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CART FedEx Championship Series: Molson Indy Vancouver

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Molson Indy Vancouver

CART FedEx Championship Series: Molson Indy Vancouver

Dario Franchitti
Paul Tracy
Tony Kanaan
July 28, 2002


VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA

MERRILL CAIN: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with Tony Kanaan following today's Molson Indy Vancouver, a quite interesting one, I might add. Tony Kanaan finished third today in the #10 Pioneer World Com Honda/Lola Bridgestone. He earned his best finish of the 2000 season with a third place finish. That equals his career-best finish on a road course, and this is the third road course podium finish of his career and first since his rookie year of 1998. Tony, you've had some great runs this season that have ended in disappointment. This one obviously was one that felt very good for you and good to bring home.

TONY KANAAN: Yeah, I mean, especially here, you know, with good friends of mine on the podium was great. I think we've been having a tough year. We led a few races. The first five races in the championship we had mechanical problems, and I was in the top five all the time, so that cost me a lot. A lot of disappointment. But obviously when you expect the least, you get the most, and that was today. We knew we had a good car, but I wasn't competitive in the middle of the race. I never lost my patience. I never lost my faith. And I kept driving as hard as I could. Obviously, people make mistakes, and you gain a couple positions. I pass a couple guys. After that, was just trying to hang it in there. After the red flag, me and PT, we had a lot of pickup in our tires because of the slow laps we did. I think we both did struggle the most of everybody else. Jourdain was all over me. But I said, "Not today, man, I'm in. It's either third or nothing." I tried. He almost passed me. He was really fair. I was fair with him. I got it. So I'm happy to be here. Feels good again.

MERRILL CAIN: Congratulations, Tony. We're now joined by Paul Tracy, driver of the #26 Honda/Lola Bridgestone, he takes the second spot. His best road course finish of the 2002 season and best overall placing since he won at Milwaukee earlier this year. Paul lead the most laps to earn an additional championship point, that gives him 68 on the season, and moves him from 11th to 6th in the championship. Paul, I know you're excited about that, moving up and taking advantage of the unfortunate circumstances that happened with Cristiano. A lot of emotions for you. I know that you really wanted to take home a win. Little bit different strategy between you and your teammate, Dario. Talk about that a little bit, the emotions that you feel here in Vancouver bringing home second place.

PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, I'm happy for Dario, and obviously for Rick, but I'm also a little sad because I was dominating the race today. I saw Cristiano come in, I radioed and said, "He's coming in." They said, "Stay out." We stayed out. We got the lead and I was able to pull away quite easily after the restart from Cristiano. And over time, over Dario built up I think almost a 17-second lead. And then I thought everything was going along just fine, and we ended up, you know, pitting, came out, I was going quite quickly. Yellow came out, and Dario was ahead of me. I mean, that was very frustrating because we led almost all the race. But I'm happy for the team. I'm happy, again, for Dario. It's his first win of the year. Obviously to win here in Canada, Greg's hometown, is fantastic. Not only that, to have me, Dario and Tony on the podium, it's fantastic.

MERRILL CAIN: We'll go over the unofficial top five point standings here before we open it up for questions. Cristiano da Matta still leads in the point standings, 122 points. Dario moves up to second place in the points, he now has 84. Michel Jourdain, Jr. and Bruno Junqueira are tied with 74 points. Patrick Carpentier with 72. And Paul has 68 points to round out the top five there. Let's open it up for questions as we await Dario Franchitti.

Q. Tony, seemed like almost everybody was involved in something today. Was it just you and Jourdain at that last restart? Did you see any of the other accidents?

TONY KANAAN: I saw a lot of things happening behind me. Thank God today didn't happen to me because been happening all the time with me. I said, "I see all these people going off, maybe I'm next." No, I saw the accident, the bad one, with Adrian. I made the kink, and I look in my mirrors to look, I was worried about Carpentier. What I see was a huge smoke. All of a sudden I make the next corner, I don't see anybody behind me. I say, "Well, maybe is only three cars left in the race, so that's a podium guaranteed for me." Obviously it's not the best situation for us. I think everybody's trying so hard. The temperature was cold during the race, and was all week. So to warm the tires up was tough. I hope Adrian is okay. You know, with me and Michel, was just fighting for position. Like I said, I said, "I'm not giving up today, I'm going to the podium." I didn't push him off, but almost. He did push me, I push him, and I win the battle. I think he was thinking about the championship, as well. I mean, I'm sitting 17th in the championship. I made more points today than I made the whole season. So I wasn't too worried about not finishing again. Obviously, he was. And was a smart thing that he did. I'm proud of him.

MERRILL CAIN: As you can see, we're now joined by your 2002 Vancouver Molson Indy champion Dario Franchitti. Driver of the #27 KOOL Honda/Lola Bridgestone, he takes his eighth career Champ car victory. He led 19 laps to claim his first win since taking the Cleveland title in 2001. This is his second Vancouver win, making him only the third driver to win more than once at Vancouver, the other two being Al Unser, Jr. and Michael Andretti. With the win, Dario moves into second place in the championship, as we pointed out, with 84 points. He closes the gap to Cristiano da Matta to 38 points after 10 complete events in the CART FedEx Championship Series. Dario, I know it's a very, very emotional win for you. I know you wanted to take this win because of your good friend Greg Moore. Finally got it. I know it's got to feel great.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, feels awesome. You know, my head is all over the place at the moment, so many things going on in it. Business first. I think it was from Team Kool Green's side of things it was the perfect weekend. The race was perfect for Paul and I. I'm sure he would have liked the positions to be reversed, but we played that story a couple years ago, so now it was my turn. But, no, you know, in the race, our pit strategy definitely worked for us today: just try not to make any mistakes. And when we pitted and came back out right behind Paul, having done an extra pit stop, I was thinking, "Okay, now we're looking good." Definitely everything was going according to plan. When da Matta fell out, that was unfortunate for him but obviously good for us. Everything was going great until the red flag there. Glad to hear Adrian is okay. But that put a whole new spin on the race, going from a 12-second lead to having Paul right behind me. I just concentrated on doing a good restart. I mean, I knew there would be no sort of mad locking up maneuvers from Paul, but if he got close enough, I'm sure he would have put the pressure on. Just concentrated on making a good restart. And it all worked out. So to be on the podium with Paul and Tony up here in Vancouver is, yeah, pretty cool.

MERRILL CAIN: Dario pointed out Adrian Fernandez had a wreck that looked pretty serious towards the end of the race there. We're happy to report that CART director of medical affairs reports that Adrian suffered a large bruise and contusion to his right hip, and he was transported to Vancouver General Hospital for precautionary x-rays but looks like he'll be okay. Let's open it back up to questions for any of our top three.

Q. Was the track surface affected by the earlier Barber Dodge race? Did it contribute to the incident in turn one?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think so, no. The surface was affected by the temperature dropping as the day went on. But I think the track was quite good, I think. What happened when I saw Jimmy was out, that's a shame. Jimmy is just having the worst luck this year. I feel for him.

Q. Guys, you all mentioned about Greg Moore. If you could just talk about what this means, paying tribute to him here in Vancouver for this performance today?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, a couple years ago I really wanted to win the race, you know, as a mark of respect for Greg, you know, just do something and dedicate it to him. But, you know, we screwed up the last moment, in the last pit stop. So today it's good to finally get the job done. You know, it's a small thing, but it means a lot for me to be able to win up here. I know that if he was here, we'd be out partying tonight.

TONY KANAAN: We will be anyway.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: We will be; we'll just be missing the organizer.

TONY KANAAN: He's organizing, you know that. I think he organized this podium pretty well here today.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: For sure.

MERRILL CAIN: Do you want to share any of your opinions, Paul, Tony?

PAUL TRACY: I know the feeling I had when I capitalized in 2000. I think to sum it all up, to see Rick Moore at the podium, how happy he was, I mean, he was just filled with emotion. That was great. You know, really, really great.

TONY KANAAN: Well, what to say? I think, like I said, I think Greg maneuvered pretty well this podium today. I think he helped me a lot. You know, we having it every year when we come here, it's a tough weekend for us. For sure it's a lot tougher for Rick and his family, but us, I mean, we had -- it was a big chance in my life, so everybody else here. We try to keep it simple and keep remembering him in the best way, which was laughing and having fun. So when we do the party, we know he's around. So that's the purpose. You know, we going to go out and celebrate for him today.

Q. Paul, you appeared to have the quicker car before the red flag. Afterwards, was there a conscious decision made to stay in line?

PAUL TRACY: There wasn't really any decision, but I knew what my position was because I knew what Dario's position was after he had a problem in the pits. For me, I knew that it was going to be very difficult to overtake on cold tires without making a huge risk to do it, and I wasn't prepared to do that. With where we are in the points, I needed to get the 17 points today. I wasn't going to take a big risk and throw it all away because all of the front-runners were out of the race pretty much. You know, we jumped from 11th to 6th, and that's a big jump. Now we're back in the game. The focus now I think for me and Dario is to really capitalize on the momentum we're building. We're qualifying at the front now every week with the Lola. We're going into a stretch of four races in a row. Now is a time that we really need to -- we didn't need to have a mistake today and spoil the momentum, so we can build on this and go into this four-week run that we have of four races and really work together, try to really attack. This next month and a half is going to be crucial for the championship.

Q. Paul, it seemed like the early part of each segment, when Cristiano was running, you couldn't quite match him, but then your tires, your program, seemed to really come in. You seemed to be about as quick as him.

PAUL TRACY: Yeah.

Q. Was that the case? Do you think you would have had anything for him had he run all the way?

PAUL TRACY: I think our strategy for me -- you know, we started maybe with the pressures a little low. He was really quick on cold tires, and he pulled his gap on me in the first three laps of about three or four seconds. The first stint, it stayed at three to four seconds for pretty much the whole stint until the last five or six laps of the stint. I started to creep back up on him. I got it down to three before the first pit stop. Then as we came out for the second pit stop, I had stickers, and I think he had used tires. I was able to catch him up to get within a second of him in the first five or six laps. Then it went yellow, he pitted, we stayed out, tried a different strategy. From there, it took me three or four laps again. My tires were very slow to come up to temperature. Then as soon as I got them up to temperature, I was able to pull away pretty much half a second lap. I built up a six- or seven-second lead on him, and pretty big lead on Dario. He dropped out, I had a pretty big lead on Dario. Our strategy then was wrong. You know, I had a good car, on used tires, old tires. The car was very fast on the end of the stint, but not very good on cold tires.

Q. Dario, can you talk about particularly before the first run of pit stops Paul and Cristiano seemed to get away from you, what was your car like in that first segment and how did it work during the rest of the race?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, we got an imbalance in that first segment of the race. The car was starting to understeer. It was getting worse and worse as the run went on. So we made a change for the second run. It seemed to be a bit better. Everything was going well until actually the last stop, and it seemed to take an age to get the tires working because I think we'd dropped the pressures too much, worked horrendously for about five laps. My team manager came on the radio and said, "You need to give me more here." What can I give you unless you want it in the wall? I had to keep working and working, and then the tires came up and we were okay. That first stint for sure the guys were getting away from me. The car was definitely at its best in the middle of the race.

Q. How hard was it to get back in a racing mode after that red flag with nine laps to go?

PAUL TRACY: I think the most difficult part is that you sit and because the temperature was cold, the tires got very cold. You're not allowed to adjust the pressures, so the pressures drop. We ran around behind the pace car for a lap, so there was a lot of pickup. I mean, it was the worst-case scenario. You have pickup on the tires, the pressures are down, and they've gotten cold, and only one lap to get them up. It was very, very slippery. I mean, I was doing all I could do just to stay on the track, let alone try to keep up with Dario.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think, you know, I was in a similar boat. Sitting in the pits, I didn't allow myself to lose focus. It was just like a yellow period in the race for me, I kept focused on what I was going to have to do when we got started again. You know, as Paul said, it got cold. We had the worst-case scenario, because the Bridgestone tires had been working great all weekend. But it was cold, the pressures were really low, it was a handful. All those laps, I nearly went off three times on the first lap. Look in my mirror, thinking, "They're not getting any closer, what's going on here?" I think if anything I was pulling away the first couple laps. I was obviously thinking the other guys were in trouble, would have made my life a bit easier. From then I just tried to get to the finish. I think it would have taken a lot of laps consecutive running to get the tires back up to workable condition. That's not a problem with the tires; just the circumstances. They weren't in their at their sweet spot at all. So it made it pretty interesting, those last five laps, for sure.

TONY KANAAN: I think it was a good move by CART to red flag the race for the fans - not for me either. I had a 10-second lead on Patrick. Obviously, I wasn't trying -- I knew I didn't have the car to go up to fight with these guys. But as a first time, we need to learn. If we had to do it again, I think we need the extra laps for us. In an oval we probably don't. But in a road course, we could actually have three cars finishing this race after the red flag because of that. It's not only because of the temperature, but all the accident and we try to avoid all the debris. We pick up a lot of pickup. We take a lot of pickup on the tires. I mean, I was looking at Paul's tire. I'll like, "Gee, what he going to do?" I'm like, "I'm going to try to get him." I look at my tires, even worse. Michel is probably thinking, "I'm going to get both of them." It's five laps to go, we're fighting for a podium. So for the future I would say we should go extra laps. We had eight laps to go. I mean, you know, they could gave us one more lap. I don't think will be enough anyway, but will be better than what it was.

Q. Were you guys aware when da Matta went out? If you were, what were you thinking at that point?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, he was right in front of me (laughter). I'm sure he felt the same thing last week in Cleveland when he was standing in the pits, my engine went bang, I'm sure he's thinking, "Sweet." But I thought, "Okay, let's take advantage of the situation. We can gain some points back here."

PAUL TRACY: I think the thing is that it just shows how quickly your fortune can turn in racing. And this championship is not over in CART, and everybody's been saying, "It's over, it's over, da Matta has it wrapped up, the guy is so fast." But it's not over. It can all turn around, you know, in one race. So we just have to keep pushing.

MERRILL CAIN: Today's attendance was 66,134 fans. The three-day total here in Vancouver is 161,728 fans.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: While we're on that subject, you know, these guys agree, they might want to say their own thing about it, but when you show up on Friday morning, go out and run practice, the stands are pretty much full, looks like a Sunday, the place is full, you see the enthusiasm this afternoon before the start of the race, the passion these guys have got, particularly for this big guy here (laughter).

TONY KANAAN: You're famous here (laughter).

DARIO FRANCHITTI: He's hot stuff.

TONY KANAAN: People ask me, I say, "I'm Paul Tracy's friend." I got a free dinner last night. "What are you doing here?" "I'm Paul Tracy's friend."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: We love coming racing here for many reasons, and one is the reception we receive from the fans, the way the town treats us. It's awesome to get that kind of reception. I want to say thank you to all the fans that come out, make it such a great atmosphere.

PAUL TRACY: I just want to say the same thing. You know, this is what CART's future is. You just have to keep pushing forward. There's a lot of negative people around saying a lot of negative things. When we have events like this, we have the drivers that we have, we've got a great product, and we showed today this is great racing, great fans, and great people involved.

MERRILL CAIN: Well said, guys.

Q. Paul, nobody knows how things are going to play out. You said you want to be in CART. Maybe comment on if this is your last race in Vancouver.

PAUL TRACY: I can guarantee it's not going to be.

Q. With the Molson Indy race team, can you comment on the involvement of the Molson Indy girls in this race, knowing Greg Moore played a large role in organizing it?

TONY KANAAN: I'm single, I can say whatever I want (laughter).

PAUL TRACY: It's going to be a good party tonight. No, it's a lot of fun. It creates the festival and the hype that goes around the race. I mean, I think it was perfected in Australia. It originated there. Now it's come to Vancouver. It's coming to Toronto, Long Beach. It creates a hype for the race, and it brings more fans in, brings a lot more people to the stands. When there's more things going on at the racetrack, more people want to come and check it out. The concerts, the bathing suit contests, we have volleyball competitions at some races, motorcross free-style jumping at some races. It's more than just a car race when you come to a CART race.

That's the kind of atmosphere Chris Pook is trying to make. That's what's going to keep bringing the fans in and I think it's great.

Q. Do you think the turnout this weekend might help CART in its campaign for a future?

DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think we get this turnout every time we come up here to Vancouver, any of our Canadian races. Certainly anybody that's thinking of this weekend, you know, anybody that's got negative thoughts about CART after being here should go and visit a doctor, I think.

MERRILL CAIN: Gentlemen, thank you very much. Congratulations on a great race.



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