CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: Post-race press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 ERIC MAUK: We have a three-day attendance figure for this event, 61,031. Considering the weather we had the first two days, pretty impressive. Unofficially, top five in points: Sebastien leads with 338, A.J. is second...

Continued from part 1

ERIC MAUK: We have a three-day attendance figure for this event, 61,031. Considering the weather we had the first two days, pretty impressive. Unofficially, top five in points: Sebastien leads with 338, A.J. is second with 280, Justin third with 269, Paul Tracy moves up to fourth with 183, Nelson is fifth with 182.

We'll take questions from the media now.

Q: Bruno got talking about being stuck behind the tripod. Did you get held up by Nelson?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I pitted two laps sooner. Same thing, I didn't want to get caught out. We were running more laps. Actually right at that point I went back to back setting my fastest laps of the race.

I never got checked up by him. But I pitted two laps early as well to avoid getting caught out by the yellow. I think I caught him at the kink, which is always fun. Just off the racing line. I mean, it worked well for me. Look at that. I had no problem with that at all. I think I'm going to take Nelson and buy him a drink tonight.

Q: You've been through this before, but when you see an accident like Katherine's, then have 40 minutes to think about it, how do you get back in the car?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think fortunately enough, right away we were told she was all right. I think it's the accidents where you know it's bad or you don't know anything about the person because they don't want to release it.

I think I heard Bruno say it, I had the same thoughts, as soon as I passed the accident, I was on the radio asking if she was okay, because it looked pretty bad. Thank God she's okay. 10 minutes after I was out of the car, they told me she already walked in and out of the medical center. That's good for her, for sure.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think everybody had the same idea. When we saw the car, it was only the top left, rolled over. It was looking pretty bad. Didn't really understand what happened. Then also when we knew it was the rear wing that flew off the car on the top flap, I guess it's something that you're glad to be at Newman/Haas and Forsythe, I guess. Stuff that doesn't really happen very often with us. It's not that it can't happen, but you just feel very lucky to be in a great organization.

Q: How fast are your cars going at that point of the track?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Pretty much top speed. Got to be 180 or something like that.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, I think for me I was shifting to seventh gear in the kink. Probably right around there. It's fast enough to hurt when you crash.

Q: After driving in the NASCAR Truck Series last weekend and with this weekend's win, do you have any deals for next year? Where do you think you will be?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: My thoughts are, man, it was an awesome victory today. That was exciting. I look forward to my truck race two weeks in Talladega, then I really look forward to going to Australia. That's my plan.

Q: After your victory today, do you still think you are terrible here?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: No, I still think I suck here. I think I got fortunate (laughter). Can't say I honestly got around this place in any lap today and thought, Oh, that's a lap there, that's magical. But it's a tough place. I mean, I think it shows the guys that have experience here are the ones running up front. I don't have a lot of experience here. I'm learning each lap. This is one of the places that I think it really shows where the guys that have experience, years in Champ Car, especially experience at Road America, really shine because there's so many little nuances to get around this place. Off camera, there's a lot of places that are slippery, some places that are gripped up, hard to get your car set up for and hard to get around the place driving it.

Q: Next year----

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Still don't know where I'm going.

Q: How about to the bank

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: That's a good place to go. I think I'm going to start using that as my answer.

Q: What was your impression of the truck you drove last weekend and how does it compare with your Champ Car?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think everything that you've learned at Champ Car you throw away and restart from the beginning, then go drive in NASCAR. They're as different as can be. A truck almost has the same power as the Champ Car, but it weighs probably 2,000 more pounds, got a little more roll in it. I think that's probably the hardest thing for an open-wheel guy to go over and learn, is how much roll that the trucks have, whether you're getting in the corner and you think the vehicle is getting loose, it's really not. That's kind of the nature of it.

I think that's the most difficult for sure is just really finding the right edge of that. I mean, there's as different as can be.

Q: A.J., could you talk about your Victory Lane declaration that you want to defend American soil from the French.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I can't let that happen. I had to try like crazy. All I read the whole time was, you know, it would be great for Sebastien to clinch on American soil for Champ Car. Wasn't great for me. I didn't like that idea.

I mean, if he has to clinch it in Australia again, that's what happens, then at least I held it off for one race. You know, you never know. You just got to keep fighting. I know you keep telling me that. My dad is leaving. Bye, dad. Where is mom? Mom is short, my height. By mom, love you guys. See you tomorrow, Tuesday. They're coming to move my house.

What were we talking about?

ERIC MAUK: Packers.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: How did my Fantasy team do?

ERIC MAUK: How it always does: losing.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: That sucks. That ruined my day. I'm done talking.

Q: Sebastien, your reaction?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: My English is not good enough to answer that (laughter).

Q: When you spun on the start, how much did that affect the handling of your car?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I have no idea. You'll have to look on the car. The only thing that's really strange, I felt the car was good throughout the whole race. Just after the last pit stop, looks like the car changed the balance. Was a little bit oversteering. After that, start to be understeering at max. Usually the track gets better and builds up understeer, but not like that. I don't know what's happen, if some part flew off. But for sure the sidepod was a little bit broke. I don't know how much. I think actually not -- I didn't win the race because of that. I mean, I think even the way the car was, I think I was fast enough to do it once I was leading. Shame we got traffic and it stop early because of that. That was pretty much the race.

Q: How do you think you would have done without any caution flags?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I mean, I think to be honest, in the warmup, maybe I could finish second because me and Sebastien had like equal cars. I think I could get by everybody but him. I finish second. If you tell me at the beginning of the race I'm going to finish second, I would be, Oh, that's great. You tell me like 15 laps to go, I'm leading the race, You're going to finish second, I'd be, Come on, why? I want to win.

Lose the lead in the pits is kind of frustrating. I think Sebastien is feeling the same way.

Q: Did you use all your push-to-pass?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I got happy on the 'push to pass'. I told Cosworth I was going to take them all out for drinks if they would have gave me a little bit more on the restart. They said no. I mean, I was out -- I think after probably like 15 laps to go, 20 laps to go, I was still behind Justin, I didn't get a very good start. With how bad my car was handling in the beginning with the understeer, I had to use it a lot just to get the exit to get the shot out of the corner to make passes. It's a chance I had to take. Then when Sebastien was behind me on the restarts, I kept using it just to make sure, trying to get around Justin and trying to hold him off. I was out with 15 to go.

Q: When you came out on cold tires and you were passed by both A.J. and Bruno, what were your thoughts?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We lost the race on the inlap, period. When I exited the pits, A.J. was coming right there, and Bruno wasn't very far off. On cold tires, cold day like that, there's just no chance. You exit the pits, you don't stand the chance if you don't have three seconds' advantage over the guy by turn five, you're done. That's pretty much what happened.

Q: No thoughts of what would have happened if you accidentally wrecked Sebastien when you passed him?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I mean, the only thing about me and Sebastien is no team orders -- the only team out there not crashing each other. I know he's fighting the championship, so I take extra care. But I felt at that moment I didn't try anything difficult. I was side by side to him when I went to brakes in turn eight. As he said, he was on cold tires. I had a very clear run on him. At that moment I was trying to get around A.J.

ERIC MAUK: That will do it. Congratulations, gentlemen. Thank you.

-credit: ccws

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy