Press conference for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio for the top three qualifiers with Paul Tracy, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais. [There were slight audio difficulties at the beginning of the press conference that made it...
Press conference for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio for the top three qualifiers with Paul Tracy, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais.
[There were slight audio difficulties at the beginning of the press conference that made it impossible to transcribe the opening. CART Champ Car apologizes for any inconvenience.]
(Audio joined in progress.) Sebastien Bourdais: When it works, it works, you're happy, and when it doesn't work, you have to take your medicine.
Eric Mauk: Very tough track, very technical track, very physical track. What are your expectations heading into tomorrow?
Sebastien Bourdais: Yeah, it's going to depend a lot on the conditions. We all know there's chances of showers and thunderstorms and everything. I don't know. I feel pretty happy with the car in the rain conditions. I think we have a really good setup on dry conditions, and I'm not really bothered about this race. For sure, it's going to be the second hardest race of the year after Cleveland, and it's going to be also a question of consistency for this race, to keep up the whole distance.
Eric Mauk: We all know how well did you in Cleveland, winning the race there. Congratulations today. Good luck tomorrow. Our second place finisher in final qualifying, Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone. Ryan earns his first Champ Car front row starting spot. This also gives Reynard its first front row starting spot of the year after Ryan putting up a lap of 1:07.074 seconds, 121.192 miles per hour. Ryan, congratulations. How does it feel to be up here?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: It feels excellent to be up here really. I mean, we got to be up here in Portland, but it was overnight. It was on a provisional. Today it's the sure thing, going to be starting on the outside pole. It's great. It's great to be here for American Spirit. I'm real proud to be here in a Reynard too.
Eric Mauk: You talked earlier, you didn't test here when everybody ran out here a couple weeks ago. You said you hadn't run since Barber Dodge a few years ago. How different is it to come out here in one of these 750-horsepower cars and run this place?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: It is. I mean, this place is so much shorter, it feels like a slot car track compared to the Barber Dodge car. It's unbelievable. It's definitely a rollercoaster ride. It's a lot of fun. When the car is working right, it's even that much better. Like you said, we were the only car that didn't test here for the big Mid-Ohio test. I just really built up into it this weekend, slowly but surely, you know, gradually built into it, didn't rush anything, and the team didn't rush anything. We just worked on it together calmly, put the car on the track at the right time. Unfortunately, that red came out at the end. Like Sebastien said, I had only gone through the first corner. I equaled my best time through the first corner. But we'll see what it would have been. Tomorrow should be a good day, and hopefully everything goes all right.
Eric Mauk: Less than two one-hundredths off the pole time. Were you surprised at how quick you were today?
Ryan Hunter-Reay: When we did the 7.4, I knew it was possible to get a 7.2 out of it. We made a few tweaks to the car, just like a gamble, rolled the dice, ended up working. I squeezed a little out of the car, too. Everybody did a great job. The team did a great job. They deserve it. You know, looking forward to tomorrow, for sure.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow.
Ryan Hunter-Reay: Thank you.
Eric Mauk: We're now joined by our polesitter, Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Paul claims his fifth pole of the year and the 18th of his career after a lap of 1:07.056 seconds, 121.220 miles per hour, which he ran on his third lap of the day. His first pole here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, also gives him a championship point, bringing him to within one point of the series lead. Paul, congratulations. Your first pole here at Mid-Ohio. How does it feel?
Paul Tracy: It feels great. You know, it was pretty tricky conditions today. The session started out very slow because of track conditions. So we waited a long time, waited and waited. The first guy to get in the 7's, we decided to go. Went on the track, and my third lap was a 7.0, whatever it was. You know, then I had some traffic and could never get the right lap again. There was only about eight minutes to go. I came in, changed tires, went straight back out and did a 7.1. Then I had another lap going, it was a little bit better, then the red came out. You know, it was just good enough to beat Ryan. You know, we're looking forward to tomorrow.
Eric Mauk: 10 starts here, four runner-up finishes, you start on the pole tomorrow. What is it going to take to win here?
Paul Tracy: Well, I think the most important thing is getting a good start, getting into the lead. It's a long race. This is a long, physical race, much like Cleveland is. There's not a lot of chance to get a lot of rest here. So for us, it's four pit stops, clean pit stops, just try to run the pace that we need to run. We've done a good job this weekend on tire management, so we have two sets of stickers for tomorrow. Really the key is the first turn, getting through the first couple corners.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations, best of luck tomorrow. We'll go ahead and take questions from the media.
Q: Paul, you have a rookie alongside you that basically has nothing to lose. Your thoughts going into tomorrow?
Paul Tracy: You know, Ryan, you can say that. But I think, you know, he has everything to gain, as well, to get a good result for his team. You know, I don't think he wants to do anything crazy. I think he wants to get through the first corner and get a good result for himself, you know, to prove what he's doing in the team is working. You know, the car is fast here. Their particular car was the Player's team car last year, pretty similar setup. Obviously, he showed he's capable of being up there. So I'm sure Ryan's looking for a good result tomorrow, to be on the podium.
Q: Everyone was waiting for some rubber to get laid down on the track, but then you went out and ran your best time on your third lap. How?
Paul Tracy: Really, I just had a clear track at that moment in time. There was nobody in front of me. I went pretty hard on the out lap and the second lap, and I felt the tires were just up, maybe a little bit low, maybe a pound low. So it wasn't optimum. But, you know, I was looking at my splits the whole time. I was gaining time - up, up, up, every section. I just stayed with it the whole lap. I usually don't go until my fourth lap, but I decided to go on my third. I went through turn one just to feel what it was like, and I was up a 10th and a half already, so I stayed with it the rest of the lap and did the time. Then after that, you know, I caught -- somebody came out of the pits, and I started catching traffic. I had to back off for a lap. It was just never quite the same again.
Q: The top six cars are 24-hundredths of a second apart. Are you concerned about the early start?
Paul Tracy: No. I mean, it's always very, very, very competitive here. The times are very tight. I mean, I can remember, you know, being 20th on the grid here a couple years ago, and only being a half a second off. It's pretty typical of this track. I mean, it's such a technical track, demanding track to set up for because there's so many different corners. But it seems like everybody's able to get it right here because we test here. So the times are always very close.
Eric Mauk: You guys get off light today. CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio tomorrow, we take the green flag here for 92 plus laps, over 200 miles tomorrow, Round 13 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Thank you, congratulations, gentlemen. Good luck tomorrow.