CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Top three qualifiers press conference

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH JUSTIN WILSON, A.J. ALLMENDINGER AND PAUL TRACY ERIC MAUK: We'll get started with our post-qualifying press conference for the G.I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix...


ERIC MAUK: We'll get started with our post-qualifying press conference for the G.I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, Round 4 of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We have our top-three qualifiers here but first I would like to introduce Joe Barbieri from Bridgestone to give the Bridgestone Pole Award to Justin Wilson. The award features a $10,000 prize, $5,000 of which goes to the driver and $5,000 goes to charity. Normally $2,500 goes to the Hole in the Wall Camps and $2,500 to another charity, but this weekend, Bridgestone is donating the entire $5,000 to the Hole in the Wall Camps.

Paul Tracy is our third-place qualifier after putting up a time of 58.253 seconds today. This marks the third consecutive year that Tracy has started in the top three here in Portland. Paul, tell us about your day.

PAUL TRACY: I think the car has been handling great. For whatever reason today we had some type of electronic problem and we have had two ECU boxes fail; one this morning and one this afternoon. We've just seemed to lost all of our straightaway speeds. A little bit frustrating from the last corner to the start/finish line there. We would lose like 3 to 4/10 every lap; could never make that back up the rest of the way around the track. We've got Ford looking at it now because it failed on the last lap and probably have to make an engine change and see how it goes tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about your initial thoughts about heading into the Festival Curves tomorrow from the third spot.

PAUL TRACY: I think it's a nice corner. It's quick. It is a lot wider than it used to be. It's still a pretty heavy breaking zone. I think it's going to be tough for guys to really get too crazy there, but you know, the Atlantic race looked good through there today. Hopefully we'll all get through there and have a nice race.

ERIC MAUK: Our second-place qualifier today is the driver of the #10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger. A.J. takes the second spot today with a lap of 57.897 seconds equaling a career-best for qualifying performance. A.J., tell us about your day.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think the team overall did a great job. We have been struggling a bit all weekend with the set of the car even though we have been quick. I think especially today they did a great job because during practice we were probably at the worst that we have been all weekend and the guys did a fantastic job to figure it out, get it going in qualifying and I still think that we have a little work to do for the race tomorrow, but definitely today the car is at its best in qualifying and I am really looking forward to tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: You got out of your car a few minutes before the end of qualifying. Tell us a little bit about that....

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I was tired and I was done. (Laughter) No. I mean, I think basically I put my quick lap in and we started to have Justin go out there and block -- I mean, go out and run some more laps. No, we just -- I put my lap in and right now it seems that once you put your quick lap in and you heat cycle the tires for one time, I don't think you can match that time again. So I did what I could. I think there was still a little bit more left in the car, but after the red came out we were definitely not going to be able to go much quicker than that.

ERIC MAUK: Our polesitter for the event and winner of today's Bridgestone Pole Award is the driver of the #9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT Justin Wilson. Justin put up the quick time of the day with a lap of 57.808 seconds. He takes his first Champ Car pole with the effort as well as the first series pole for the second-year RuSPORT team. Justin how does it feel do be on pole?

JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously it feels very good to finally get the first pole and show what this team can do. We are very happy to be 1-2. I think it also shows what we have been working towards and each weekend we just get more confidence and able to go quicker, I am very excited and looking forward to the race tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Justin, tell us about how well the Bridgestone Potenzas held up for you today.

JUSTIN WILSON: My Bridgestone Potenzas were very good. Unfortunately I never got to use them as much as I wanted to. We did a few laps on the standard tires, the black tires, and I think a red flag came out so we switched to the red option tires and the same thing happened again. So I was really looking forward to feeling that grip and pushing the car back to the limit. So I have got to be pleased with what we achieved and they have been fantastic for me all weekend. Very consistent and coming in exactly when I expected them to.

ERIC MAUK: Justin, you've had a little experience with leading a field into a treacherous turn like last year in Cleveland, how do you plan to attack the first turn tomorrow?

JUSTIN WILSON: It should be interesting. I just want to get a good start obviously and try and get to the first corner first and from there just see how the race unfolds. It's going to be a very long race, slightly longer than last year. I think some strategy is going to come into play and make sure you don't make any mistakes. Also what is going to be quite important is a lot of patience.

ERIC MAUK: OK, now we'll take questions from the media.

Q</I>: Paul, you've yet to win here, what is it going to take to get that done tomorrow?

PAUL TRACY: It's going to be hard. It's always hard to pass here. Really my best opportunity was in 2003. I started from the pole and led the race and I made a mistake at the last corner towards the end of the race. Adrien got by me, so we're going to have to just see what the pace is. I think we have a consistent car. It's not the fastest car out there but I think we have done a lot of laps on all tires and I feel the car is very consistent on all tires. We did a long run in the test here which I think was beneficial, so just going to go with what the pace is in the race and just try to see where it all plays out in the first and from the first stop to the second stop and then usually from there the end of the race from the last stop on is always just go as fast as you can go. So hopefully we can be in the hunt then.

Q</I>: Given the uncertainty about the weather, have you worked on your rain setups?

PAUL TRACY: I did a lot of laps in the wet the other day and you can't really afford to use all your tires. You only get six (sets) tires for the weekend. If it rains tomorrow you can't -- that first day of practice we used the whole set right down to nothing, so if it really is bad weather you can put yourself in a situation where you don't have enough tires for the wet.

JUSTIN WILSON: Like Paul, you know, you try and restrict how many laps you do and make sure that what you do do is worthwhile so we were just taking it easy just use one set. We had the thought that it could go wet in the race and if it's wet the whole race, going to need probably three or four sets, so you want to make sure you are in good shape for the race. I think our car is good. We'll see what happens.

ERIC MAUK: A.J. Two words. Wet. Setup.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: It is not in my contract to race in the wet so if it's raining tomorrow I am not racing tomorrow. (Laughter)

Q</I>: Justin, you ran in F1 and came over here with a smaller team, but now you are showing your skills. Tell us what impresses you about running in Champ Cars.

JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously Formula One is great and it's exciting to do for the experience, but as a driver you most prefer to have a chance every weekend and that's what you get in Champ Cars. You can turn up at the circuit, you have done good preparation, you work well with the engineer and you got a good team behind you, you can have a good result.

If you make a mistake you don't quite get -- something has not quite clicked all weekend, you are going to be near the back, so it's every weekend you turn up, you know that on a good day you can win the race. That's something, unless it's very bizarre, is not going to happen in Formula One. You always got to be optimistic that something bizarre will happen but very rarely does it happen, and it's, like I said, it's a good experience, but I am really enjoying my time here in Champ Cars. Q</I>: Justin, yesterday you said you expected times to be much faster today. They weren't. Can you tell us why?

JUSTIN WILSON: I think the conditions got a little bit warmer and the tract temperature came up, so when the track temperature came up, the times dropped away, we didn't have quite as much grip and started to slide around. In these conditions you go a little bit slower. As soon as the cloud cover came over, the times picked up a little bit but not enough to match yesterday.

Q</I>: Did the red flag for the timing malfunction have an effect on your qualifying?

JUSTIN WILSON: I was halfway through my first run on the standard tires, so I only got two or three laps on those. But I presume everyone else is in a similar situation. I think the lap I was on was slightly quicker than my previous so I was still building up and getting quicker, but at the end of day didn't make that much difference.

PAUL TRACY: I was pretty much finished my last lap of my first run when the red came out, so didn't really affect me and then when we got back out, what really probably affected us more was that red at the end where we stopped, I was two laps into it on the red and came in and then had to go again and like A.J. said, once you stop these tires, heat cycle them, the best is off of them. You have got to top off with a little more fuel and go to the end but it's just not there like it is when they are brand new.

AJ ALLMENDINGER: I think the second red maybe hurt me a bit, possibly all I was on a lap that if I could have finished it might have had a chance to maybe nip Justin's lap today but no chance of getting his lap from yesterday and the first red I was already in the pits.

ERIC MAUK: This concludes our press conference, thank you for your attendance. We go racing tomorrow with the green flag dropping at 12:45 p.m.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Paul Tracy , A.J. Allmendinger