it was not working. They were just telling me to calm down and do what I had to do. But I think starting position was pretty important and pretty much finished the way we started. But it was a good race and for us -- it's hard for Michel but for us it was a little bit of luck to get the pole position and it helped us tremendously today. So we got it and managed to stay ahead. I made a mistake in front of Paul one time and lost a lot of time and I thought he was going to give a try and he just backed off and he was pretty nice. And let me go by there. But it was good.

Q: Pat, you spoke yesterday about how difficult the last five or ten laps of each stint was going to be. Just keeping the rear tires under you. We could see just watching from here in the press box everybody was really, really loose. How difficult was that segment of the race in particular in each stint?

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, it was difficult at the beginning. At the end we had newer tires and it was better. We adjust the car so that there wouldn't be such a problem but early on the first stint Paul was definitely faster than me towards the end he probably -- he saved his tires more than I did and I was a bit rougher on it and I was paying for it at the end of the stint. So it's tough. Without the traction control you got to -- it's how much throttle you pull it and if you don't save the tires you are going to pay for it at the end of the stint. Whereas, last year, you just stood on it and everything -- the engine did the job for you. So it's a bit more difficult but it makes it for so much better racing.

Q: Pat, you are coming into Portland next weekend with the Festival Curves. Gordon talked about tires. Talk to me a little bit about what is going to happen there; particularly as the race goes on and on and on because you are pulling an awful lot of horsepower on those things.

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, we'll see how it goes. To be honest with you, every weekend is different. It's so competitive. If you are struggling really during qualifying you are going to start 10th instead of 1st, 2nd or 3rd, so it's a very tough series, but it's going to be tough for everybody to go in that corner and everybody is going to have to save their tires quite a bit. But to be honest with you, that last corner before the front straight is very similar to what we have at Portland down at -- whatever you call that, the funnel down there, corner 1 and 2. It's very similar, so we have an idea of what kind of situation we're going to get over there. But again, it depends so much on what kind of setup you have on the car and how good the car is. Some of these guys that don't have a good setup here, they were going backwards really, really fast. Some of the guys that have better cars actually survived quite a bit more.

Q: Paul, obviously third place isn't as good as first or second, but after the last month of getting three points, I think in three races whatever it was, feel getting back on the right course and healing some wounds?

Paul Tracy: For sure, I mean, the last three races have been pretty difficult to swallow because we have given up 30, 40 points in the last three races, which is tough to swallow, look at the end result, you know, when we start off so strong and then you are running strong in two out of the three events, you know, top 2, you know, quickest -- one of the quicker cars, our goal this weekend was to try to just basically like you said, stop the bleeding, we need to have a good finish, finish in the Top-5 was our goal. We had an opportunity to challenge for the win. I tried every way I could, without, you know, using the chrome horn or anything like that (laughs) but I was giving it -- trying every which way, you know, it made for an exciting race.

Pat was in the dirt. I was in the dirt. We were trying all kinds of different lines. Again with no traction control, like Pat said, near the end of the stint Pat was having more trouble than me, the first two stints, until I flat-spotted the tires. So I am a little disappointed with 3rd because I felt, again we had one of the better cars on the track but it's exactly what we needed going into this stretch of races June and July, typically, I had good success here early in my career, but I haven't had any success since 1995 was the last time I was on the podium. That's a long time ago. So to come away with a good podium, our goal is to come away with a good result in Portland and not a track that is particularly great for me. If we can come away with two solid finishes and going into Toronto and Vancouver, Cleveland, Elkhart, those type of tracks are the ones that really suit me and I run really well at. So that's our, you know, our short-term goal is to get through these June, July, August, and really try hard at the tracks where we know I -- they are tracks where we know I run really well at.

Q: Somewhere during the middle of the race or so, I guess it was when Bruno was behind you your team asked you to pull out 2/10's of a second more. Was that a bit of a shock? I don't know how fast you were going.

Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, sorry for my response if you were listening to the internet for the kids. It was not the one they were expecting. I am just trying really hard and I couldn't get two more tenths. I was just trying and trying and trying but I was doing for me that was pretty much it and it was coming really fast and 2/10 was quite a bit. But at the end when he got behind me he scared me enough that we got a little bit more than 2/10 and the tires were better. But every lap is like a qualifying lap, you are just trying hard, trying hard and the team can go, well, can you give me two more tenths, it's like -- that's what I am trying, to give you 2/10.

Q: Talk a little bit about -- you referenced this once coming into the pit lane I think the first time with Paul behind you almost didn't make that turn and then with Bruno, just coming in too fast?

Patrick Carpentier: No, I came in with Paul and I don't know how he -- I thought I was braking pretty late. I go, I am good. I look in the mirror I see him over the curbs and he is coming in to pass me. I am like oh, man. Next time I come in Bruno is behind me I said, this time I will do it too, but I couldn't turn. I just couldn't make it. I almost hit the tires. It was pretty close, the front wing was really close and the engine bogged down, I had to push the clutch and go for the throttle and go again. And he almost went by. Like I said earlier, I was pretty happy that was the last pitstop because I was starting to hate that entry quite a bit.

Q: For Paul, with the situation leaving the pits with Fernandez' tires being put down I know you had no control over that but were you happy with CART's call to not call a penalty?

Paul Tracy: Well, I think it was fair what CART did because -- I watched the guy. I was watching my guys change the tires, everything was going good, I am getting ready to go, I am watching the guy, he comes walking out with a tire looking right at me and then puts it down right out in the corner of the box to make it difficult for me to get out. I was like oh, God, I am watching the guy do it and he's watching me and he just sets it right out in the corner of the box.

I think CART realized that it was way far out from where it needed it to be and you could just see him just do it. So just not a courteous thing to do, you know, and the pits it's give and take for everybody, these pit stops are small here. If one guy is coming in and another guy is coming out you give each other a little bit of room. This guy, he gave me no room at all. I tried to get out and I hit the tire as I was coming out and I think CART looked at it very closely and made the right call because it was pretty obvious to see what he was trying to do.

Eric Mauk: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. That wraps our press conference. Thank you for attending. Gentlemen, congratulations.

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Part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain