Top three press conference transcript from The Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 with: Michel Jourdain Jr., Oriol Servia and Patrick Carpentier. Eric Mauk: We will start with our third-place finisher, the driver of the ...
Top three press conference transcript from The Milwaukee Mile Centennial
Michel Jourdain Jr., Oriol Servia and Patrick Carpentier.
Eric Mauk: We will start with our third-place finisher, the driver of the #32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Patrick Carpentier. Patrick earns his first podium of the season with a third-place run, where he finished just .704 seconds behind the leader. Patrick, congratulations. Pretty fun night for you out there.
Patrick Carpentier: I really loved it. It was a great race. I had some good passes. I had a close call with Paul (Tracy) going into one, but I had the best seat, I was behind Paul and Oriol (Servia) and I could see these guys battling it out on the restarts. I really enjoyed it, this race I have enjoyed on oval the most since quite a few years. CART made a lot of changes to a lot of things for this weekend and we have new wings, more downforce, and Bridgestone came up with the right set of tires, and everything was really good. Often CART gets criticized about decisions they make, but tonight they made all the right decisions. I hope people enjoyed the show because I really did. The car, it was fun to be a part of it and to drive, it was good.
Eric Mauk: A couple of hours of nighttime practice; unfortunately didn't get the qualifying night. Did the time you got to spend out there really get you prepared to race under the lights.
Patrick Carpentier: The cars run very similar. The car was pretty consistent for me throughout the whole race. I was a little bit too loose on the restarts but after that it would settle down. But everything just stayed pretty much the same from lap one 'til the end of the stint, and it was no big surprise. We were wondering what was going to happen because we didn't have a lot of running at night. Nobody did, but it was just the same as we would run in daytime. I was a lot of fun, I enjoyed it.
Eric Mauk: Again the first podium again of the year for Patrick and his .704-second margin behind Jourdain marks the second consecutive race that the top-three finishers have finished within a second of each other. We're now joined by tonight's runner-up Oriol Servia, who earned a career-best finish of second place tonight, marking his third consecutive top-five finish. Congratulations, how does it feel?
Oriol Servia: Obviously I am happy, since the beginning of the season we have been quick and every weekend something happens that didn't allow to us finish up there. It's good to at least just break through that and finish second. The European races, I think we lost a little bit of speed, but we were able to at least finish two solid races, 4th and 5th, and here, I think we put together the speed and a good finish which is good. Obviously Michel was very strong. I think I need to work on the restarts. (LAUGHTER). Tracy showed me that. But then I was able to give it back to him which is a nice feeling. Paul is not an easy man to pass so it was a good thing. As I said, I think the orange color became red at some point with that battle, but it was just good. The car ran very well the whole race on all tires, cold tires, a lot of fuel, no fuel, so it was nice.
Eric Mauk: Tell us about that last restart, you seemed to have a shot at him at the end.
Oriol Servia: He's not here to defend himself, but there is a restart cone in Turn 3 and he started the drive between 2 and 3, okay, and then the last two he was on power in Turn 2. I was like, hey, what is going to happen? But he was trying, you know, you always try to push the limit until the car tells you something, so he did what he had to do, and it is a good thing we had a pace car. He had a non-mistake race. He was strong all the time so I think obviously I was going to try to steal it from him, but I think -- I don't know what was his fastest lap times were, but pretty close to each other.
Eric Mauk: A lot of people were talking about the cold tonight. Worried about how fast the tires would come up. How long did it take?
Oriol Servia: We were all worried because -- actually Bridgestone was saying under 50 degrees, be careful, and it was 50 degrees before we started, so I was like, okay. But the truth is cold tires out of the pits, I would go out and Turn 3 and 4 which is the first turn you make, the tires were cold and just ooh -- but by the time you go to 1 and 2 it was already almost good and then in the next lap it was fine, so I don't think it was that big of a deal. The car was very consistent and even when the tires were getting very cold, at least my car, it was not the front or the rear -- they -- both ends were giving out the same so it was actually the tires, I think, honestly, they performed really well.
Eric Mauk: We'll open it up for questions.
Q: You came out of the race smiling after battling with Paul Tracy. What did you learn from each other tonight?
Oriol Servia: I need to see those restarts because it's true, I couldn't get that close to Michel and he was able to be that close to me. Maybe he had higher pressure; maybe that's why he was getting loose and I was able to pass him back. It's always a trade-off. Sometimes you are better on the restart and then you pay for that. I don't know. But I learned that -- what is nice, it was good racing as it should be. It was close. I tell you, Paul didn't give me one millimeter extra, any corner, we were side by side. And I think I did the same with him. We were fair to each other and it was -- it is nice to race like that.
Q: You had a little experience of that yourself, Patrick, was that as close as it looked on the broadcast?
Patrick Carpentier: Paul gave me less than a millimeter there. But I had to back out otherwise I think we would have hit each other so I went in and what happened is that as I went in the corner I wanted to get a good exit. When I downshifted a gear I got a little bit sideways and lost a little bit of speed and then Paul got ahead and just started closing in and I had to back out of the corner and actually cut my hair, so almost hit the wall at the exit. But it was okay. He still was in front of me so he had the right to do it. But, man, it was close. If I would have taken him out tonight, I would have walked straight out.
Q: There was talk about Chris Kniefel talking about only one blocking move in the driver's meeting. Were you thinking about that out there?
Oriol Servia: I tell you those words were in my head every restart. I was thinking, okay, I am not going to move, but if I am behind you and you move, you know, I am going to be screaming in the microphone. But I think everybody behaved quite well; at least, with me. Lapped cars were doing a good job. I think some could have helped a little more, but it's always easy to say when you are lapping. Yeah, I think it was good that they made that rule, so at least you can see some passing, like these guys passed each other back and forth, and if we wouldn't have had that rule tonight maybe they would have just run down the track left and right more, like we did in Germany, everybody did it, actually. I think it was better for the show.
Q: Was there much of a difference between night practice and night racing?
Oriol Servia: Not in my case. Night was actually the same as it was in the daytime. If we would have come here with the wings that we had last year, it would have been a disaster, but CART made the right decision and we have so much downforce - it's the most downforce I think we have ever had on a one-mile oval and because of that we could go fast pretty much out of the pits.
Patrick Carpentier: It was a lot of downforce but it wasn't too much, like in Germany, a little too much. Here was a good balance. It was good.
Q: Tell us a little more about your dueling with Paul on the restarts?
Oriol Servia: But every time I was convinced: This time he's not going to pass me. I learned, I was like, yes, this time, okay, you did it before, okay, but this time you are not going to pass me. Out of Turn 3 I could see his nose in my mirrors, and side by side, but he was actually reducing that millimeter to half a millimeter, and -- but you know, I knew I had a good car and when I was able to pass him back so I just had confidence in that.
Eric Mauk: We are now joined by the winner of the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 Presented by Miller Lite and Argent Mortgage, the driver of the #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Michel Jourdain Jr. Michel led a race-record 233 laps en route to taking his first career victory. Congratulations, Michel Jourdain. How does it feel to be on the top of the podium?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: I mean, it's perfect and Long Beach where I thought I had it won and didn't, so just so many things can go wrong; especially in a short oval, with the way, I mean, the marbles and where a couple of cars crashed there, I had a big moment there, so it was just so many things that can go wrong in the pit like in Long Beach so just had to always be careful. The car was so fast and we wanted to finish. I have to say that to make me look good. But I mean the start, there was a lot of time trying to get away from Paul and there at the end they were making their cars better and it was harder every time. Then after the last restart, I just wanted to go fast as possible just enough to keep people behind me. I didn't want to catch any traffic because that would be another thing that could stall us. So it just went perfect.
Eric Mauk: You made two key passes on the outside tonight. Was that something that you knew going in that you had chance to do?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Yes, as long as the marbles weren't too bad. Once I tried and I was trying to pass Alex and he was on cold tires and he just went wide, so put me in the marbles just -- I almost went to the wall there. So after that it was very hard for everybody, and for only two, three cars crashed when -- we were just a matter of being able to pass at the beginning, for sure. I passed.
Eric Mauk: This win tonight also came with the same engine that you ran third with last week in Germany. Quite a testament to the Ford Cosworth power they put together.
Michel Jourdain Jr.: They put together the best engines, I mean, very good in Germany and the whole weekend here and we just had no problems.
Q: Like Eric said, you are leaving here with the points lead but do you feel like you are in a lot better position this year than last year at this time?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Completely different. At the beginning we were fast last year, but nothing compared to this year. Maybe last year we would have been in the podium here, maybe Long Beach, but now we are -- each race we have been four times in the podium; should have been in the podium in Long Beach too. We have qualified all the races for England in the Top-5, so I mean, we're just so much more competitive. Last year I think we just were in the front because a lot of people had a lot of problems. Obviously Paul had some problems, and a lot more points than last year this year.
Q: I was wondering during the yellow, did you radio with anybody and what did they say?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: Just told me to keep doing what I have been doing the whole race and we would be okay. There was not too much talking. You don't want to say too many things. You don't want to start celebrating. Until I saw the checkered flag and the car was straight is when I started celebrating.
Q: Did you have any change in strategy in the last few laps?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: A couple of things, we caught the lap cars and after that it was -- when there had been already a couple crashes, I didn't want to push it and I mean, I needed to keep a good line and they were not going to be able to pass me. So I just wanted to do that. I almost went to the wall like I said before, once, because I was trying to pass some lap cars, so I just needed to stay in the front, get a good pitstop and I knew we would be okay.
Q: What is different, you or where is it coming from?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: I am sure it's a little bit of everything. I mean, every year I get more experience and I know more about the car, about the tracks, about what needs to be done to be fast all the time. I think, for sure, the biggest thing this year is qualifying where we improved the most, we have been very strong -- last year we were very fast during the race but starting from 18th, I think my average start was like 15th or 16th last year. And starting the front makes it much easier so we worked very, very hard during the winter to try to improve qualifying. I think it is paying off.
Q: What did your team work on during the pit stops?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: They make a few changes during the race because it was really starting to be a problem and I had to be really careful on the restarts. It was really, really loose. At the end they made a change and worked out pretty well. We had one oval this year so maybe sometime I will see what has been done, but it was pretty good, actually, because the car just settled down and that's when we did the fastest lap and it was pretty fast from the get-go. It's a good thing to learn.
Q: How did you feel about racing at night?
Michel Jourdain Jr.: I said right away on Thursday even before we got in the car, CART did an unbelievable job. I think it is much better the way I could see at night than during the day. The cars obviously are faster; which is good, but I really liked it right away. After winning I have to say -- I think even on Thursday when I arrived to the track I saw Jaime and I said, oh, it's very nice, you wake up, room service, you go back to sleep and then watch the movie and then you come to the track.