CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Top three press conference, part 1

Lexmark Indy 300 Press Conference Transcript An interview with: SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS A.J. ALLMENDINGER JIMMY VASSER ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started. We have two of our top three finishers from our...

Lexmark Indy 300 Press Conference Transcript

An interview with:

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started. We have two of our top three finishers from our today's Lexmark Indy 300, round 12 of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Our third place finisher, driver of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy hangs up his second podium finish of the year, he's gone back to back on the podium for the first time since Houston and Surfers Paradise in 2000, his fourth podium finish here in Surfers Paradise and the 33rd of his career. Jimmy, right where you wanted to be most of the day, top five. Tell us about how it felt.

JIMMY VASSER: You know, I felt fine. We were still lacking a little speed. The first stint, I was just shadowing Tagliani. I was a little disappointed when I had to peel off into the pits and saw he was going to do another lap. I started out trying to run the number we needed to run from the beginning of that stint, 171. I could have run it, but I needed to keep pace. So I was running 165, 167. Then he stayed out. But apparently he ran out of gas and came in dead stick. We got him in the pits that way. They made a little miscalculation, either that or they were trying to push it.

Not to jump around, but the start was -- I didn't see what happened. You know, as everybody expected, there was going to be carbon fiber flying with PT starting fifth, all the dynamics of how the rows were lined up. Oriol and Sebastien together, with Oriol on pole, I don't think Sebastien was all too happy about that. So we had that melee at the start. Really a lot of my race was kind of racing around Tagliani and his times in that first stint, where he was. I think he was trying to do some shortcutting and things like that to try to get in front of us. Just didn't work out for him.

All credit to my PKV Racing team. They've been working really hard since Montreal. Been on the shaker rig three times, a test. These cars are an awful lot of mathematics. We've been working real hard crunching the numbers trying to make the team better. I think it's starting to show. Street circuits have been our weakness all season long. With da Matta qualifying third quick yesterday, starting in fourth position, running good this weekend, I was a little bit off the pace, I think. But we made it a little better for the race. However, we ended up with a podium finish. I think it's starting to show that the hard work on the team is starting to pay off.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little about the last few laps of the race. At the end of the day you had Tagliani by four and a half seconds. You posted your fastest lap on lap 54 or 57. Did you know he was back there?

JIMMY VASSER: A lot of guys were right there in the end. The track is rubbering up. Glock left 56, Servia 56, myself 54. You know, so, I knew he was there. They were telling me. I opened up -- I started out the run at a three-and-a-half-second gap. I opened it up to five-and-a-half seconds on him, probably six or seven laps, then had enough just to back off a little bit, not having to push. It's very difficult to push hard at the end of the tire stint because the tires are starting to get old, it's easier to lock up brakes, a lot easier to make a mistake. I throttled back a little bit. I couldn't even see. I don't know the pace you guys were running, but I couldn't even see those guys. By the time I got through the traffic after the restart, they were many miles up the road, so.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run.

JIMMY VASSER: Thank you very much.

ERIC MAUK: Today's runner-up, driver of the #10 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, AJ Allmendinger. AJ matches a career-best finish by finishing second here today. His fourth podium finish of the season, the sixth of his career. Moves him back into the top five in the standings, one point ahead of Jimmy Vasser. AJ, strong run today. Tell us about it.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, RuSPORT gave me a great car today. We struggled a bit early in the weekend. I mean, can't say enough about my team. They just keep fighting to improve the car. You know, the car during the race was absolutely amazing. We had to calculate the first stint on fuel. We had a little problem in warm-up calculating it. We had to be conservative. I had to save a lot of fuel on the first stint.

After that, it was just trying to chase down Sebastien. Unfortunately, you know, all these podium finishes, I got about one guy that's got a real quick car during the race. It looks like from the lap times we had everybody else covered, but I was just trying to hang on to him. After the second pit stop, he had about 10 seconds on me. I just kind of took it easy. At the end, pushed a little bit just to see what car still had. But I'm pleased to be on the podium here. Didn't expect it. I think everybody in the series talks about what a feeling it is to be on the podium in Surfers Paradise. Glad I get to enjoy it.

ERIC MAUK: Top five in points, you take a little momentum into the season finale in Mexico.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I'd like to keep improving and finish fifth in the points this year. We finished third at Mexico City last year. We have good data from that racetrack. Hopefully we can go there and improve the car and give ourselves a chance at another podium and maybe a victory.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run today.


ERIC MAUK: Unofficially the top six in Champ Car points, Sebastien Bourdais clinches the 2005 Series Championship with 344 points with one race remaining, Oriol Servia second at 265, Justin Wilson third with 231, Paul Tracy is fourth with 221, AJ is fifth with 199, Jimmy Vasser is sixth with 198.

We'll take questions from the media.

Q: Just a few points separating you two for Mexico City. That where it's going to be decided, isn't it?

JIMMY VASSER: Definitely. How far back is Dominguez?

ERIC MAUK: Dominguez is eight points behind you.

JIMMY VASSER: I mean, he's in the mix, too. It's a good race for top five in the points. If PT has another outing like he had today, we end up on the podium, perhaps even fourth place is up for grabs. We finished fourth there last year. I think we have some good data, as well. I'm optimistic that we can have a good run. It's been an exciting championship. New points system allows for that, although our champion has a sizable lead. I think Mexico City is going to be a very exciting race. It's a challenging track, a lot of great Champ Car fans in Mexico City. We're looking forward to getting down there, too.

Q: Jimmy, now that you've had your second podium in a row, does that affect your outlook for the future?

JIMMY VASSER: No, not really. I'm not contemplating resigning my Champ Car seat because of lack of performance really. I feel like I'm on top of my machine. We're working hard to build our race team. Good database, move the team along. I don't think that da Matta is a slow driver. I don't think I am either. I think it's important that we build faster race cars and improve on that.

We're going to base our decision about my driving or not pretty much on what's best for the race team, what's best for PKV. I can drive another one or two years for sure and still be competitive. I believe that. But I think in today's Champ Car climate, it might be better that we get to work on building for the future with the younger drivers. It could have some -- there could be some commercial aspects, as well, sponsorships and things of that nature. I'm not trying to be coy by putting it off saying anything, but we're really going to make a decision in mid December time about what we're going to do with me and the whole team. But thanks for asking.

Q: AJ, one, two years left?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think about mid-season, Carl said I had about five minutes left in my career. You know, I mean, we're coming back. I like to mix in a couple good finishes with a lot of bad just to keep them on the edge thinking, "Maybe he's figuring it out." So, yeah. I'm just going to destroy in my Fantasy Football league if I retire.

Continued in part 2

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Jimmy Vasser , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia