This Week in Ford Racing May 28, 2002 CART FedEx Championship Michel Jourdain, Jr. is currently enjoying the best start of his champ car career with three consecutive top-five finishes propelling him to second in the championship with 32...
This Week in Ford Racing
May 28, 2002
CART FedEx Championship
Michel Jourdain, Jr. is currently enjoying the best start of his champ car career with three consecutive top-five finishes propelling him to second in the championship with 32 points. Heading into Milwaukee this weekend for just his fourth race with team Rahal, Jourdain's relationship with the team and the confidence they have shown in his abilities have helped Jourdain to his impressive start.
MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. - #9 Team Rahal Gigante Ford
YOU'RE GOING TO MILWAUKEE SECOND IN THE POINTS AND HAVE SCORED THREE CONSECUTIVE TOP-FIVE FINISHES. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR SEASON THUS FAR?
"I'm very happy with the way the season has been going. I think we have done a good chance of fighting for the front in the first races of the year, and I think we'll continue to do that for the rest of the year. But it's not easy because the series becomes more competitive every year and this year is no different. Everybody is very, very competitive and everybody has the ability to win races or at least win a spot on the podium. For sure it's not easy, but I feel that Team Rahal is one of the strongest teams in the paddock. Now we're heading to Milwaukee, which is a track that I haven't done well at in the past, but hopefully things will turn for the better this weekend. Team Rahal won there last year with Kenny Brack, we had a very good test there a couple of weeks ago, so I feel very confident that we can have a very, very good race and hopefully score some more points."
TALK A LITTLE ABOUT THIS WEEKEND'S RACE IN MILAWUKEE. YOU HAD A GOOD TEST THERE A FEW WEEKS AGO, BUT WHAT ARE SOME KEYS FOR YOU TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
"I feel we had a pretty good test. I've never done very well at Milwaukee in the past, but I don't think I've had a car as good as the one we had for the test. You have to be very, very aggressive at Milwaukee and the car needs to stay underneath you for the whole race or else you'll lose a lot. I think it'll be an interesting race and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully we'll continue to score points and stay towards the front in the championship."
OBVIOUSLY IT'S STILL EARLY IN THE SEASON, BUT YOU SEEM TO HAVE DEVELOPED A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FOLKS AT TEAM RAHAL.
"Yeah, I feel like I've been working at Team Rahal for a long time because everybody has been great since the first day I showed up for work and that gave me a lot of confidence. They have a lot of confidence in me and that's very important because that makes me feel great. They have a lot of people who have a great deal of experience and have won races in the past, all the way from [team owner] Bobby [Rahal] to [general manager] Scott [Roembke] to the engineers and the mechanics. It's just a great group of people to work with."
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE EXPECTATIONS THAT YOU HAD WHEN YOU JOINED TEAM RAHAL? SO FAR, HAVE YOU FULFILLED THOSE EXPECTATIONS?
"Well, you know I've never been with a team this big and with this many people and I've also never had a teammate. Because of that I thought it might take me a bit more time to get up to speed, but I feel like I got up to speed fairly quickly and I think that's because I was able to adapt to everybody in a short amount of time. Coming in I thought it would take me some time to adjust to the new team and new people, but the people at Team Rahal have really helped me to feel comfortable and settle in."
ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY THIS SEASON? HAVE YOU CHANGED AS A DRIVER?
"I don't think so. I feel like I'm doing exactly the same things, but maybe I'm driving a little bit differently. Before I had to worry about so many things and here the only thing I have to worry about is driving the car and doing my best. This team has given me a lot of confidence and everybody has a lot of confidence in me, so I think that makes a big difference."
YOU'RE CERTAINLY NOT NEW TO THE SERIES, BUT DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE COMING INTO YOUR OWN AS A DRIVER THIS SEASON?
"I'm very, very excited and in a way I feel like I'm a rookie because I've had to learn a lot of things being with a new team. I'm very young, but I have a lot of experience. I know the tracks and I've raced on them many times, so sometimes I feel like a rookie but my experience helps me to feel confident in a lot of ways, so I think it's a good combination this year."
KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE PROBABLY THE BEST EQUIPMENT OF YOUR CAREER AND WITH THE RESULTS YOU'VE HAD THIS SEASON, WHAT HAS THAT DONE FOR YOUR CONFIDENCE? ARE YOU APPROACHING THE RACES ANY DIFFERENTLY THAN IN THE PAST?
"I'm approaching them the same and I'm trying to do my best without thinking about the championship, especially now that it's still so early in the season. I just want to do my best every race we go to, try to get out of each race with as many points as possible, and at the end of the year when we're getting close to the last race I'll worry about the championship. I just try to look at things the same way I did before. But I think my approach is a little bit better because before I had to worry about so many other things when I was driving the car. Now when I'm driving the car all I have to worry about is driving, doing my best and not making any mistakes while going as fast as possible."
LOOKING AHEAD, WHAT DO YOU AND THE TEAM NEED TO CONCENTRATE ON DOING TO MAINTAIN YOUR PLACE AT THE TOP OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS?
"I think we need to do our best to have a good car at every race we show up at. We have to be fast on all the different types of tracks we go to - road courses, street courses, short ovals and superspeedways. At the end of the season, the guy who wins the championship has had to be competitive on all these different tracks. We have to make sure we have good pitstops because nowadays I think they are probably even more important than they used to be. You also have to minimize mistakes, qualify well and you have to finish races. Basically, you have to be able to do everything well to have a chance to fight for the championship."