CHAMP CAR POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH JUSTIN WILSON, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND JIMMY VASSER ERIC MAUK</I>: Ladies and gentlemen, we will go ahead and get started with our top three qualifiers. Our third-place qualifier,...
CHAMP CAR POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH JUSTIN WILSON, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND JIMMY VASSER
ERIC MAUK</I>: Ladies and gentlemen, we will go ahead and get started with our top three qualifiers. Our third-place qualifier, the driver of the #9 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. Justin puts up a quick time today of 21.125 seconds, 175.857 miles per hour. And, Justin, for a guy who hasn't grown up running a lot of ovals, you seem to have picked up on this one straightaway. How do you feel?
JUSTIN WILSON: I feel pretty good out there. I think the car is very good and I know that I feel a lot better about things this year than I did last year. Last year I spent a lot of time just getting out of the way and trying to stay off the wall. Now I feel like we have a good chance to do well.
ERIC MAUK</I>: The second-place qualifier, starting on the outside of the front row for the second time in his young career, driver of the #10 Red Bull Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, AJ Allmendinger. AJ qualified second with a quick time of 21.109 seconds, 176.001 miles an hour. AJ, starting on the outside of the front row, matching a career best. How do you feel about the way it went?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I was very pleased overall because I think as a team, for myself, I was just kind of looking to be in the top three rows. I think overall the car is better for the race than it is for qualifying. To be starting outside pole is great. Great for the team, as Justin said, to be 2, 3. Unfortunately, I still have a red and white car starting next to me like last time I was on the front row. At least it's a different guy this time. Overall I'm very pleased for the team and how the weekend went so far. Hopefully we can have a great finish tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK</I>: Congratulations. The polesitter for the Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 presented by US Bank, driver of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy, the ninth pole of his career, his first pole since 2002 in Long Beach. This marks the first time that a pair of Americans start on the front row in Champ Car racing since 1998 when Scott Pruett sat on pole along side of Jimmy Vasser. Coming into this weekend, everyone wanted to talk about your 200th consecutive start, now you've given them something else to focus on.
JIMMY VASSER: I'd much rather talk about pole positions and possible race wins than 200 consecutive starts. I've got the gray hair to show it. I'm proud of the 200 consecutives. I mean, granted, I still have to start the race I guess tomorrow. But you know we're working real hard at PKV, making a lot of changes as some of you can tell technically in our driver lineup, in our management. It's been a very difficult road to get the team in the Champ Car series up near the sharp end of the grid. It's ultracompetitive, it's as competitive as I can ever remember it to run good.
This is good for us, but certainly we don't feel like we've arrived. We've got a lot of work to do. There's a lot of programs in place to move PKV Racing forward. This is a good spirit builder and a good confidence builder for the team. One of the key factors in building a team, in my experience, is good chemistry and good energy. I think this goes a long way to help build that.
ERIC MAUK</I>: Before we open it up to questions for media, tell us about how the Bridgestone Potenzas held up on the pole during practice
JIMMY VASSER: The tires were fantastic. The Bridgestones, especially in qualifying, when they're brand-new, you can go out and really lean on them and trust them a lot more than you can when they're worn out. For me, they worked perfect today. I couldn't ask for a better tire.
ERIC MAUK</I>: Congratulations.
JIMMY VASSER: Thanks.
ERIC MAUK</I>: We'll now open it up to questions from the media.
Q</I>: Jimmy, are you surprised about being on the pole or did you feel that you had a realistic shot?
JIMMY VASSER: Yeah, I thought we had a shot. I thought there were a good five or six cars that had a good shot. Hunter-Reay is capable and obviously Tracy. I thought Sebastien went real quick early. So I thought maybe he was just working on full tanks. Tagliani is usually a guy that's pretty capable of qualifying very quick. And my teammate, da Matta, I know he was very close.
It just takes a little bit of a balance and getting all the little things right. For us, you know, that happened today. You know, I said it before, a driver can't really muscle a car. You can muscle a little bit, but you can't carry it around on your back around here. The Gulfstream car did most of the work today. The guys over there at PKV deserve all the credit. Everybody's got to come together at the same time, the tire, the tire pressure, the engine's got to be running real good. Everybody has the same Ford-Cosworth engines, but sometimes you the got the breeze a little bit better. I think all the things lined up for us today.
Q</I>: Can you guys address having two Americans on the front row?
JIMMY VASSER: Yeah, yeah. I think it's kind of cool. Do you want to take that one?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think it's great. Unfortunately we don't have many Americans in the series. Any time two of them can get on the front row, I think it's great for the series. And, you know, great overall that, you know -- and I think to speak for Jimmy, I think the Team USA scholarship really prepared me for this right now.
Q</I>: Last year, Ryan Hunter-Reay ran away with this thing. Jimmy, do you think anyone can match that?
JIMMY VASSER: You know, I don't know. I think I'd be pretty hard-pressed to see anybody do what Ryan did last year. But, you know, I guess the pressure's on me. I'm the one on the pole so I get to go out and lead 225 laps, and I hope I can. Some common dominators between Ryan's win and the car I'm driving today - we have Tom Brown, our technical director on the team, last year. But I suspect it's going to be a very difficult race. I watched (inaudible) today in the session and I was pretty impressed how they were able to go out and continuously click 21s on old tires.
Q</I>: A.J., you seemed to have a little moment down in Turn Two during practice, can you confirm that and also, can you talk about what Justin being on the team has meant.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, I mean, I think, yeah, at the end of practice, we were doing a practice qualifying run and the car stepped out a bit. Actually wasn't that big of a deal in qualifying today the car was loose the whole time. That was more scary than practice. But, you know, Justin's been great. He's been kicking my ass all year, so that hasn't been fantastic. Other than that, it's been great having him on the team. You know, he's definitely got a lot more experience overall in racing in general, even though this is the second year in Champ Car together.
But, you know, it's been great. It's been awesome off the racetrack. He's brought a lot to the people. I think it's showed how the team stepped up this year, as well as off the racetrack we have a lot of fun together. You know, kind of everything that we do together, we kind of push each other. So it's a contest no matter what we're doing.
Q</I>: Does he beat you in video games?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I smoke him in everything else.
Q</I>: Last time you felt you had a shot at the pole, you moved some weight around in the cockpit before the qualifying. Did you look at that today?
JIMMY VASSER: No, we considered it, but we didn't think that -- we took the car off in the morning. It felt fine. If you do that, then you have to match the weight distribution, what you take out of the back. It would have been more work than we felt was worth it.
Q</I>: Jimmy, you are one of the older guys in the series. Do you get a little satisfaction out of coming out here and showing the guys that you can still do it?
JIMMY VASSER: I'd like to think that I could still do the job. You know, it's very satisfying. Not from an egotistical standpoint about my age compared to the young guys, but more so that, you know, I came into this team and just was made a partner in this race team to help build it and to make it a potential race winner and to move it forward. That's where all the satisfaction comes for me.
ERIC MAUK</I>: I apologize for not making this point earlier. This is the first pole in the three-year history of PKV Racing, starting in 2003.
Q</I>: Were you guys happy with the schedule this weekend given the fact that it is a two-day show?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, I think for me the two-hour practice was plenty. We got to attempt a lot of stuff. We still have a warm-up tomorrow in the morning. So, you know, for the two-day event overall, I think, you know, there's plenty of track time still. I don't think if it would have been a three-day event, the track being faster and having more rubber on it, would have changed our outlook more.
JIMMY VASSER: Most of the teams came to an open test here last month. Pretty much all the cars were here for two days. We got most of our work done then. I think a two-day event on ovals is a good thing. I mean, the Milwaukee fans might think maybe Saturday, Sunday would be a better option than Friday, Saturday.
Q</I>: Speeds were a little down this year in qualifying, why is that?
JIMMY VASSER: Last year was night qualifying. Tracks are usually quicker, engines make a little more power at night. It was optimum conditions last year. There wasn't a breath of wind. It was perfect. I think that's the difference.
Q</I>: A.J., you seemed to be pretty excited after last season's finish here after having a tough time earlier in the weekend. Are you a little more relaxed this year?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: You're crazy, I wasn't jumping out of the car excited like last year. I was scared as hell. I was just happy about fifth. You know, as Justin says, it's just kind of moving forward and RuSPORT this year has done a great job. I think with me having the experience last year, I could kind of tell my guys a bit better what I wanted out of the car. So I think that's helped. You know, once Justin lets me in on turn one and I can slide into second, that would be great.
You know, it's just kind of moving forward and, you know, these races are so long, as Jimmy stated before about how tough the competition is, you just kind of got to give yourself a chance, you got to stay around the first half of the race and be there at the end because the guys are so quick right now, if you make a mistake, you can usually be back in the mid pack. Then once you're there, it's hard to get around anybody. So, you know, we just try to stay safe off the start and go from there.
Q</I>: Jimmy, how much did having the last qualifying attempt help you?
JIMMY VASSER: You know the time you have to beat. I think, you know, after the ARCA cars were out, every car that went put a new smattering of brand-new Bridgestone Potenza tire on the track in front of you. It's got to be better, I think. It was an advantage that I achieved by being fastest in the morning. I kind of wanted that opportunity.
ERIC MAUK</I>: Thank you, gentlemen. We go racing tomorrow at noon local time. We are live on CBS Sports. Thank you.