CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Top three finishers press conference

Champ Car Press Conference Transcript With Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger And Paul Tracy ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference for the Gran Premio Tecate/Telmex ...

Champ Car Press Conference Transcript With Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger And Paul Tracy

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference for the Gran Premio Tecate/Telmex presented by Banamex, the season finale of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

We are joined now by today's third place finisher, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. Paul finished third today, earned his seventh podium of the season, the 69th of his career. Paul, you've made 236 Champ Car starts. I don't know if you've had many as eventful as today.

PAUL TRACY: I've had a couple. Probably the end result didn't come out as well. You know, it was a frustrating day for us. I got to look at the replay, but I think Sebastien touched me in the first corner. We had two cuts in the side wall of the tire, a flat. I made a good start, got by AJ. I was in second place. Somebody touched me in the back tire, punctured it. Came in, changed it and that put us three-quarters of a lap behind. Just driving, catching up, catching up. We got a pit stop out of the way. The yellow came out, which really played into our hands. On the restart with Rodolfo, I made the restart better than him, got by him. He made a big dive bomb to try to get back by. We were fighting and ended up touching. I gave him a flat tire. That kind of led into me blocking AJ on the track and trying to keep him behind me. Then there was a drive-through penalty. After that, pretty much thought we were out of it. Again, we were three-quarters of a lap behind everybody. I was driving, running a good pace. Started to catch up. Passed some guys. We got a couple lucky yellows at the end. I had a lot of 'push to pass' left, was able to make positions back. So good result.

ERIC MAUK: The 'push to pass', talk about the last pass on the restart when you passed both Glock and Servia.

PAUL TRACY: Both Glock and Servia didn't get off the line well. Glock didn't have any 'push to pass' left. Servia had some. I probably had about 30 seconds more than him. Got a good drive off the corner, perfect draft, was by them by the half straightaway. Really just the perfect restart for me.

ERIC MAUK: As you look back at the 2005 season, multiple wins, multiple poles, finished fourth, lead the series in laps led. Assess the 2005 season.

PAUL TRACY: Look at the first half of the season, it looked good. Second half was really a big disappointment for us. We didn't have good results for about four or five races in a row. That really hurt our championship. You know, when you lead the most laps in the series, you end up with five less wins than the guy who won the championship, it's a little bit frustrating. All in all, finished fourth. My first year with my engineer, Eric. We're getting to know each other. I think we're going to be a lot stronger next year.

ERIC MAUK: Paul led 512 laps, the fourth time in his storied career he has led as many as 500 laps in a single season.

We are now joined by the RuSPORT duo. The second place finisher in today's event, driver of the #10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger. He earns his fifth podium of the season, the seventh of his career and his second podium here at Mexico City in as many starts. Finished third last year, and finished second here this season.

AJ, tell us a little bit about your day.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, from yesterday morning on, we were struggling. Justin gave us a real boost when he got pole because we had a lot of data to look at. He had a fantastic car. You know, today we kind of went with his setup. The first stint I think I was actually a bit quicker than him, but I couldn't get around him. He seemed to be struggling, his tires wore down a bit. I couldn't get around him because he kept going good on the straightaway. From then on, it was just a struggle.

I think I'd be a bit quicker, every time he put a set of tires on, the first half, then he was able to stretch out the second half of the stint on the tires. I think I finished where I should have finished, second. A big reason was using Justin's setup from this morning. They had found something, and I think that's what's making the team so good: we're able to use setups off of each other and make each other better.

ERIC MAUK: Five podiums this season. You finished fifth overall in the championship. Now that it's all said and done, how do you assess your performance in 2005?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: You know, I mean, it's a bit disappointing for me in a lot of ways. I really wanted to win for the team today. All year, but especially this weekend, they just busted their butts. I mean, they had to change two different gearboxes, one right before the race, change a motor today, yesterday. You know, they're the ones that deserve this victory more than I did. I kind of gave a couple away I shouldn't have. They just kept fighting. They especially kept me up to come to every race and be excited about it because, you know, they weren't going to give up, which made me not want to give up. You know, five podiums, I was happy with that. Missing the victory, you know, that's quite disappointing. Could just erase the month of July, it might be a lot better. You know, we'll learn from all this. If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. We'll come back next year stronger.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations.

The winner of the Gran Premio Telmex/Tecate presented by Banamex, driver of the #9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. Justin led 65 of 70 laps today and he posted the fastest race lap. It's his second win of the year, second win of his career, the third podium finish of the season. This is the first 1-2 podium sweep in a Champ Car event by the RuSPORT squad.

Justin, awfully tough today, hard to catch. How does it feel?

JUSTIN WILSON: It feels great. I just want to carry on from what AJ was saying. Friday we really struggled. AJ was fantastic. I saw his setup. We kind of evolved each other and were able to work together like that to try different things, see if it works. If it doesn't work, we got the other car to back up on. That's what we did this weekend. It's great. The team have done a fantastic job, like AJ said. They really deserved the 1-2. Hopefully we can get a few more next year.

ERIC MAUK: Talk us through that last stint. On that last restart, you come out of there, snapped off three laps right in a row at 1:28.4, 1:28.5. Where did those come from?

JUSTIN WILSON: I think it was more the fuel effect. The race was spinning down, the caution periods were looking bad for the tires, I knew I could get out of the last corner pretty good today, made sure I got into turn one first. After that, just go with what the car had. You know, the first stint, really struggled, picked up a big understeer. I really couldn't lean on the car in either the quick or the slow corners. Just had to be patient, wait. I knew if we could come out of the first pit stop in the lead, we had a much better chance of going with the victory. Just got to thank the team again. Todd made a great call in the race, changed the car, was able to make it quicker. Like I say, at the end, it was just fantastic.

ERIC MAUK: Same question as we asked the other two guys. Two wins, you get a pole, you finish third in the championship, just your second year in the series. Assess your 2005 performance for us.

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I'm pretty pleased with how it's gone. There's been some great moments; there's also been some very frustrating times. We've given away some things we shouldn't have - Edmonton springs to mind. We're in that learning stage. Hopefully myself and RuSPORT can grow together and we can cut down on those kind of errors and make sure we're stronger next year.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations on the win and on the season.

JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: If we have questions from the media.

Q: Justin and AJ, from about the middle of the first stint on, Sebastien was catching you at a pretty good clip. Any particular concerns about that?

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah (laughter). At that stage my tires were starting to wear out. I was really struggling. But Todd kept saying that we were getting good fuel mileage, and Sebastien wasn't, stay calm. You know, just keep your head down and keep doing what we're doing. That's what we did.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I think it was more of a concern for me because I was the one that had to fight him off. I kept blocking him for Justin. About the same thing. I was quicker than Justin at that point, but he was quick where it mattered, and that was on the front straightaway. I could never really get a clean run on him to even have a chance at him. So my engineer Chris was just telling me the same thing, that we were both getting great fuel mileage, he wasn't, it was just a matter of trying to stay ahead of him. Once the yellow came out, as kind Justin said, once the yellow came out, we pitted, as soon as we got out ahead of him, I thought we were going to be clear.

Q: Were you happy when you got out of the pits not to see him behind you any more?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, that's always a nice sight. I mean, I won't lie, it's good to see Sebastien have a little problem.

Q: Justin, you investors made three trips to watch you race and all three times you finished on the podium. Do you think if they come to seven or eight races next year you will win the championship?

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, think I we've got a great chance. I think we should bump it up to maybe 14 or 15 trips. Every time the investors come along, we have a great weekend, we finish on the podium.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Don't lie. They're just happy because when you win, they get their money back.

JUSTIN WILSON: There's a part to that, as well. But it makes me happy, as well.

Q: Paul, had you contact with Rodolfo, the black flag. What can you say about it?

PAUL TRACY: I got the black flag for blocking AJ. I threw a huge block on him to keep him behind me. It probably wasn't the nicest thing to do, but I was pretty desperate to keep that position and ultimately had to pay for it by having to drive through the pits. My fault really. It wasn't the nicest thing to do, but seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

ERIC MAUK: Just to clarify, there was no penalty given out to Paul Tracy for the incident with Rodolfo Lavin. His drive-through penalty was a blocking call on AJ immediately after the contact with Lavin.

Q: Do you feel happy for Carl to have such a great result at the end of the year?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: You know, I mean, as Justin and I would admit, we've probably given away a couple 1-2 finishes this year we should have had. To finally give Carl a 1-2 finish, I think it's absolutely fantastic. You see the tears that come down his face after we do well, you can see how much he cares. For us as a team, I think it's important to know that your team owner is behind you that much. I've been with him from the start. He's just been a hundred percent behind this team. It gives you confidence as you go into the off-season to know that he's willing to let his team do anything they can to improve and go win a lot of races next year.

JUSTIN WILSON: On top of that, it was also Carl's birthday on Friday. We had to give this one for him.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It was Carl's Friday and his son's today. That's why he got doused with beer.

ERIC MAUK: How did you talk him out of coming in and sitting in your lap like he did in Toronto?

JUSTIN WILSON: I don't know. I think he saw how embarrassed I was in Toronto (laughter).

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think he saw how much Justin liked it.

Q: What is your opinion of how the series is coming up?

PAUL TRACY: It's had its troubles in the past, but the series right now I think is really on the rise. We've got right now one more year with this current package, which is a fantastic car, a fantastic engine to drive. The tires are fantastic. Everybody loves it. I really think after '06, the series -- we've got another building year this year to build some stability and bring some new sponsors into the series. The RuSPORT team has brought some new sponsors in this year. Some of the other teams have brought sponsors in. People are starting to come back to the series. The TV numbers are getting better. The crowds have never left the series.

Really next year is another building year for Champ Car. Then in '07 when the new car comes out, I think you're going to see a real flood of new teams and ownership coming in when the new car is available. I think it's going to be an exciting time for Champ Car.

Q: Justin, what about your car? Last year the team was having lots of bad results. It seems like a year makes a difference. I want your opinion about this. AJ, you can comment on this, too.

JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously, there's a lot of things that have developed over the last 12 months. Michel joined the team I think it was a week before the first race. It's always going to be tough when you're coming from so far behind. Not only was it a week before the first race, but it was the team's first season ever at this level of competition. It's just the evolution as things are progressing, the way we all work together now, the way -- the relationship I have with my engineer and my crew, it's fantastic. It allows us to build and stay calm and push harder.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think, just to comment on that, everything Justin said is correct. Michel was a big part of the team in the beginning to get it going, have his experience, to learn from that. I learned a lot of things from that. As Justin said, you know, there's the fact that we've gotten better. As the winter, what happened, this year, everything evolved, has gotten a lot better. We're quicker. Michel, for him himself, came into the team at the worst time that he could. That was a week before the season, as Justin said. We hadn't really developed anything. We were just learning. He was a big part of our team last year and Justin has just brought a lot to the team this year to learn from. I think that's the biggest reason we're improving, is from Justin's knowledge and his experience to bring to the team.

Q: Paul, in your pass of Jimmy, I think you went off on the outside of one, kept your foot in it all the way through the grass. Can you take us through that one?

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I did (laughter). I think it was the lap after I passed Jimmy. I think I passed him on a restart. I just kept my foot in it in the grass all the way across. The yellow came out right after that. I think it was the same lap that Sebastien crashed. Really didn't gain any track position because it went yellow about five seconds later.

ERIC MAUK: That will wrap up the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. Thank you.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Paul Tracy , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin