This Week in Ford Racing August 3, 2004 Champ Car World Series Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 8 Johnson Controls Lola, has established himself as one of the top drivers in the Champ Car World Series. Currently in his second season with...
This Week in Ford Racing
August 3, 2004
Champ Car World Series
Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 8 Johnson Controls Lola, has established himself as one of the top drivers in the Champ Car World Series. Currently in his second season with Rocketsports Racing, Tagliani stands fifth in the championship standings with 120 points heading into this weekend's race at Road America where he has three top-10 finishes in four previous appearances. A veteran of 84 career Champ Car starts, Tagliani talks about how his season has progressed, as well as his success at one of the premier road courses in North America.
ALEX TAGLIANI - No. 8 Johnson Controls Lola
YOU'VE QUIETLY HAD A STEADY AND CONSISTENT SEASON TO THIS POINT. YOU'VE GOT TO FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT SITTING FIFTH IN THE POINTS.
"Yeah, I was thinking about that not too long ago. I've been consistent and quiet this season, kind of doing my own thing over here and not attracting too much attention, and then I look at the championship standings where I'm fifth with some good chances remaining to improve on that. Realistically, for us to finish in the top three is very possible, so I'm wondering whether I should continue being consistent and not worry too much about making a lot of noise because right now it's our best season and has been going very well."
YOU'RE 60 POINTS OUT OF FIRST ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN MAKE A RUN AT THE TOP SPOT?
"Yeah, I think it's good. Thirty-one points for a win, 27 (points) for second and 25 (points) for third, so when you're on the podium if you score two podium finishes in a row you're scoring about 50 points and that's what we need to do. We need two weekends where we get on the podium and then hopefully we're closing in on the top three positions, so I think we can do it. There are definitely some races left in the season where I think we can shine and the only thing we have to focus on is doing well where we think we can be successful because if we don't, we're going to be trying to catch everybody else the rest of the way. But it's a good spot to be in for a second year team - the only four cars in front of us are from Newman-Haas and Forsythe, which are the two strongest teams in the series. Of those four, three of them are very much within our reach and I'm sure that Paul and the rest of the team are very pleased with where we are."
THIS IS THE SECOND SEASON FOR YOU WITH ROCKETSPORTS RACING - HOW DIFFERENT IS IT FROM YOUR FIRST?
"Quite different. I'm working with a new engineer and it's definitely different. At the beginning we had to learn to work with each other and we're gelling a lot more, so I'm very happy about that. It was a little bit tough in the beginning, but on the other hand the entire team a different approach to the season and felt more confident than last year. Everybody was rushing around last season just to get to the track, while this year everybody was in a good state of mind and believed that we had a chance to finish well in the championship. We missed out on some opportunities at races earlier this season where we could've done better, but I think we've learned how to overcome those problems and are quick to put them behind us and move on to the next race."
IN ADDITION TO HIS ROLE WITHIN THE TEAM, (OWNER) PAUL GENTILOZZI HAS UNDERTAKEN SOME ADDITIONAL RESPONSIBILITIES WITH THE SERIES. HOW HAS THAT AFFECT THE TEAM'S PERFORMANCE?
"I think it happened at a really good time for us because the team is relatively experienced and understand what needs to happen in order to get the job done. Our team manager, Phil Howard, is really good at what he does and makes sure things get done even though Paul isn't always there to overlook what's going on. If this had happened last year, I don't think the team would've been able to function as well without Paul as they are doing this year, primarily because now we have a lot of experienced guys. My engineer, Brian Ma, is very experienced, John Gentilozzi, Paul's son, has a year of experience under his belt so we have a lot of data from last year, so I think as a team we're in a lot better position for Paul to handle his business with the series."
YOU HAD A STRONG TEST EARLIER THIS YEAR AT ROAD AMERICA, AND IF HISTORY IS ANY INDICATION (THREE TOP-10 FINISHES IN FOUR APPEARANCES) YOU SHOULD BE VERY COMPETITIVE THIS WEEKEND. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?
"I don't want to put too much emphasis on myself there because yes, I've been very quick up there and there's no doubt in my mind that I can be very quick this weekend, but I have to be honest and say that I've had great cars - I had a great car with the Reynard when I was driving for Forsythe and I had a great car this year at the test. I didn't have a great car last year and I didn't qualify very well, but when the rain came I think our car was better suited for the wet conditions and we ended up being very quick. I don't think it's any secret in Champ - if you have a good car you're going to shine. I never had a good car before in Cleveland, but this year I had a great car, went to the back of the field twice and still ended up on the podium, so now I think Cleveland is one of my favorite tracks! Bruno (Junqueira) has been quick there for a couple of years, it's true, but if you put him in a car that isn't quick I don't think he's going to be very good, and I think it's the same for everybody in the series. But, I've got to tell you that I REALLY love the track!"
THAT BEING SAID, A BIG PART OF HAVING A GOOD CAR IS THE ABILITY OF THE DRIVER TO COMMUNICATE WITH HIS ENGINEER WHAT THE CAR IS DOING.
"Yeah, I think one reason I've been quick at Road America is because I know what kind of car I needed to go fast and I'm able to transmit the right information to my engineer and tell them what I need. At the end of the day, are you going to be able to find what you need to go fast and if we can find it, we can put it on the track and make it happen. But I think you like the track if you do well on it and you have a good car, which you develop throughout the years and if it's a track where you've run well, it could quickly becomes one of you favorite tracks."