DELPHI INDY 300 - WINNER JAQUES LAZIER, JOHN MENARD Sept. 2, 2001, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill. zPAT SULLIVAN: Well, Jaques Lazier. His first Indy Racing League victory and, interestingly enough, it's only the ninth victory in the ...
DELPHI INDY 300 - WINNER
JAQUES LAZIER, JOHN MENARD
Sept. 2, 2001, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.
zPAT SULLIVAN: Well, Jaques Lazier. His first Indy Racing League victory and, interestingly enough, it's only the ninth victory in the Indy Racing League history from pole position. The last time it was accomplished was by another Team Menard driver, Greg Ray in Atlanta. These are my statistics on Jaques Lazier, as long as I'll ask you to rely on Tim Sullivan or someone who might be a little more accurate. But I have this is the 24th start for Jaques Lazier and over that period of time he's been in the top ten on ten occasions, so he's always raced well. Previously he had a third at Nashville and will remind you that he, in fact, joined Team Menard at Gateway, ran exceptionally well and had some mechanical problems. John Menard now joins us, and Jaques becomes the fourth driver to earn their first Indy Racing League victory driving for Team Menard. The others, of course, were Tony Stewart who delivered the first victory for John Menard. I believe that was in Pikes Peak in 1996, Greg Ray, Robbie Buhl and now Jaques Lazier. So, Jaques Lazier, congratulations. It's an awfully happy time for you. I don't know how many people heard that immediately you got on the telephone and called your wife who's home. You're expecting a child, so it's happy moment for the Lazier family.
JAQUES LAZIER: This is a tremendous moment for myself, my career, for my family, both extended and the family that was here; my father is extremely proud to have two Laziers cement wins in what I believe is the greatest series in America today. I can't thank Tony George and the whole Hulman-George family enough for having a vision and following through with it. I also can't thank John Menard enough for believing in me and giving me the opportunity. We had come together extremely quick, this is our second race. I think, you know, Buddy might have Chicago - no Buddy might have Kentucky -- but I think Team Menard and Jaques have the Windy City. We sat on the pole with a track record of 221.7 and now we have the win. It's just -- I'm incredibly proud of the team, worked extremely hard and we just had an awesome car today.
SULLIVAN: Also a quick note, this is the second time that Jaques has started from the MBNA pole, the other time was at Richmond International Raceway this year. Interestingly enough, of course, Team Truscelli, he really showed strength in my mind and demonstrated that he was a championship caliber driver but did not have a ride until Indianapolis this year. I was remembering watching you today of a duel that you had with a young Sam Hornish at Kentucky Speedway last year. You two went wheel-to-wheel lap after lap. Sam, of course, had auditioned for the Panther Racing Team, got the ride; you were trying to establish yourself and today both of you have a really interesting milestone, Sam a champion and you, of course, with your first victory. Talk about the call from John Menard and what was going through your mind when you had the opportunity to join this team.
LAZIER: I really can't put it into words, the opportunity. I spent the last three years in the IRL jumping from team to team. All I've ever really wanted was a home, a place where I can stay for several years and develop a program very similar to what my brother has done with Hemelgarn. I truly believe we have a home at Team Menard. They welcomed me with open arms and I look forward to this being the first of many wins for Team Menard and myself. I would just -- we're going to plan everything and work extremely hard and going to Indy. My plan for next year is to be the first one to win Indy for John Menard and also the championship.
SULLIVAN: Questions from the floor. Q: Jaques, you had at about the halfway point, you and Buhl were going into one and there was Treadway all of a sudden. Was that the biggest problem of the day for you or were there any others that you really remember?
LAZIER: That was definitely the biggest problem. We had one other problem with the pits. The guys are extremely bright. Jeremy who was on the right front decided to hold me for a second while some other cars were coming out and, you know, went from first to sixth in the pits; but it's a lot better to go from first to sixth than it is to go from first to out of the race because you collided with somebody else. So I'm very proud of the team. They understand the big picture, and we just kept working extremely hard. We had some good pit stops and they just -- it is an unbelievable team. They keep believing in me, they keep giving 110 percent and I'm going to give 110 percent for them.
Q: John, do we have to call you genius now?
JOHN MENARD: I don't think so, no.
Q: But, I mean, even in your wildest imagination, did you expect victory this quick?
MENARD: No, this was something that just came together perfectly. It seemed like everybody gelled, personality gelled. You know, you've got to realize that Jaques has been racing in the series for several years and this is not his first race. It is not our first race in the series. So, you know, it all came together probably a lot quicker than if we had picked a guy from Formula One, let's say, that had never raced on an oval. So, you know, we have a very talented team and we have a very talented driver. Given those set of circumstances, it can come together quickly and we're very fortunate that it did. We had a lot of luck today, too. There were several instances, just from my rather slow viewpoint in the pit, where my heart stopped. I don't know what his did. (Laughter)
Q: Jaques, can you get back to that three-wide action there? What's that like? Is it frightening, surprising, scary, no big deal?
LAZIER: It depends on who you're with. Typically the drivers that are out here, it's no big deal because you know everybody is going to give you room. We had one time where we went three abreast going into turn one and I decided, well, it's early in the race, I'm just going to back out of it. I still felt like I had a strong enough car that I could make it up again and get things turned around. So it's a long race, you have to pace yourself; and we just had a tremendous car today. It just seemed like everything we did went right, and I thank the good Lord for looking out on the team and for all the fans, we had a safe race. What more can you ask for?
SULLIVAN: Question down here, John.
Q: Jaques, was that a pretty hard race for you or did you have some reserve? Did you use everything you had?
LAZIER: We pretty much used everything we had. It was a hard race. There were some positions there, some times there where I had to go from sixth back up to the lead and, you know, there was a point there when Giaffone and I were working together and I had to conserve a little fuel and use a higher gear, kind of tuned it to save a little more fuel. Toward the end I knew I was going to have a little bit left, was going to be very difficult for them to pass me as long as I sat on the inside.
SULLIVAN: Other questions for Jaques or John? Bruce has one.
Q: Do you have any driving tips you're going to give your brother?
LAZIER: The only tip I have is don't come to the Windy City as long as Team Menard is going to be here. This is our town. It's unbelievable. I just think we have -- I mean what a dream weekend for us to come in here, run strong all weekend. The only time that we had something go a little bit wrong, we tried something with the engine and had a piston failure; but other than that, we kept the car off the wall at that point and from there on out we were always up at the top of the speed charts, we got the pole, and now we got the win - just a dream come true.
SULLIVAN: One more question for Jaques or John. John, I'll ask you real quickly then to close. Tell me, you said that he's obviously been around, but what did you see in Jaques Lazier?
MENARD: Well, he's a very dedicated young man that has great driving talent and I like his attitude very, very much. I've known him and known his brother, known his dad for years. It's kind of a family thing. I'm just so happy that it all came together as well as it did. When you ask a friend to drive for you, it's, you know, it can cause trouble you never anticipated. This all worked all well and I'm very, very proud and happy for Jaques.
SULLIVAN: Dick, did you have a question?
Q: Jaques, unfortunately you kind of have to share this day, we crowned the champion of the series today. Does it bother you at all on your biggest day in the series, that you have to share it?
SULLIVAN: The question really was he has to share the day somewhat obviously with Sam Hornish. Does that bother him in any way, shape or form?
LAZIER: It does not bother me a bit. I think what it shows is that we have some young guns coming into the series that are very anxious to go out there and win some races and win a championship. I think it was a real good day for myself as well as Panther Racing and Team Menard, for us to have a win here today and for them to win the championship. Obviously, I feel bad for my brother, but, you know, Team Menard has worked extremely hard this year. We're going to continue to work hard and we're going to carry this momentum for the rest of this year and into next year, and we'll have the opportunity to win the championship.
SULLIVAN: Congratulations, Jaques and John.