This Week in Ford Racing September 23, 2003 CART Champ Car World Series This weekend the Champ Car World Series will travel to Miami, home to a number of the drivers in the series, for the second running of the Grand Prix Americas. Two of the...
This Week in Ford Racing
September 23, 2003
CART Champ Car World Series
This weekend the Champ Car World Series will travel to Miami, home to a number of the drivers in the series, for the second running of the Grand Prix Americas. Two of the stars of the series, and Miami residents, Bruno Junqueira and Ryan Hunter-Reay, are at different stages of their careers. Third-year driver Junqueira sits 18 points out of first place and has posted two wins, two poles and nine podiums this season, while rookie Hunter-Reay is 14th in points and has one podium to his credit. The two drivers weigh in on their seasons.
Bruno Junqueira , driver No. 1 Newman/Haas Ford
WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS TO THIS YEAR?
"Well, last year I finished second and now I'm with Newman/Haas Racing, which is a very good team, and I have more experience being that it's my third year in the Champ Car World Series. This year has been really important for me and I'm doing what I really want to do as I chase my goal to win the championship."
BEING IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT DO YOU FOCUS MORE ON BEING CONSISTENT OR WINNING RACES?
"I'm trying to win races, but if you cannot win the race you want to finish second or third or get the best result that you can. But the primary goal as a racer is to win races."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO CATCH PAUL TRACY?
"I think I need to beat him every race. If I can finish ahead of Paul every race, that is my goal, that's what I need to do to win the championship."
HOW DOES THIS TRACK COMPARE TO THE CIRCUIT IN DENVER WHERE YOU'VE WON THE LAST TWO RACES?
"This is a bit different.One is a mile high in altitude and here we are at sea level. But Newman/Haas has a good setup at all the tracks and I just need to drive my best this race weekend and go fast."
DID YOU GET FRUSTRATED EARLIER THIS YEAR BEFORE YOU FINALLY WON AT ROAD AMERICA?
"Yeah, it was a little bit frustrating for sure. I had the speed to win and I got a lot of poles and podiums, but for some reason it didn't happen. I was really close a lot of times but didn't win a race and I was a little bit frustrated, but now I hope the wins will come since I have already won two races out of the last four. I feel that this team is capable of winning at least two more races before the end of the year."
Ryan Huner-Reay , driver No. 31 American Spirit Ford
HAS YOUR ROOKIE SEASON BEEN MORE OR LESS DIFFICULT THAN YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE?
"It's my first season in CART and I've had only one or two days of testing, I'm with a rookie team and I'm a rookie driver so it has definitely been a challenge, a big climb. With that said, we've already been on the podium with inferior equipment and I'm the first American rookie to do that in 13 years, so in some cases it's been what I thought it would be and in others its been much more."
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE FOR YOU THIS YEAR?
"The biggest surprise was how well the car preformed at Mid-Ohio. I ended up driving really well and got a podium. The whole team did a great job that weekend, it was a real great team effort. But then there's been issues where we've had certain test days and we were supposed to go practice, and as a rookie that's what I need the most. But because we don't have the amount of budget that a lot of teams do we've had to cancel a few of those and have not been able to test as much as I would have liked."
YOUR TEAMMATE JIMMY VASSER IS THE ONLY ACTIVE CART CHAMPION. HOW MUCH DO YOU USE HIS EXPERIENCE?
"I ask Jimmy millions of questions and he helps me out. We work well together. I'm growing with the team, but Jimmy has been there and done that and has been around the block. I'm the new kid and we're the only two Americans so we have to carry the flag, but we work well together and he's definitely been there for me through the highs and lows this season."
AS A ROOKIE YOU GO TO A LOT OF TRACKS THAT YOU'VE NEVER DRIVEN ON, MIAMI BEING NO EXCEPTION, DO YOU HAVE TO PREPARE DIFFERENTLY FOR THOSE TRACKS? "Not really. Once you get up to this level that's always a part of it. You have to go ahead and be a quick learner. Really, I'll just go over a lot more data than I would if I had been here before. I'll go over a lot more of what gear am I in here, what RPM's here, what speed here, just so I can familiarize myself with the track and I don't have to play catch up. But it does take a bit of the first practice session just to go out there and learn the track, it's a little bit different for every body."
HOW MUCH DOES THIS RACE MEAN TO YOU BEING IN YOUR HOME STATE?
"The St. Pete race at the beginning of the year was a big deal because it was so close to my home, but this is where I grew up so it's my home race. I've been going to this race since I was five years old watching as a spectator and now I'm driving in it, which has always been a dream of mine. It's a lot of pressure, but I just have to go out and do what I do every week in any other city and race my race and drive within the limits of the car.