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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Bruno Junqueira
August 21, 2001

T.E. McHALE: Good afternoon and welcome to the CART media teleconference. Thanks to all of you for joining us this afternoon. Our guest this afternoon is driver Bruno Junqueira, of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, who drove to his first career FedEx Championship Series victory in Sunday's Motorola 220 at Road America. Good afternoon, Bruno. Congratulations and thanks for being with us today.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Good afternoon. Thanks very much.

T.E. McHALE: Bruno, the driver of the No. 4 Target Toyota Lola, became the 9th different race winner of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series season when he drove to the 2.687-second victory over Michael Andretti in Sunday's 14th round of the championship. He averaged 90.721 miles per hour and scored Target/Chip Ganassi Racing's first victory since Jimmy Vasser's triumph at Houston last year. Bruno became the second FedEx Championship Series rookie to drive to victory this season, following Scot Dixon, who triumphed at Nazareth - where Bruno collected his first career FedEx Championship Series pole position - in May. Bruno's victory moved him from 19th to 15th in the FedEx Championship Series championship with 47 points heading into the September 2nd Molson Indy Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place. The Molson Indy Vancouver, round 15 of the FedEx Championship Series will be televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, September 2nd, beginning at 6:00 p.m. eastern time. With that we will open it up for questions for Bruno.

Q. Congratulations, Bruno.


Q. I wonder how you're approaching coming into Vancouver, and what you know about the city and the layout of the track, here?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I'm really happy to go and race in Vancouver. I know it's a very nice city. And I believe that the CART series is very strong in Canada. I think they're one of the nicest race of the year, and I'm really looking forward. And now I'm getting really confident to go to a straight track of Vancouver, and I did well in Toronto, as well, and I hope I can get as good a result.

Q. Just tell me about being teammates and racing. You've had two so far this year. You're going to have at least a new one next year. Just describe what it's like here. You're working together, but you're competing against each other, as well.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think one of the good things of Target is to work together. I think that's how you both go forward. But for sure the ideal would be if you could be first and second. But I think I have a good friendship with him. I have a good relationship, and it's part of the job. You have to work with someone, to share information, try to make the team go forward.

Q. Thanks a lot. And good luck next week here. We'll see you next week.


Q. Bruno, talk about how the folks at Target and Chip Ganassi Racing have gotten together with you, and what time you spend with the Target people, when you're not on the race track?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think they are a very good sponsor for the team, not because they give the team the money -- they don't just provide the team the money to race, but they have a very strong relationship with the teams, and like every Thursday before each race, I have to go to a Target store, and they have over a thousand Target stores all over the United States, and I go and sign autographs. And it's a good opportunity for the fans to see us, for the people from Target to support the car that they have on the series. And sometimes I have to go to a Target in Minneapolis and talk to the people. Every single race a lot of people from Target and from -- come to the race. And I think we have a very good relationship that helps us.

Q. What do you talk to the Target people about?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: We talk a lot of things. We talk about racing. We talk about life. We talk about -- try -- we try to win the race. They try to bring the best market. They want to sell everything more. I think you have same kind of goals, you know? They try to be the No. 1, the team Target on the tour.

Q. First off, congratulations, Bruno. That was a sensational pass that you took advantage of.


Q. How did the rest of the drivers -- I'm sure they were very high on their praise of you. Can you talk about that a bit?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: They were high in what? Sorry.

Q. I'm sure the other drivers congratulated you. How did that feel?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I felt very good because I just came here and I already have some friendship with some drivers. And they really help me, but some of my friends were happy that I won the race and that's really good. But the best thing is really winning the race. I think it's good to have a good relationship with the drivers. Some drivers have said in the past that they are not able to make friends. But I'm not here to make enemies. I want to have a good relationship with everybody, to have a little friendship with all the drivers.

Q. This question has probably been asked about a hundred thousand times already, but obviously looking towards next year. Kenny's got a seat and there's one seat available and there's talk of either you or Memo. Has there been any talk about making the team a three-car team?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, I didn't hear about it, and I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I'm trying to concentrate to do my racing, and I don't know what Chip is thinking about next year. That's hard to ask him, but I don't know nothing. I don't know what is going to be --.

Q. We look forward to seeing you next week.


Q. Congratulations, Bruno, great run.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you very much.

Q. Did you, during the race and up until the end think you had a chance at it, or were you trying to survive like the other people out there?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think on the race I try too much, and this race I said I'm fast. I have to be more aggressive. And especially with laps to go, I was really fast, and I really went forward. I passed a lot of people. I passed even Michael. I passed -- I came from 14th to 7th, and after the guy in front of me, he gave me the lead, then I said let's go and try to be flat out. And I think that pays off during the race.

Q. You think that you're going to approach Vancouver the same way this weekend?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, I think -- let's see what's going to happen. Let's see the track, if it's possible to pass or not. Let's see where I'm going to qualify. Maybe I'm going to be the first group that qualifies, that won't be the best one. But maybe I can prove a little bit my position and qualify better and see. I think we'll have to see the position and see what's going to happen. But for sure I'm really confident for this race, and I will try to keep always a good result for team Target.

Q. Compared to the European courses that you've run or natural road courses, how do you rate Road America as a course?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I really like Road America. I really think that they are the nicest race tracks in America, and the race was tough. It was difficult to pass. But I think Road America is a really nice road track, because you can pass. It's really fast, really high speed corners, and I don't know, that's what I like. That's why I'm racing. I love to do the corners and push hard.

Q. Is there a favorite corner you have, other than 5 at Road America, since that's where you passed Michael and Michel?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I like 10, 1 and 3, the two right hands. I like -- those are really nice corners.

Q. Congratulations, Bruno.


Q. I was wondering, now that you've won a race, when you got the ride, obviously there's been a lot of success on Chip's team. Did you think it was going to be as difficult as it was to finally get to the victory lane?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: When I came here to America, I didn't know what to expect. But I think the first pass of the season, when you start to pass the other teams, and I showed that I had a lot of speed. I really thought that I could win a race early, especially in my third race. My first oval, I was right on the poles. I thought I could get better results, but for some reason the team just didn't go right. Things just didn't go the way that they planned, but I'm really pleased. I'm pleased to win my first one. Some drivers took years to win a race. I'm really happy to do it, and I hope I can do it, win more races.

Q. How difficult was it to deal with the weather and the course and the way it was?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: This kind of race is really tough. Luckily, I don't know, last year -- sometimes you have to survive until half of the race and go fast at the end. And I just said it's going to be something like that, and just survive. And when we had the right conditions, just push hard to go forward.

Q. Do you feel any more pressure now that Chip's at least made a decision on one seat for next year?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No. I think the pressure on the team -- no pressure, the team wants to win. You want to win every race, but it's not possible to win every race. But I want to go to Vancouver and win the race, and then I want to go on and win the race. This team really works hard to win the race.

Q. You're confidence at this point, much higher now that you've won or has it not changed?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: For sure my confidence is higher, because I knew that I could do it. But things were not going right. But now that I did it and that I found a way, I think I'll be better and I think I can do it again.

Q. Good luck to you at Vancouver.


Q. I was wondering how you were adapting to the United States, and I think you adapted very well to the conditions last weekend, and I'd like to congratulate you along with everybody else.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you very much.

Q. I wanted to further clarify, if I could, the situation with Ganassi. Has he given any indication of what his time frames are for making his decision regarding the second seat?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, I have no idea. As I said, I'm just going to drive and try to do my best, and we're going to see. I think we've still a long way to go for the next season and still a long way to the end of the season. And I think he's going to make the decision a little bit further away.

Q. I'd like to say congratulations on your first champ car win in your rookie season. It was an awesome drive under some very difficult conditions.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you very much.

Q. First of all I'd like to ask you, there's a quote that I've got here from Michael Andretti. He says I think Bruno and I had the same problem with Christian Fittipaldi. Either he is wearing blinders, he can't see the side of his car or he's angry with all of us. How do you feel with the way Christian was driving out there?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: The problem with Christian is when he's not fast, he gets a little bit frustrated and just makes the life more difficult for the people that want to pass him. And he does not accept that someone is faster than he, and can pass him in the middle of the race. I don't know what happened, but it's a shame that he's been having a lot of problems with a lot of drivers. But I hope that those problems are over, and he'll see that he's a little too anxious, and I hope they're not going to have any problems with him anymore.

Q. On the 9th lap, you were one of the first drivers to take a pit stop and put the slicks on your car. And then we had a red flag position. Some of the other teams were upset that they got to change their tires during the red flag. Do you think that was unfair during some of the teams?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes, that's hard to say. I already had the slick tires on the car. I lost, on the restart (inaudible.) But now I just lost because of the red flag, but the people -- you know the rules say that they can do it. Maybe the rules are not perfect for that situation. But luckily the guys that took advantage didn't finish that well.

Q. Luckily that didn't stop you. You won the race anyway. Congratulations on your win. And if you're out here testing in Phoenix during the winter, make sure you come and see us on Weekly Wheels in Phoenix, Arizona.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you. I like the city. It's a shame that we don't race there.

Q. I wanted to first congratulate you, it was a really great drive.


Q. And one of the things that I wanted to talk about is I wanted to see, have you briefly discuss your frustrations from the season, and could you talk about the frustrations that you felt and how it may have affected your focus during the season with all of the distractions, with Nicholas leaving, and Memo coming in and the recent announcement with Kenny?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes, this being my first year, it has been a big change for me, different car, different category, different team, different rules, different country, racing ovals. But I'm getting adapted to that. I think I'll improve in each race. But I had like three or four really bad races, and then improvement, getting better, three or four races without scoring points. But I think the end result is we can bring me again to the points, and bring my confidence back, because if it was bad like Detroit -- and Toronto was good -- then I could do well one way or another, one reason or another. It wasn't just getting the result. And this result of last Sunday was really important for me.

Q. One last one, could you comment on what you experienced in the water on the back straight at Elkhart Lake, and what was your perspective of it, and do you think they should have started the race?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It was really strange thing because it was completely wet on that part, like a river. And the rest of the track was almost dry. And after five laps it was dry. I think they should blow that lake better before we start the race. It was really bad because we were there to drive and not knowing what happened.

T.E. McHALE: We want to thank Bruno Junqueira of Target Chip Ganassi Racing for joining us this afternoon. Bruno, congratulations for a great win on Sunday. Thanks for being with us, best of luck in the Molson Indy Vancouver and the rest of the season.


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