CART FedEx Championship Series: Grand Prix of Denver
Topics: Grand Prix of Denver
CRISTIANO DA MATTA: Just have to thank them for that, but performance here wasn't, of course, the way we wanted, but I'm pleased with third place. We have just to get our heads up because we did something I think between Friday and Saturday, because on Friday I could see that we were running in good shape. Then for Saturday we were running a little bit weaker, and then today we were a little better, but not as up to speed as Bruno and Scott. But I'm very pleased with third place. I think it's very important to get 14 points at this stage of the Championship, and we'll just have to see what we did wrong this weekend, and I'm not complaining. Right? Trying to see really what we can do to get our performance back to the way it was the last races.
MERRILL CAIN: Third isn't bad. Third isn't bad.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA: No, no. I'm very happy. I'm very happy. Just it's not time to relax. That's why I mentioned that. Just have to see what we did this weekend that we weren't up to speed with everybody else as we usually are.
MERRILL CAIN: Thanks, Cristiano. We're joined now by the Shell Grand Prix Denver Champion Bruno Junqueria driving #4 Target Toyota/Lola Bridgestone. He wins his second race this season, and third of his career. He made all 100 laps to claim the victory and he vaulted into second place in the Championship and made up some ground on CRISTIANO earning 22 of the 23 available points this weekend to boost his total to 123 points in the season. This is the second world course win of his career following last year's win in Mid America. Bruno, excellent effort from you today. You go wire to wire. Talk about your performance, and the last few laps were pretty exciting.
BRUNO JUNQUERIA: Yeah. I think from the start today when we qualified the team gave me a very good car. I was able to start from the pole. We worked very hard to get the consistent car for the race, and when they start the race, I could put some really fast laps with cold tires. I run 103.0 in my first lap of the race. That was really good. And I could open the gap to Adrian. Then I kind of slow down a little bit and tried to save the car, save the engine and save the tires, the brakes, and that's what I did on this whole race. I was very good to keep the concentration and make no mistakes on the race track. And I was really surprised that just when the yellow flag in the end, and then when Scott came behind me. When the race started, I pushed very hard on the first lap. On the second lap I was tired a little bit. Then I make a mistake on turn one, and I almost crash right there, the only mistake of the race. Then I decided to slow down and let Scott catch me because I didn't want to make another mistake. Make sure that I would be in there really fast to not give any chances for Scott to pass on turn five. And that's what I did on the last three laps.
MERRILL CAIN: Congratulations, Bruno. Great effort. Unofficially, now, we'll run down the top five in the point standings as they stand after 14 complete rounds of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Cristiano da Matta, as we said, still leads 175 points. Bruno moves into second place with 123 points, Dario Franchitti in third with 106 points on the year. Patrick Carpentier in fourth with 101, and Christian Fittipaldi rounds out the top five with 98 points on the season. Couple other quick notes before we open it up for questions here, it is the first time that Target Chip Ganassi cars have finished one, two since Houston in 2000. The winner of that race was Jimmy Vasser, followed Juan Montoya. It's also the second time this season that Toyota has led a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium. The first time came at Laguna Seca earlier this year. Let's open it up for questions.
Q. Hey, Scott, the two best results from Ganassi. Are you surprised it's taken this long to make the podium?
SCOTT DIXON: I think, you know, we've had lots of opportunities to where we could have finished this car out, plenty of times. We've had a lot of mechanical failures. We haven't qualified as well as we would have liked, but even in the places that we had we haven't finished. That's been a bit of a problem. Today we just tried to save the car. We took a lot of the traction control off and just make sure we're going to make it to the end of the race.
Q. Bruno, you're making life difficult for the people back in Belo Horizonte. Can you talk a little bit about the title chase and also maybe a comment from Cristiano?
BRUNO JUNQUERIA: When Cristiano placed in the Championship in the second, I think people there must be happy, and I hope they are. But Cristiano is making it very difficult, and unfortunately that's score points and open a big gap for me, and this time I won the race, but he also finished third. He is always being very persistent. Then it's kind of difficult I think points. Still five races to go and still lots of points, but I will work hard. I think anything is possible. And then maybe not finish, not finish. Not to decide another Championship that I won, I think when you finish is when the guy in second can't catch you anymore. Then I will -- until I have a chance, I'll work hard to try to get clear with him and maybe catch him.
Q. Can't get rid of this guy, Bruno. He even tried to tip you over on the podium as we saw.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA: He started it. He started it, and he said okay. Not didn't see you anymore. I saw him in the pit stop. I said okay. Then he finished third. I said, ah. Come on. Give me a break. You know. Anyway, I'm quite happy. As I said, I can't complain. Last year I had so much difficulty here, and it is already my second win. Indianapolis and here. All the pleasures and on the second the Championship, I think. I'm doing good in the year and I can't complain. I think I have to keep working, Team Target will have to keep working, getting ready for the next race in Chicago. And let's see if we can get another win like Montaro. That's going to be good. And let's see, I have to try my best, and what's going to happen there just God knows.
Q. Yeah, for all three guys, are you guys really surprised how clean this race was, one full-course yellow and really not too many incidents?
BRUNO JUNQUERIA: I was very surprised. We were discussing the race strategy today, we were counting on lots of yellows, and we never thought it was going to go like this. I mean usually you can count on a lot of yellows considering the practice sessions, but I'm happy that it went like this because then it makes the opportunity more difficult for whoever is not running fast to try to win the race with some strategy game, so I think it's always better when it's green because then the faster guys win the race.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA: I think the race was very complicated today because the pit wouldn't open on lap four, and everybody was expecting a crash when it stopped and then whoever crash maybe going to be should I come in or not. That's a big, big doubt. And mentally yellow three, and I think you have like 12 laps or 10 laps to go. I think that show how good are the CART drivers because I think everybody put in their minds it's their race to be aggressive, and I think under the circumstances everybody kind of slow down a little bit, make more secure and run a good race, and another point is other teams really did a great job. Everybody did a good job and to make a lot of cars in the finish.
Q. Scott, did you have any thoughts on the relatively clean race?
SCOTT DIXON: I just thought that it was going to be a lot of yellows, especially at the start. You know, guys like Tracy were back up, going to be side booming somebody. I don't know, yeah, I was happy to see it caution free. We only had one there I think that was with tours or something. So I thought it was a good race. It's nice to have clean races when you got a fast car.
Q. In the future is this race going to be decided on Saturday every year?
BRUNO JUNQUERIA: I don't think so. I think there was on turn five. You can't make a pass along the stop like Cristiano did coming from seven and finish third. It shows that you can make some positions. But all the street races there is no way -- Saturday is very important. Because there is such a long straight and not -- it's not wide enough then to try to make passes and it makes it each want to pass someone in this race. I think that's the key, but also I think it's not a race that you're going to see some guy that is low in the deck win. CART races are never like that, especially the way they've been this year, won on strategy. Very, very little opportunity for the slow guy to win. I think today the race was between Bruno and Scott, and nobody else had a chance anymore, not because the track doesn't have a place to pass, but just because nobody could keep up with their speed. It was not a matter, I think on the back there was a lot more passing, and it's just a matter of car performance. We have a car who can come to the front, whatever is passing in the racetrack or using the sides or passing in the pits. If you're slow, you're dead. It's just a proper sport. Who is slow, it's a race. Right. Who is slow finishes on the back. Who is fast finishes on the front.
Q. Thank you. Question for the three of you. Your lead obviously at one point was over 10 seconds and then at the end was nothing. Was the car better at some stages of the race than others or was it just that once Scott got by, Adrian got clear. How comfortable were you?
BRUNO JUNQUERIA: I always thought my car was good throughout the race. At one point they put in the way that Scott got by Adrian, and the difference was seven seconds. Then I made some really fast laps and some laps later that were nine seconds. And then came the error. This is why Scott got in front of me and on the fifth lap really fast, and the second lap I was pushing and I made a mistake, and then I said, oh, I will not push anymore, two laps to go and let's slow down, and then Scott catch me up, but as I said, I tried just to keep in front of him, make sure that I do the turn that the one before the back really fast. Then he couldn't get the chance on turn five, and that's what I did. And I didn't push that fast. It was important in the end because I know that last year that they had to pass me, someone had to pass me and make a mistake. Then I just got to the end.
CRISTIANO DA MATTA: I think we all have the same answer. Right. I think the whole track has to be repaved and with some proper Tarmac, because what they have out there it's very slippery and it makes racing very difficult because everybody has to use a lot more caution than you normally would in a race situation. I think the layout of the track is very good. I have no complaints about the track layout. I think it's just a matter of putting the good surface together, which I don't think is any rocket science. It's just take a little bit of effort, but it's no big deal. I think for the first year this is not bad. Of course, we wanted to see better, but it's a good start.
SCOTT DIXON: I think fairly similar throughout the week I think you have the same guys complaining that always complain. But you know, I think the track obviously had problems, but it's the first year. The cars sort of tip the track out. You know, you haven't raced here before. You know, I'm sure they'll make huge improvements next year, and they'll have another good race here.
BRUNO JUNQUERIA: I agree, and I think the problem is that half of the track is kind of bumpy. It's like concrete, and the other half wasn't asphalt, it's very slippery. They have to repave it, make it good, and it's not good and especially because he is very high they have really low bounces. The cars already light because of that, and when you got asphalt that's not good together makes it really slippery. But as Cristiano and Scott said, I think it would be great, and I think the place, or the city, I think Denver is a very nice city and very good for a race. And it's in a good location, very close to downtown, very good stadium and Six Flags, you know. It's a clean, nice place. I think you're going to have some pretty nice pictures. They would love this place. And I think there are some bad things, but a lot of good things about this race as well. And then I think you can improve for next year.
Q. If this track is resurfaced, does it make it any more possible to be more aggressive in terms of passing?
SCOTT DIXON: Yeah. I think it's very difficult just because of the gut level, and at the end of the race it's pretty bad, so I wasn't going to take the pass.
Q. CRISTIANO, you said last week in Montreal that you were thinking about points now, and maybe that you and the team are coming close to races we're thinking about and being conservative. Did you run a really conservative race today?
CRISTIANO DA MATTA: No. On the first lap I was a little conservative, but my car also was not handling very well and I couldn't keep up with Brack and Christian. They were ahead of me. On the second seat on good tires coming out of the pit stop, I closed the gap and I got really close to them and I was able to then on the second seat my car was better and I was able to keep up the pace of everybody else. There was like just a line from I think McConnell -- Fernandez, McConnell, Christian, Brack and me, and I was able to keep up the pace with this group. And my car was improving. I wasn't running conservative. I was just running as fast as I could, trying to maintain myself close to those guys in a position that if anything could happen, I could attack, but I just didn't have enough performance to really attack hard anybody. I was feeling like I wasn't strong enough. I had my weaknesses today, and I drove as hard as I could on the last three starts. I was driving as hard as I could to try to pull away from Fernandez, but those guys drew with a huge lead on me only like in seven or six laps. They opened like more than three seconds. And I was driving. The car was just very good, good tires and just very good, on every part. It's not because we're playing anything more conservative or less conservative than these last two races. We finished second and third these last two weekends. We were trying to win the same way, but it's a tough series, lots of other teams. People catch up to you. It has to be really sweet, you know.
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