CHAMPCAR/CART: Lexington: Top three qualifiers press conference, part II

An interview with Patrick Carpentier Christian Fittipaldi Cristiano Da Matta Part 2 of 2 Q: Am I right in thinking this is your first pole since '98? That's a long time. Patrick Carpentier: A very long time. A little bit too long.

An interview with Patrick Carpentier Christian Fittipaldi Cristiano Da Matta

Part 2 of 2

Q: Am I right in thinking this is your first pole since '98? That's a long time.

Patrick Carpentier:  A very long time.  A little bit too long.  I'm
almost out of a job (laughter).  Three, four years is too long.

Christian Fittipaldi: Remember that now you can knock on [Newman/Haas Racing owner] Carl's [Haas] door because you have my car to drive.

Patrick Carpentier: Will I get salad dressing with that (laughter)?

No, I'm pretty happy. I came from more of a road course background than with ovals. But every success I've had so far seems to be in the past year since I have been on the oval tracks. For some reason this year all the points we get, all the success we seem to get is on the road course. I'm pretty happy, really happy about that actually. To get the pole today is fantastic.

I had it yesterday. I thought that the red flag helped me a little bit. We put a lap together today and held it. So it was an interesting qualifying. It kept switching. My engineers kept me up to date on who was where.

But, no, it's very satisfying.

Q: It's supposed to be maybe in the low 90s tomorrow with high humidity. What do you do tonight? How do you brace yourself for tomorrow?

Cristiano Da Matta: I suggest these two guys go have a couple of beers to keep hydrated.

Patrick Carpentier: You make sure you have a girl all night.

Christian Fittipaldi: Pat and I, we have wives. Maybe we have to do some homework tonight. Cristiano has his bicycles. That's everything he has.

Cristiano Da Matta: The worst thing is that I'm happy with this (laughter).

Merrill Cain: You have salad dressing, too.

Patrick Carpentier: We won't get into that.

I'll just drink a lot of water and rest. I know it's going to be a tough race. Cleveland was a really tough. It was hot and tough. Everybody was a bit drained out at the end.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a lot of energy. But that's usually one of the toughest tracks of the season, and the race going to be longer this year.

Q: You have four straight races, in middle of summer, late in the season. How much of a factor does physical fitness as a driver become at this point in the championship?

Patrick Carpentier: We don't all have bicycles. No, we train. I think most of the training should have been done over the winter. During the season you just try to basically maintain it. If you're in good shape, then it hits you a little bit less hard at the end of the season.

That stretch of races that we have is going to be tough. It's four races in a row. For us, we have Montreal, which is going to be extremely busy. We're going to be there promoting all week, so we have to leave Sunday night after Elkhart Lake to do a lot of promotion. It's going to be tough.

Q:   Patrick, a win in Cleveland, a pole here, what does that do for your
ride shopping for next year?  Does that help out?

Patrick Carpentier: I don't know. I'll tell you in a few months. I'll have a more clear idea later. To me, I drive the same as I've always done in the past. It just seems like my relationship with the engineers has gotten better, not as friendship, but as understanding what I want in the car and how he perceives different things. That's where I think it's better.

Plus the team is improving the Reynard every week.  They're working
really hard with it to make a lot of changes.  Ford-Cosworth, we
struggled early on with the traction control.  They made huge progress
throughout the season.  In Cleveland it was really good.  In Vancouver it
was better.  Here I think it was fantastic.  They tested with Jimmy
Vasser and improved it.  So, I'm really happy about what's happening
right now.  I think the timing couldn't be better.

I have no idea what's going to happen next year. We'll see. We'll just do the race tomorrow and hopefully I can win it.

Merrill Cain: A lot of times people talk about the rumors. People tend to lose focus. Has this gone the other way with you: you've increased your focus, focused yourself on the driving and not worrying about the rest of it?

Patrick Carpentier: No. Christian is leaving next year, so it opens things up (laughter).

I think there's 14 out of 18 this year that are not signed up yet or confirmed. I think it's a bit of the same situation for every driver. It doesn't really bother me.

Cristiano Da Matta: Nobody has focus now so it's all the same.

Patrick Carpentier: Everybody's lost their focus so it's all the same (laughter).

For me, even if I worry or don't worry, it doesn't change anything. The only thing I can control is how I drive the car and how I work with the engineers. That's all I can focus on. I think racing is one of the toughest sports mentally because you cannot always control what is in your hands. You're not going to be up at the front because you're in the best shape in the world. Sometimes it's very difficult.

I think you just have to really focus on what you do and what you can control, and that's it.

Q: On the flipside of the negotiations, you must have confidence to where it used to be when you had your Formula Atlantic season. Does this confidence go over from race to race?

Patrick Carpentier: It's good. Cleveland proved that we could do it. I just like to do it. We had a great year in Formula Atlantic. But the CART series is so competitive and difficult. If you lose a couple of 10ths, you go from first place to 11th. If you lose just a couple of 10ths at the end of the lap, there's like 12 cars within this time. If you calculate the whole lap and see where you lose the time, it's very competitive.

I think what Cristiano has done so far is pretty remarkable, especially in a series like the CART series. But to do what I did in Atlantic, I think it's almost impossible, it's too competitive.

The confidence of those years always helps though.

Merrill Cain: Thank you today. Good luck tomorrow in the race.


Top three press conference, part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi