CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Top 3 finishers press conference transcript

Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Press Conference Transcript with Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira ERIC MAUK: We'll get started with our post-race press conference. We'll have our top three finishers for today's Champ Car...

Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Press Conference Transcript with Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira

ERIC MAUK: We'll get started with our post-race press conference. We'll have our top three finishers for today's Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, Round Four of the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by our third place finisher, driver of the #1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. Paul finishes third, his fourth podium finish in Portland, 60th podium finish of his career. Paul, a long day, a hot day, but you come out with a podium finish. How do you feel?

PAUL TRACY: I feel good. In some ways, it was a good finish. It was not as good as we would have liked. I felt I had a good car today. Starting the race, we started on a qualifying set of tires and both Newman/Haas cars were on stickers, so we knew that was going to be the hardest stint of the race for us in terms of staying even with them. I was able to stay at a pretty good gap. Our strategy was to go longer then they were, a more aggressive strategy. They always seem to play it a little bit on the safe side. So our strategy was to go about our four or five laps more, and during that point, I caught the lapped car of Mazzacane and stayed behind. He would not let me by for three laps, and right before Bruno and Sebastien pitted, and they pulled a big gap on me at that point. That kind of put us out of contention for leapfrogging on that pit stop ahead. We came out basically at the gap that I originally had, which has about four -- three to four seconds.

And then we chased and chased and then I started to catch again. Again, we got up to the last cars and I spent a long time behind Alex Tagliani, about 15 laps behind him. Subsequently when I caught him, I was running 1:01.5, 1.6, when once I was behind him, I was running 1.3, 1.2 and at the end 1.35 as the leaders were making good time. We stayed out and there were no blue flags. No nothing going on. We were making every lap, making contact with the chief steward that there were no blue flags and there was really nothing being done about it. That subsequently kind of ended our challenge to Sebastien and Bruno. So, we made our pit, came out behind, and that was pretty much it. You know, I caught, again another group of cars a lap down at the end of the race and there was though blue flag again. So I road around the race -- basically my whole race was racing cars that were a lap down, which was frustrating because I felt we had the speed to run with Sebastien and Bruno. But, you know, we just got hung up the whole time.

ERIC MAUK: You come out of here with a podium, coming off a race in Milwaukee that saw you struggle. How important is it to come back, get a podium and get some points?

PAUL TRACY: Well, it's good. This is a race which historically has not been a good track for me, and I've got two podiums in a row. We go to Cleveland which has been a good track for me and on to our Canadian races. So to kind of get back in the groove and get comfortable on the podium again, hopefully we can get some wins in the next couple of races.

ERIC MAUK: We are joined by our second place finisher, the driver of the #6 PacifiCare/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno finishes second by just 1.247 seconds today, earning his second podium here at Portland and the 19th of his career. You come out of here with second place and you are still the points leader after four races how do you feel?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I feel okay. For sure, PacifiCare Newman Haas car was good today. As Paul said, pretty much the whole race it was I think on the third stint, I got more traffic and Sebastien opened up a big gap on me. When I got stuck behind three guys, I was maybe two seconds behind him. When I got past those guys, I was maybe eight or nine seconds, and after the last pit stop, I put the option tires, and those work really, really well. It was a shame that I didn't have a chance to use it in qualifying, because those Bridgestone option tires are really fast. They have a lot of grip. I thought I was going to catch him, but two laps to go, I got in traffic again, I lost maybe 7/10ths on that lap and -- inaudible -- just a second from Sebastien. The PacifiCare car was really good in the end, but it wasn't quite get close to Sebastien to have a chance but that's always the case. It was a good result, still leading the championship and now we go to Cleveland.

ERIC MAUK: Bruno was 8.8 seconds behind Sebastien out of last stint and whittled it down to 1.2 in just 16 laps at the very end. Take us through that first corner, how do you strategize in that first corner, and did it come out the way that you thought you might have it when you planned it this morning?

PAUL TRACY: You said you were going to be first no matter what. (Laughter) "No matter what, I promise you."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: That was me and Tracy. I thought Sebastien was going to brake -- I brake different than him, but he went deep and he almost didn't make the corner. He went like very close to the end of the corner, and then I have to back off; otherwise, we are going to touch.

Unfortunately I lost the race yesterday when they didn't give me a chance to qualify and I didn't get a pole. I think between me and Sebastien, it was so close, that who starts first and who takes the first turn of the lap first will win the race; if none of the drivers make a mistake or the team. I mean, me and Sebastien had a mistake-free race, an incredible pace. I mean, I heard Tracy had some problems, but we still finish first and second in front of him and lapped until the seventh position guy, the sixth guy on the lead lap, that's very different from what we are used to in Portland. But, I mean, the result beside that, they can see my best lap was 6/10ths faster than everybody, but unfortunately I did not have the first turn on the first lap. I tried, but I am not going to make a silly mistake at this point. I think it's too early in the championship. If I need to wait till the last race, one race before the last to win the championship, then I take more risks. I mean, I try hard, but it wasn't possible this time.

ERIC MAUK: Bruno did earn the championship point available to the driver who posted the fastest lap of the event. He posted it very late in the event. Our top five point-sitters after four events: Bruno is our points leader with 105; Patrick Carpentier is second with 99; Sebastien Bourdais is third with 98; Paul Tracy is fourth with 79; and Ryan Hunter-Reay is fifth after four events with 76 points.

We are now joined by the winner of the Champ Car Grand Prix, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford/Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien claims his second win of the year, the fifth of his career and a tenth podium finish of his career. Sebastien, you led all but just nine laps of the day. Take us through it, how you feel about the way it went.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think we can be pretty happy with how the day went, really, the Newman Haas team especially the McDonald's crew, did an awesome job. We had beautiful pit stops and we kept the lead pretty much from the start to the end. The car has been very consistent. I knew Bruno was going to have a shot on us at the very end with option tires because they look better, but it's been tough. He was coming back faster behind us, but we had a pretty nice lead. So I feel pretty happy with how things went.

ERIC MAUK: This is the second time that the Newman Haas teammates have gone 1-2, this year. They also finished 1-2 at Monterrey. Take us through that second stint. You came and got a great pit stop, and came with a second and a half lead, came out after that first lap with a six-second lead and you really started to turn some quick laps there.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think everything was the right timing today. When we put the option tires, we are really able to turn very fast laps, especially in the second part of the stint. So I was pretty happy with the consistency of the thing. And the setup was good. So sometimes I was struggling in traffic, it was pretty difficult. Especially when you are getting like three cars lengths behind, it was starting to slide a lot and sometimes it was difficult to go back. But, you know, we still won it and that's really all that matters.

ERIC MAUK: Take us through your thought process going into the first corner start, because you knew these two guys were coming at you hard.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, really I think in the series, I think it's much easier from the pole position from second place. Obviously it's much harder because of the fact that you cannot pass when you are second in front the guy who is leading with the pole so that makes it really difficult. And I knew that, so I just did my own stop and it worked out okay and the pit stop went fine for me. So pretty smooth race.

Q: What's your solution for your traffic problems?

PAUL TRACY: Change the chief steward and the flagman. That's the solution. The flagman were showing no blue flags, very rarely and when he did show them, they was -- they were with no authority. You know, we were radioing in to the chief steward every lap and never got a response back. You know, we keep talking over and over in the drivers meetings about, you know, guys obeying the blue flags, but if they don't even show it, then a guy, it's not even on the driver so. It's really down to the officiating.

Q: I'm not trying to cause trouble here but Tagliani was not quite a lap behind, did he have a legitimate reason not to let you by?

PAUL TRACY: Well, he had been lapped by it by these two and they pitted. The rule is now, if the leader is behind you, there is no more fighting for the lead lap. They are going to give you one lap, and I spent 12 laps behind him. And I'm not going to, you know, take a chance and take myself out of the race. The one time where I was close to him, he pushed the push-to-pass button to keep me behind him. So I'm trying to -- like racing for the lead with a guy who is a full lap behind you. So, you know, every once in awhile he would be shown the blue flag, and finally the lap before I was going to pit, the guy waved the black flag at him after 12 or 13 laps.

Q: Sebastien, was traffic of an issue for you in the race?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's always difficult when you are the leader of the race because you are the first guy who is trying to put the guys one lap down. I have been fighting with Oriol pretty seriously. I was pretty upset because he used push-to-pass also to stay in front of me, and I was like, what the heck. I mean, it's not supposed to be this tough, especially the second time when I was going to put him two laps down, I think it's time to stop fighting. It's not necessary.

PAUL TRACY: You guys have all been to Formula 1 races. If back marker does that in Formula 1, you get parked. You come in the pits and you get parked. After two corners, you know. And that's the way it's been told to the drivers in the drivers meetings; they are going to give you one lap. Guys are just not obeying it.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: And as we can see, their performances were quite different, because when you look at the results, there's a big gap. There are only five or six guys in that same lap. So when things are going this way, because of the setups of the cars are not so good and then the balance goes away from them, then it's even harder because it's not much easier to pass because the guys are still going full throttle during the straightaways and it's slowing you down a lot and you are leading like two off the second lap.

PAUL TRACY: Full throttle, plus 50 horsepower, push to pass.

Q: Yesterday after Bruno had his trouble, Chris Kneifel said that we have all the data, we have video information, we know exactly what everybody is doing, everywhere on the course -- inaudible -- said those guys know exactly what they are doing. So he's saying that he has all of the information available to make any judgment. Given the fact that he's saying that, making that position, can you make any further comments?

PAUL TRACY: Well, all that I can say is that there's been a lot of judgments that have been made for sometimes no reason, whether it's full course yellows or penalties in qualifying or whatever. And when something is critical in the race, it seems to be either no call, or, you know, there's sometimes a lot of full course yellows for no reason. It's just very inconsistent. I'm not the first person to say that, and I'm sure I'm not going to be the last. This is not the first time it's been brought up over the last 13 years that I've been in this series that the officiating is inconsistent.

Q: Sebastien, at the end when Bruno was put coming up your tailpipe, were you worried at all or were you were pretty comfortable?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I was comfortable until I got some traffic and then I lost three seconds straight and I was like, oh, that's not looking so good any more because it's like six seconds, and then five and a half, five-two, five, four, four and a half and then it dropped to one-something very suddenly. So I was a bit concerned and there was only two laps left.

So I was still pushing pretty hard. I knew Bruno was going to come back, when I had the open tires, I was like 5/10ths faster than he was and I was expecting the opposite to happen. But, you know, such was life, and I just have to keep pushing and not doing any mistakes which I succeeded in.

Q: You attacked that curve with a lot of relish, you passed a lot of cars there, do you enjoy that feature on this course?

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I do. I think it adds a different dimension to the track. I've raced the track both way when is it was about a fourth-gear chicane, very fast and kind of dangerous. Now it's slower and it creates a passing opportunity and a straight-line braking zone. So I think it's a good corner for the track.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Chris Kneifel , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais