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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Bruno Junqueira
April 30, 2002


MERRILL CAIN: Thanks for joining us on this week's CART media teleconference. I'm Merrill Cain with CART public relations, and we're happy to be joined this afternoon by our latest race winner in the CART FedEx Championship Series, Bruno Junqueira of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who captured the checkered flag in Saturday's Bridgestone Potenza 500 in Motegi, Japan. Bruno, thanks for joining us this afternoon.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

MERRILL CAIN: Bruno's win at Twin-Ring Motegi on Saturday was his second career CART victory, the first coming last season at Road America and it was his first oval victory in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The win completed a superb weekend effort for the No. 4 crew of Target Chip Ganassi Racing as that Target Loyola Bridgestone was at the top of the timing chart at the end of each day, including qualifying which saw Bruno capture his second career pole position. With the points earned from the pole and the race victory, Bruno moves up to fifth place in the season point standings with 23 on the year, and he now trails only points leader Dario Franchitti, Michel Jourdain, Jr., Cristiano da Matta and Alex Tagliani in the CART FedEx Championship Series after three rounds in the CART FedEx Championship Series. And with that, we will now open it up for questions for Bruno.

Q. You are coming off a win on an oval and now you get to look forward to another oval at Indianapolis. I'm wondering, from where you're sitting at, can you talk a little bit about that field? It seems like it would be a little bit intimidating.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think it was a very good race to win, this race at Motegi. First because I think it was one of the most important CART race of the year; it was really important for Toyota to win that race. And that's the last race, and it's an oval race before Indianapolis. That's going to boost up how the team, Target and myself, for this month of May. I think that's going to give me a lot of confidence for this race. And I'm not intimidated. I think I did a good race at Indianapolis. I finished fifth. I think this year's experience, and I will have time on the car to practice and to make a good car for me for the qualifying for the race, I think I can do better than last year.

MERRILL CAIN: Just to clarify, Bruno, along with a number of other CART drivers, will be competing in the Indianapolis 500 at the end of May. Bruno, I know you will be doing some testing there. I think you have done some testing there. Can you tell us how testing for Indy is going and what you're looking forward to as the event approaches?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, I did test before I go to Japan just to make sure that the car was ready for this month of May. I run pretty good laps, faster than last year's qualifier, or faster than last year's pole. But I think this year, everybody is going to go much faster than last year, anyway. The car is looking good. I think Target is a very good team. We have a good car and going to try to win this race again as the team did in 2000.

Q. Getting back to Indianapolis just for a second, will you be sharing notes with the IRL team that Ganassi is running? Is that part of the operation? Is Jeff, in fact, Jeff's team, sharing notes on setups for your G4 Chevrolet?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, for sure. You are just one team, really. Going to be me, Jeff and Kenny. I think one of the good things about Team Target is that we are one team and you share everything between the drivers, between the engineers. I'm sure that they are going to learn a the lot of them. They are going to learn with us, as well, because I think we have good cars for the last two years on the Speedway, and I think we're going to try to be competitive as we can. We'll be three shots during the race. I think Kenny already won the race once, Jeff finished second, I think in '99, and then I already finished fifth in my first race. I think we are going ti have three shots to win the race. So let's see if one of these guys can win the race.

Q. With three ovals in a row, essentially, because you go to Milwaukee after, do you see that as an advantage for you? Now you have a chance to -- by the time you hit the Milwaukee Mile, you will have two ovals in a row. So do you feel good about the Target Team Ganassi's chances going into Milwaukee?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, that's really good, because you pretty much put yourself in an oval mode. Like do three oval races in a row; that's going to be good. But another thing, on the CART series, it's really difficult because we have to be good on all kinds of tracks. Like you're going to be testing in Milwaukee -- in Milwaukee, we're going to be testing Mid-Ohio and Portland on the month of May; that's our road courses. So I think you have to be able to go to oval and after road courses with no problem. But that's going to be good to have three races on oval in a row. When I go to Milwaukee, I will be ready, ready to go.

Q. Would you classify this as a bigger win than your first win at Road America last year?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's difficult to say because every time that we win, it's usually our biggest win. You are feeling if -- I think, for sure, this win was the biggest win for Toyota. I think it was for them the best thing they could have was to win in Japan. For me, it's really important, because early on in the season, it puts me in a good position on the points championship and gives a lot of -- gives me a lot of courage to go and race Indianapolis, and confidence. I think that this win came at the right time to prepare myself for Indianapolis.

Q. Speaking of Indy, last year you were kind of forced to wait until the second weekend to qualify. It was the last minute, because Chip waited until he had his two primary drivers qualified. This year, that won't be the case. Does that take a lot of pressure off you?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No. I think this year -- I don't care about pressure, but this put pressure on me because I see it as a close race and everything that I did was a bonus. But this year, yes, I'm going to pressure myself because I want to prepare to spend -- work hard this whole month, and I want to work hard and get the win. Last year, I really just came and sit in the car and drove four laps and qualify, and after, I went to the race. I was really happy to finish fifth without working that hard, but now I want to work hard, but I want to get the better result than last year.

Q. A lot of people picked your teammate, Kenny Brack, to be the champion this year. You've been performing pretty well against him this year. Do you measure yourself against Kenny, in terms of your performance? Is that how you measure yourself?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think Kenny is a very good driver. He was a little bit unlucky in the first race, but for sure he's a tough contender to this championship. He finished second last year, and I don't know how he lost the championship. Because myself, I thought he would win more races, win everything. The guy that finished first is not in the championship anymore; then naturally he is the top contender. I think he will be strong. He is a very good driver. I'm working really hard to be on his level. But on the other hand, I want to perform as well, not just against him, but against everybody. Lots of drivers, "Oh, I have to beat my teammate and then I will be fine." I don't think about that. I want to beat everybody and win the race, because if I finish ninth and my teammate finish tenth, I'm not going to be happy.

Q. Last year when you were at Texas, you were quite taken aback with that track and the speed, like the rest of us were, and to me you didn't seem real comfortable on the ovals. Are you getting a bit more comfortable on the ovals?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, it's like I think if you look, Texas, that race wasn't ready for CART, I think. But after Texas, my next oval, my first oval race, was -- inaudible -- and I started on the pole. I think I was really comfortable for a beginner because Team Target give me a lot of oval track time to run by myself, to do qualify laps. But on the other hand, race is different. You race with turbulence, with a lot of people on the track and it's really different. And I thin that after just one year racing on this kind of track, I got experience. You're not never going to be really comfortable running behind someone. And the car feels really light; it's not comfortable out there. But now I know what I have to do. I know how much I have to push and how fast I can go when I am behind someone, when I am in traffic, and that's just experience that I got. I think, yes, I'm more comfortable this year, but I have more experience. I know pretty much what I have to do to get a better result.

Q. Are you going back to Indy -- everybody who lives in the United States has this history about Indianapolis and holds it in high regard. Have you learned any of the history of Indianapolis over the past year, and are you understanding more about the traditions that surround that particular race?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes. I live here in Indianapolis and I pretty much know how big this race is. Since I was a kid I used to watch Emerson racing here. I remember '89 the first time I watch him the first time that he won his race, and in Brazil. That race is really big. Being Indianapolis citizen, living here, I know exactly how big it is and gives more input to try to win my home race because I live here.

Q. Merrill, if I may make a comment to you about one thing you guys are doing on race weekends, including the transcripts of the Top 3, thank you. We appreciate that.

MERRILL CAIN: We appreciate your comment.

Q. Great win. We get a lot of viewer mail, and some of the viewers have been curious about the transition, from the champ cars to the IRL cars and then back, how do you then adapt to that, so we can explain to our viewers? And can you talk about the transition from going from Indianapolis, the 500-mile race, the IRL cars and then a week later getting into the champ cars for Milwaukee?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, that's quite a big difference. I think first thing, at the end of the day, you still have to drive a car with four wheels, and a crazy man is driving the car, you know. But it's easier because it's going to be all oval. I just had that oval race, and then I'm going to race Indy and then Milwaukee. As I said, you can put your mind in an oval mode. But for sure, it's different because Indianapolis is a 2 1/2 mile oval, Super Speedway and you go really fast. Milwaukee, the one-mile oval, really tight and it's different. And with champ cars, it has more power and you have to brake, down shift and put the power down. Like Indianapolis is different, you have to just keep the momentum and the speed. It's a little bit different style to drive. But I think you have to be able to do that. I think that's the key of drivers and a very good thing of CART that we have to learn how to step up each race weekend, a different track or one oval course, road course, street course, the Super Speedway; and hence, we just have to pay attention because the cars are different, but that's something that you have to do and you learn how to do it.

Q. I'm interested in the comment that you made, "I'm in the oval mode." Talk about the difference of being in an oval mode and being in a road course mode?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Oval mode you just turn left and road courses you turn right and left. (Laughs.) I think especially on ovals, you have to be really patient for these races. You have to be a little bit less aggressive until the last pit stop. And I think oval, you have to be really patient because if you don't have a good car, you can put yourself on the wall very easy. You have to be patient, stop, make the right adjustment, make a good setup to be fast, you know. On road courses, a little bit different. Sometimes you try to overdrive the car and push hard. If no one got that edge in oval, sometimes you can't do it, because if you try to do it, you're going to be on the wall.

Q. And you mentioned the fact that you're going to also going to -- during the month of May -- test at Mid-Ohio as well, and also test at Milwaukee?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes, we're going to test at Milwaukee, for sure. And I don't know if we're going to test in Portland or Mid-Ohio. We're going to test on road courses, as well.

Q. That's really unusual because usually when people go to Indy, they just usually stay there for the month of May and just try to work on Indy, and they try to get into that concentration. Have you thought about that?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah. But, I don't know, I think you need to carry on with our CART program, and you can do both things at the same time. It's not going to be like on the race weekend, you know, or race week. It's going to be a little bit before that, and we're still going to have time to come back to Indy and to prepare for the race. Then it's fine.

Q. You mentioned a moment ago about driving an oval, and the first thing you said, you have to have a crazy driver behind the wheel. Do you have to almost be a little crazy to drive ovals?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: When I say "crazy," just like more kidding. Because to drive at like 250 miles per hour, God, my father used to say that you must have one boat, two boat less on the head. But, that's okay. I think once you get to used to it, then it's not that much crazy.

MERRILL CAIN: I had a quick question for you, too. I know that you're working with a new engineer this year, Bill Pappas. Obviously you've had a lot of success with him this past weekend. How has that relationship gone? Can you tell us a little about the chemistry within the team now, now that things have changed a little bit with Bill there?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's been very good. Bill is a very good engineer. Last year I worked with Julian Robson (ph). I had a good relationship with him as well. I think Team Target has a good engineering staff, and I'm just doing very well with Bill. He already won the Indianapolis 500 twice. With Emerson, he lost the second -- (inaudible) -- and 2000 winner who has won Montoya. And then he's really interested to win (inaudible) and I want to have the flavor and drink the milk (ph) for the first time .

MERRILL CAIN: Have you thought about what that would mean to you? Obviously, Team Target has had some success there and you've got a great ride and great chance going into Indianapolis. You talked about you living in that town, what would winning that race, that ultimate feeling be for you?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't know. First of all, I'm just working hard to win that race, then I will have the feeling.

MERRILL CAIN: Take it one step at a time. I understand.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes.

MERRILL CAIN: One other question I wanted to ask you, Team Target does something pretty special with the Target House where they donate some money every time the team is successful. Team Target donates $5,000 for a win and $1,000 for a pole, $25 for each lap led. After this weekend's action, with your success there, almost $7,500 was donated to Target House and St. Jude Children's Hospital. Talk about that and it means to you as a driver to be able to contribute to a cause like that when you are successful on the track.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: That was awesome. Because I've been St. Jude's Hospital and Target House and that's a pretty neat thing they do in Memphis. People have no idea how important is that. Not just of the children that are there, but the whole world because they are there taking care of children that needs it, and children that can give the doctors the opportunity to learn and to prove how the cancers treatments, and that's not going to help just those kids. That's going to help all over the world, anybody that has cancer. That's a very, very important thing, research. I'm really happy and proud to have the opportunity to help them.

Q. Usually we ask you to take a lap around the road course with us. Can you take us on a lap around Indianapolis, how you approach a lap around that place?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: There are two ways to approach it. One when your car is good and going to qualify, then I have to be flat-out all the way around and that's not easy to do to be flat-out around the corner. Now, telling you about the lap: You go it Turn 1, that's the most difficult corner in Indianapolis. It's a 90-degree corner with banking. And Turn 1 has a bump in the middle of the turn that makes it even more difficult. When the car is really good, you can do it flat-out, but when the car is not good, you have to lift a little bit. And that depends a lot on the wind, you need to see the direction of the wind because sometimes the wind blows over the main straight and then Turn 1 gets really difficult and Turn 3 gets easier. When the wind is blowing the other direction, Turn 1 gets easier and Turn 3 gets difficult. Then you just came out exit of 1, you have one brief, one really short straight and then you go down again to Turn 2. As I said, when everything is fine, you can take it flat, but really important of Turn 2 to have a good exit because that goes to the back straight; that's a very, very long straight. Then you get on the back straight and you're going to approach to Turn 3 that, in normal conditions is a little bit easier than Turn 1. If there is no wind, you can take Turn 3 flat easier than Turn 1. Then you can go to turn 4. That's after 2, really important to have a good exit for the main straight. Pretty much, that's the track. You're going to run Indianapolis, you'll have six gears on the car. You're going to run fourth, fifth, or sixth, going to depends which speed you wants to run on the race. On the race you use fourth, fifth and sixth, these three gears, depending which speed and how much slipstream you are going to get from the car in front. And like on the qualify lap, we try to be flat-out; on the race, we want to lift a little bit on each corner. And that's a lap at Indianapolis.

Q. You're going to Indianapolis and they are installing soft walls, first oval track to have that. As a driver, how does that make you feel, and would you like to see those soft walls installed on all of the oval tracks, including the ones that CART runs on?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Really, I still don't want to test them. (Laughs). That's the way that makes me feel. I think that's a good thing to have. If it's safe -- I don't know exactly how it will work, luckily. I just crashed once on the oval -- (inaudible) -- testing last year, and I really don't want to see if this soft walls are better or not. I just want to stay far away from them.

Q. Does it give you any comfort at all?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't think so. I think they still have to go. When you hit it, you hit it hard. I hope that the soft walls can be a little bit better. I don't know how much better, really. I don't know exactly how those things works to tell you. I want to stay out of those.

MERRILL CAIN: Bruno, we want to say thank you very much for joining us in the CART media teleconference this afternoon. We wish you the best of luck competing in Indianapolis this month. We'll certainly be keeping a close eye on your efforts there, and we'll look forward to seeing you at Round 4 of the CART FedEx Championship Series, the Miller Lite 250 at Milwaukee Mile at May 31 through June 2. Thank you very much for joining us today.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you very much.

MERRILL CAIN: Thanks to all who participated in today's phone call. We invite you to stay turned for upcoming CART teleconferences. We'll be announcing those in the weeks ahead. We wish you a pleasant afternoon. Thank you.



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