IRL: Indy 500: Pole winner's press conference, Part I

86th Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole Winner's Press Conference May 11, 2002 Bruno Junqueira, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull Part 1 of 2 Mike King: Bruno, first of all, congratulations. Bruno Junqueira: Thank you. King: Bruno was the first driver to...

86th Indianapolis 500
MBNA Pole Winner's Press Conference
May 11, 2002

Bruno Junqueira, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull

Part 1 of 2

Mike King: Bruno, first of all, congratulations.

Bruno Junqueira: Thank you.

King: Bruno was the first driver to attempt to qualify today. The last driver to win the pole after being the first out to qualify was Emerson Fittipaldi in 1990. 1990 was also the last time a Brazilian driver won the pole. Bruno, please, first talk about your emotions, and also, tell us how long was that wait this afternoon?

Junqueira: Very long. This was the longest seven hours of my life. First thing, I have to thank Team Target to give a great car. I had a lot of confidence to be the first go out. I didn't know exactly how was the track, and the car was just so good, just keep flat-out on the four laps, and I got very good average speed. Then I was pretty confident that that speed could give me a good position, but I never knew if I could get the pole or not. But I had to wait and exercise my patience.

King: Chip joins us, also. This is not the first time that Chip is a car owner of a winning pole car here at Indianapolis. In 1989, he was co-owner of Pat Patrick; he won the pole with Emerson Fittipaldi. And then in '93 with Arie Luyendyk. Chip, talk about your excitement today.

Chip Ganassi: Just, you know, for us, when we did it with Luyendyk, it was at the end of the day, and we were the - we were the hunter, instead of the hunted. We accomplished that goal, you know, at quarter to 6 at the end of the day. Being the first car out was a new thing for us. I remember the years of Roger (Penske) being the first one to go, and, you know, being this is my 20th year here at Indianapolis, to see - I've always wanted to be the first car to go out, and I never got those low-picked numbers like that. And my father did a great job drawing last evening. He's been a little off his game the last couple of years on the draw, but he vaulted back to the front. He picked us a low number, and we took full advantage of it.

King: Mike, you've orchestrated this three-car effort all week. Each day, all three cars were consistently in the top five of the speed chart, but you never finished the day on top. You picked the right day to do today. Talk about the team's efforts this week.

Mike Hull: Team's effort has been fantastic, as always. I think we are very fortunate; we have three quality drivers, and one group of people, that supports three guys. It's a testament to all of those guys what Bruno did today. You referred to 1993, with Arie. I'm don't know whether all of you guys remember this, I'm sure all of you were probably here, you've been here longer than most all of us, but we were the fastest guys with Arie all week, and we figured out in that month that it wasn't the best thing to be the fastest guy every day. In fact, with Arie, when we went to do our first run, they booed us because we were so slow. It took us all day to get back to the front. So Bruno did a heck of a job. And the pressure he's under didn't seem to bother him today. It's fantastic.

King: This is the first pole for Chevrolet since 1991 when Rick Mears opened the pole that year.

Q: Bruno, four Brazilians in the top five. What's the secret?

Junqueira: I don't know. I think it's really good for Brazil, to show -- I think last year they finished one and two, and I finished fifth. And let's see if another Brazilian can win the race.

Q: Bruno, what did you do on those seven long hours? Were you hoping for rain, good weather, hot weather?

Junqueira: I was hoping that nobody could beat me, you know. I don't want - really, one thing, I was not hoping for rain, because I don't like to get - because the other people do not have the opportunity. Let everybody have the opportunity, then see who is better prepared. I don't want to do well because someone didn't have the opportunity or did bad, you know. It was a really long wait. I went to the motor home, I went to the truck, I went to the garage, I went to the pit lane and went back again. I couldn't really stop more than 30 minutes in one place.

Q: As we understood the driver mix, when Tony Stewart had the offer when it was out there for him, Bruno was not in the fix; if Tony had said yes and tried to do this, would Bruno might have been here today, or would you have fielded a fourth car for him or what?

Ganassi: Eddie, you always have these questions, I don't know where you get them. Bruno has always been a part of the mix. When we were talking to Tony Stewart, that would have been a fourth car.

Q: You probably expected Robbie Buhl to be a contender, but were you surprised that Raul, in the short period of time he was on the car, got on the front rope?

Junqueira: No. I was watching the list, and I was -- maybe the first one of my engineers said Raul can do it. And when he did a good lap, -- because first he had a lot of experience, and he seemed -- I know that they want the pole very hard, and I bet he had a big qualifying engine on that car. And I knew that he could -- he did like 230 this morning and I said, `He'll do 230 on qualify.' Because some drivers, you know that when they go really fast, they are getting those in practice. And I know Raul, how well he is experienced, he does not need to prove. He was trying the speed that he did in the morning could do on the qualify, and then I knew that he would be fast.

Q: (Inaudible )?

Ganassi: Quite frankly, I was a little surprised to see Raul up there. He's done -- he knows his way around this place and you forget sometimes, there's a lot of these guys walking around the garage area with a lot of talent. And just the mere fact that he got in that car at a very late 11th hour or whatever didn't seem to slow him down. That's a quality team, and they did a great job. Very surprising.

Q: Bruno, when you were running go-karts with Helio (Castroneves) and Tony (Kanaan) and Felipe (Giaffone) when you were younger, did you win poles from them then?

Junqueira: I won poles, won races. Lost poles, lost races. I think it was really competitive. But I had a pretty successful Brazilian go-kart career. I won the Brazilian championship race against them two years, three years in a row, when I was like 13, 14, 15 and then 16, I started to race race cars, and then my last three years was good.

Q: Do you have an appreciation for doing something like with those guys when you were kids and being here now?

Junqueira: Yeah, it's really nice, you know, because you grow up together and race against each other, but being his friend, you want to see everybody succeed. And then racing in highest level of motor racing and doing well is really nice.

Q: Chip, could you just briefly comment on how rest of your drivers performed today and your opinion of their performance?

Ganassi: I think the drivers did a great job. We didn't give them the cars to get to the front. Is that brief enough?

Q: (Inaudible )?

Ganassi: These guys today, they have to have a car under them to do it. We didn't give it to them. The team takes the blame for that.

-ims-

Part II

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Stewart , Robbie Buhl , Arie Luyendyk , Bruno Junqueira , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull