CHAMPCAR/CART: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing transcript, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: My first question is for Carl. There have been four CART Champ Car races in Vegas. You've won three of them, two with Sebastien and then the first time I believe in '83 you won with Mario. Do you recall some of the ...

Continued from part 1

Q: My first question is for Carl. There have been four CART Champ Car races in Vegas. You've won three of them, two with Sebastien and then the first time I believe in '83 you won with Mario. Do you recall some of the aspects of the old Caesar's track?

CARL HAAS: I'm sorry, say part of that again. I didn't understand it exactly.

Q: Do you remember the '83 season when you won in Vegas, and do you have any memories of that racetrack at Caesar's?

CARL HAAS: Yes, I do. It was great, yeah.

Q: Anything stick out about racing on that track?

CARL HAAS: Well, I haven't seen the track, the current track. The old track, it was quite nice the old track. I won also a race there, but I hope this is going to be very good this week, this next weekend.

Q: To follow up with Sebastien, as I recall, you weren't a big fan of the big oval out here. Are you looking forward more to coming out here and racing on the street circuit?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I really didn't have anything against the oval, it's just the wind package we had didn't make for exciting racing, at least as far as drivers go, because we couldn't really drive the car. It was just flat all the way around, just very much like the IRL is doing these days, and we're not big fans of it.

I think I'm really happy that we moved to the downtown area, and it's received great support from the community, and I think from what I've seen of the layout, it should be an exciting track, so I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Q: My question was actually for Sebastien. I was just wondering, when you've now won the championship three seasons in a row, what's kind of keeping you going and what do you feel like you have left to accomplish?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, obviously once you've won once, you want to win a second one and so on and so forth. I think it's not hard to find the motivation when you are with such a dedicated team and really high quality equipment and everything is given to you to perform, you really enjoy it. And I think everybody is having a lot of fun to race Champ Cars, and for me that's just the best option. It's a professional series.

There's one step for me that might be available, but we still have to be waiting on it. It might be Formula 1, but again, I really want to be competitive, and I'm given everything I need to do this. So the motivation just is very easy to find. I just go out there, race my very best and try and win races, and when you do that, usually motivation isn't really hard to find.

Q: I have one for Graham. Can you kind of talk about what are reasonable expectations of you? What do you expect to accomplish this year? What kind of goals do you have?

GRAHAM RAHAL: I would love to win a race. I mean, that is the goal at this point. Then again, as we all know, the series is very competitive. Sebastien has obviously been the leader of the pack for a while, so that also helps me because I know that the main guy I need to shoot for is my teammate.

I think that these first couple of races for me are obviously going to be difficult. I've never driven a Champ Car in an hour-and-45-minute length, so I don't really know how that is yet. At the same time, I'm really looking forward to it. I think no matter what, we should be competitive come the first race, and I think we've shown that through our testing time.

Now really for me it's just to gain experience, and hopefully come season's end we cannot only win the Rookie of the Year Championship but be in the fight for the overall championship.

Q: Congratulations. This has finally come around. For Graham, tell us a little bit about your early experiences working with the Newman/Haas team, the engineers there, and specifically with your team, Donny Hoevel, Tim Coffeen and so forth. Tell us a little about that early experience.

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I mean, as you know, the guys on my car, Donny and Timmy and those guys, they're all very experienced, and I have an extremely close relationship with them. It's special. But working with Todd and Bruno and the whole engineering group on my side of the car has been a lot of fun. I mean, we've had a great experience. Everything we've done so far has been successful, so obviously we hope for that to continue.

But these guys have made it extremely comforting for me to just slide into this team and head into the first race. To go back to an earlier question, there could be a lot of pressure, but at the same time, the team makes it a lot easier for me and makes the transition a lot more smooth than maybe it should be. But I've had a lot of fun with the guys. I have a good relationship with them all, and I think this year our success should come because of that.

Q: Congratulations to everybody. It's an exciting day for Champ Car racing and for Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing and everyone involved.

I guess a question to Graham. Sebastien was just over testing at Peugeot getting ready for Le Mans, and obviously Sebastien's career has mainly been in open-wheel cars but he has stepped out from time to time doing sports cars. You yourself raced at Sebring I guess earlier this month and are looking, I guess, at doing a little bit of sports car racing over the course of the summer as it fits in with the Champ Car program. I wondered if you could maybe just talk about some of the cross-pollenization, if you will, what you learned in sports car racing that maybe might be applied to the Champ Car racing and vice versa, and ultimately how it helps you grow as a driver?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, for me or for any driver, I think, for me to just drive anything and just have seat time is really where I gain my experience, that's what's going to make me better as a driver at this point in my career. So any driving I'm able to do, I need to take that opportunity and go and drive.

And I think that's why I focus on sports car racing so much. At the same time, we all know that some of the biggest goals in any racing driver's life is to win Le Mans or win Sebring, Daytona, these types of events. So for me that is also a goal of mine, not only to win Indy and win several Champ Car championships and everything else, but those are the goal. So that's why I do sports car racing the most.

I feel that the transition, obviously it's a lot different, especially from what I have driven in the past, being Porsches and things like that. There's a lot more weight, the cars roll a lot more than an open-wheel car. But like I say, any experience that I can get in any car is going to help me. Now, as far as someone with Sebastien's experience, you'd have to ask him because obviously I'm not at that point yet so I don't really know. I just know that I enjoy driving the cars and that's why I do it.

Q: Sebastien, anything you would care to add on that point?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think Graham really pointed out the right thing. It's just the more different and various experience you get of driving cars, the better you can adapt to different situations and scenarios, and I think that's very much the reason why I've done this, plus the fact that I've had a lot of fun doing it.

Q: Listen, you mentioned earlier that you've kind of moved past some of the pressure of the name, of the Rahal name. I'm wondering, are you also interested in kind of being known more as Graham Rahal, kind of making your own name, instead of Bobby Rahal's son? Is that important to you?

GRAHAM RAHAL: It's very important to me. I've always wanted to step out of dad's shadow and make my own footsteps, so to speak. It is something that I would like to do. I think for me, the reason I try to put the pressure behind me is because ever since I was a little kid, it was always, well, you're Bobby Rahal's son. Well, now I hope to reach the point where I can just become Graham Rahal, like you said, and move away from the name.

Obviously it will never disappear, but hopefully I can create my own, so to speak. You know, it's something that we always say the name can be a double-edged sword, so to speak. It can help but it can hurt. You just try to remove the ways that it can hurt you, which in a lot of ways is the pressure.

ERIC MAUK: I'd like to bring in Les Kolb, the president of MEDI | ZONE, who will be the primary sponsor of the No. 2 car. This is your company's first foray into Champ Car World Series competition. Tell us a little bit about what attracted you to the series.

LES KOLB: Well, it's just all about performance, and it's all about excellence. This series and this particular race team and this driver exemplify all of those characteristics in a ultimate fashion. We're just delighted to have the opportunity to align our corporate objectives with this team and this series and this driver.

ERIC MAUK: Welcome to Champ Car World Series, look forward to 2007 with you.

LES KOLB: Thank you so much.

Q: Again, without necessarily trying to get involved in the nitty-gritty, I wondered if perhaps if Mr. Kolb or Carl or Mike at Newman/Haas/Lanigan could maybe address the fact the fact that this sponsorship and this deal had sort of been percolating for quite a while, and as Paul Newman rather famously said, "Lawyers gotta eat," back at the Monterey, at the Laguna Seca test. Could you perhaps shed a little light on the timing of it and why it sort of took longer than so many people might have wished and expected?

MIKE LANIGAN: Well, I'll answer my side of it and Les can comment. Number one is good wine takes time to settle and become a good wine, but what the delay was, quite frankly, was a lot of good negotiating, the MEDI | ZONE part. They were new to this end of the business and needed to understand what values they were getting, and when we did settle on that a while back, quite frankly, then the attorneys had to interpret that into writing, and that's what took most of the time is the attorneys putting the language in with both parties being satisfied.

LES KOLB: Just to embellish on what Mr. Lanigan said, speaking on behalf of MEDI | ZONE, we're absolutely convinced that this driver and this team will be much faster than bringing this deal to the table. We're convinced that this is an ideal role for us in terms of exemplifying our performance programs and products by what this team and what this driver and this car can do.

We're out to set the new standard, and that is what this car and team and driver are doing all the time.

MIKE LANIGAN: I'll just add one other thing. We are really proud to have Les and Alex and MEDI | ZONE on our team because they are definitely a very high-end-type medical weight loss program, and our association with them actually brings us up a little, also.

Q: Thanks, and I imagine everybody is working under the rubric of good things come to those who wait, so we'll see you all in Las Vegas.

ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our Champ Car media teleconference today. We'd like to thankless coal for joining us today. Congratulations again. We look forward to seeing you guys on the track in two weeks' time.

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Graham Rahal , Paul Newman