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

86th Indianapolis 500 MBNA Pole Winner's Press Conference May 11, 2002 Bruno Junqueira, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull Part 2 of 2 Q: Bruno, where were you and what were your emotions doing as Robbie Buhl almost equaled your ...

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

Bruno Junqueira, Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull

Part 2 of 2

Q: Bruno, where were you and what were your emotions doing as Robbie Buhl almost equaled your performance?

Junqueira: I was in the garage and I said, `Ooh.' He did the first 231; I hope he goes low and keep it. And then the last one, the last was close because when he did his first outing, he did like 229, and the next lap 228; and I said `OK,' because I thought him and Helio especially could be the two guys that could really be close. Then he went out and tried again same as -- I thought that -- (inaudible) -- that they had another chance, and I had to be anxious again. It was really difficult with this system.

Q: Because this is Indianapolis, how do you think this compares, even with the two victories that you've had in CART, how does this compare both from your mind and how do you think you'll be received in Brazil today?

Junqueira: First, today is a pole. A victory in a pole does not win the race. But I always say the best win is the next one that you're going to get. It doesn't matter if it be Indianapolis -- for sure, this one more than all of the other ones that I've had in my career. But a racing car driver, he wants to win races. If one day I have a chance to win this one, my next big one, it will be Milwaukee on the next Sunday, you know. I always want to win, and the next race is always the most important.

Q: So how do you think Brazil will react?

Junqueira: This race is really big in Brazil. I remember, I told first time I was -- I just raced go-kart, and then I was going to the hotel. I was watching it on TV, and after on the radio when Emerson won in '89, I just saw the end of the race, I was in the hotel and I saw him and Al Unser Jr., he crashed into Al Unser Jr. on the last lap. This race is really big in Brazil. It will be good if -- just to have like five Brazilians on top six, top five, would be big. Brazilians love race, and they will support us.

Q: Mike or Chip, in 2000 when you got all your guys in the field safely, I know you helped out a team like Ed Rachanski, I know a guy like Jimmy Kite is out there trying to be a second-weekend type of guy, would you possibly sell one of your G Forces to somebody trying to do a last weekend deal, another team?

Ganassi: We're open for ideas. I mean, I'm not -- I'm not saying yes; I'm not saying no. Somebody comes up with an idea, that makes sense, we'll do it. If somebody comes up with an idea that doesn't make sense, we won't do it.

Q: Mike, you live here, you've raced here. Early this morning, guys were practicing at 231, and then in the middle of the day, it seemed some of the favorites slow down. Do you have any theories? Was it the weather?

Hull: I think some of us were affected by the changing weather conditions on the racetrack, and some of us collectively probably screwed ourselves into the ground a little bit. To really give you a very honest evaluation of the situation, you guys haven't lived until you've gotten inside that box Bruno got in today to have to leave to qualify for those four laps. I don't think there's four laps anywhere in the world that are like those four laps, either for the race driver, the owner, the manager, the mechanics, the engineers, the truck drivers, the people over in the hospitality. Those are the four hardest laps you'll find anywhere in the world. What you're looking at today is a guy that did something that very few people have ever had the opportunity to do, and guys like us are lucky enough to be around him. So, I think that's really the way we should answer the question.

Q: How much of a revelation was Bruno's performance this year and particularly recently? I think it's fair to say that during last year you had some doubts about him.

Ganassi: Well, I think, you know, obviously the guy likes this place. I think we proved a year ago that with relatively little practice, he qualified. Remember, he was the fastest rookie here last year. Helio might have won the race, but Bruno was the fastest rookie, and that was with what, maybe 50 laps of practice or something? He didn't have very many practice laps last year and he was a second-weekend qualify. So, obviously, the guy likes the place. Did we face our challenges last year in Bruno's rookie year throughout the season? Certainly. But you know what, everybody likes a winner, and the guy wins races. And if he does big things at the big tracks, you've got to like him. It's that simple.

Q: It must be very satisfying then for you now to be achieving what you're achieving, given the difficulties of last year; you're answering your critics basically?

Junqueira: Yeah, I try to do my best. I think last year, I could do better, but because of no experience and maybe pressure on myself too much, I won one race and stopped one race from the pole. Because I'm Team Target, that was -- inaudible -- organized not that good, but I bet if I was on any other team, they say, `Oh, this guy is really good, he already won a race and started one race from the pole in his first year.' But I think I learned from last year. I think an intelligent person is one that learns from your mistakes, and keeps learning and improving. I think I learned last year, and this year I'm trying to do better.

Q: Chip, going back to last year, was it kind of a gut feeling you had about Bruno that made you decide to put him in the field? Was this something that you saw, maybe you have to just kind of throw him in there and have him learn that way?

Ganassi: You talking about last year's race?

We knew we had cars that were very fast, and we knew that if we had two drivers to put in them, they would go fast, and we had two drivers on the payroll and that's the first two drivers we went to. It was not -- I don't think there was ever a discussion about any other drivers. It was, hey, let's put Bruno and Nicholas in those cars and go.

Q: Chip, last couple of years, there's been a lot of focus on drivers doing the double, Charlotte and Indianapolis. Sterling --

Ganassi: Bruno's not doing the double. (Laughter).

Q: Sterling dominated the fall race in Charlotte and won it --

Ganassi: Sterling isn't coming to Indy, either.

Q: I know that. (Laughter.) I'm saying you as an owner could pull a double with the way Sterling ran at Charlotte last year. Have you thought of that?

Ganassi: The thought had crossed my mind. The point is, that I try not to get caught up in those kind of thoughts and try keep my head down and keep my feet moving and take care of the team. Whatever happens, happens. That's one 500-mile race and one 600-mile race, and we know that anything could happen in either one of those. The fastest guys don't always win, and the best guys don't always win. That's especially characteristic of 500-plus mile races. But it sure would be fun.

Q: Bruno, how much did getting your first oval win at Motegi help your confidence coming into this month?

Junqueira: I have my ... it helped my confidence and Team Target's confidence. It was really hard to work in Indianapolis. We spent the whole month here working every day, 6, 7 in the morning. The guys are ready, I think not just me, all the guys are motivated. They really want to do well here and continue the success that they started in Motegi.

Q: You are about to experience something very unique in auto racing. As the pole winner of the Indy 500 you are going to be king of this city for two weeks, and you have not even run the race yet. Talk about that prospect of what it's going to be like to be the focal point for the next two weeks.

Junqueira: I think the best thing of to get this pole is the first time in my life, very often when you win a race, you qualify Saturday and you race Sunday. Then you're going to have 24 hours of happiness, and then you go to race, you can have a longer time or you cannot have, you know. But the good thing of to win the pole here is that you are going to have two weeks, and until the race starts you're going to be really happy. (Laughs). I live in Indianapolis and it's going to be even better.

King: Mike, Chip, especially you, Bruno, congratulations.

-ims-

Part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Bruno Junqueira , Jimmy Kite , Chip Ganassi , Mike Hull