Champ Car Press Conference Transcript From Final Qualifying at Molson Indy Montreal Sebastien Bourdais, Pole Winner A.J. Allmendinger, Second Mario Dominguez, Third ERIC MAUK: Good afternoon, welcome to our second day of qualifying for the...
Champ Car Press Conference Transcript From Final Qualifying at Molson Indy Montreal
Sebastien Bourdais, Pole Winner
A.J. Allmendinger, Second
Mario Dominguez, Third
ERIC MAUK: Good afternoon, welcome to our second day of qualifying for the Molson Indy Montreal, Round Ten of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We will be joined by our Top 3 qualifiers for tomorrow's event, and we have two of those with us at the moment.
Starting with our third place qualifier, driver of the #55 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Mario Dominguez. Mario qualifies third after putting up a lap of 1:20.316 at 121.425 miles per hour. This is Mario's best starting spot since he started on the outside of the front row in Monterrey, Mexico back in the second race of the year. Mario you've been fast all weekend, are you happy with where you're starting Sunday?
MARIO DOMINGUEZ: Well, we were trying to get the pole position, but third is a very good place to start the race from. We are in excellent position for tomorrow. We have a good car. So, you know, I'm not fully satisfied. I'm pretty happy with what we did and the Herdez team has done a great job past few races and we just keep improving. This race is going to be quite good fun to go tomorrow and I think we could do a fantastic job with the car we have.
ERIC MAUK: We went through Toronto, Vancouver and you struggled little bit. Now do you feel you've got it pointed in the right direction?
MARIO DOMINGUEZ: We qualified fourth in Toronto and fourth in Vancouver. Just the races didn't go -- I crashed with Bruno in the first lap in Toronto. And Vancouver, the race just didn't go as planned. But we've been fast everywhere. We have the speed. We just need to put it together in the race.
ERIC MAUK: Best of luck tomorrow. The driver of the #10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger, second place qualifier, earning the first front row starting spot of his young Champ Car career, A.J. Allmendinger. A.J. will start second tomorrow after putting up a lap of 1:20.272 at 121.492 miles per hour. A.J., you were this close to that first pole. Are you happy with the second spot or do you worry more about just missing the pole?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I'm very happy with where we qualified. Obviously when you get that close, and Bourdais just plays with you until the last lap, you know -- but anyway. For us right now, any time you can be in the top five, you know, that's my goal. Because it's such a tough series and such a tough competition that, I'm just trying to learn as much as possible and I feel like I can be in the top five, that's great for us. So being on the front row is especially fantastic.
ERIC MAUK: You have hovered around the top five pretty much every session we've run this weekend. Are you surprised how well the car ran today?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: As you said, we've been close all weekend. It's a matter of getting the car better each session and getting myself better. Up until that last lap, I had not put a great lap for myself in yet, and, you know, I was able to do that. I love racing at Montreal. Barber Dodge was good for me here Last time we were in Canada, Western Union was on board the car and we were able to podium there in Vancouver. So hopefully that brings us good luck and more of the same.
ERIC MAUK: I know you've only had a few minutes, but have you thought about what you'll do in that first corner tomorrow?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Hopefully we all get through turn one, and then I'll hopefully just kind of play with Bourdais for a while and then he'll make a mistake about with three to go, I'll take the lead -- (laughing.) He's here for the championship hunt. More than anything, you can dream about what you're going to do on the start, but as soon as the green flag drops it all goes out the window. Hopefully we just get through turn one. And I know we have a great car, so we're going to start and have no mistakes and have a great finish.
ERIC MAUK: Pole-sitter for the Molson Indy Montreal, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien earns his sixth pole of the season, his 11th of his career, with a lap of 1:19.897 and 122.062 miles per hour, and as you saw, he did it on his very last lap of qualifying. Back to the same old story although it appears you had to work a little harder for this one.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the first stint was good but it didn't count. I was called for shortcutting the course and I think the new rule is ridiculous but whatever. You know, you're driving the car as far as you can and you don't know if you can use the curb, and all of a sudden they call you for shortcutting the chicane, like, "what?" So, whatever. I think it was a much harder session, a lot of traffic for sure after the red flag and everything, a lot of cars on the racetrack and you have to back off. There was not a clear case of blocking anywhere but it was not very easy to find your way through. And I was very happy that we came through the last lap because I really think we had a very fast car again, and I think we could have done better, like everybody else and just happy. The car is going to start sliding, especially if it rains, which is more than likely, if I'm correct, so we'll see. For sure if it rains tomorrow, it's much better to start on the pole than from the back.
ERIC MAUK: You went into that last lap with about 20.274 on the books, you went almost 4/10ths faster on the last lap; did you have any idea you had that much left in the car?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think we had some more probably.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Why do you gotta toy with us till the last lap?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, because -- (laughter.)
MARIO DOMINGUEZ: I see the last lap, like, "oh my God, couldn't be."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: All right. I won't say anything.
Q: A.J., you had the pole for about three minutes, did you have anything left on your tires?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Say that again -- just say that again. Three minutes, I heard that part. (Laughter). What was the second part?
Q: Anything left on your tires?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: No, I could probably have got maybe a 10th out of the car, a little bit more, but that was a pretty good lap for myself. Sebastien put in a great lap, so I don't think I could have had a chance at that.
ERIC MAUK: With this pole position, Sebastien earns another championship point giving him 250 on the year widening his points lead to 58 over Bruno Junqueira. This is also the 11th pole of Sebastien's career, tying him for 20th on the all-time Champ Car list, tying him with the late Rodger Ward, Dario Franchitti and Danny Ongais.
Q: This year we've had a couple of first-lap, first-turn type incidents; you've been involved in one or two. Looking ahead, as A.J. said, you can't always plan what's going to happen, but do you take any different approach to it now knowing what's gone on?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the thing is when you start from the pole you're supposed to lead the pack. I'm just going to try and have a clear run, but for sure, turn one and two are always kind of messy, and I can only imagine how it's going to be if it rains. I guess it's the safest position, but it's never safe anywhere. So just going to try to make it to the finish.
Q: A.J. was joking about playing with him, but you were so much faster on that last lap, were you just saving it until you needed it?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I was just trying very hard. But, well, I just -- Mario did a mistake at some point and I was going to run into him, so I backed off. And then I lost two laps which was on the back straight, so I lost two laps. Then I tried again, got called again for the shortcutting and then the last two laps, the first one I did a small mistake. And then I really put myself all together to try to do one on the very last lap. That's why I said there was probably some more, but I just really needed to put a lap together on the last run, which is pretty much what happened. I'm very happy with that.
Q: Can you comment on the regulation on the chicane, that the driver is allowed a mistake?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's just impossible for a guy that has a good car and can go over the curb -- we can use it quite a lot, and the feel on the foot holding or whatever they call it. And so the concrete, there's no line that tells you how far you can go, but all of a sudden you get caught for shortcutting the thing and shooting the curb. So you're like, "What?" And you have no idea how far you can go. So, I hope tomorrow we're going to take this out because during the race, they put it out you'll get called every time for supposedly you shortcut this thing. I will lose like 10 laps.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: That's fine then. Let's leave that in there. (Laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Maybe if it rains, it's not going to be a problem because you won't really be trying to use it. If they keep this rule like that, just makes it impossible, 20 cars since this morning 30 cars shortcutting, it's not like we blow the chicane. Actually John came us to, he said the timing lines that they installed on the track doesn't go far enough so the transponder is not going over the line if you take just like -- it's a question of inches. So, it's a very fine line, and from the inside of the car, you have no idea if you are within the limit or not. That's just the way it is.
Q: Mario, what did you guys do from yesterday to today, and they have to feel good with how you ended up.
MARIO DOMINGUEZ: We fixed the right-rear corner and the right-rear wing and some underwing damage. It was a fairly, you know, good amount of work for the guys, so they did great. I give them a lot of credit. Obviously they gave me a fast race car again. Yesterday I was third and today we were third again, so we are looking pretty good.
Q: Returning to the conversation here about turn 15 and so forth, have there in the drivers' meetings to this point --
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: There has not been a driver meeting yet.
Q: So there has not been any discussion about that. What about any markings on the pavement to find where you can -- there's been nothing about this, no marking?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: As Sebastien said, there's nothing there, so you just kind of take a guess, honestly. Chris Kneifel, when we walked around the track on Thursday, kind of showed us about the curb but he just said, as Sebastien said, if you run over too far, you're going to get penalized and none of us really know where that is.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The thing is, you can go as far as the car doesn't touch the inside curb, and if you do that, then you get called all the time. So you never really know.
Q: Obviously this would be a major bone of contention to try to clarify in the drivers' meeting.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The thing is last year there was not this scoring line that was there to call a shortcut. A shortcut is pretty obvious. Either you make the chicane or you don't. If you don't, it's very vivid and visible, but, I don't know.
Q: You mentioned that there was a lot of traffic in qualifying today after the red flag, how was your car handling the traffic, and how much of a factor do you think that will be tomorrow in the event?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Really, every time you run in traffic, you back off. You don't hang around behind someone trying to mess up your tires or whatever. So I have no idea how the car is handling in traffic, but it's usually just -- slide around and that's all it really does. That's why it's very good to start at the front, I guess.
Q: Question about tires, and I don't know if it's going to be dry tomorrow or wet, you mentioned it might rain, did you qualify with your first lap on the option tires? And how is the wear on those tires; do they wear out fast or do they wear pretty well?
MARIO DOMINGUEZ: I think the Bridgestones are very good. I'm very happy with what they have done. I actually like them. A lot of drivers don't like option tires. I like it. You put a soft set of Bridgestones, it's exciting, you get three or four laps to just go for it, to go faster than with the other tires. They seem to last quite good. So it will all depend. We'll see tomorrow. Obviously in the race, everything changes, but they seem to be very, very good.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think I agree. An important key of the race has pretty much been the tires that Bridgestone bought, the tires was actually going faster and more durable. So I think the consistency is not going to be a factor, especially here. It's not as hard on the tires, so I think we are going to look very good tomorrow.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I'd agree with that, yeah.
Q: Sebastien, are you a rain lover?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I love to test in the rain conditions, in the wet conditions. But race conditions are always a problem when I guess you're running up front like a test because nobody is throwing you any water, but it makes life really difficult for everybody in the pack. I don't know what is going to be the limit about the rain level they are going to get or if we have to wait again like Elkhart Lake last year. I just hope if it rains, it doesn't rain too bad and we can race. You know, when you are working in the car, you don't really feel it. Just keep on your coat and stay warm.
Q: Not quite sure who this question is for, but A.J., you have nothing to lose; Sebastien has everything to lose. A.J., how much do you fight for the lead if you see an opportunity? And Sebastien, how much do you fight if you see him coming at you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think he has a rookie championship to try and get, so he has as much as I have to lose. Everybody has his own fight, and nobody wants to have contact on the first when you are up front because you have the opportunity to get the greatest results. So I hope that he's not going to risk everything. It's a long race and everything can change very fast, especially if it rains tomorrow.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I'm going all out. I'm not lifting at turn one. (Laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You don't lift in turn one, great. I'm going to do well --
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I'm going to be aiming for you, no. (Laughter). I do have something to lose, but, you know, I will challenge for the lead. But, you know, I feel like I'm a pretty smart driver about that stuff, and I'm not going to overdo it because a great result is a great result. And obviously everybody wants to win, but for me to be in the Top-5 or if I have a chance to be on the podium, that's great, too. So if I have an opportunity to challenge for the lead, I'm definitely going to do it, but I'm not going to try to do anything stupid for it.
Q: A.J., don't you respect a veteran driver? (jokes)
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, two years, veteran, that's fine. But I do. I respect everybody in the series a ton. Like I said, I'm going to stay behind him, three laps to go, he makes a mistake, I learn everything that I can and I win the race. That's perfect. (Laughter).
ERIC MAUK: Write your leads now, boys and girls. That will bring an end to our press conference. Thank you for attending. We go racing tomorrow. We begin at 2:00.