An interview with Cristiano da Matta Scott Dixon Kenny Brack Part 1 of 2 Merrill Cain: We're joined by Kenny Brack with a best lap of 1 minute 19.873 seconds and a speed of 122.099 miles per hour. If his position holds up it will be his best...
An interview with
Cristiano da Matta
Part 1 of 2
Merrill Cain: We're joined by Kenny Brack with a best lap of 1 minute 19.873 seconds and a speed of 122.099 miles per hour. If his position holds up it will be his best qualifying spot since being up in the front in Portland this year. You were at the bottom of the speed chart for a good part of the session before jumping up into fifth and your finishing position of third. Was it a matter of getting dialed in with the car?
Kenny Brack: We didn't change anything in the car. We went on to the first set of tires, and as soon as we went out, one of them [Alex Tagliani] hits the fence in Turn 6 or something and so that caused a red flag. So we didn't get a lap. And on the second set of tires, we were out in a big traffic jam. In the end, everybody kept backing up to get a clear lap, and so you get traffic all the time.
So we got off line and just waited for 20, 30 seconds, and then I got going and got that lap in there at the end. So it wasn't ideal for the tire life, but it was at least a clear track. So I think we had a hard time today to get a clear lap, but we did it in the end.
Merrill Cain: Scott Dixon is also joining us, driver of the #4. Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. He ran second in today's qualifying session with a top effort of 1 minute 19.755 seconds, a speed of 122.279 miles per hour. If Scott can hold it up, it would be his best starting spot of his CART career.
Talk about your qualifying effort. You put a quick lap in early in the session. Was it a matter of you getting a clear lap?
Scott Dixon: For sure. It's the same deal every time. Everybody is checking up and trying to get a clear track. We are lucky enough that we sort of got it early. We almost didn't get it because someone slowed down going into [Turn] 10, and then he must have seen me and then got on it and started his lap earlier, which allowed us to finish a lap. Then after that, we just hit traffic again so that was pretty much it.
Merrill Cain: The provisional pole sitter today is Cristiano da Matta, driver of the # 6 Havoline Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. He wins the provisional pole with a lap a speed of 122.726 and he books himself into a front row starting sport for Sunday's Molson Indy Montreal. The front row spot will be Cristiano's eighth of the season, and he also earns a championship point. That gives him 144 points now for the season and widens his CART FedEx Championship Series point lead to 43 points over Patrick Carpentier and Bruno Junqueira.
You jumped up with the quick time at the very end of the morning session. Obviously posting a quick time today didn't seem like a whole lot of effort for you. Did you just make it look easy?
Cristiano da Matta: No, it wasn't that easy. But of course when the car is working good, it's a lot less complicated from my side. Since we unloaded the car, it was running fine. Especially for a new track, there wasn't a whole lot that we had to do to get it decent. It was decent right away, so that's a big plus because then we can get the time to do some other experiments, instead of doing basic things; so the basic things were actually pretty well sorted out. It's a good job for the team on the preparation coming into the event for a new track and everything. We did a lot of guessing and did it very well.
I'm just happy with the car. I'm happy with the performance today and it's only Friday. I know it means a lot, being on the pole on Friday, because it gets you on the front row for the Saturday qualifying. So there's a lot less pressure for tomorrow.
But, the race hasn't even started yet, so it's still a long ways to go. There are still another 23 points, 22 points on the table, so we have to keep on working and this was just the beginning. It was a good beginning, but we still have a lot of water to go over.
Merrill Cain: What was your initial impression of the track? You drove it for the first time today.
Cristiano da Matta: Well, it was funny because when I was going around in the rental car, I was thinking, wow, this doesn't look like the track I saw on TV. It doesn't look nearly as nice as what I saw on TV. Today when I first got in the race car, I found that what we watched on TV was different. From the road car, everything looked kind of small, tight, and on the race car, everything was more the way you are actually used to see.
It's a very smooth track, that's, of course, very good for us physically. For our set up of the car, it makes it a little bit easier. The biggest challenge is a lot of hard braking in this track. There are a lot of important places for traction and many chicanes. You have to have a good car when you change direction. So it's very specific, the things you have to get right on the race car. It's a track that even though the turns are not very high speed, it's not very easy, too, because there's quite a lot of variations on line that you can use.
I'm still in a little doubt in a couple of little places. I think everybody is still finessing it a little bit, because, of course, its first time for everybody. That's why we have another practice tomorrow and another qualifying. We have to be ready for the race. I just hope everything keeps going as well as it is now.
Merrill Cain: A note, Cristiano's effort led to a Toyota sweep of the top six spots this afternoon. Also we are joined by a fourth member of the podium, the Montreal Casino pole position trophy will be presented tomorrow by Gaetan Frigon [President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Loto-Quebec] immediately following the second rounds of qualifying.
Q: I would like to ask all three drivers to comment about the crowd response today. It was a pretty good crowd for a Friday, and also, so many fans in the paddock. I would like to get your comments.
Kenny Brack: I think it's great. I think the Canadian fans are very knowledgeable and they certainly turn out for our races here. I don't know if that's true or not, but I heard it was like 150,000 tickets told for the event, and that's a lot of people.
Of course, Canada has a strong interest in the CART series because of the Canadian drivers, of course. But I think they greet everybody, every driver in the CART series with joy. I certainly enjoy coming to Canada to race.
Scott Dixon: For sure, I think it's great. Obviously it gets a little bit hectic in the pits, but as Kenny said, all of the Canadian races are fantastic. To see this size of the turnout on a Friday is quite amazing, I think. I think it's the best I've seen so far.
Cristiano da Matta: I think the more people watching the races, the better it is. It couldn't be any better than what it was today.
One thing that is very important is that everybody has been very polite, even when they approach you for autographs or pictures and everything. They approach you, and if you say you're rushing somewhere, they understand it. When you sign or take a picture, they always thank you and they appreciate it a lot. You don't feel like many places we go to, when you take a picture or sign an autograph because people just think you are doing your obligation and you have all of the time in the world to be there, sitting, signing and taking pictures. But that's the reason we are here, so that makes me very happy about the people that were here today. Everybody is really smart about what's going on.
Friday press conference, part II