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

Originally-From: kkrauss@cart.com An interview with Dario Franchitti,Paul Tracy and Tony Kanaan. Part 2 of 2 Q: Paul, you appeared to have the quicker car before the red flag. Afterwards, was there a conscious decision made to stay in ...

Originally-From: kkrauss@cart.com

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

Part 2 of 2

Q: Paul, you appeared to have the quicker car before the red flag. Afterwards, was there a conscious decision made to stay in line?

Paul Tracy: There wasn't really any decision, but I knew what my position was because I knew what Dario's position was after he had a problem in the pits.

For me, I knew that it was going to be very difficult to overtake on cold tires without taking a huge risk to do it, and I wasn't prepared to do that. With where we are in the points, I needed to get the 17 points today. I wasn't going to take a big risk and throw it all away because all of the front-runners were out of the race pretty much. We jumped from 11th to 6th, and that's a big jump. Now we're back in the game.

The focus now for me and Dario is to really capitalize on the momentum we're building. We're qualifying at the front now every week with the Lola. We're going into a stretch of four races in a row. Now is a time that we don't need to have a mistake and spoil the momentum, so we can build on this and go into this four-week run that we have and really work together and try to really attack. This next month and a half is going to be crucial for the championship.

Q: Paul, it seemed like the early part of each segment, when Cristiano was running, you couldn't quite match him, but then your tires, your program, seemed to really come in. You seemed to be about as quick as him. Was that the case? Do you think you would have had anything for him had he run all the way?

Paul Tracy: We started maybe with the pressures a little low in our strategy for me. He was really quick on cold tires, and he pulled his gap on me in the first three laps of about three or four seconds. The first stint, it stayed at three to four seconds for pretty much the whole stint until the last five or six laps. I started to creep back up on him. I got it down to three before the first pit stop.

Then as we came out for the second pit stop, I had stickers and I think he had used tires. I was able to catch him up to get within a second of him in the first five or six laps. Then it went yellow, he pitted, we stayed out and tried a different strategy. From there, it took me three or four laps again.

My tires were very slow to come up to temperature. Then as soon as I got them up to temperature, I was able to pull away pretty much half a second lap. I built up a six- or seven-second lead on him, and a pretty big lead on Dario. He dropped out and I had a pretty big lead on Dario. Our strategy then was wrong.

But I had a good car, on used tires, old tires. The car was very fast at the end of the stint, but not very good on cold tires.

Q: Dario, can you talk about particularly before the first run of pit stops when Paul and Cristiano seemed to get away from you? What was your car like in that first segment and how did it work during the rest of the race?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, we got an imbalance in that first segment of the race. The car was starting to understeer. It was getting worse and worse as the run went on. So we made a change for the second run. It seemed to be a bit better. Everything was going well until the last stop, and it seemed to take ages to get the tires working because I think we'd dropped the pressures too much. So it worked horrendously for about five laps.

My team manager [Kyle Moyer] came on the radio and said, "You need to give me more here." I said, "What can I give you unless you want it in the wall?" I had to keep working and working, and then the tires came up and we were okay. That first stint the guys were getting away from me. The car was definitely at its best in the middle of the race.

Q: How hard was it to get back in a racing mode after that red flag with nine laps to go?

Paul Tracy: I think the most difficult part is that you sit and because the temperature was cold, the tires got very cold. You're not allowed to adjust the pressures, so the pressures drop. We ran around behind the pace car for a lap, so there was a lot of pickup. I mean, it was the worst-case scenario. You have pickup on the tires, the pressures are down and they've gotten cold. You only have one lap to get them up. It was very, very slippery. I was doing all I could do just to stay on the track, let alone try to keep up with Dario.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I was in a similar boat. Sitting in the pits, I didn't allow myself to lose focus. It was just like a yellow period in the race for me, I kept focused on what I was going to have to do when we got started again.

As Paul said, it got cold. We had the worst-case scenario, because the Bridgestone tires had been working great all weekend. But it was cold, the pressures were really low and it was a handful. With all those laps, I nearly went off three times on the first lap. I was looking in my mirror, thinking, "They're not getting any closer, what's going on here?" I think if anything I was pulling away the first couple laps. I was obviously thinking the other guys were in trouble, which would have made my life a bit easier. From then I just tried to get to the finish.

I think it would have taken a lot of running consecutive laps to get the tires back up to workable condition. That's not a problem with the tires; just the circumstances. They weren't in their sweet spot at all. So it made it pretty interesting, those last five laps, for sure.

Tony Kanaan: I think it was a good move by CART to red flag the race for the fans - not for me though. I had a 10-second lead on Patrick. Obviously, I knew I didn't have the car to go up to fight with these [Paul and Dario] guys. But as a first time, we need to learn.

If we had to do it again, I think we need extra laps for us. On an oval we probably don't. But on a road course, we could actually have three cars finishing this race after the red flag because of that. It's not only because of the temperature, but all the accidents and we try to avoid all the debris. We picked up a lot of pickup. We get a lot of pickup on the tires. I was looking at Paul's tire and thought, "Gee, what he going to do? I'm going to try to get him." I looked at my tires and they were even worse. Michel was probably thinking, "I'm going to get both of them." With five laps to go, we're fighting for a podium.

So for the future I would say we should go extra laps. We had eight laps to go. They could have given us one more lap. I don't think it would have been enough anyway, but it would have been better than what it was.

Q: Were you guys aware when da Matta went out? If you were, what were you thinking at that point?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, he was right in front of me (laughter). I'm sure he felt the same thing last week in Cleveland when he was standing in the pits when my engine went bang. I'm sure he's thinking, "Sweet." But I thought, "Okay, let's take advantage of the situation. We can gain some points back here."

Paul Tracy: I think the thing is that it just shows how quickly your fortune can turn in racing. And this championship is not over in CART, and everybody's been saying, "It's over, it's over, da Matta has it wrapped up, the guy is so fast." But it's not over. It can all turn around in one race. So we just have to keep pushing.

Merrill Cain: Today's attendance was 66,134 fans. The three-day total here in Vancouver is 161,728 fans.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: While we're on that subject, and these guys agree, they might want to say their own thing about it, but when you show up on Friday morning, go out and run practice, the stands are pretty much full. It looks like a Sunday, the place is full, and you see the enthusiasm this afternoon before the start of the race and with the passion these guys have got, particularly for this big guy [Paul] here (laughter).

Tony Kanaan: [To Paul] You're famous here (laughter).

DARIO FRANCHITTI: He's hot stuff.

Tony Kanaan: People ask me, I say, "I'm Paul Tracy's friend." I got a free dinner last night because of it. They ask me what I'm doing here and I just say "I'm Paul Tracy's friend."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: We love coming racing here for many reasons, and one is the reception we receive from the fans and the way the town treats us. It's awesome to get that kind of reception. I want to say thank you to all the fans that come out and make it such a great atmosphere.

Paul Tracy: I just want to say the same thing. This is what CART's future is. You just have to keep pushing forward. There are a lot of negative people around saying a lot of negative things. When we have events like this, and we have the drivers that we have, we've got a great product, and we showed today this is great racing, with great fans, and great people involved.

Merrill Cain: Well said, guys.

Q: Paul, nobody knows how things are going to play out. You said you want to be in CART. Maybe comment on if this is your last race in Vancouver.

Paul Tracy: I can guarantee it's not going to be.

Q: With the Molson Indy race team, can you comment on the involvement of the Molson Indy girls in this race, knowing Greg Moore played a large role in organizing it?

Tony Kanaan: I'm single, I can say whatever I want (laughter).

Paul Tracy: It's going to be a good party tonight.

No, it's a lot of fun. It creates the festival and the hype that goes around the race. I mean, I think it was perfected in Australia. It originated there. Now it's come to Vancouver. It's coming to Toronto and Long Beach, too. It creates a hype for the race, and it brings more fans in. It brings a lot more people to the stands. When there are more things going on at the racetrack, more people want to come and check it out. The concerts, the bathing suit contests, we have volleyball competitions at some races and motorcross free-style jumping at some races. It's more than just a car race when you come to a CART race.

That's the kind of atmosphere Chris Pook is trying to make. That's what's going to keep bringing the fans in and I think it's great.

Q: Do you think the turnout this weekend might help CART in its campaign for a future?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think we get this turnout every time we come up here to Vancouver, and for any of our Canadian races. Certainly anybody that's thinking of this weekend, anybody that's got negative thoughts about CART after being here should go and visit a doctor, I think.

Merrill Cain: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations on a great race.

-cart-

Top three press conference part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Chris Pook , Greg Moore