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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Bruno Junqueira
June 5, 2001


T. E. McHELE: Thank you Brenda, Good afternoon to every one. Welcome to the CART Media tele-con and thanks to all of you for make the time to join us today. Our guest this afternoon is driver Bruno Junqueira of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing who finished fourth in Sunday's Miller Lite 225 at the Milwaukee Mile for the best result of his Fed Ex Championship Series rookie season. Good afternoon, Bruno, and thanks for joining us today.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Good afternoon.

T. E. McHELE: Bruno, the driver of the number four Target Toyota Lola has scored championship points in three of five starts this season and stands second to Scott Dixon of the PacWest Racing Group in the race for the Jim Truman Rookie of the Year Award. In addition to his season and career best fourth place finish in Milwaukee, Bruno has also scored championship points with finishes of seventh at Nazareth, where he earned his first career Fed Ex Championship Series pole position, and ninth at Long Beach. Bruno also owns an impressive fifth place finish in his first start at the Indianapolis 500 on May 27th. Heading into Round 7 of the championship, the June 17th Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit he stands 10th in the Fed Ex Championship Series championship with 23 points. The Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit, Round 7 of the Fed Ex Championship Series will be televised live by ABC TV on Sunday June 17th, beginning at 2 p.m. eastern time. With that we will open it up to questions for Bruno Junqueira.

Q. Good result last weekend.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

Q. You seem to have to be catching on to these ovals pretty well. Could you tell us, how are they? Is it a big change for you to have to adapt to these ovals, especially, let's say, Indy?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's been not easy. I've been working a lot to learn about the ovals. I'm sure that I can get a pretty good speed running by myself. My first race was Nazareth that I raced from the pole. But I have a lack of experience at Nazareth. I did some mistakes and finished seventh. At that race I had a really good car, even to win the race. Indy I think after I went to Japan and qualified fifth, that was a very good qualifier, I had strong weekend. But I made a rookie mistake on the start and spun on the first corner. Then I went to Indy and I just tried to put the car in the race, keep the car in the race. And I think that I did a good race finishing fifth. And I learned a lot in Indy, I think, and again in Milwaukee. And I build up my experience learning about ovals. I did have a good run. Even though not too much practice time. I start 12 and finish 4th. I think that was another good race. I'm getting better. I still have a lot to learn about these ovals. But I'm getting better.

Q. Are you looking forward to the road courses that are coming up now?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: For sure. I don't know the tracks that well and it's always very difficult. But, yeah, I'm looking forward for the next race. I think that the team has a good car on the track and I want to continue my progress on the CART and Fed Ex series and getting more points and doing another good race. Maybe better than Milwaukee.

Q. Well thank you and good luck in Detroit.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

T. E. McHELE: Thanks Mark.

Q. The question is, what's the hardest thing you seem to encounter during the race in the ovals? Is it traffic or how to get the car set up in traffic, what's been the biggest adjustment during the race?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I have two things that you have to separate. One is getting used to Champ car racing. Because we have different rules in Europe like we have pit stops, rolling stops, saving fuel, we have all these things that, on oval races and road course races I still have that thing. But I think that the toughest thing for me now on the oval race, especially last weekend and Indy as well is the start and restart. And that I made some mistake in Japan because of cold tires. It takes two or three laps before the tires get the right temperature. And especially the drag to have behind the car gets it really difficult. And I think that I learn a lot in Indy. I learn again in Milwaukee. But that is the most difficult thing for me.

Q. How about the draft. Talk a little bit about the experience of getting a chance to work in the draft and catching the draft like at a place like Indy.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, it's really difficult. I tell you, when I came on the race at Indy, at the start, my car start to, I thought it would fall to pieces, you know. But it's really difficult to run in the draft. It's very dangerous. Because what's happening is that if the car has a little bit of understeer, if the car has a little bit of push, when I'm behind someone, the car, you have more push. But sometimes, because the steering is too much, sometimes it's just, at the end of the corner, the car just gets some oversteer, the rear end wants to go. And on these times you have to be really careful not to spin the car.

Q. Are you thinking that you would be at this point? Are you pleased with your season up to this point?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, I'm pleased. I think that I'm really pleased with my progress during this season. My first race was really bad. Second race I did a better qualifier, but I did a good race. Third race I did a very good qualify on the poles and okay race, because it was my first oval. And I'm improving. Each race I'm learning, improving and being a better Champ car driver. That's very important for me.

Q. Good luck in Detroit. Thanks, gentlemen.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

T. E. McHELE: Thank you, Scott. Do you have a question for Bruno Junqueira?

Q. Congratulations. That was a good run.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

Q. You've spent some time testing Formula One cars, now you're over here in Champ cars. Do you see yourself going back to Formula One?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: You never know. I don't think the future, I think the next race in Detroit. And then I think the other race in Portland. I think race to race. And overall I want to do a very good season this year and win a race and get good results. I think that's the most important thing. The future you never know. If you ask me one year ago, Bruno do you feel that you are going to be in the CART series this year, I would say I don't think so. And here I am then. I don't want to play too much to the future.

Q. You're going into Detroit, it's a concrete canyon, very unforgiving. And then you get into Portland and we will be on site to see you there. But that's a nice open road course there. Are you glad to get into the turn left, turn right routine again?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes, I'm happy for that. And I think that's the toughest thing of the CART series, that you go all four ways of racing. Street, road courses, there's some ovals and super speedways and that's really tough. I think I can perform as well in all the four ways of racing because I have a good team and a good car on ovals. That helps me a lot. For sure, the road courses is something that I'm used to. But it's still really tough. They have very good drivers in these races. But I hope that I can do well in these next races.

Q. How much do you think you've improved personally having to do this regimen of going super speedway, short track, street course and then into road course. How is this helping you personally develop?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: A lot. I have to say today I'm a much better driver than five months ago when I came here to race, to drive for the Team Target. I'm a much better driver. I think the oval experience is incredible. It's something that you have to be in. A lot of Formula One drivers, they have no idea what ovals are. It's really, to prove yourself as a driver, I think the strategy on the race here and the passing, it's very good as well. It prepares you to be a better driver.

Q. Thank you so much, Bruno. And good luck in Detroit and Portland.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you very much.

Q. In the past few weeks you've had the experience of short oval, medium sized oval, very high speed, high banked oval and then Indianapolis, and then another short oval. Can you contrast each of them and which type of oval do you prefer?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I like Nazareth. I like it a lot. I think the super speedways I don't like too much because it's down a lot for the cars. And especially when something like Texas or what the people say Lake Fontana and Michigan, they said it's just like flat out and you have just do what the car does. And on the other hand I think some track like Nazareth or Texas or even in Japan, you have to break, downshift. And the driver sometimes can make a difference and you can really try hard on the car.

Q. At Texas the down force was so great, at Michigan and Fontana it won't be so great. Do you find that you have to concentrate equally on all the ovals more so than on road courses or is it about the same?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think I always have to concentrate on each race. I think my chances to do well on ovals, on road courses or street, they are pretty much the same. And I just have to still concentrate. I have to improve and learn and try to get a better result. It doesn't matter what is going to be the race, oval or road course.

Q. Heading over to Detroit, of course you've never seen, I don't know if you've done it on a computer simulation. How do you approach learning that track for the race?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I've never seen Detroit. I think Friday we have two practice sessions that I can learn the track. It's not that difficult. And if I can do some laps, I'm pretty fast to learn the tracks. Especially coming from Europe where I had to learn a lot of the big and very difficult tracks. And without practice, just going straight to qualifier. That's the 3000. That's tough. I'll be fine. No problem.

Q. You mentioned going straight to qualifying in 3000. Can you learn a track by walking it or riding it in a golf cart enough to do well in qualifying in a situation like that?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, what I always do in each track that I go is, I walk on the track to learn the lines and to see the asphalt where I can find more grip or not. To try to find a better line.

Q. We will see you in Detroit.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

T. E. McHELE: Thanks, Jack. And at this point we will open it up to general questions for Bruno. If you wish to ask Bruno Junqueira a question please press star one on your telephone keypad to signal the operator beginning now.

Q. You mentioned about having to qualify without practice in F 3000. Do you feel that that helps you to get up to speed faster on cold tires having to go out and qualify with no practice and having a very limited time to get a good time in. Does that help you with car control at all?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah. I think that helps me a lot. Like even in Milwaukee, I just came out, did four laps and I did 22.9 for the first half an hour of session. And after the people went better than me it still put me in third position, I was there almost the whole session. And that was my first time in that oval. And I'm thinking that that experience that I had in the past helped me to get a new track really fast. But it's still, you learn a lot the track, but still like the last two tenths of second you just going to learn. These two tenths are really fast to arrive at this point. And after the last two tenths, we didn't know a lot that you need from the car, from a track, then most of the time you're going to learn it.

Q. Compare the IRL car that you drove at Indy to the Champ car. How similar or different are they?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: They are pretty different cars. I think the CART car has much more power. And it's a better built car. On the other hand, the IRL, they have more down force than the CART car. I think that's the biggest difference.

Q. Did you find one harder to drive than the other?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think the CART car, they are really nice to drive because it's a very well balanced, aerodynamic car that kind of feels the change pretty well. And the IRL car is very good because it has a lot of down force. But on the other hand it's not very aerodynamic and well built like the CART car. The wind and the other things, the weather can change a lot the car during the race. And that makes the things really difficult.

Q. Did you find with only 650 horsepower that momentum was important? That you had to keep the car wide open all the time and that if you got stuck behind somebody that you lost a lot of time?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, that's true. Momentum is really important on those cars. Especially someplace like Indy, you know. If you stay two laps behind a guy, it's really tough to pass him if you are much faster. If you came five miles per hour faster than guy, you just pass him straight away.

Q. You mentioned that they have more down force. Do you think that the Champ cars would race better in terms of side by side racing if they had more down force?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't know. Because some ovals, like if you put more down force in Milwaukee, you're going to be faster. But I don't know how much drag this down force you do. If you can still run next to the other. I don't have any experience to tell that. I think the more experienced drivers, if they race high force, medium, low down force on these ovals, they are better people to talk about it.

Q. Thank you very much.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.

T. E. McHELE: Okay. Thanks, Brenda. Then we will wrap it up today. We want to thank our guest, Bruno Junqueira, for being with us this afternoon. Bruno, thanks for joining us. Best of luck in the Grand Prix in Detroit and through the rest of the Fed Ex Championship Season.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you very much.

T. E. McHELE: Thanks to all of you who took the time to be with us today and good afternoon.



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