CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Race top-three press conference, Part II

Top three finishers in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Interview with Paul Tracy, Michel Jourdain and Bruno Junqueira Part 2 of 2 Q: (Inaudible)? Tracy: It was tough. I mean, the tires definitely you really had to manage, you know, your...

Top three finishers in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Interview with Paul Tracy, Michel Jourdain and Bruno Junqueira

Part 2 of 2

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: It was tough. I mean, the tires definitely you really had to manage, you know, your tires. No traction control, the engine, how much power it has, off that hairpin it was easy to come off that corner and light the things off, wheels spinning all the way out of the corner. You really have to pay attention.

That middle stint, when I was behind Monteiro, I was really trying hard to get by him. I kept spinning the tires off the corner. The last couple laps of that stint I was really having a hard time because I wore my rear tires out.

Junqueira: I think this track wasn't easy to pass. I made a lot of passing in this race because, first, I had to. I went almost last. If I would have stayed there, if I wasn't aggressive, I would finish really in a bad position. I had to take a risk.

As Paul said, no traction control makes it really difficult, difficult for the guy in front as well. The nice thing about the track, it's very wide in turn one. The straight wasn't too long. I was behind someone, and I couldn't pass, I just stayed behind. Because the first turn is second gear, very wide, I couldn't out-brake in turn one. Every guy I passed was pretty much on turn one out-braking. Two guys I passed on turn four. That was a little bit more difficult because it was really slippery. But I was very good going out of turn three and four, turn two and three, then I could get a run on two guys there.

I mean, it was really difficult. When I got behind Michel, I was maybe, I don't know, half a second faster than him when I was catching him up.

Tracy: The Mexican is hard to pass.

Junqueira: Yeah. He was a Gigante in front of me, then I couldn't pass him. I mean, it's easy to pass when you are one second faster than someone. When you are a half second, then you play a big, big gamble, especially at the end of the race when you come from last to third. I took the points. It's better than to get nothing.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: It's a long race. 105 laps is over two hours. It's great to go fast for 15 minutes or 20 minutes. When you've got to do it for two hours, it's a different story.

I'm experienced. I've done these races hundreds of times. You learn when to go fast and when not to go fast. But on the other hand, there was a lot of experienced guys on tires today, Pat, Alex, guys having problems that are experienced.

You know, it's a technical track, a difficult track. I think the cars are more difficult to drive this year because there's no traction control. The engine is very powerful. It's a long race, and you've got to be there at the end.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: He didn't pit, and I pitted. He stayed out in front of me.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: I was significantly quicker, but I wasn't quick enough in spots. I made a couple of attempts, but I just wasn't going to risk taking myself out of the race. I was getting pretty pissed off. They told me I was 17 seconds behind. I was ready to launch the chrome horn at him. A couple times I got real close to his back wheels, I thought I'm just going to let off the brake and hit him and move him out of the way. "I better not do that, I don't want to end up getting a penalty." It crossed my mind a couple times that I need to move this guy out of the way because I'm not going to get by him. The next lap, he locked his brakes up, ran wide, I got by him. Then I ran away from him like crazy.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: I don't think there's any modifications I would make. Maybe if there's one thing that would make the track significantly better, the tire was pretty hard here that Bridgestone brought. They don't know any different, first-time event. I think if we had a softer tire, it would make us go faster, for sure, maybe make it more nice to drive.

I think the end result of the race was the cars were difficult and you really had to work hard at driving them. That's what we get paid to do. It's not supposed to be easy. The end result I think is okay.

Junqueira: I think the track is pretty nice, as Paul said. For the first time to race here, the track be such nice like this I think impress me a lot. The only point that I don't feel really comfortable is coming out of the pits can be a little bit dangerous. They can study a better way. The guys on turn two going outside fast, the other one going out of the pits. Apart from that, it's very good.

Jourdain Jr.: I like it a lot. It's a great track. Obviously, pit out needs to be improved. They were saying instead of going right, going left, turn one, it's a lot safer, and everybody can see what's happening when we were coming out. I mean, it's very hard to see if you are in the track or in the pits who is coming. I think they are talking maybe about the very fast chicane before the last corner, to open it up. I would leave it like that because it's a great corner. But everything else is great. It's a great track to drive.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: It's a good course, a good street course. Street courses are always going to be a little bit bumpy, a little bit slippery. You know, I would maybe compare it to Vancouver, Toronto. Kind of the same atmosphere, same type of similar layouts, by the water, downtown, similar types of surfaces. It's a much, much better facility than what we had in Miami and what we had in Denver. It's much more similar to what we're used to in places like Toronto, Vancouver, Australia, Long Beach. Proper track, nice length, nice and wide, proper barriers, proper fence, wide pit lane. They did a very good job.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: Well, a win is a win. That's what we're out here to do. Everybody's out here to win individual races. You have your own individual goals. That ultimately leads to hopefully what would be a championship.

It takes winning races to win championships, being consistent. I mean, I can say that I've probably met all my individual goals, individual events, races that I'd like to win, say here and there. I've won just about everything, but not a championship. That's what everybody's goal is, is to win the championship. But we need to focus on trying to be consistent, win races, finish well, then hopefully that will come.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: Yeah, I've always started slow (laughter).

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: I hope we don't fall on our face the next race (laughter).

No, I'm very happy. Normally it takes me four or five races before I get any points. You're 60, 70 points behind at that point. From this standpoint, I'm very happy. I'm happy for the team. It's what they've been working towards for three, four months, since I joined the team. So to start like this is great. It's a great feeling.

It justifies all the work that the team has put in, and it justifies all the sacrifice that I've done over the winter training, riding bicycles for three hours a day. Sometimes you're out there by yourself, you're thinking, "What the Christ am I doing out here?" I call Jimmy, I call Michel, they're out partying at a night club, I'm pedaling a fucking bicycle down the street for three hours. I'm like, "What am I doing?" It's very satisfying.

Junqueira: Don't worry, Paul, I'm doing the same (laughter).

Tracy: I know he's not and I know Jimmy is not (laughter).

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: Not really. I mean, I got by Bourdais. He came right out of the pits in front of me, but he was on cold tires. I got by him. But I knew I was going to have to pull away from him because we're on different strategies.

That wasn't the deciding moment of the race. The deciding moment of the race is really when Bourdais went out and I knew at that time I was half a second quicker than the guy who was in second, Adrian. From that standpoint, I knew once Bourdais was out, we just had to be smooth.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: Well, I guess for me, I never down-talked CART. I never down-played where I wanted to be. So from my standpoint, I mean, winning this race is significant to me. It's an inaugural event. It's nice to be a first-time winner at a track like this, at a facility like this. It's an enjoyable moment.

I guess I haven't really thought about it, but I saw Chris Pook run up to me, he had this ear-to-ear grin on his face. I know he's done a lot of work. CART has done a lot of work. They've done a lot of marketing, PR, press to get this going again. This justifies it to them that they have three of their veteran drivers up on the podium. We had a great first race, a great crowd. People can walk away from here, fans that came, can walk away and say, "I saw a great race today." They'll come back.

Q: (Inaudible)?

Tracy: It's great. I mean, we were separated for two years. It wasn't by choice. I had probably my best years of my career when I worked with him in '99 and 2000, I feel. We kind of got split apart, not by choice. I struggled a little bit the last couple years. I feel we could have won a lot more races than we did, but struggled somewhat to get the car the way I wanted it all the time.

So to be back with Tony, to convince him to come back, is a huge benefit for me, not only mentally but also from the race standpoint, from the car standpoint. It's a big benefit for the team.

Mauk: Thank you very much. This concludes our press conference. We'll see you in Monterrey, Mexico.

Part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Chris Pook , Michel Jourdain