CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Top three press conference, part I

An interview with Dario Franchitti,Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan. Part 1 of 2 Merrill Cain: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with Tony Kanaan following today's Molson Indy Vancouver- a quite interesting one, I might add. ...

An interview with Dario Franchitti,Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan.

Part 1 of 2

Merrill Cain: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with Tony Kanaan following today's Molson Indy Vancouver- a quite interesting one, I might add. Tony Kanaan finished third today in the #10 Pioneer WorldCom Honda/Lola/Bridgestone. He earned his best finish of the 2002 season with a third place finish. That equals his career-best finish on a road course, and this is the third road course podium finish of his career and first since his rookie year of 1998.

Tony, you've had some great runs this season that have ended in disappointment. This one obviously was one that felt very good for you and good to bring home.

Tony Kanaan: Yes, especially here with good friends of mine on the podium. It was great. I think we've been having a tough year. We led a few races. The first five races in the championship we had mechanical problems, and I was in the top five all the time, so that cost me a lot.

We've had a lot of disappointment.  But obviously when you expect the
least, you get the most, and that was today.  We knew we had a good car,
but I wasn't competitive in the middle of the race.  I never lost my
patience.  I never lost my faith.  I kept driving as hard as I could.
Obviously, people make mistakes, and you gain a couple positions.  I
passed a couple guys.  After that, was just trying to hang in there.

After the red flag, me and PT [Paul Tracy] had a lot of pickup [rubber build up] in our tires because of the slow laps we did. I think we both struggled more than everybody else. [Michel] Jourdain was all over me. But I said, "Not today, man, I'm in. It's either third or nothing."

I tried. He almost passed me. He was really fair. I was fair with him. I got it. So I'm happy to be here. It feels good to be here again.

Merrill Cain: Congratulations, Tony. We're now joined by Paul Tracy, driver of the #26 Honda/Lola Bridgestone, he takes the second spot. This is his best road course finish of the 2002 season and best overall placing since he won at Milwaukee earlier this year. Paul led the most laps to earn an additional championship point, that gives him 68 on the season, and moves him from 11th to 6th in the championship.

Paul, I know you're excited about that, moving up and taking advantage of the unfortunate circumstances that happened with Cristiano [da Matta]. A lot of emotions for you. I know that you really wanted to take home a win but you had a little bit different strategy between you and your teammate, Dario [Franchitti]. Talk about the emotions that you feel here in Vancouver bringing home second place.

Paul Tracy: Well, I'm happy for Dario, and obviously for [Greg Moore's father] Ric, but I'm also a little sad because I was dominating the race today. I saw Cristiano come in, I radioed and said, "He's coming in." They said, "Stay out." We stayed out. We got the lead and I was able to pull away quite easily after the restart from Cristiano. And over time, Dario built up almost a 17-second lead. And then I thought everything was going along just fine, and we ended up pitting. When we came out I was going quite quickly. Then the yellow came out and Dario was ahead of me. I mean, that was very frustrating because we led almost all the race.

But I'm happy for the team. I'm happy, again, for Dario. It's his first win of the year. Obviously to win here in Canada, Greg's hometown, is fantastic. Not only that, but to have me, Dario and Tony on the podium, it's fantastic.

Merrill Cain: We'll go over the unofficial top-five point standings here before we open it up for questions. Cristiano da Matta still leads in the point standings with 122 points. Dario moves up to second place in the points, he now has 84. Michel Jourdain, Jr. and Bruno Junqueira are tied with 74 points. Patrick Carpentier is next with 72. And Paul has 68 points to round out the top five there. Let's open it up for questions as we await Dario Franchitti.

Q: Tony, it seemed like almost everybody was involved in something today. Was it just you and Jourdain at that last restart? Did you see any of the other accidents?

Tony Kanaan: I saw a lot of things happening behind me. Thank God today didn't happen to me because it's been happening all the time with me. I said, "I see all these people going off, maybe I'm next."

I saw the accident, the bad one, with Adrian [Fernandez]. I looked in my mirrors to see and I was worried about [Patrick] Carpentier. What I saw was a huge amount of smoke. All of a sudden I made the next corner, I didn't see anybody behind me. I said, "Well, maybe there are only three cars left in the race, so that's a podium guaranteed for me."

Obviously it's not the best situation for us. I think everybody's trying so hard. The temperature was cold during the race as it was all week. So to warm the tires up was tough.

I hope Adrian is okay. Michel and I were just fighting for position. And like I said, I wasn't giving up today, I wanted to go to the podium. I didn't push him off, but I almost did. We pushed each other and I win the battle.

I think he was thinking about the championship, as well.  I mean, I'm
sitting 17th in the championship.  I made more points today than I made
the whole season.  So I wasn't too worried about not finishing again.
Obviously, he was.  And was a smart thing that he did.  I'm proud of him.

Merrill Cain: We're now joined by your 2002 Molson Indy Vancouver champion Dario Franchitti. Driver of the #27 KOOL Honda/Lola/Bridgestone, Dario takes his eighth career Champ Car victory. He led 19 laps to claim his first win since taking the Cleveland title in 2001. This is his second Vancouver win, making him only the third driver to win more than once at Vancouver, the other two being Al Unser, Jr. and Michael Andretti. With the win, Dario moves into second place in the championship, as we pointed out, with 84 points. He closes the gap on Cristiano da Matta to 38 points after 10 complete events in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

Dario, I know it's a very, very emotional win for you. I know you wanted to take this win because of your good friend Greg Moore and you finally got it. I know it's got to feel great.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, it feels awesome. My head is all over the place at the moment with so many things going on in it.

Business first though. From Team Kool Green's side of things it was the perfect weekend. The race was perfect for Paul and me. I'm sure he would have liked the positions to be reversed, but we played that story a couple years ago, so now it was my turn.

But in the race, our pit strategy definitely worked for us today. I just tried not to make any mistakes. And when we pitted and came back out right behind Paul, having done an extra pit stop, I was thinking, "Okay, now we're looking good."

Everything was going according to plan. When da Matta fell out, that was unfortunate for him but obviously good for us. Everything was going great until the red flag there.

I'm glad to hear Adrian is okay. But that put a whole new spin on the race, going from a 12-second lead to having Paul right behind me. I just concentrated on having a good restart. I knew there would be no sort of mad locking up maneuvers from Paul, but if he got close enough, I'm sure he would have put the pressure on. I just concentrated on making a good restart. And it all worked out. So to be on the podium with Paul and Tony up here in Vancouver is, yeah, pretty cool.

Merrill Cain: Dario pointed out Adrian Fernandez had a wreck that looked pretty serious toward the end of the race there. We're happy to report that the CART director of medical affairs reported that Adrian suffered a large bruise and contusion to his right hip, and he was transported to Vancouver General Hospital for precautionary x-rays but looks like he'll be okay.

Let's open it back up to questions for any of our top three.

Q: Was the track surface affected by the earlier Barber Dodge race? Did it contribute to the incident in turn one?

DARIO FRANCHITTI:  I don't think so, no.  The surface was affected by the
temperature dropping as the day went on.  But I think the track was quite
good.  When I saw Jimmy [Vasser] was out, it was a shame.  Jimmy is just
having the worst luck this year.  I feel for him.

Q: Guys, you all mentioned Greg Moore. If you could just talk about what this means, paying tribute to him here in Vancouver for this performance today?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: A couple years ago I really wanted to win the race as a mark of respect for Greg and just do something and dedicate it to him. But, we screwed up the last moment [in 2000], in the last pit stop.

So today it's good to finally get the job done. It's a small thing, but it means a lot for me to be able to win up here. I know that if he was here, we'd be out partying tonight.

Tony Kanaan: We will be anyway.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: We will be; we'll just be missing the organizer.

Tony Kanaan: He's organizing it, you know that. I think he organized this podium pretty well here today.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: For sure.

Merrill Cain: Do you want to share any of your opinions, Paul, Tony?

Paul Tracy: I know the feeling I had when I capitalized in 2000. I think, to sum it all up, to see Ric Moore at the podium and how happy he was, I mean, he was just filled with emotion. That was great. Really, really great.

Tony Kanaan: Well, what can you say? I think Greg maneuvered this podium pretty well today. I think he helped me a lot. We have it every year when we come here, it's a tough weekend for us. It's a lot tougher for Ric and his family. We try to keep it simple and keep remembering him in the best way, which was laughing and having fun. So when we do the party, we know he's around. So that's the purpose. We're going to go out and celebrate for him today.

-cart-

Top three press conference part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Al Unser Sr. , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain