CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Top-three finishers press conference, part I

CART Champ Car World Series top three press conference Adrian Fernandez, Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani Part 1 of 2 Eric Mauk: We are joined by the second and third place finishers of today's race. We'll start with the third place finisher...

CART Champ Car World Series top three press conference

Adrian Fernandez, Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani

Part 1 of 2

Eric Mauk: We are joined by the second and third place finishers of today's race. We'll start with the third place finisher today the driver of the #33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth Lola Bridgestone, Alex Tagliani takes the third spot earning his second podium finish of season and the seventh of his career. He ran the fastest lap of the race today on lap 95 and moved into the top 10 in points. Alex, another podium finish. Did you think you had this kind of speed coming in to today?

ALEX TAGLIANIAlex Tagliani: Actually, yes, I think after Laguna we worked really hard on analyzing every bit of data from the car and we found some major problems. After that we were confident coming here that we were going to be quick and we worked on the car all weekend long. It was competitive, just at the beginning we didn't want to go on intermediate setup so we stayed full dry tires, but we started conservative at the beginning of the race just in case. The car had a ton of understeering and I was losing ground from the leader. We made some changes in the race and after that the car started to get quicker and quicker. And at the end I was able to run a really quick lap time. It was just a little bit too late so -- in the pits the guys did no mistakes; everything went really well. We're still working on the car to be able to be quicker on the jacks, and quicker down, and little things here and there. So we definitely improving race after race and I am sure that if we keep at knocking on the door like this we'll have our chances.

Eric Mauk: Couldn't tell if the rain was causing you guys any problems. Experience any problems with wet weather out there?

Alex Tagliani: Well, at some point it was like some sprinkles, but I lost the car going in Turn 6 and I went over the curb, it was more caused -- I didn't know actually, I didn't know if it was the rain or if it was oil from another car and some guy experienced the same things so it was basically the oil, and that was the most surprising moment that I had in my race. Not so bad. I had a race very normal race. I just think the pace was really quick and you know, I wish I would have started with the car a little bit more aggressive from the get-go, but after that, just no chance to pass or to do any kind of move because everybody was doing everything right, no mistakes in the pit, no mistakes in the tracks, so it was quite a fast pace.

Eric Mauk: Today's runner-up is the driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola Bridgestone, Paul Tracy. Paul led a race high 42 laps of the day and has moved back into the Championship lead with his total of 99 points after eight races. This is Paul's fifth podium of the year and his 53rd of his career. Also his best ever finish here at Portland. Where do we start?

Paul Tracy: Alex's race was pretty boring.  Mine was exciting. (LAUGHTER)
I had a lot of stuff going on today.  Bit of a handful all day.
Eric Mauk:  They flagged the start of race three times you came through
there  --

Paul Tracy: Really, I don't mean to throw down, but I mean the guy doing starts, I mean, he's done five bad starts out of seven or eight races so far this year. You know, we tried at it four times and the fourth one I got screwed. So, you know, it's one of those things, I mean, we're going to have to sit down with the Chief Steward and talk about it. The guy at the flag is throwing bad starts. Everybody is trying to make the good starts, but he throws the green when it's maybe not appropriate. So, I thought the second and the third one were good starts, but I guess the field behind us was ragged, they said on the radio; it's not the front row's fault that the field is ragged. We were lined up good, so...

Eric Mauk: First pitstop came out in front, had the lead for a lap, then ran into some problems.

Paul Tracy: Yeah, it took me a little bit. I was a little bit slow on the cold tires - more than normal - and we had a hard time getting the tires up to temp, I think because our pressures were so low because we wanted to be faster at the end. Michel on the second lap made a big lunge down the inside of me from about five or six car lengths behind me at the braking point. I saw him, I looked in the mirror and saw that he was coming and I didn't move over or block or anything.

I left him room to go and went into Turn 1 side-by-side and, you know, went into the festival side-by-side; when we got to the next corner he just turned across in front of me. When I was there, we locked up and he spun around and I kept going and, you know, so it was really just one of those things. I left enough room for him. But when it came to the next corner he just turned across in front of me.

Eric Mauk: All and all still a big day for Player's and a lot of things that could have gone wrong, you still walk out here with the Championship lead.

Paul Tracy: That's what we were looking for. I am disappointed mostly in myself. I made a mistake at the end and kind of gave away the victory to Adrian. I got into the last corner a little bit too deep, and locked the inside tire and ran a little bit wide, I came off the last corner really slow and Adrian was four, five car lengths behind me and just got a perfect draft off of me and again, I saw him coming and didn't try to block and left him room and he went down the inside of me and away he went. So ultimately at the end he was very fast and I couldn't match the pace that he had when he was in front of me, but I think if I hadn't made the mistake I'd a been able to hold him off the rest of the race.

Eric Mauk: Questions from the media.

Q: Did you know that you were being penalized on the third pit stop?

Paul Tracy: I thought the penalty was going to be for something in the first corner. I didn't even know because I had lost radio contact. I could just barely hear the team. I was just watching my pit board.

Q: They said that you had pulled out too quickly into the left lane of the pits. Do you agree with that ruling?

Paul Tracy: Where I was pitted I don't have -- I don't reach 50 miles an hour by the end of the pit so I don't have the speed limiter turned on so I was just going however fast as I could. I am not looking behind me. When the team tells me to go, I go, I assume it is clear and go out onto the track as fast as I can go. I wasn't aware that I was getting the penalty for that. I thought the penalty was actually for what happened in the first corner with me and Michel. I accepted the penalty and needed to pull out. At the time I had a two and a half second lead on Adrian and I pulled out five and a half seconds on him and came in and did the last stop and got back out in front of him with the stop, five-second stop.

Q: Did you have any damage after the incident with Michel?

Paul Tracy: The front wing was damaged, front wing was broken, so it made the car understeer more and I was quite quick before that, going up into the first stop, you know, Michel got a little bit away from me a couple of seconds. Right before the first stop I got right back on him. I felt it was quicker than Michel but it is just so hard to pass when everybody is basically running the same speed, but I had damage to the front wing, the front wing end plate was broken and the side skirts and the end plate were broken. Probably missing some front aero that is why later on in the race I wasn't able to run as quickly as I think as Alex and Adrian. Their pace was pretty quick at the end. My last set of tires I was kind of struggling.

Q: Alex, a rookie team and you guys are out here getting podiums. How does the team feel?

Alex Tagliani: There's a lot of things, I mean, at the beginning we were able to be fairly quick. We had very good qualifying speed, but you know, refueling the pit stops, the air-jack, you know, the little strategy everything is getting a lot better so we don't lose as much in those areas. We were working on the car trying to learn the Lola and we had a change of engineer at the certain point into the season which cost us a little bit, but then in Laguna that little problem that we had and when we found out -- I am also happy that it happened because without that we were never working on the area that we were working on the car right now and made us more competitive.

So it's kind of good and there's still so much more to come to be able to improve this car for us, but you know, we have everything we need. In our truck I don't think we're lacking anything compared with any other team. We just have to get some testing behind us and you know, I think more the season will go on, more competitive we will be and if we can still be consistent, I think we're going to have a chance to be on the podium more often.

Eric Mauk: Real quick, got two weeks before we go to Cleveland, do you have tests planned between now and then?

Paul Tracy: I am testing, I think, at Elkhart Lake Thursday. Pat is at Mid-Ohio Tuesday, Wednesday. We have some things going on. A weekend off with these two hard races -- these are probably going the most physical races we have at Laguna and Portland. Long and high speed corners. Be nice to have a weekend off. Do some training and be ready for probably one of the toughest races we have in Cleveland and it be during the night it's going to make it even harder.

Alex Tagliani: I think I will be in Elkhart next week and after that we have a day in Mid-Ohio as well, a couple of days of promotion in Mexico.


Part II

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy