An interview with Paul Tracy, Scott Dixon and Kenny Brack Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let's go ahead and get started with our top three press conference following today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy...
An interview with Paul Tracy, Scott Dixon and Kenny Brack
Merrill Cain: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let's go ahead and get started with our top three press conference following today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver.
We'll get started with Kenny Brack and Scott Dixon here while we await Paul Tracy. We'll start off with Kenny Brack who qualified third this afternoon in the #12 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. In provisional qualifying, he had a best lap of 1:01.948, that's a speed of 103.500 miles per hour. That's a position that would be his best ever starting effort at Vancouver if it holds up tomorrow. It's one spot better than his fourth place starting grid from last season.
Kenny, Team Target [Chip Ganassi Racing] had a good day. You produced a personal best here with the third place qualifying effort.
Kenny Brack: I think it was a good day for us. Like you said, it's the best I've been here in three attempts. We had a very good car, and I think obviously really fast this morning. I think we had that in the car this afternoon, too. It's just difficult at this track because it's fairly short. We had a little bit of bad luck with the way the reds fell because the first set of tires we went out and we did one and a half or two laps and it was a red, and it was a red again in the end.
But, we got one lap in there that was good. I think we'll see if we can improve for tomorrow.
Merrill Cain: Scott Dixon joins us. Driver of the #44 Target Toyota/Lola/Bridgestone. He qualified second this afternoon with a provisional qualifying time of 1:01.939, that's a speed of 103.515 miles per hour. If his qualifying effort holds up through tomorrow's final qualifying session, Scott's time will give him his first front row starting spot of his two-year Champ Car career. His previous best start has been a third, earned last season both at Laguna Seca and at Road America.
Scott, you turned a quick lap quite late in the qualifying session.
Scott Dixon: We got kind of lucky probably in Turns 2, 3 or 4 when it went red. But we sort of went out early on our first set of tires. We had changed a lot since this morning. Basically we tried some different development stuff. And the guys worked extremely hard. They got the car out there pretty late. But we had to make an early run to make sure everything was running fine.
They did an excellent job for the second run. I think it's kind of hard, as Kenny said, on this circuit. A little bit of luck plays on your side I think if you get a clear lap. It's hard to ever get one complete clear lap here.
We'll just have to see what happens tomorrow. It seems like we had quite a bit of understeer in the car. I haven't really spoke with the engineers to see how the other two have been doing. We'll see how it goes, I guess. Hopefully it will be an improvement tomorrow.
Merrill Cain: We will be joined by Paul Tracy in just a second. Let's open it up for questions for Kenny and Scott.
Q. Did you see what happened with your teammate [Bruno Junqueira]?
Kenny Brack: I don't know what happened either. It was just a pile of junk down there in Turn 6. I don't know why it happened or how it happened. I didn't even know it was him at first until I turned into the corner. I saw it was a Target car and there was virtually nothing left of any bodywork there. So I don't know.
Merrill Cain: Paul Tracy joins us, the provisional pole sitter, after today's efforts. Paul, driver the #26 Honda/Lola/Bridgestone, wins the provisional pole with a best lap of 1:01.888. That's a speed of 103.660 miles per hour. He wins one championship point for his effort today, that gives him 51 points in the season. The effort today also guarantees Paul a front row starting spot for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. It will be his third front row starting grid of the season.
Paul, talk about your efforts today. Obviously had you a tight battle there. All three of your teammates were up in the top parts of the charts. Seems Team KOOL Green has figured out the Lola situation.
Paul Tracy: That's obviously a very big help when you understand the car. But you've got to fine tune the car to each driver. So we've been getting better and better every week.
Really today was just getting the lap, a clear lap. There was a lot of traffic on the track. Everybody waited until 20 minutes to go when it's very difficult to get a clean lap.
My first run was plagued by just not getting the right lap together. The second run I waited, waited, waited until six minutes to go, went out, and my quick lap was really just a warm-up lap going into what would have been my quick lap. The red came out. So I was a little bit frustrated at first, but I hustled, did two quick laps on the out lap, and the third one was kind of just probably an 80 percent effort because I had a gap in front of me and I had a car behind me that was coming up quickly. So I guess it was good enough.
So I was really just quite fortunate that I was able to get a lap before the red came out because normally for me it's 99 percent of the time the red comes out when I'm doing my quick lap. If I'd have waited a little bit longer, then it would have been over.
Merrill Cain: Just a quick note here before we open it up for questions. Paul is the only Canadian driver to have ever won the Vancouver event. He won here in the year 2000. But he's yet to win a pole in Concord Pacific Place. He'll be trying to remedy that situation tomorrow. Let's open it back up for questions.
Q. Paul, I'm struck by what you were saying. In Toronto you had talked about maybe not being the best qualifier in terms of getting up to speed in one or two laps.
Paul Tracy: I was really just trying to gauge the cars that were in front of me. I left the pits with [Alex] Tagliani. I raced him around on the first lap and got ahead of him. I was just kind of building . I went at the second lap probably 50 percent to build temperature in the tires. I didn't feel that they were just right on that lap.
But Tagliani was wanting to go then. So on the third lap I had to kind of hustle it around at about probably 80, 90 percent to stay in front of him. I came around, and that was my time. And then the next lap, the red came out.
So there was more left in the car. I think if you talk to anybody, they could have done a better lap. It's just getting the lap because of traffic and situations that happen. When you stick 18 cars out on a 1.7-mile track, everybody is trying to get a lap with five minutes to go. So there's going to be some pretty unhappy people in the pit area.
But fortunately for me I was able to do that one lap that I went around when the tires were fresh, the pressures were still a little bit low, but I had grip. It was quick enough. I was actually quite surprised.
Q. Paul, everybody knows how hard it is to pass here. Would you talk about the importance of carrying that front row position tomorrow?
Paul Tracy: It's fantastic. To be locked into the front row in a Canadian race, having me being Canadian and starting Toronto in the front row, it's a great position to be in. Very fortunate.
We've been working very hard. We've had a lot of bad luck. Now we just got a flash of some good luck coming our way, so I'm very happy about that and very happy for the team.
I think we're starting to build ourselves. I think if we can continue our momentum that we've had over the last few races and start building some points, we'll be right there. I mean, I don't think the championship is over by any means. If [Cristiano] da Matta continues to have problems like he did today, it doesn't take very long to catch back up.
Q. Being a part of a three-car team, does he [Team KOOL Green Owner Barry Green] ever talk about sending someone out early?
Paul Tracy: You really have to wait for the right opportunity. The cars are so finally balanced now and grip is so important. The track condition is so important and you're splitting hairs. I mean, 10ths of a second are four or five spots. You just can't afford to go out there and be the first one out, unless you really know you don't have a chance anyway.
Because of the other rubber that's on the track, it just makes the track a little bit slippery and you can't get the ultimate time. And everybody's waiting for the right opportunity.
We've got an hour qualifying session that comes down to basically 16 or 17 minutes in most cases. Everybody wants to get the most. Everybody feels that they're capable of starting in the first three or four rows, and they want to get the most out of the car, the most out of the tire and the track.
Q. How many seconds can you pick up tomorrow in qualifying?
Kenny Brack: I don't know, a little bit. It will be a little faster. As for a big jump, I don't think you'll see like a couple of seconds or anything. But maybe you'll see half a second to maybe 7/10ths of a second. We're already faster than last year. If you look at the times we did here in the first session last year, I think it was 61.900 seconds, we were at 61.200 or 61.300 this morning.
I think the track is in pretty good shape already.
Q. Do the qualifying changes change your strategy at all?
Kenny Brack: You mean, if you really want to be in front of him [Tracy] into the first corner (laughter)?
Kenny Brack: No, I don't think it changes anything. It's the same for everybody. Paul did a very good job today. That's the way the rules are. He's in a very good position knowing that whatever happens tomorrow, he'll still be in the front row. We just have to try to get faster basically.
Scott Dixon: All I can say is it would be nice to be in that position. But I think with another point there for tomorrow, everybody is going to try and do the same thing, that is to try and top the charts tomorrow.
I guess it puts a bit of a cushion there. I'm sure we're all going to try to do the same thing tomorrow.
Q. With the points race being the way it is, how do you feel about da Matta's struggles today?
Kenny Brack: Good (laughter).
Paul Tracy: We feel good about it (laughter).
I don't know what my position is in the championship, but I think I'm maybe eight, nine, 10, somewhere around there. I'm 12 points out of third or fourth.
The championship is not over by any means. Like I said earlier, it doesn't take very long to catch up. If you have two races bad, like an engine problem, you're back in it. Da Matta has built up a points cushion that right now he's not stressing about having problems. But if they continue, he's going to have a problem.
There's a lot of guys packed in from third to 10th that can win races bang, bang, bang, like he's done. You get into a stretch of races like we have coming up - four races in a row - and you get going good, you can rack up a lot of points real quick.
Kenny Brack: It's a long championship. Everybody is bound to have problems. It's a matter of where you have them, if you have them in the middle, beginning or end. I guess if you look at it at the end of the championship I think you'll see that everybody's going to go through good and bad times.
He's won a lot of races already. But I still think the championship is wide open, although it looks on paper a little grim for second and the rest. But anything can happen here.
Merrill Cain: Thanks, you guys. Good luck in final qualifying tomorrow.