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CAR RACING MEDIA CONFERENCE

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing

CAR RACING MEDIA CONFERENCE

Interview with Paul Tracy
February 9, 1993


Q. Hi, Paul. Thanks for joining us today, and I just wanted to get your thoughts, A, on your testing program this year and your thoughts also on having teammates Al Unser and Emerson Fittipaldi in the fold, the Penske fold?

PAUL TRACY: I think it's good. The testing is going really well and we've run a lot of miles this year, getting our setups ready for the first few races. I think it's great working with, you know, with Al and Emerson and Rick, a lot of Indy 500 wins there, a lot of knowledge to tap into.

Q. I think you were out here when Nigel went under 20 seconds at the track, maybe not, but Goodyear has since gone under it too, I'm not too sure how quick you went when you were out here, are these speeds at Phoenix-- are they almost too fast now, do you think?

PAUL TRACY: I wasn't there, actually, when they did the times. I was sick. The day that I tested, I tested about 20 or 30 laps and I was just too sick to drive the car. The doctor came out to the track and sent me home for the week. But I heard all about the times and I think it is a pretty good combination between the weather being cool at that time of year, the track being re-paved, and the cars are, you know, better than last year. I think those three combinations are making really fast times, you know, this is the time of year when a lot of fast times get laid down and it comes time when the race rolls around, you know, it's 40, 45 degrees hotter than it is at this time of year. So, you know, I think the times will slow up a little bit with more heat and I think the setups that you seem to find now don't seem to work as well when the weather gets real hot.

Q. Are you saying, Paul, that he never thought that track would hold a car under 20 seconds but now-- and now it has been done and like you said, they won't probably do those times come April for the race, but should they still go into the old track record and get close to what they've been doing out there, do you think it's too dangerous for that type of track?

PAUL TRACY: It's hard to say. You know, the cars are that much safer than they have been in the past. I know for sure we'll be under the old lap record and, you know, it's hard to say. You never know until there's a big accident, which you never want to happen, but I know the cars are a lot safer than they were two years ago. So, I think they should be all right with it.

Q. You mentioned a little bit about tapping into the knowledge of some of your teammates there and the experiences that they've had; how did you profit from your own experiences from last year?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I just seem to you know, grow and get more mature as the year went on. It started off I didn't have a good start, although we wouldn't at Long Beach, I really had a bad first half and then I was able to get things sorted out for the second half of the year. But I think one place where I've got to improve and I've never really been that confident yet is at Indy, and I just really got to talk to Rick a lot and Al and Emerson and try to get more up to speed there.

Q. Speaking-- you were saying a bad first half, I guess maybe it started at Phoenix when you had that unfortunate spin when you were leaving the race?

PAUL TRACY: You know, saying I had a bad first half, I didn't finish the races, I was competitive everywhere. I'm not saying I wasn't competitive, you know, I made some mistakes and pretty well dug myself a hole that's pretty tough to get out of, and I've been able to get that turned around and finish good the second half of the year and get in the championship contention was pretty good.

Q. As you said-- I think you said, Paul, that spin at Phoenix that it wasn't-- it was an example of-- I mean, you've been criticized in the past for not being more patient, and for being too aggressive and for making mistakes, this spin that happened at Phoenix, it was-- you said it was just one of those things and it was not an example of your impatience?

PAUL TRACY: I don't think that was much of the cases at a place like Ohio where I was way up friend, early in the race, and I just ran up too close on a guy and ran out of room. I think in Phoenix I waited for a couple laps to get by the guy I was trying to get by and thought I had the room and went and made a move and backed out of it and tried to be careful and that caused me to spin around; whereas at Ohio I was pressing too hard wanting to get by too quickly.

Q. Paul, assess the season as you see it, from what little you know or maybe you know a lot of the other teams; how does it shape up going to Australia?

PAUL TRACY: I haven't heard a lot of it-- I heard some of the really fast times, but I think it's going to be an ultra competitive year. A lot of the teams haven't been testing and I know that-- but I know there's going to be at least ten or twelve guys there are capable of winning at every track and it's going to be competitive all the way through the year, but the guys I look at that are-- I think the same guys are going to be at the front as were last year, our three guys, myself, Emerson and Al, and you will have Nigel running at the front, Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, I think those are the six guys there are really going to be in the fight for the championship. I could be wrong and I could be right, but from my feeling, these are the guys that I've got to really watch out for.

Q. You feel very confident right now, Paul, that this could be your year, you put in your time that maybe things could come to fruition?

PAUL TRACY: I hope so. I've been working hard over the off season training, getting ready mentally and physically for this next year and I've assessed all my races on video and I looked at the things I've done right and the things I've don't wrong and where we can improve, and I think-- you know, I'm feeling confident coming in the season. I just want to start the season off how we ended the season and that's being competitive and winning races, and I think we can-- hopefully we can win a championship.

Q. Paul, in your assessment of your races that you've watched on video, outside your victories, were there any races that gave you any particular satisfaction?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think at-- all the victories were the ones that stand out the most, but I think Nazareth I ran pretty well, you know, I was running up front leading and the car went loose and I really struggled with the car and I was able to just hang onto it. You think, I had a loose car the whole race and I was able to hang onto it and end up with a third place. It was a good finish. Just basically looked at the races where I felt I could have be a little more competitive, a couple of other races.

Q. How much more competitive to you think you could have been at New Hampshire given the fever pitch with which you battled Nigel in that race?

PAUL TRACY: I think I gave it everything I had there. Nigel was just that much more quicker and I got held up in traffic where he was able to get around me. I was very satisfied with that race. That was just, you know, a pure out and out duel of, you know, driver's. And Nigel just got a little better run on me, but I was happy with that race.

Q. Paul, are you-- where are you at in your career right now? Are you satisfied with that; do you feel like you should be further along; or are you farther along than you thought you would be at this point?

PAUL TRACY: I'm right where I want to be. This year, I think I'm capable of winning the championship. I think I have the ability to do it, and I'm just going out there and doing it. You know, getting-- obviously, you have to get the right breaks and have luck on your side, but I think I'm at the stage in my career where I think I should be.

Q. You probably felt like you should have had the ability to win it last year also?

PAUL TRACY: Well, you know going into the season I really didn't feel that way. I thought it would be a great year if I could finish in the top three and that was my goal and after the first few races that goal changed to try to be in the top five and I was able to turn it around and be in a championship run. You know, it's-- it fulfilled my goal that I started out with last year and that was to be in the top three in the points, and this year it's-- last year was a learning year and this year I'm setting sites on trying to win the championship-- what all the driver's are trying to do out there.

Q. Paul, with this month being the big month in Daytona and NASCAR coming to Indy this year in August, is there any desire on your part to be involved in the Brickyard 400; and how do you view stock car racing; do you guys get excited as well as stock car drivers to see the Daytona 500?

PAUL TRACY: I like to watch the race, but I don't have any interest in driving the cars. I've never driven any saloon cars or anything with a roof or fenders, it's always been open wheel and I don't have any desire to do that type of series. It's just, you know, I want too race Indy cars and concentrate on that fully. I don't think I'd be able to do both and give 100 percent to one or the other. The way I feel is I'd rather do one or the other. And I'd rather concentrate on one. Thank you.

Source: FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports



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