CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Top-three finishers press conference (part 2)

Continued from part 1. Q: Wonder if the RuSPORT guys knew, were you surprised when Paul came into that last flash and were you told anything on the radio? A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I was told on the radio that Paul had to come in, but I was...

Continued from part 1.

Q: Wonder if the RuSPORT guys knew, were you surprised when Paul came into that last flash and were you told anything on the radio?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I was told on the radio that Paul had to come in, but I was fighting my own battle. I can look at the JumboTron and see he was three quarter of a track ahead of me. I wasn't too focused on what Paul was doing. My focus was trying to catch Michel, but knowing that Bruno and Sebastien were catching me, and once they got to me, just run clean laps. That's what I focused on. I knew Paul was coming in, but I never really thought I had a chance to overtake him.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: I didn't know, so. (Laughter).

PAUL TRACY: That's a good thing.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: I would have probably destroyed my brakes and changed the race. Now I'm probably glad because the last couple of laps were pretty bad.

Q: How worried were you -- and what happened when you hit the wall?

PAUL TRACY: I was really, really pushing hard. I was trying hard. The tires were getting worn. Obviously when you turn those kind of laps, qualifying speed laps for that many laps in a row, the car was starting to slide a lot and I got on the power and it jumped sideways and hit the tires on the exit of turn 6. So I was pretty lucky to get away with that because it was a big mark on the tire. You know, I felt it, and I was worried maybe the tire would go down in the next lap, but it didn't. You know, just had my head down just driving as fast as I could.

Q: Three wins here now in the last five years, obviously you say you enjoy this track, can you talk about how much longer this race will go here, I'm sure you'd like it to go longer?

PAUL TRACY: I don't know what it is. I can't put my finger on what it is about this track that suits me so well. But ever since they changed the venue, stopped going down past the stadium down to the end, since they reconfigured the track, I've been qualified excellent every year and now won it three times and I've had dominant wins all three times. Could have won it four times if it wasn't for one year we had, again a pit stop problem, and I was leading the race by 17, 18 seconds over Dario and we didn't do the right strategy and I ended up finishing second behind him. So, it could be four wins in five years. It's been a great venue for me. That's a track that I really enjoy.

Q: I was kind of surprised at the beginning of the season when we had the rule change, getting rid of the pit stop intervals, but the drivers said, oh, you would prefer to keep them; how do you feel about it now?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think everybody wants it the way it was before. For me personally, for today, with the problem we had in the pit, if it had have gone yellow at the end, it was race over for me. We had a dominant car all day. We had to make another pit stop, and if you can't pit under yellow, it's over. So those are things that can happen. The leader, the guy in second place could pit two laps before the leader. And if it goes yellow, the leader goes to the back of the pack. It's not his fault; somebody else caused the yellow.

That's the thing that's frustrating I think for a lot of the teams is that you really have to judge -- you can't really go off of your own strategy if you're the leader. Whenever the car behind you pits, you've got to pit either the next lap right after because if it goes yellow you go to the back of the field. If you're further back in the field, you take a chance and try to go longer. But if it goes yellow, you're finished.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: I am the same with Paul. Today it worked for us, but still, I think today was a problem and like if it kept on yellow, yeah, perfect for us. But, I mean, it's not about Michel and A.J. it's about what's best for the series and for the show and the best, I think the best guys have to win, not the luckiest, the smartest and the best, not the luckiest. You just gamble when you are back, maybe as long as you don't get lapped, you come in early and you pray for a yellow, and if that happens, boom. Suddenly you are in the back and you find yourself in the front. So I don't think that's the way racing should be. I think the racing should be about the smartest and the fastest.

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: : I disagree, Michel. I really think it should be about Michel and A.J. honestly. It helped me a lot. (Laughter).

Q: For Michel and A.J., usually a new team has a learning curve, and you are showing results pretty early. What do you think is the difference with you guys making this kind of progress?

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think really what it is, it's a great honor that with Carl Russo, that he's focused on what he wants out of the team, he brings on the right people. It's still very difficult, as at times we've shown. But, you know, he brings in all the right people for all the right jobs. It just makes the team a little bit stronger. And I know especially for me, a big deal was bringing Michel on board, because without him, I would have been a single-car team and I'd be completely lost, you know, not that I'm not lost already. I'd be completely lost, and with Michel and his knowledge and all of his experience; he's a great driver. So bringing him on board, it just helps everybody throughout the team with the engineers and the crew just to know a little bit more about the cars and what we want out of them and how to get to that point.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: For me since the first, since last year watching RuSPORT in Formula Atlantics, it was pretty amazing what they did. Like A.J. is saying, Carl has had an amazing vision as he's had with A.J. He's an amazing driver, very fast, and an amazing talent, but he's not only -- I don't know how many of you know him, but when you talk to him, he has a lot of confidence and I think he knows exactly what he wants and how he wants to get there, and that's pretty good. He's great to people and he just wants to get the best. It's hard, I think we are doing sometimes too much and maybe if we have done a things little simpler, probably we would have had a better start, but in the long run it's going to be much better. And I'm sure, what I always say, I think this team will see in five or ten years, just as we see in Newman Haas or Forsythe, fighting for championship and winning a lot of races, so it's pretty good. I think that it's only going to get better.

Q: What did Carl say to you guys? He was pretty emotional out there.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: He was pissed off we didn't win. (Laughter).

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: He told you -- did he say you were fired?

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: Yeah, we have three races to win or we're fired. (Laughter).

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: He's not only a good boss but he's real mean -- no. I don't know what he told Michel, but he told me, this is where I belong and that means a lot. Before that, he told me to get my ass in gear and stop making mistakes. But, you know, he's a great owner because he's not just focused on just winning. He cares about his people on the team, especially the drivers, and just only for me, being with him for about two years now, he just basically told me, this is where I belonged and that he's proud of me.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: Well, the same, very, very happy and told me that it was a great drive for both and he looked, like you said, very emotional. It was fantastic to see him and everybody on the team. You know, they work so hard. I felt glad when I came in because they had everything so organized and they have been working for months to set up everything. And in three days, they had to hire a lot more people, take apart one car to paint it, I mean everything, take the equipment. It was so hard for the first two or three races and it still is. We are still missing a lot of people and it makes the guys -- they work every day until 10:00 p.m. back in the shop. So, you know, it's just fantastic to see them do this, and I hope we have a good celebration tonight and many, many more this year.

Q: Paul, the last words you had for Rodolfo Lavin yesterday when we left here was keep Sebastien off your tail, and then the first corner you looked around and there was Bourdais. What was your thought there?

PAUL TRACY: I mean, Rodolfo, he was definitely keyed up for it today. I know he wanted to be up there. He stayed in third for a long time. But, you know, Sebastien is a great starter. He knows how to start. He knows how to get off the line. He's been in that situation before. So, he made -- he keyed off of me, and I was looking in the mirror behind me to see what was happening just to make sure everything was clear. I got the jump right away on Rodolfo. It looked like he spun his tires. Sebastien got away perfectly clean right behind me, and just basically followed me into the first corner.

So, there really wasn't much that Rodolfo could do. He tried, but it's a learning process. It's his first time on the front row, he ran third for a long time. I don't know what happened, he got mixed up in some type of accident on the first corner, it looked like. And then ultimately in the end, his car, I saw was on fire at the end. But he's learning. He's learned a lot in the last six months, just working with our team. So, you know, as long as he keeps making progress, it's worth it for him and his sponsors had a good time.

Q: Paul, Dario won today in Milwaukee, wonder if you have any kind of --

PAUL TRACY: I talked to him last night on the phone. I was talking to him at -- we were judging the Miss Indy contest. (Laughter). And I called him and said, "Hey, you need to be here." He goes, "I'm working on it." So I'm glad to see that he's finally won his first IRL race. I'm very happy for him. I think it would be a big asset to the series if he was able to come over, which would be great.

Q: Your relationship with Lance Armstrong, his sixth Tour de France today, does it mean anything to you?

PAUL TRACY: I think it means a lot to a lot of people. I have a very limited relationship with Lance. I had dinner with him once. You know, it just the achievement that he has achieved is something that is arguably -- will never be done again. You know, it's just he's so dominant right now that it looks like he could go on and win another five more the way it is. Really, he's just I guess an inspiration to everybody, his commitment and his desire and his dedication and the way he goes about everything. He's a perfectionist. I don't think there's any other athlete out there that has that type of mentality and determination that he has.

ERIC MAUK: Champ Cars have next week off. We go to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, halfway point of the season at Road America on the 8th. Thank you very much.

-ccws-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Rodolfo Lavin , Carl Russo