Indy Racing League Series: Indianapolis 500
Topics: Indianapolis 500
MIKE KING: Bruno, first of all, congratulations.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.
MIKE KING: Bruno was the first driver to attempt to qualify today. The last driver to win the pole after being the first out to qualify, was Emerson Fittipaldi in 1990. 1990 was also the last time a Brazilian driver won the pole. Bruno, please, first talk about your emotions, and also, tell us how long was that wait this afternoon?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Very long. This was the longest seven hours of my life. First thing, I have to thank Team Target to give a great car. I had a lot of confidence to be the first go out. I didn't know exactly how was the track, and the car was just so good, just keep flat-out on the four laps, and I got very good average speed. Then I was pretty confident that that speed could give me a good position, but I never knew if I could get the pole or not. But I had to wait and exercise my patience.
MIKE KING: Chip joins us, also. This is not the first time that Chip is a car owner of a winning pole car here at Indianapolis. In 1989, he was co-owner of Pat Patrick; he won the pole with Emerson Fittipaldi. And then in '93 with Arie Luyendyk. Chip, talk about your excitement today.
CHIP GANASSI: Just, you know, for us, when we did it with Luyendyk, it was at the end of the day, and we were the -- we were the hunter, instead of the hunted. We accomplished that goal, you know, at quarter to 6:00 at the end of the day. Being the first car out was a new thing for us. I remember the years of Roger being the first one to go, and, you know, being this is my 20th year here at Indianapolis, to see -- I've always wanted to be the first car to go out, and I never got those low-picked numbers like that. And my father did a great job drawing last evening. He's been a little off his game the last couple of years on the draw, but he vaulted back to the front. He picked us a low number and we took full advantage of it.
MIKE KING: Mike, you've orchestrated this three-car effort all week. Each day, all three cars were consistently in the Top-5 of the speed chart, but you never finished the day on top. You picked the right day to do today. Talk about the team's efforts this week.
MIKE HULL: Team's effort has been fantastic, as always. I think we are very fortunate; we have three quality drivers, and one group of people, that supports three guys. It's a testament to all of those guys what Bruno did today. You referred to 1993, with Arie. I'm don't know whether all of you guys remember this, I'm sure all of you were probably here, you've been here longer than most all of us, but we were the fastest guys with Arie all week, and we figured out in that month that it wasn't the best thing to be the fastest guy every die. In fact, with Arie, when we went to do our first run, they booed us because we were so slow. It took us all day to get back to the front. So Bruno did a heck of a job. And the pressure he's under didn't seem to bother him today. It's fantastic.
MIKE KING: This is the first pole for Chevrolet since 1991 when Rick Mears opened the pole that year.
Q. Bruno, four Brazilians in the Top-5. What's the secret?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't know. I think it's really good for Brazil, to show -- I think last year they finished 1 and 2, and I finished fifth. And let's see if another Brazilian can win the race.
Q. Bruno, what did you do on those seven long hours? Were you hoping for rain, good weather, hot weather?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I was hoping that nobody could beat me, you know. I don't want -- really, one thing, I was not hoping for rain, because I don't like to get -- because the other people do not have the opportunity. Let everybody have the opportunity, then see who is better prepared. I don't want to do well because someone didn't have the opportunity or did bad, you know. It was a really long wait. I went to the motor home, I went to the truck, I went to the garage, I went to the pit lane and went back again. I couldn't really stop more than 30 minutes in one place.
Q. As we understood the driver mix, when Tony Stewart had the offer when it was out there for him, Bruno was not in the fix; if Tony had said yes and tried to do this, would Bruno might have been here today, or would you have fielded a fourth car for him or what?
CHIP GANASSI: Eddie, you always have these questions, I don't know where you get them. Bruno has always been a part of the mix. When we were talking to Tony Stewart, that would have been a fourth car.
Q. You probably expected Robby Buhl to be a contender, but were you surprised that Raul, in the short period of time he was on the car, got on the front rope?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No. I was watching the list, and I was -- maybe the first one of my engineers said Raul can do it. And when he did a good lap, -- because first he had a lot of experience, and he seemed -- I know that they want the pole very hard, and I bet he had a big qualifying engine on that car. And I knew that he could -- he did like 230 this morning and I said, "He'll do 230 on qualify." Because some drivers, you know that when they go really fast, they are getting those in practice. And I know Raul, how well he is experienced, he does not need to prove. He was trying the speed that he did in the morning could do on the qualify, and then I knew that he would be fast.
Q. (Inaudible )?
CHIP GANASSI: Quite frankly, I was a little surprised to see Raul up there. He's done -- he knows his way around this place and you forget sometimes, there's a lot of these guys walking around the garage area with a lot of talent. And just the mere fact that he got in that car at a very late eleventh hour or whatever didn't seem to slow him down. That's a quality team, and they did a great job. Very surprising.
Q. Bruno, when you were running go-carts with Helio and Tony and Felipe when you were younger, did you win poles from them then?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I won poles, won races. Lost poles, lost races. I think it was really competitive. But I had a pretty successful Brazilian go-cart career. I won the Brazilian championship race against them two years, three years in a row, when I was like 13, 14, 15 and then 16 I started to race race cars, and then my last three years was good.
Q. Do you have an appreciation for doing something like with those guys when you were kids and being here now?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, it's really nice, you know, because you grow up together and race against each other, but being his friend, you want to see everybody succeed. And then racing in highest level of motor racing and doing well is really nice.
Q. Chip, could you just briefly comment on how rest of your drivers performed today and your opinion of their performance?
CHIP GANASSI: I think the drivers did a great job. We didn't give them the cars to get to the front. Is that brief enough?
Q. (Inaudible )?
CHIP GANASSI: These guys today, they have to have a car under them to do it. We didn't give it to them. The team takes the blame for that.
Q. Bruno, where were you and what were your emotions doing as Robbie Buhl almost equalled your performance?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I was in the garage and I said, "ooh." He did the first 231; I hope he goes low and keep it. And then the last one, the last was close because when he did his first outing, he did like 229, and the next lap 228; and I said okay, because I thought him and Helio (ph) especially could be the two guys that could really be close. Then he went out and tried again same as -- I thought that -- (inaudible) -- that they had another chance and I had to be anxious again. It was really difficult with this system.
Q. Because this is Indianapolis, how do you think this compares, even with the two victories that you've had in CART, how does this compare both from your mind and how do you think you'll be received in Brazil today?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: First, today is a pole. A victory in a pole does not win the race. But I always say the best win is the next one that you're going to get. It doesn't matter if it be Indianapolis -- for sure, this one more than all of the other ones that I've had in my career. But a racing car driver, he wants to win races. If one day I have a chance to win this one, my next big one, it will be Milwaukee on the next Sunday, you know. I always want to win and the next race is always the most important.
Q. So how do you think Brazil will react?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: This race is really big in Brazil. I remember, I told first time I was -- I just raced go-CART and then I was going to the hotel. I was watching it on TV and after on the radio when Emerson won in '89, I just saw the end of the race, I was in the hotel and I saw him and Al Unser, Junior, he crashed into Al Unser, Junior on the last lap. This race is really big in Brazil. It will be good if -- just to have like five Brazilians on Top-6, Top-5, would be big. Brazilians love race and they will support us.
Q. Mike or Chip, in 2000 when you got all your guys in the field safely, I know you helped out a team like Ed Vershansky (ph), I know a guy like Jimmy Kite is out there trying to be a second weekend type of guy, would you possibly sell one of your g-forces to somebody trying to do a last weekend deal, another team?
CHIP GANASSI: We're open for ideas. I mean, I'm not -- I'm not saying yes; I'm not saying no. Somebody comes up with an idea, that makes sense, we'll do it. If somebody comes up with an idea that doesn't make sense, we won't do it.
Q. Mike, you live here, you've raced here. Early this morning, guys were practicing at 231, and then in the middle of the day, it seemed some of the favorites slow down. Do you have any theories? Was it the weather?
MIKE HULL: I think some of us were affected by the changing weather conditions on the racetrack, and some of us collectively probably screwed ourselves into the ground a little bit. To really give you a very honest evaluation of the situation, you guys haven't lived until you've gotten inside that box Bruno got in today to have to leave to qualify for those four laps. I don't think there's four laps anywhere in the world that are like those four laps, either for the race driver, the owner, the manager, the mechanics, the engineers, the truck drivers, the people over in the hospitality. Those are the four hardest laps you'll find anywhere in the world. What you're looking at today is a guy that did something that very few people have ever had the opportunity to do, and guys like us are lucky enough to be around him. So, I think that's really the way we should answer the question.
Q. How much of a revelation was Bruno's performance this year and particularly recently? I think it's fair to say that during last year you had some doubts about him.
CHIP GANASSI: Well, I think, you know obviously the guy likes this place. I think we proved a year ago that with relatively little practice, he qualified. Remember, he was the fastest rookie here last year. Helio might have won the race, but Bruno was the fastest rookie, and that was with what, maybe 50 laps of practice or something? He didn't have very many practice laps last year and he was a second-weekend qualify. So, obviously, the guy likes the place. Did we face our challenges last year in Bruno's rookie year throughout the season? Certainly. But you know what, everybody likes a winner, and the guy wins races. And if he does big things at the big tracks, you've got to like him. It's that simple.
Q. It must be very satisfying then for you now to be achieving what you're achieving, given the difficulties of last year; you're answering your critics basically?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, I try to do my best. I think last year, I could do better, but because of no experience and maybe pressure on myself too much, I won one race and stopped one race from the pole. Because I'm Team Target, that was -- inaudible -- organized not that good, but I bet if I was on any other team, they say, oh, this guy is really good , he already won a race and stopped one race from the pole in his first year. But I think I learned form last year. I think an intelligent person is one that learns from your mistakes, and keeps learning and improving. I think I learned last year, and this year I'm trying to do better.
Q. Chip, going back to last year, was it kind of a gut feeling you had about Bruno that made you decide to put him in the field? Was this something that you saw, maybe you have to just kind of throw him in there and have him learn that way?
CHIP GANASSI: You talking about last year's race? We knew we had cars that were very fast, and we knew that if we had two drivers to put in them, they would go fast, and we had two drivers on the payroll and that's the first two drivers we went to. It was not -- I don't think there was ever a discussion about any other drivers. It was, hey, let's put Bruno and Nicholas in those cars and go.
Q. Chip, last couple of years, there's been a lot of focus on drivers doing the double, Charlotte and Indianapolis. Sterling --
CHIP GANASSI: Bruno's not doing the double. (Laughter).
Q. Sterling dominated the fall race in Charlotte and won it --
CHIP GANASSI: Sterling isn't coming to Indy, either.
Q. I know that. (Laughter.) I'm saying you as an owner could pull a double with the way Sterling ran at Charlotte last year. Have you thought of that?
CHIP GANASSI: The thought had crossed my mind. The point is, that I try not to get caught up in those kind of thoughts and try keep my head down and keep my feet moving and take care of the team. Whatever happens, happens. That's one 500-mile race and one 600-mile race, and we know that anything could happen in either one of those. The fastest guys don't always win and the best guys don't always win. That's especially characteristic of 500-plus mile races. But it sure would be fun.
Q. Bruno, how much did getting your first oval win at Motegi help your confidence coming into this month?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I have my it helped my confidence and Team Target's confidence. It was really hard to work in Indianapolis. We spent the whole month here working every day, 6:00, 7:00 in the morning. The guys are ready, I think not just me, all the guys are motivated. They really want to do well here and continue the success that they started in Motegi.
Q. You are about to experience something very unique in auto racing. As the pole winner of the Indy 500 you are going to be king of this city for two weeks and you have not even run the race yet. Talk about that prospect of what it's going to be like to be the focal point for the next two weeks.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think the best thing of to get this pole is the first time in my life, very often when you win a race, you qualify Saturday and you race Sunday. Then you're going to have 24 hours of happiness and then you go to race, you can have a longer time or you cannot have, you know. But the good thing of to win the pole here is that you are going to have two weeks and until the race starts you're going to be really happy. (Laughs). I live in Indianapolis and it's going to be even better.
MIKE KING: Mike, Chip, especially you Bruno, congratulations.
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