CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Newman/Haas Racing preview

Driver Stats and Quotes: BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, ...

Driver Stats and Quotes:

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- DEBUT FOR NHR: The race will mark his first event with NHR and 40th overall Champ car start. He joined the team for 2003 after two seasons with Target/Ganassi Racing (39 starts).

- ON STREET/ROAD COURSES: He collected 110 of his 164 total points in the '02 championship on this type of course. Two of his three wins came on this type of course ('01 Elkhart Lake road course, '02 Denver street course).

- RUNNER-UP TO 2002 CHAMPION: Was runner-up in the '02 championship to NHR driver Cristiano da Matta in his second season at Target Chip Ganassi Racing after he collected a total of 164 points...Won two races (Japan and Denver), four pole positions (Japan, Elkhart Lake, Denver, Mexico City) and finished on the podium a total of six times in 19 events (second place: Portland, Chicago; third place Elkhart Lake, Mexico City)...Led all 100 racing laps en route to victory in Denver for the first time in his Champ car career...Was the only driver to win poles and races on both road and oval courses. Also in 2002, he competed in one Indy Racing League event - the Indy 500 - where he started on pole and led the first 32 laps before he retired in 31st place due to engine and gearbox failure.

- DID YOU KNOW: Is a second-generation race car driver...Began racing at the age of 11...Hobbies include tennis, playing computer racing games and surfing sports, financial and etc. sites on the Internet... Enjoys listening to music. Among his favorite bands are the Rolling Stones, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Aerosmith...Single...Has two sisters, Diana, 24, and Caroline, 21...Fitness regime includes running, cycling, playing tennis and most sports. When not at a race he usually awakes at 9 AM and cycles for 1.5 to 2 hours a day. He also uses free weights daily and run three times a week...His personal car is a Black BMW M3 and his first car was a Fiat Uno....His favorite TV show is E! Entertainment's "Wild on."...His cooking specialty is pasta with a Hearts of Palm sauce that he and his sister Diana created. Another specialty is salmon with capers and lime...He speaks four languages - English, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

- IN ST. PETERSBURG: Will be his first Champ car race.

- REIGNING CHAMPION: Like his teammate Junqueira, Bourdais won the F3000 championship honors. He won three races (Imola, Italy; Monaco; Nurburgring, Germany) six pole positions (Interlagos, Brazil; Imola, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; Monaco, Nurburgring, Germany; Spa, Belgium) and finished on the podium a total of seven times en route to the Championship while driving for Team Super Nova Racing. Also set the fastest race lap three times (Interlagos, Spain, Belgium). Competed against drivers such as Enge, Pantano and Pizzonia. Also in 2002, he won two races and one pole position for Team Pescarolo Sport in the FIA Sport Championship where he finished second overall in the standings. Was also part of the winning team for the 24 Hours of Spa endurance race.

- IN PRE-SEASON TESTING: Bourdais earned the second NHR seat after two test days in December and January (one day each). He also ran two days at Laguna Seca Raceway where he set the second fastest time of the test. In CART's annual Spring Training, held in Sebring, Fla. he ran the fastest time of the three-day test. Prior to the St. Pete event, he will have been in a Champ car only seven days.

- ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CHASE: For only the second time in the 21 year history of the team, NHR is a candidate for the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year contest. There are currently a total of eight drivers vying for this honor. Reigning F 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell was the only other "rookie" to compete for the team. Mansell went on to win five races and seven pole positions in route to the Champ car championship as well as capture Rookie of the Year honors.

- DID YOU KNOW: Bourdais won born in the legendary racing town of Le Mans, France around the time that the movie Le Mans, starring Paul Newman was released... Began racing at the age of 12...His father, Patrick, competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times...Fitness regime includes running and swimming. Cycling is also part of his regime although he did not bring his bicycle to the U.S....Resides in the same condominium building that former NHR driver and 2002 Champion Cristiano da Matta lived...Hobbies include mountain biking, running, watching movies, swimming ... Enjoys listening to music and among his favorite bands are the Stereophonics, U2, Placebo, Radiohead, Queen...Studied engineering in college for one year before focusing solely on a racing career...Single.

What They're Saying About...

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

HOW HAVE YOU APPROACHED YOUR PREPARATION FOR THE 2003 SEASON? "I think my approach to the 2003 season is really different than my approach to 2002. Before the season started last year I was in a situation that was very uncomfortable and not many people believed in me. I had to prove that I could win races and I finished second in the Championship. Newman/Haas Racing picked me to drive for them and I am very comfortable with the team. I am quite happy with my performance last year and I will work hard to improve on that. This year my goal is to win races but also win the Championship. Newman/Haas Racing is a good team and we have the potential to do it."

AFTER HAVING DRIVEN ON THE TRACK, WHAT TYPE OF RACE DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE? "I think the race in St. Petersburg will be difficult because it is not only the first race of the season but it's also a new track for everybody. I think it will be a matter of who adapts the fastest to the new challenge and gets an advantage on the others. I hope the PacifiCare team will adapt quicker and prepare better for race. That's important because everyone will begin with information that they found by running computer simulations and selecting gears before hand. You have to hope that you start out as close as possible with a set-up that is good on the car. I am quite confident that we will be close. Of the four new races last season, Cristiano finished on the podium in all of them and won the pole in Montreal and I won in Denver and won the pole in Mexico City."

DO YOU WISH YOU HAD A LONGER OFF-SEASON? "The off-season was short but I am glad because I am ready to start racing. After spending eight days with Cristiano (da Matta) and Tony (Kanaan) in Brazil over New Year's, I said "Hey, where's my car? I want to drive! Now I'm looking forward to racing."

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN THE POSITION OF DRIVING THE CAR OF THE PREVIOUS CHAMPION? "This is the first time in my life that I'm going to be driving the race car of previous champion. It's also the first time I will be driving car No. 1. There is a lot of pressure but I had more pressure in 2000 in Formula 3000. I had won a lot of races in 1999 so everyone was saying I was the favorite to win the 2000 F3000 Championship. Everybody starts with zero points and the same chance. I plan to make the most of my chance."

IS THE ST. PETE LAYOUT SIMILAR TO ANY OTHER CART TRACK? "I think the track is a little bit like Long Beach not only because it is near the water and downtown but because of the 90 degree turns and fast chicanes. It's a good track. It's fast. It's pretty wide, especially on the main straightaway by the airport. There's going to be some passing, for sure. It's going to be very exciting."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE SEASON-OPENER? "I think it will be a tough weekend. To start the season and a new experience on a street course is always difficult because the type of track is asking for more concentration to not make any mistakes and stay off of the walls. It will also be more difficult because it will be my first race in a single seat race car that will last for two hours. It will be a busy weekend but the car is good and the team is good so that will make the weekend run smoother."

HOW ARE YOU PREPARING YOURSELF PHYSICALLY FOR THE NEW CHALLENGE? "I have been running between one hour to one hour and 20 minutes to train myself physically. My goal was to run for more than one hour since the race will be two hours in length. I have also been able to acclimatize myself with the Florida weather, which is important, because I think it will be warm in St. Petersburg. I tried to run during the warmest part of the day. I have also been swimming and holding my breath as long as possible underwater which is a good exercise to control your heart rhythm."

HOW DO YOU THINK THE PROCESS OF PREPARATION WILL CHANGE FROM A TEST TO A RACE WEEKEND? "We tried to simulate a qualifying session in Sebring to prepare for qualifying during races. The thing that will of course be different is that now there will be added pressure since it is a race weekend. The overall flow will be pretty similar but we will work to control the pressure from the time limitations."

ARE YOU READY FOR THE ADDITION OF PIT STOPS? "I did pit stops in sports car racing but it will be new for me in an open-wheel car. I will have to be as accurate as possible and stop on my marks for the guys to change the tires and fuel the car. The team has been performing well on pit stops so it is up to me now. As long as I stop on my marks on entry and not stall the car when I try to leave the pits we should be fine. We practiced pit stops in Sebring and I think I improved my performance. I think the amount of pit space will be good for stops in St. Petersburg so that will make it easier. We will practice this as much as possible before the race as well."

WILL A CHAMP CAR RACE WEEKEND DIFFER FROM AN F3000 RACE? "I hope it will be less frustrating than an F3000 weekend. In 3000, when you didn't have good car, you didn't have time to improve because straight away you started qualifying for the race. In CART if you arrive with bad car you might not win the race but you will have a chance to improve your car before you qualify or race. When we have had a problem in testing, we have been able to find a solution in a short amount of time. Let's hope that is the case at a race as well. The team is very experienced and I am going to count on that experience."

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Nigel Mansell , Paul Newman , Chip Ganassi , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing