CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Top-three finishers press conference (part 1)

Molson Indy Vancouver Post-Race Champ Car Press Conference Trasncript Paul Tracy - First Michel Jourdain Jr. - Ssecond A.J. Allmendinger -Third ERIC MAUK: We begin our post-race press conference for the Molson Indy Vancouver, Round 7 of the...

Molson Indy Vancouver
Post-Race Champ Car Press Conference Trasncript

Paul Tracy - First
Michel Jourdain Jr. - Ssecond
A.J. Allmendinger -Third

ERIC MAUK: We begin our post-race press conference for the Molson Indy Vancouver, Round 7 of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by our Top 3 finishers in today's event starting with the third place finisher, driver of the #10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, making his first podium appearance of his young Champ Car career, A.J. Allmendinger. Former champion in the Toyota Atlantic Championship and the Barber Dodge Pro Series champion, first podium appearance in the Champ Cars, how does it feel to be in here?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, first of all, it's cool to be in here because there's a lot more people in here than there ever was more an Atlantic race. (Laughter). So I like that. It's just absolutely amazing. I'm so physically spent and tired and happy. The race was awesome. Both Michel and I didn't belong where we were in qualifying. We just never got a good lap in for qualifying. We knew we had a good car, just a matter of doing the pit strategy right. My RuSPORT team did a great job. The crew great pit stops. My engineers, David Brown and Chris Lertz, they just gave me an amazing car throughout the race. And actually gave me a little too much grip on last stint because I felt like it was going to rip my arms off the last 20 laps. You know, actually if I was two laps down, I might have pulled in because I was so tired, but I wasn't going go give up a podium spot.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us about the battle you had to hold on to third. Bruno seemed like he was pressuring you the last few laps.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, they were on the radio telling me to push to try to catch Michel, and I was slowly catching Michel and I knew if I was got to him, it would be hard to get around him. So basically what I did, knowing Bruno was catching me, with 20 to go, I just started trying to pace myself and save as much energy as possible. And once he got to me with five, ten laps to go, I had the energy saved up to go out and attack. And that's basically what I was able to do was once he got to me, I saved up enough energy myself, because really at that point, the worst thing about the car is probably me driving it because I was so tired. Once he got there, I just focused on doing eight, ten perfect laps, whatever it was, and really never gave him a chance, an opportunity to get around me and it worked out perfectly.

ERIC MAUK: A.J. takes over the lead in the rookie point standing for the Champ Car World Series this season. You come into the season, you talked about it before, 2002, 2003 championship-winning seasons, you are used to coming out here and winning, but had not gotten the start you were looking for, have you thought about what this finish now means for you personally?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: The last couple of weeks, we've had great cars and the driver has been the weakest link of it. I've definitely thrown away two top five finishes and maybe one or two podium finishes by spinning out and running into a lot of tire barriers. But other than that, we just keep making progress each weekend. And that's what the goal is, not only with myself, but with Michel, and each weekend we get closer. Probably the thing we have to work on now is qualifying because we keep qualifying mid-pack, that's tough in the series; you can't keep getting away with that and having good results.

But the biggest deal is just keep making progress. And as you said, with the rookie points lead, that's a huge deal to me because I've never been big on Rookie of the Year, but with Justin in the series, he's not so much of a rookie. So if I can somehow beat him in that, I know I've accomplished something this year.

ERIC MAUK: Our second place finisher earning his best finish of the season, second podium finish of the year and the ninth of his career, driver of the #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Michel Jourdain, Junior. Michel, like A.J. said, you guys did not qualify where you wanted, but you fought all day and you got up here and you come away as the runner-up; how do you feel?

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: Of course, very happy. It's fantastic to have both cars on the podium. We are lucky we have two cars in the top five. I think we are just getting better. Like A.J. said, qualifying is what we need to improve a lot, but, I mean, we are getting better. I think we're giving up a lot of points the last races. I mean, I've crashed the last three races, so it's a lot of points. And feeling we were both running very good, but we make mistakes. But the important thing is we are both here. It's fantastic for me to be on the podium for the first time in Vancouver. The last two years I finished fourth, so this is great.

And especially I always want to be on the podium and hopefully one day win this race. And to be with A.J. on his first podium is fantastic, too. So it was a tough race but fantastic to be here I think we both just went fast when we had to, but A.J. and myself, had a good strategy and it just was good.

ERIC MAUK: Explain the strategy on the first set of pit stops. A lot of guys in this room probably were a little shocked after the pit stop cycle through to find you guys in the top three spots, just the strategy behind that and how it worked out.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: We just tried to stretch it as far as possible, trying to pit after everybody else, and we were able to which was good. We came out of the pits, started pulling away from the Newman Haas cars. It looked like maybe they have a lot more fuel than us and they were going to probably pit a lot later than us, so we just have to push really hard and they didn't. So we had a better car than them at that point. So I think I just went a little too fast. I destroyed my brakes, I did it on the second run and through the third run, I had to take it easy and make sure I finish the race. So this is just great and I'm very happy to be here.

ERIC MAUK: The 2004 Molson Indy Vancouver champion, same as our 2003 Molson Indy Vancouver champion the driver of the driver of the #1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for

Forsythe Championship Racing, earning his second win of the year, the third win of his career here in Vancouver, joining Al Unser Jr. and Michael Andretti as the only drivers to win three times at Vancouver, 28th win of his career, Paul Tracy. It looked easy but you had a couple of heart-stopping moments at the end.

PAUL TRACY: The first part of the race was really going the way we wanted it to. I was able to basically build a two- or three-second lead on Bourdais. I was saving fuel and we were going to try to go longer than he did. We were making the fuel mileage that we wanted to, and then we had that late yellow about five or six laps before when he were going to pit. So that kind of threw a wrench into things, because I was just getting ready to wind it up and try to turn some laps.

Subsequently, it went green. My car got the tires up to temperature really quick. I was able to pull away really far from them, about six seconds in the five laps before we pitted. So the car was working really well. We did our pit stop, came out and obviously for whatever reason, he got overtaken in the pits by the RuSPORT guys. By the time everything reshuffled, I had about a nine-second lead, eight-and-a-half, and really was just trying to maintain that. I was trying to conserve the tires and make sure that I could go fast at the end of the run.

We were able to keep that lead and came in for the last stop. Everything went fine on the stop. They said good to go, no need to save fuel. Went out on the track, they said go, and two laps later, they said, you'd better save fuel. (Laughter). And then they said, well, just go as far as you can go because we're not going to make it on fuel. Obviously the calculations were wrong. Something happened during the pit stop, I don't know the reasons yet, but they were short by about seven or eight gallons. You know, they said, you've just got to build a 25-second lead to be comfortable to get in and out in front, and at the time we had about 11 seconds. So I just put my head down and just tried to turn qualifying laps every lap, and we were doing 61.7, 61.8 every lap for about 20 laps. Brushed the wall a couple of times and we built the lead up to 25 seconds, 26 seconds and pitted on that lap and then came out. And by the time I came out with some more fuel in the car, the tires were gone, I went from 1:01s to doing mid-63s the last seven laps. So really the last six, seven laps I was just hanging on.

ERIC MAUK: Second win of the year, you took a bite out of Sebastien's point lead, gets you back in the thick of it. How important is that?

PAUL TRACY: That's great. I didn't expect Sebastien to have the kind of day he had, but obviously things didn't go well for him and that's exactly what we need. So, in the middle of it. And it's good to get another win in Canada and be back in the points race for the championship.

ERIC MAUK: Couple quick notes. Top five in points: Sebastien Bourdais is our leader after seven of races with 186 points; Bruno Junqueira is second with 159; Paul Tracy, now has 142; Patrick Carpentier falls to fourth with 134; Alex Tagliani is fifth with 120. Today's attendance figures have been released. Attendance of 63,406, gives us a three-day total of 158,420 marking the 11th consecutive season that Champ Car has drawn over 155,000 fans to the Vancouver venue.

Q: Two questions, A.J. and then Paul, when you first got into a Paul Tracy car that many years ago in Las Vegas. Did you think you would be sitting beside him on the podium; and Paul, did you think he would be there?

PAUL TRACY: Let me tell you something, true story. I was trying to get this guy to drive for me. He says, you know, (speaking in teenage accent), well, you know, I don't know if I want to drive; how many tires you going to give me; how many carts am I going to get; are you going to pay for my travel (Laughter). Do you remember that?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, you know, I was just taking your lead. Hey, I'm going to have all of the hot girls with me, I'm going to stay in the big bus at the track. I was just trying to follow in your footsteps. (Laughter). I mean, when I first joined your karting team, the first race I came to, all your engineers told me: "All he asks for is new tires, A.J.". What should we do to the car? Put new tires on it. So, just, I'm following your lead, man.

PAUL TRACY: No, it was a great day for A.J. today. And it's really a testament, not to my karting team or anything like that, but to the whole ladder system, from Stars up through the whole system. A.J. has gone through the whole system right from the beginning to now, and it was a great day for not only him and also me but also the guy who runs my karting team for me, Tim Pappas, is here to watch and I'm sure he's over the moon.

Continued in part 2.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Tim Pappas , David Brown , Michel Jourdain