CART Press Conference June 1, 2002 The Milwaukee Mile - The Miller Lite 250 An Interview With: Adrian Fernandez Paul Tracy Patrick Carpentier Merrill Cain: Let's get started with our top three press conferences today following qualifying for...
CART Press Conference
June 1, 2002
The Milwaukee Mile - The Miller Lite 250
An Interview With:
Merrill Cain: Let's get started with our top three press conferences today following qualifying for tomorrow's Miller Lite 250. We'll get started with Paul Tracy who joins us now. Paul qualified second today, No. 26 KOOL Honda Lola Bridgestone, qualified second with a lap of 22.176, speed of 167.314 miles per hour. It's his best qualifying effort of the 2002 season, besting his third place effort from Motegi, Japan and the ninth time in his ten starts here in Milwaukee that Paul has started inside of the top seven. Talk to us a little bit about your day today. Looked for a while that you were going to be on the pole, obviously Adrian had a very strong run there at the end, but you looked great.
Paul Tracy: Yeah, I was hoping that I'd beat the yellow here...(LAUGHTER)
Merrill Cain: As far as I am concerned, you beat it all week.
Paul Tracy: I am very happy with the job the team has done. Obviously everybody knows what happened at Indy. There has been a lot of work for the whole team. Team KOOL Green is now switching back over to these cars, getting used to this car again on Friday and getting it set up was a little bit of a chore. Friday the car wasn't very good for us. So I am very happy with how we ended up today. It was a bit of surprise. I thought it would be about 5th or 6th. But the car made it better and starting in the front row, just got beat out on the last lap again.
Merrill Cain: I guess that's one way to look at it. I guess another way to look at it is you had a very tough week; obviously this must be a pretty good reward after a very tough week.
Paul Tracy: Yeah, it is. Barry told me -- congratulated me for the job I did at Indy, that I did my job and let him do his job; for me to concentrate on my job here, to run well, try to score my third win here, and move ourselves up in the points and make a run at this Championship because I feel we're starting to gain some momentum as a team now.
I had a good start to the season although it doesn't really show in the points, but I had two good finishes, 5th and 7th; and obviously our run in Japan and then the run in Indy, starting to build some momentum, so I feel good about it.
Merrill Cain: Before we get to Patrick, a couple of other notes on Paul, his first front-row start since the 2000 event in Vancouver. He went from the second spot there. It's his first front-row spot on an oval since 2000 at Michigan International Speedway.
Patrick joins us driving the No. 32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Reynard Bridgestone. He qualified third with a lap of 22.324 seconds, a speed of 166.422 miles per hour. It's his best qualifying position in the 2002 season and best since he qualified second at Vancouver last year. It's his best oval track qualifying since taking second at Texas last season as well. Tell us a little bit about your day. Obviously good qualifying effort for you. You got out a little earlier than these two guys.
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, man, was I surprised, I said I think the most surprised guy in the pits is our own team. We couldn't believe it, the times. But we crashed a car this morning. It hasn't been going well all week. It was extremely -- the car was pushing and loose and doing all sorts of things, and had to go to the backup car and we pretty much same setup made a few changes; for some reason this one had a lot of grip compared to the other ones we had. And it was actually -- not easier, but a lot better to go that speed than it was being at the back all weekend.
But I am very happy, very impressed. Hopefully we have a car that will last in the race. It's still a little bit loose at the moment. But hey, that's a lot more than what I thought I was going to get this weekend.
Merrill Cain: Adrian Fernandez joins us. He is the polesitter for tomorrow's Miller Lite 250. He won the pole with a lap of 22.176 seconds, that's a speed of 167.532 miles per hour. Adrian's third pole of his career; his second of the season matching his effort in the season opener in Monterrey, Mexico. His second career oval track pole. The other came in Michigan in 1998, his first short oval pole. Also his best ever starting spot in Milwaukee among his 10 starts here.
Obviously you had a little trouble on that first lap of qualifying. You said to me you almost lost it there. You sure turned around and came back with a nice second lap.
Adrian Fernandez: First time that in the whole week that the car has stepped away from me. I know that's tradition, Milwaukee, for some reason is the only track that I know from practice in the morning to the afternoon, it goes loose. Why, I don't know. Other tracks you have to compensate it and this place is unique in that respect.
In the past I have had a good car and some of the cars so loose and I go to the back. I said this time, I am not going to do the same. We didn't compensate enough, and came out in Turn 2 my first lap, and put the power in just -- good thing that it was just a slow slide and sort of managed to control and get out of the power in time to make the save. That meant that my second lap, you know, when the car goes loose it's never recovered - doesn't matter what you do to the bars, whatever. I knew it was going to be difficult, so I have to keep the momentum to 3 and 4 opening my second lap, and I wasn't as quick in Turn 1 and 2 and so I knew where I had to put my trouble in 3 and 4 to be able to get a good time. And I stayed there but the car was dancing all the way through the exit in Turn 4, but it was a lot of pride than any other things being it would have been nice to get the pole. So it is whole team effort. Our team has been working hard all May trying to work on details and organization and it proves that the team is just getting better all the time, be thankful to them. Shinji, my teammate, was in 6th place, so that's very well for the team. So I am very, very happy.
Merrill Cain: For Adrian, he earns o ne Championship point for the pole position today. That gives him 12 points on the year and moves him into a tie with Kenny Brack and Scott Dixon with 13th overall in the series as we said so far. Let us open it up for questions.
Q What gave you the trouble in the third turn?
Adrian Fernandez: I knew I had to put the power a little bit lower there. I knew if I would have completely that lap it should have been a 21. We did a few 21s, 8, 9, this morning, so the car is very fast, so the car felt good in the warmup last but when I put the power it just hit me by surprise. So I just changed my line a little bit, I was able to take a good run into Turn 3 and then Turn 3, I just have to put the power earlier, otherwise we wouldn't be able to get the pole. So I drove a very wide, wide line just to free up the car as much as I could. But it wasn't like a flat-out thing. I had to be very patient.
Q When did you realize that your backup car was fast?
Patrick Carpentier: When I saw that I am on the steering wheel. (LAUGHTER). That's pretty much it. I went slower the next lap. Guys, the beacon is not at the right place.
No, no, I took a lot of laps. I took five laps to warm up just to make sure that I -- especially after a crash you want to know what you have and just push hard, but for some reason and my engineer said that he will find out why it's faster, or hopefully we will, and we will know what it is.
But no, I think it's very good. It's good for the team because it was really rough weekend so far, so I didn't expect that. I don't even -- I never thought it was going to be third.
Paul Tracy: I thought it was the driver (laughter).
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, but then what do you do when you are at the back?
Q How difficult has it been able to focus on what you do here?
Paul Tracy: It is not that difficult because Kyle is in the room right here. He keeps a very, very tight eye on me and very tight muzzle on my mouth. So, no, Barry basically told me just, like I said, let me handle the business. Like I said, he told me I did my job, and you do your job this weekend, you are gaining momentum, and we're going to win some races. That's what really what I have been focusing on focusing, on a lot on my fitness and the team and I hope it's starting to pay-off.
Q What happened in this morning's crash?
Patrick Carpentier: The crash this morning was actually the wings, I think we need a little bit bigger wings to be able to make better passing and stuff. But as far as safety is concerned, the wings do their job. I have time to slow down quite a bit before I hit. And the hit was hard, but it was not like really a hard hit like I have had in the past. So it just cuts the wind out of you, but basically that's it. I don't have any bruise or anything. That pretty much did a job.
Q It is forecasted to be colder tomorrow, what will that do to the cars?
Paul Tracy: Like I said earlier, I think for sure it's going to give us more grip because it makes more downforce and these cars, don't make a lot of downforce. So on the other hand, the engines will make more power, but downforce is key with these things, and when you drop the temperature 30 degrees it is a big difference with the wings, so I think it will make the racing better tomorrow because right now with the heat, like I said, it's not a lot of grip; the track is very slippery because there's no downforce in the air.
Adrian Fernandez: For me I think it would be great, we tested in 60-degree temperature so we have a lot of information from those things and we were running very fast. Also we did a 21, so, this is -- I think actually the conditions of the track at that time were not fantastic from the construction, very windy, so in that respect, I think we feel pretty prepared for it.
Q Did the warm weather cause (Patrick's) accident?
Patrick Carpentier: For some reason this weekend, the car, it was like I was running on cold tires all the time and it was -- I will answer your question, I am coming to it, but it was really unpredictable and I couldn't tell. Sometimes it would go sideways and I couldn't really tell and control it very much and it just snapped between 1 and 2, but this afternoon. Some reason it just had a little bit more grip and just enough to, you know, sometimes you have more grip, it goes sideways, but you can feel it a little bit more and it is a little bit more predictable so that was actually for me much better than what we had all weekend because all weekend I couldn't tell when the car was going to go or not.
Q With fewer cars in the field there is talk of widening the pit boxes for the race. Would this help you?
Paul Tracy: I think for sure it's always crowded and pit stops can be pretty hectic under yellow, things like that, so any bit more room that you have is greatly needed.
Adrian Fernandez: Definitely, I think pit stops always been a problem here, so the extra space we have I think it's going to make it safer for the mechanics especially.
Q How will the mandatory pit windows affect the race?
Paul Tracy: We had the say about the tires. We had demands on the tires and get through the whole weekend then qualify a set, so, I think everybody has been prepared for that. It is going to add more dimension to the race compared to before only being a two-stop race, 3-stop. Now it is going to be maybe 4, maybe 5. I think it is going to add more excitement, more pit stops, more pacing during the pits, green-flag stops, things like that. That's really when you see the order kind of change up, you know, you can't afford to make a mistake on a pit stop especially under green because you can lose a lap so easily. I think with more pit stops it's going to add more dimension to the race and create a better race.
Q Were you (Fernandez) thinking about what you needed to do during the second qualifying lap or do you just rely on instinct?
Adrian Fernandez: Believe it or not you have time to think about it. I mean, with the guys we have we shouldn't have a problem to put the car on the pole but it got much more difficult than I thought because of that morning that I had. So that lap that I had to do was a lot more hairy than I have been driving all week.
Paul Tracy: You should drive an IRL car (laughter) that will make your hair stand up on end for months.
Traffic is always a factor here. The car can easily go loose here. A lot of guys usually do -- that's going to create traffic. We had a lot of traffic in Japan and that's a big track, and then very fast guys that had fast cars created a lot of traffic. So this place is a typical small track; you are going to start lapping guys within 10 laps.
Q It's your second pole of the season. What's been your secret?
Adrian Fernandez: I am working out more at home but I am going to disappear myself.
No, it is just a brand new team. It just takes time to get things done. Don Halliday is new on the team and my engineer, so that takes time also to understand the little things. We should be better, like Long Beach we should be better (inaudible) but I think we have anyway problems with the fuel pressure in Long Beach. That time we really messed up our setup. It was bad. We learned from that and we came here with a new thinking, and it worked. That was a key thing for us, because our -- in Japan, it really worked for here. I am pretty excited for the future races because I think you will see from now on I think our team will be very, very competitive.