CART FedEx Championship Series: Molson Indy Vancouver
Topics: Molson Indy Vancouver
MERRILL CAIN: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Let's go ahead and get started with our Top 3 press conference following today's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. We'll get started with Kenny Brack and Scott Dixon here while we await Paul Tracy. We'll start off with Kenny Brack who qualified third this afternoon in the #12 Target Toyota/Lola Bridgestone. Provisional qualifying, he had a best lap of 1.01.948 seconds, that's a speed of 103.500 miles per hour. That's a position that would be his best ever starting effort at Vancouver if it holds up tomorrow. It's one spot better than his fourth place starting grid from last season. Kenny, Team Target had a good day. You produced the best with the third place qualifying effort.
KENNY BRACK: Yeah, I think it was a good day for us. Like you said, it's the best I've been here in three attempts. We had a very good car, and I think obviously really fast this morning. I think we had that in the car this afternoon, too. It's just it's difficult, this track, because it's fairly short. We had a little bit of I guess unlucky with the way the reds fell because the first set of tires we went out and we did one and a half or two laps and it was a red, and it was a red again in the end. But, you know, we got one lap in there that was good. I think, you know, we'll see if we can improve for tomorrow.
MERRILL CAIN: Scott Dixon joins us. Driver of the #44 Target Toyota/Lola Bridgestone. He qualified second this afternoon with a provisional qualifying time of 1.01.939 seconds, that's a speed of 103.515 miles per hour. If his qualifying effort holds up through tomorrow's final qualifying session, Scott's time will give him his first front row starting spot of his two-year Champ car career. His previous best start has been a third, that was earned last season both at Laguna Seca raceway and at Road America. Scott, you turned a quick lap quite late in the qualifying session.
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah, we got kind of lucky just probably in turn two, three or four when it went red. But we sort of went out early on our first set of tires. We had changed a lot since this morning. Basically we tried some, you know, different development stuff. And the guys worked extremely hard. They got the car out there pretty late. But we had to make an early run to make sure everything was running fine. You know, they did an excellent job, you know, for the second run. I think, you know, it's kind of hard, as Kenny said, for this circuit. A little bit of luck plays on your side I think if you get a clear lap. It's hard to ever get one complete clear lap here. We'll just have to see what happens tomorrow. It seems like we had quite a bit of understeer in the car. Haven't really spoke to see how the other two have been doing. See how it goes, I guess. Hopefully it will be an improvement tomorrow.
MERRILL CAIN: We will be joined by Paul Tracy in just a second. Let's open it up for questions for Kenny and Scott.
Q. Did you see what happened with your teammate?
KENNY BRACK: I don't know what happened either. It was just a pile of junk down there in turn six. I don't know why it happened, how it happened. I didn't even know it was him at first, not until I turned into the corner, I saw it was a Target car because there was virtually nothing left of any bodywork there. So I don't know.
MERRILL CAIN: Paul Tracy joins us, the provisional pole sitter, after today's efforts. Paul driver the #26 Honda/Lola Bridgestone. He wins the provisional pole with a best lap of 1.01.888 seconds. That's a speed of 103.660 miles per hour. He wins one championship point for his effort today, gives him 51 points in the season. The finish today also guarantees Paul a front row starting spot for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. It will be his third front row starting grid of the season. Paul, talk about your efforts today. Obviously had you a tight battle there. All three of your teammates were up in the top parts of the charts. Seems Team KOOL Green has figured out the Lola situation.
PAUL TRACY: That's obviously a very big help, is understanding the car. But you've got to fine tune the car to each driver. So we've been getting better and better every week. Really today was just getting the lap, a clear lap. There was a lot of traffic on the track. Everybody waited till 20 minutes to go. Very difficult to get a clean lap. My first run was plagued by just, you know, not getting the right lap together. The second run I waited, waited, waited till six minutes to go, went out, and really my quick lap was really just a warm-up lap going into my starting -- what would have been my quick lap. The red came out. So I was a little bit frustrated at first, but I hustled, did two quick laps on the out lap, and the third one was kind of just probably an 80% effort because I had a gap in front of me and I had a car behind me that was coming up quickly. So I guess it was good enough. So I was really just quite fortunate that I was able to get a lap before the red came out because normally for me it's 99% of the time the red comes out when I'm doing my quick lap. If I'd have waited a little bit longer, then it would have been over.
MERRILL CAIN: Just a quick note here before we open it up for questions. Paul is the only Canadian driver to have ever won the Vancouver event. He won here in the year 2000. But he's yet to win a pole in Concord Pacific Place. He'll be trying to remedy that situation tomorrow. Let's open it back up for questions.
Q. Paul, I'm struck by what you were saying. In Toronto you had talked about maybe you're not the best qualifier in terms of getting up to speed in one or two laps.
PAUL TRACY: I was really just trying to gauge the cars that were in front of me. I left the pits with Tagliani. I raced him around on the first lap and got ahead of him. You know, I was just kind of building . I went at the second lap probably 50% to build temperature in the tires. I didn't feel that they were just right on that lap. But Tagliani was, you know, wanting to go then. So on the third lap I had to kind of hustle it around at about probably 80, 90% to stay in front of him. I came around, and that was my time. And then the next lap, the red came out. So there was more left in the car. I think, if you talk to anybody, they could have done a better lap. It's just getting the lap because of traffic and situations that happen. When you stick 18 cars out on a 1.7 mile track, or whatever this is, everybody is trying to get a lap with five minutes to go, there's going to be some pretty unhappy people in the pit area. But fortunately for me, I was able to just -- that one lap that I went around, the tires were fresh, pressures were still a little bit low, but I had grip. It was quick enough. I was actually quite surprised.
Q. Paul, everybody knows how hard it is to pass here. Would you talk about the importance of carrying that front row position tomorrow?
PAUL TRACY: It's fantastic. You know, to be locked into the front row in a Canadian race, having me being Canadian, starting Toronto in the front row, it's a great position to be in. Very fortunate. We've been working very hard. We've had a lot of bad luck. Now we just got a flash of some good luck coming our way, so I'm very happy about that, very happy for the team. I think we're starting to build ourselves. I think if we can continue our momentum that we've had over the last few races, start building some points, we'll be right there. I mean, I don't think the championship is over by any means. If da Matta continues to have problems like he did today, it doesn't take very long to catch back up.
Q. (Inaudible) does he ever talk about sending someone out early?
PAUL TRACY: You really have to wait for the right opportunity. The cars are so finally balanced now, grip is so important, the track condition is so important, I mean, you're splitting hairs. I mean, 10ths of a second are four or five spots. You just can't afford to go out there, be the first one out, unless you really know you don't have a chance anyway. Because of the other rubber that's on the track, it just makes the track that little bit slippery that you can't get the ultimate time. And everybody's waiting for the right opportunity. You know, we've got an hour qualifying session that comes down to basically 16 or 17 minutes in most cases. Everybody wants to get the most. Everybody feels that they're capable of starting in the first three or four rows, and they want to get the most out of the car, the most out of the tire and the track.
KENNY BRACK: I don't know, a little bit. It will be a little faster. A big jump, I don't think you'll see like a couple of seconds or anything. But maybe you'll see half a second to maybe 7/10ths of a second. Already we're faster than last year. If you look at the times we did here in the first session last year, I think it was 61.9, we were at 61.2 or 3 this morning. I think the track is pretty -- in pretty good shape already.
Q. Do the qualifying changes change your strategy at all?
KENNY BRACK: You mean, if you really want to be in front of him, into the first corner, you mean (laughter)?
KENNY BRACK: No, I don't think it changes anything. It's the same for everybody. You know, Paul did a very good job today. You know, that's the way the rules are. He's in a very good position knowing that whatever happens tomorrow, he'll still be in the front row, where the rest of us have to -- we have it all cut out for us tomorrow. We just have to try to get faster basically.
SCOTT DIXON: All I can say is, yeah, obviously it would be nice to be in that position. But I think obviously with another point there for tomorrow, everybody is going to try and do the same thing, try and top the charts tomorrow. I guess it puts a bit of a cush there. I'm sure we're all going to try to do the same thing tomorrow.
Q. With the points race being the way it is, how do you feel about da Matta's struggles today?
KENNY BRACK: Good (laughter).
PAUL TRACY: We feel good about it (laughter). I don't know what my position is in the championship, but I think I'm eight, nine, 10, somewhere around there. I'm 12 points out of third or fourth. The championship is not over by any means. Like I said earlier, it doesn't take very long to catch up. If you have two races bad, like an engine problem, you're back in it. Da Matta has built up a points cushion that right now he's not stressing about having problems, but if they continue, he's going to have a problem. There's a lot of guys packed in from third to tenth that can win races bang, bang, bang, like he's done. You get into a stretch of races where we have coming up four races in a row, you get going good, you can rack up a lot of points real quick.
KENNY BRACK: Long championship. Everybody is bound to have problems. It's a matter of where you have them, if you have them in the middle, beginning or end, you know. I guess if you look at it, probably at the end of the championship I think you'll see that everybody's going to go through good and bad times. For sure, he's won a lot of races already. But I think, you know, I still think the championship is wide open, although it looks on paper a little grim for second and the rest. You know, anything can happen here.
MERRILL CAIN: Thanks, you guys. Good luck in final qualifying tomorrow.
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