CHAMPCAR/CART: Las Vegas: Top three finishers press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Paul and Will, because Robert didn't drive these cars last year, your report card on the new cars after racing them? PAUL TRACY: I think it's like anything, it's a new car. I've been in the series long enough to know...

Continued from part 1

Q: Paul and Will, because Robert didn't drive these cars last year, your report card on the new cars after racing them?

PAUL TRACY: I think it's like anything, it's a new car. I've been in the series long enough to know we went through a stage there where we ran the same car for six or seven years, and everything was dialed in on them. The cars handled perfectly. Rolled off the trailer with the thing perfect all the time because you knew all the numbers on it.

Back in '99, '98, '97, we had a new car every year. We'd have these niggling problems every year. You would have a gearbox issue, you would have this problem, wheel bearing problems, all kinds of things that you'd have to work your way through. So that's part and parcel with working with a brand-new car. Robert has probably experienced that in Formula One. They're constantly evolving cars. There's problems you have to work through. I think the racing is good. Obviously we've been able to get our car figured out for the most part mechanically. It's just today our fuel rig didn't want to put the fuel in the car. That's just one of those things that we need to work on.

WILL POWER: I think this car, it's a lot quicker than last year's car. It's got a lot more downforce. Yeah, like Paul said, there's always little niggling problems. All in all, it's pretty good. Surprising how little problems there are. I think after the first three races, the rest of the season, I'd be surprised if anyone has any problems. I really enjoy driving it. It's a really nicely balanced car when you get it set up. I think Panoz did a real good job of a one-make series.

Q: Paul, the issue with the refueling, was that a mechanical issue or a team issue?

PAUL TRACY: You know, I don't know. I think it's the way the fueling system is set up internally in the car. Some other people had the same problems. I haven't really dove into it because I was just really concentrating on pushing and pushing in the race, keeping the lap time up, trying to catch up. I was hoping for a yellow sooner or later but it never came.

The first part of the race was so many yellows, one after another, and then once we got behind, I was like hoping for a yellow. I saw Bourdais' car was stopped on the track, another Red Bull car stopped. I was hoping another yellow would come out because at that point in the race, that half distance, my car was just handling really well. By how Will sounds, he had some brake trouble, I think I really could have attacked.

Q: Talking about the track, it seems very fast. Was it very fast?

PAUL TRACY: It's a very quick track. Obviously it's a lot of fun to drive. Temporary track, I think it's one of the best tracks I've ever raced on.

Q: Robert, how is racing under Champ Car rules compared to Formula One rules? Stoddart got a podium. I was wondering what his reaction was to that.

ROBERT DOORNBOS: Obviously, Paul was very, very pleased. I'm happy for him as well to give him this because he gave me the chance in Formula One and now he gives me a chance here. Yeah, that was a good result for both of us.

Concerning the rules, yeah, the blocking, in the beginning of the race, I had a moment after the third safety car or the second, Wilson tried to pass me. I didn't see him pass me. I heard on the radio that I had to let him by because I was supposed to have blocked him. Basically I'm not familiar with these rules.

(Cell phone ringing.)

Switch off your phone in the meetings, Mate! (Laughter)

I'm used to making one move on the braking or whatever. But, no, I was just myself. It's Champ Car rules; I have to respect them. Hopefully I'll do a better job in Long Beach.

ERIC MAUK: F1 rule: You have to shut your cell phones off. We don't have that in Champ Car.

Q: How much 'willpower' did it take to win this race?

WILL POWER: It takes a heck of a lot (laughter). Takes a lot of willpower to eat well, do a lot of fitness, get up early every morning.

Q: What time did you get up today?

WILL POWER: 7:00 today. Not that early, but I didn't have to be at the circuit till 7:30. It's good.

Q: Will, did you get a full fuel load on that first stop?

WILL POWER: Yeah, both stops the fuel was good.

Q: Any problems?

WILL POWER: No, we had problems all weekend. They kept working on it trying to get it right because we were having problems with it. For the race it was good. My teammate had problems I'm pretty sure with the fuel.

Q: Will, did you expect to come out and run this well after your spring testing?

WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, at Sebring, the first test, we had problems with the gearbox and an engine. We weren't really on the pace. Houston we were quickest. Laguna we were second quickest. We were basically under pace everywhere. It was where we expected to be, somewhere in the top four, top three. You know, this is our weekend.

Q: Will, on that pit stop where you had just a little problem, what happened there?

WILL POWER: The brake pedal became really long. I went to hit it, and it just went to the floor and locked the wheels up. I went in on an angle, hit the guy on the front right, knocked him over. Then it was really hard to get fuel in, it was hard to get that front tire off. You know, we probably went 10 seconds longer than normal.

Q: He wasn't hurt, I suspect?

WILL POWER: No, no, I don't think so.

Q: Because Will and Tracy had the Lola before, the new car, the Panoz, the design was supposed to make it so you could get closer to another driver. Is that working?

PAUL TRACY: I think it's great, the bigger tunnels in the car. The Lola on a track like this, where the corners are all kind of medium speed, aerodynamics are important. I don't think you could run as closely as Will and I ran together in the beginning of the race without really destroying your tires and disturbing the car a lot.

When Will made the pass on me, I mean, we came out of the tunnel and through a fifth-gear, 160-mile-an-hour blind-sweeper corner that's pretty tough to do flat when you're in the front. He was tucked right up behind my gearbox. That's the benefit of having the ground effects, the tunnel, doing the work, instead of all the wings. I think it's created much better racing.

WILL POWER: Yeah, I didn't get a chance to follow him really closely. I was behind Katherine Legge for a while. She was quite a bit slower. I actually got a lot of understeer from it. But I think Paul was probably a little bit further back.

Yeah, it's hard to say. I mean, I'll see in the next couple of races - well, hopefully not (laughter). Yeah, I think it's definitely got to be better because the front wing is smaller. It's got more downforce from the tunnel. It's going to be better than the Lola.

Q: Will, take me around on that lap after you saw the checkered flag. What was going through your head when you heard, P1, race is over, slow down?

WILL POWER: I was just really relieved. You know, when I was only three to go, I was sort of relieved. I was thinking, yeah, we're definitely going to get this. And, yeah, I was relieved.

You know, I set my mind for three races. I'm not really celebrating heaps because it's the start of championship. I'm not going to go out and celebrate tonight or anything. I just want a good night's sleep, focus on Long Beach because you know, I want to go there and do the same thing. You don't want to have a big high and then have a big downer. I'm just going to keep on going about it.

It's great for the team. You know, we're going for the championship. We just got to keep doing it every weekend, same thing.

Q: Paul, you got out front early on, looked like you were trying to be conservative with the brakes and rear tires. Was that the case?

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, when I was in front of Will, we had that little stint in front, I was really just kind of coasting through all the twisty corners, not even getting to full throttle, really taking it easy, not using a lot of brake. Then kind of the same, when Will got by me, I gave enough of a gap to where I could drive comfortably, not to have push on the tire. When they said we're going to pit in five laps, I just closed the gap up to Will to come in behind him.

I really was able to make the red tires last pretty good on the first stint. You know, looked like Will, with six or seven to go, he started to slide. He was struggling to put the power down. The tires looked bad. You know, just on the first stop, didn't go for us.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much.

-credit: ccws

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Katherine Legge