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CART Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  CART

CART Media Conference

Josh Beaulieu
Jonathan Macri
Alex Tagliani
July 23, 2002


MERRILL CAIN: As the CART FedEx Championship Series heads north of the border this weekend for the Molson Indy Vancouver, the CART teleconference takes on a definite Canadian flare this week. We'll be joined by Alex Tagliani of the Player's/Forsythe Racing Team in just a minute, and later in the call we'll hear from two of our top Canadian CART Ladder Series drivers, Jonathan Macri of CART Toyota Atlantic Series and Josh Beaulieu of the Barber Dodge Pro Series. First, let's welcome Alex Tagliani, driver of the No. 33 FORD Cosworth Reynard Bridgestone for Player's/Forsythe Racing. Alex, thanks for joining us today.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thank you.

MERRILL CAIN: Alex is coming off his third top-five finish this season after placing fifth in Cleveland a couple weeks ago. He is currently tied for eighth in season points standings with 52 points on the year. And we thought it was appropriate to talk to Alex heading into Vancouver because that is a race he dominated from the pole position and leading 78 laps before retiring due to mechanical problems. Alex, we'll open it up for questions, but first off, I'd like to start it off by asking your feelings heading into this race. You've come close to that first career CART win several times, but last year really seemed like you were the man to beat on the streets of Vancouver all weekend long before you ran into problems late into the race. How excited are you to get back there in front of the Canadian fans and get that win that eluded you last season?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, I'm telling you, I tried to sleep in the last couple of days, but I was up a couple of times in the middle of the night thinking of this race. I was very, very, very sad and very disappointed last year because, you know, like you saw many times, we were in position to win races. But last year that race in Vancouver was the one that we dominate every session qualifying and in the race, and everything was right, pit stop strategy, and I guess the only factor that we did not have on our side was luck. We had a mechanical failure on the car and we didn't win. So, it was very tough. But, you know, I just think that it's tough for everyone in the series, very competitive. It's difficult to predict when you show up at the racetrack what's going to happen. Our car was not as fast this year in Toronto than it was last year, so I'm very nervous to jump on the track on Friday morning and see how the car was, and last year it's similar to this year. But if the car is close to what we had and we are competitive, then, for sure, we're going to try very hard to make up what we lost last year.

Q. Pat was on this conference call last week and he was talking about the Reynard chassis, and he was suggesting that the one type of circuit where the Reynard seems to be at a distinct disadvantage to the Lola is the street circuit. He was talking how he would have to run the car a little higher on the street circuits; the higher the car did not produce as much downforce as the Lola. Do you agree with that assessment, and if so, how will that affect you?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Without going into too much technical stuff, the way Bruce Ashmore is looking at the car and the way he sees into the car, it seemed that Lola produced more downforce than the Reynard. So when you raise the car and you put soft suspension on and you go on a street course, when you get into corners about 80 miles an hour, 90 miles an hour, the car has a lot more downforce than the Reynard and you are able to go faster. Our car is really working good at Lola ride height and that's why we were competitive in Japan. That's why we started second and we were leading the race in Chicago, and that's why, you know, Pat had a good setup and his car was working well in Cleveland. Even though he won the race in Cleveland, da Matta and Franchitti were still up front until they had problems. And we cannot sit and say, "Oh, we are competitive now, it is going to be all good." We might have surprises towards the end of the season. So we need still to work on had car, and that's what we have and that's what we need to work with. It's definitely coming from the grip and not from the speed in the straightaway because FORD is producing good power. We had good straightaway speed pretty much everywhere. You know, like last year we did a 58.0 in qualifying in Toronto and this year we did a 58.7. So we are 7/10ths off, but we have four inches of boost left and all our ground lost was on the straightaway. To be able to go faster than that, what da Matta did, it's really coming from corner speed, and that's where we need to work and that's where the team effort is directed.

Q. So given this circumstance, realistically, do you think there's much hope of being able to repeat in Vancouver what you did last year, given there is this slight disadvantage to the Lola?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, I think the track is not as bumpy as Toronto, especially on the braking in some of the places. So we might be able to run a little stiffer than Toronto and that might help the ride out of the car and produce some low downforce at lower ride height. And the other thing is, most of the corners are second gear corners. If we can find some good mechanical grip with a car that is slight bit stiffer and runs slower , then I think we can be very, very close to what we did last year. In my view, if you want to be fast this year on the CART circuit, you need to go faster into the corner compared with what you did last year. That's where the time comes from and not from the straightaway speed.

Q. What do you think of Jerry Forsythe's decision to assist with the Reynard throughout the season? Most of the other teams have switched already and he's even talking about running the Reynard next season, are you in agreement with that?

ALEX TAGLIANI: I don't really know what's going to happen. It's not decided yet. This season, it was obvious that we were going to run with the Reynard and we would have some development from the Reynard factory. And a lot of aerodynamic bits were supposed to be on the car and we got really caught off guard when Reynard went bankrupt. So, that was difficult for the team. Since that time, the team changed pretty much the whole mentality. We are almost running like a Formula team. We are producing our own parts, we are developing our own parts, a lot of wind tunnel testing. Actually, the team was there last week. So it's a little bit more difficult for a CART team when you start a season without that preparation in mind, but even if we wanted to switch to Lola, at the moment, Reynard went bankrupt, we would have had to wait seven months from that time for having Lola delivery. Instead, I think Team Green already had Lola ordered a long time ago, and that's why they had to the start the season with the Reynard, but they had Lola coming and they knew that. For us, it was a little bit tough at the beginning, but right now that's what we have. The team is really wanting to improve the car and working. They never stop working, that's for sure. I think options are still open for next year because the team wants to win.

Q. Even though you are concentrating on this season, and obviously you are looking towards next year, the Player's sponsorship, because of the tobacco legislation, is going to run out at the end of next season. And I wonder, as drivers, even though you have to focus from week-to-week, where do you think -- Player's has been involved in racing in Canada for over 40 years, but is this too early for you to explore other options? In fact, what are your options, and do you talk about it as drivers, you and Pat, and do you talk about it as a team, and is it a distraction in any way?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, honestly, I think that it's true that, you know, like I'm looking at other options. I'm not allowed to negotiate with any other team because under contract for next year, too. But, you know, myself, we are looking to different opportunities, but without trying to look at other race teams because my contract is good for next year. So it's a long way to go. We have another year, and in that year, we don't even know what's going to happen. Everybody is really focusing on trying to make the series better, more than anything. But I think Player's, they really want to stay in racing. The bad thing for that is I had my chance, I am not going to be the guy that is going to be really unlucky, because I had the chance to jump into CART and did a couple of seasons. It's the other Canadian drivers like Jonathan Macri, Michael Valiante, those guys, I think they are talented. The only way those guys realistically can go into Indy car is with some Player's support, and then they need to -- having another test from another CART team, but it's really tough. So, you know, cutting the legs under Player's, that would be the worst thing for the Canadian sport. It's not going to die. I think like you cannot say it's done and I don't have any opportunity left, but it would be very tough. I think it's very sad. I think of it all the time, but I don't make the rules. Some people need to wake up and say, really what they think, and I think this is very -- to use the word, bullshit.

Q. One thing I was going to ask you, too, for CART drivers generally there's been a lot of distractions. The fields are down to 18 cars, even though it seems like the series has probably turned around a bit under Chris Pook, there's all of these things happening, the German 500 being cancelled; there's a press conference going on today, I guess, where Michael Andretti is announcing that he's going to purchase Team Green and maybe take it to the IRL. The whole sport of open-wheel racing is in flux, and I wonder if that is another distraction for you as drivers this season?

ALEX TAGLIANI: It is. It's really sad because it's a battle between people that are -- you know, like not smart enough to understand that we are all going to lose in that whole deal. You know, Chris I don't think he's a magician. He's not able to do miracles. What he did in the last couple of months, everybody thinks is great, but there's a lot of things that need to be improved and a lot of things that need to be changed. Even though you work in that direction, there's always somebody that is going to complain and he's not going to be happy, and if you try to make everybody happy, then I think that's when you get unfocused and you might lose everything. So I think Chris needs to stick to what he thinks is the best for us, we back him up and we think it's good. The teams, 20 or 21 cars have already signed a letter of intent for next year, and I think that's pretty good for the series. And who cares who leaves, who comes; it's just, make the series better. The thing about Germany, well, CART decided to help Chicago, Chicago decided to help other races. If everybody now asks for CART's help, then it's not going to be more healthy. Every racetrack should be healthy enough and like promoting enough their track and their event to be on their own and do their own deal. The Canadian races, they don't ask for CART help; they do their own thing. That's what every racetrack is supposed to do. If they are not, then it's better losing it than better trying to help it; and then you help it once, twice, three times and then they think you are going to help them forever. If it's not this year, it's going to be next year that we lose that race. So I think what Chris is really pushing to do is make sure that there's 10 to 12 healthy teams, fully-sponsored and helping them with a financial program that is going to give them a bonus and on top of that, having very healthy events. That's where we are going to race. If it's 18 races, then it's 18 races. He's trying to reduce the cost, because I think some of the teams are really willing to stay in CART, but they would really like to go to IRL, and having a lower budget in IRL gives them a little sideline budget to go to the Indy 500. All of that deal was like a lot of hard work, and it seemed that it produced some good things, but it's not over yet.

Q. What about Andretti's decision? Do you feel a little bit -- everybody has to do what they think is best for themselves, but do you feel a little bit betrayed, because he's been a CART driver for such a long time and been such an integral part of one of the biggest names in the series, do you feel betrayed because maybe he's kind of bailing on the series, when really, it really needs him to be in it? I don't know if he's actually leaving it himself personally, but I'm just saying --

ALEX TAGLIANI: Michael is going to go wherever he thinks is best for them. By buying Team KOOL Green, I think it's a business decision. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm too far away to know all the details and to know what happened in that deal. But, you know, I mean, how much longer Michael was going to race, I don't know. So if you focus all your energy around Michael Andretti, it's not more -- it not good for CART, either. There's plenty of guys in that series that should have their chance. If you look at Formula 1, they give chances to a guy that is a completely unknown. Rykeman (ph) went to McClaren (ph), he is good. Montoya went from CART to Formula 1; he's one of the head guys right now, he's on pole a couple of times. If you don't change your guys all the time and you don't give opportunity to younger guys, it's going to die, anyway. I mean, I'm not like a good businessman enough to decide and tell what to do, but it's not more healthy when you are trying to focus energy on one guy and forget about the others because it's not going to happen.

MERRILL CAIN: To be clear on the announcement, it was announced that Michael Andretti is purchasing a part of Team KOOL Green and will become part owner of the company, as well. Again, he did not make it clear as to what direction they are going to go in the future in terms of what series they are racing in. As far as we are concerned, he's still in CART and that's where he's going to be.

Q. When you guys were out here with us in Long Beach, the passion of the fans for the Team Player's merchandise, it was more than just being a fan, there was something really special about it. Talk about being an athlete in Canada. You don't just represent your home town or province; you represent the entire nation, don't you?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, I don't know. I don't know how much I represent. I think I live in my own little world and I stay pretty much the same that I when I was racing go-carts. I think I'm a very little person in a big team and in a big series, so I don't know how much difference I make. For sure, Player's being involved since 1961, their first involvement in racing event, after all those years and having -- giving a chance to Jacques Villeneuve and other guys like Bourbonnais, Greg Moore, Pat, myself and helping many others in a different series, I think Player's is as important as any other sponsor in Canada, if you think of Molson and everything. So all of those Canadian sponsors that they try to help that sport that we love and want to be in, for sure, they love to represent their country. So as much as like I wear the Canadian flag on my car, every other people that are involved into motor racing, far away or closer, they are a part of it. If those people are not there, then I cannot take the credit to represent my country because I would be still racing go-cart at the moment. I don't want to take the full credit. I'm there to represent, yes, Canada, but if those people are not there to help us represent Canada, I don't think we'll be able to do it.

Q. When you heard the cheers at Toronto, and I'm sure it will be true when you are get to Montreal, especially this weekend, what does it feel like to feel that sense of emotion of your countrymen?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, I'm telling you something. I'm proud of something, if all of the places we race, the only places where we are getting really close to the fans is in Mexico, and the people in Mexico are really backing up their Mexican drivers. But when we come in Canada, I think the Canadian fans give a good welcome to everybody, but at the same time, a lot more to us and it's giving us like little butterflies in the heart. Like everybody turns around and they look at us, and geez, guys -- it's fun to see that we are one of the country where we are racing and the fans are really supportive.

Q. The way that Team Player's has been coming on the last couple of years, do you sense something is building here with your team into next year and through the latter part of this season and into next year?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, the team is working very hard. All of the engineers -- I don't even know sometimes a call my engineers for a debriefing on the phone and they are still in the office at 8:00 at night and they are trying to make our car faster. The involvement of Player's into the deal is really strong and they give them every possibility they need or they can to do what they need to do. But the guys that are working for that team are very committed and the only thing they want is to be competitive and win races. So we've been through a lot of changes. That team has been through a transition in the past with different engines and a lot of things happen. But to be able to stay competitive, the way we are, most of the time, especially with this year, what happened with Reynard, I need to raise my hat off to those guys because that team right now is working as a Formula 1 team: They are building, developing, they do everything on their own. They don't buy any parts from anyone, and they can't, anyway. So it's 80 people working like non-stop, and I think in the next couple of races and next year, especially, we are going to start winning races consistently, and that's going to change the whole aspect of racing in Canada, I think.

Q. (In French.)

ALEX TAGLIANI: The question was about my opinion of Team KOOL Green and Michael Andretti. I said that I don't really know. I think it's a business decision. Michael, right now, he's racing for CART, and we don't even know. Maybe Team Green wanted to go to IRL and Michael bought part of the team to have a power of decision in the team to stay in CART; that's an alternative. I don't really know. It's too new to be able to know where they are going and which direction they are heading but we'll know within the next couple of weeks. The other question: Was what's going to happen with Paul Tracy; do I think that Paul is going to run a third car in the Player's team. I would be surprised. I would be very surprised, but you never know. If Paul is out a ride because Team Green is leaving for IRL, I'm not very concerned about Paul. He's been in CART for 11 years. He proved what he had to prove in CART, and he's one of those guys that can find a ride anywhere he wants. So I'm not so concerned about his career at the moment.

Q. Just talk about the Molson Indy in Vancouver last year and the emotion of having Patrick beside you on the front row, all Canadians pulling in, there's still a lot of emotion there with Greg Moore. Just go back for us and recapture the emotion of the moment, because I know it was one of the highlights of your career.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Well, I've been very close many times. I've all of those races, Elkhart Lake, ten laps to go and I broke a CV joint. In Australia, I ran out of fuel. In Brazil -- it happens a lot of times, last year in Toronto, coming out of the pit, Michael beat me by half a second to finish second. So, that's it. I was prepared. I've been through a lot of disappointments, but the thing that disappoints me the most is that they that we were there and it's the first time that I was coming back to Vancouver for a second year in a row, and the fans really were supportive. You know, we saw a couple of the flags with Greg Moore and No. 99, but we saw a lot of flags for Pat and myself. The fact that there's that pole award from Rick Moore, Greg's dad, it was special. It was special because you can give it to anybody else, but if you give it to someone that is in the Player's team that Greg races all his career, and we can could that for the fans, it's a little bit special. The way the weekend went, very good for us. We've been on top of the list every session. So after Friday, you kind of think that you have a shot for the pole. After Saturday, you kind of think that you have a shot for the win. And when you're leading 78 laps, you can see that it might be that day, and when you sit down on the wall for the rest of the race -- I don't want to say what I said in my helmet and I don't want to -- I expressed what I felt, because you cannot. You can't explain. It's not making me slow are or not believe anymore. Just, it was a race that was the saddest for me because we were in Canada, for sure.

MERRILL CAIN: Alex, thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with us today. We do appreciate it.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Thanks, guys.

MERRILL CAIN: We wish you good luck in the race this weekend, and we'll see you in a couple days. We now welcome in two of our top Canadian an drivers. First, Jonathan Macri the P-1 Racing. Thanks for joining us on the call today.

JONATHAN MACRI: Thanks for having me.

MERRILL CAIN: Jonathan's in his second season in the Toyota Atlantics Series. He tied his career best finish in Toronto by finishing second earlier this season and he's currently sixth in the point standings, just 29 points behind series leader Michael Valiante. While there's no race in Vancouver this weekend, Jonathan will be there participating in the expanded CART Mentor Program. He will be spending time all weekend long working with the team, alongside driver Mario Dominguez. That has to be a pretty exciting situation for you get into. What are you excited about and what are you looking forward to about working with them?

JONATHAN MACRI: Just the whole thing starting off. It was an excellent experience, just to get a general idea of what it is like to compete on a champ car team. I'm sure I'm going to get lots of opportunities to talk with Mario, just for him to let me know what's going on and get an idea of what a weekend is like, see what all the PR is, the pressure. I've experienced quite a bit of it in Toyota Atlantics now, but to get the gist of how much more running in CART would be. I think even just talking over with the engineers, meeting a lot of the different people, sponsors and everything, I think it's going to be a really good eye-opener, as well, for me.

MERRILL CAIN: We're also joined in the by Josh Beaulieu of the Barber Dodge Series. Thanks for joins us today. Josh is a 25-year-old driver from Langley, who is competing in his first full season of the Barber Dodge Series. Josh has won a promotional pole in his last race in Cleveland, he sits 11th in points, and I'm sure he's excited to race in Vancouver this weekend. This will mark the first time he's competed on his home track in his career, and he takes the checkered flag in the Barber Dodge Race on Sunday. Thanks for joining us again. What's it going to be like for you take the green flag when you race in Vancouver on Sunday?

JOSH BEAULIEU: Well, I hope I pick the checker, as well. We have not finished the last three races. We have had a little bit of misfortune in the last three races. But just to have my first home race, it's my fourth year of racing, to have my first home race in front of my sponsors and friends and supporters is going to be a really special weekend, I think and I hope that I can do a good job.

Q. Josh, when you look at Vancouver as your home track -- and you've raced on it, I assume, before -- but what do you look for this weekend and who do you look to be your best competition?

JOSH BEAULIEU: Well, it's going to be my first race here in Vancouver on this track. So I am learning the circuit. But I think the strong guys all year have been, obviously, Allmendinger, winning four of the first six and there's been two or three up there, as well. I think after a few races now under my belt, I'm happy that I can be up there running at the front, like at Cleveland last weekend. But I think it's going to be very close, obviously, and part of it is just going to be a matter of staying consistent and not making mistakes, and it's definitely not going to be a runaway race. I don't think any race so far this year has been in the Barber Dodge Pro Series because it's been so competitive. It's certainly going to be a challenge and I'm looking forward to making the most of it and running near the front in front of my hometown fans.

Q. Josh, you've had a huge amount of commitment, you've done a lot of it yourself. Can you talk about that, the difficulties, the challenges? I know you did get some rewards with the Formula Palmer test, etc. Talk about your career to this point.

JOSH BEAULIEU: Well, it's certainly been a roller coaster. You're right. I do do 90 percent of my own marketing and PR at this point. So it's difficult to balance all of that with racing and preparing, doing the off-track things required to do the things on the track. But it's been a great experience and it's definitely taught me a lot about the sport and about life in general. But still, with all of that being said, I'm still at a very modest level in racing and I'm hoping to move up to the CART FedEx Series within a few years. We have yet to sign a title sponsor this year, so I've been going race-to-race. The last few races I didn't know I was doing to be there until the Monday or two before the race, because the sponsorship gets pulled together at the last minute type of thing. So that has been the biggest challenge for me this year. But I think as I improve on the track and the speeds increase and I start running near the front more, then hopefully that will pave the way to open the door for sponsors and so on.

Q. Now, obviously, it's got to be something of a challenge when you don't know Tuesday morning if you're going to race or not, but Tuesday afternoon you do and you've got to hop a plane and go. How do you separate that business side to the driving side, getting in the car? Does it still weigh on you, or are you able to shut it completely out of the business side when you get in the car?

JOSH BEAULIEU: I think that's certainly a challenge, being able to shut out everything else but racing when you get in that car. I think maybe some drivers are, but I'm not able to do that 100% completely yet. You are always working towards, just forget about everything and let's just focus on driving and do the best job that you possibly can. So that's definitely something that, you know, it's a challenge and it's a struggle and probably a goal in itself is just to focus on the process, and that's something I work at improving, as well.

Q. Josh, racing there for the first time, do you find that the other Canadian drivers who seem to be a very tightly-knit group, have been of any help to you?

JOSH BEAULIEU: Absolutely. I was speaking with -- I had the privilege of speaking with Carpentier two weeks ago in Toronto and he offered about 15 minutes of his time. We were talking about basically preparing to jump in the car and preparing for each race and what he does, and he gave me his advice, and it was completely unselfish of him and I appreciated that so much. I think that Canadian drivers do tend to stick together a little bit. There is another guy who is also very quick in our series, Dan Di Leo, and me and him talk a little bit. There is a little bit of that element of national pride, I guess, and it's nice to see that.

Q. Jonathan, can you just talk a little about part of the responsibility, and you knew this was going to happen, doing things like you are doing today with this conference call and having a lot more to do with the media; it can be a little bit unsettling for somebody who is not used to it but it's something you have to get used to if you are going to be competitive in this sport in that day and age, you are part of the marketing stance of the sponsor, you are expecting to be able to handle media and public speaking. Talk about some of the work you've been doing in that because you've matured in that area as well?

JONATHAN MACRI: I've kind of enjoyed getting involved in this aspect, just getting more and more media things to do. Like for my home race a couple weeks ago, Toronto, I was just flooded with different things to do. I think I handled it pretty good, just kind of really separating the media aspect of it, or the racing, or when it came down to racing I was able to just sit down and really focus on what I need to do there. Media-wise, I've done quite a bit of training over the last couple of years. I think the main thing is just getting experience in dealing with it. Last year, I was in the Toyota Atlantics series, as well, so this year, I know what to expect and what's to come, but more and more of it comes, I'm definitely enjoying it. It's a matter of right now, people are getting to hear your name more and more times. So as many things as I possibly can get, I will be doing. So the more you hear my name, I guess the better it is for me.

Q. Both you and Josh, you are young enough that you cannot overlook the contribution of your parents and guardians, steering you in the light direction; you certainly are not old enough to be away from their influence and they have had a lot to do with the direction you've taken and your success, as well, haven't they?

JONATHAN MACRI: Definitely. They are still actually at every single one of my races, both of my parents are supporting me. Right now they are still a huge influence on my racing career. My dad is still every year sitting down and negotiating my contracts for the following year and everything, so he's still very much involved, as well as my mom, doing a lot of my PR work right now for me. So they are a huge influence and support for me.

Q. Josh, along the same lines, with Jeremy Dale here, another Canadian, in charge of the Barber Dodge Pro Series, he's always made it very clear to us is that there's as much to do to grow as a driver away from the car and away from the racetrack as there is in the car and on the racetrack and I know that he's been instrumental, along with Chris Pook and the entire ladder system of making sure that you can do what we just talked about with Jonathan, handle the media and represent your sponsor and be a professional away from the automobile is just as important as it is driving it.

JOSH BEAULIEU: I agree with that completely. More and more over the last few years, and couple decades, even, that's been part and parcel with the package of being a racing driver is be able to handle stuff like that and be proficient at it. Most importantly, represent the team and your sponsors the way they would have you represent them, with a good and positive image. So I think definitely the Toyota Atlantics Series and now the Barber Dodge Pro Series, being affiliated with CART, that's a huge strength.

Q. Jonathan, I wanted you to look ahead beyond this weekend to the following weekend when you'll be at the oldest street circuit in North America, probably one of most prestigious Atlantic races. What are your thoughts?

JONATHAN MACRI: I'm definitely looking forward to that race. Street circuits, the team has been really quick this year. So I think that's a circuit that definitely favors my style of driving, as well. Last year, we ran quick there, finished in the top five, which was really good for me. So going there again, we came up with a strong finish in Toronto. So we should be -- it's kind of hard to expect going in every week. It's such a close field, you're never really sure where you're going to be if the field, but definitely we have a good setup there. So things should turn out good for us. I really love the track there, and I know that we are going to have a good setup there and it should pretty much be a good weekend for us.

Q. I know that you are a very young guy, so I don't know how much of that history that particular venue, Trois Rivieres, you are familiar with, but is that a place where you are aware of the history and the tradition and the prestige associated with that venue?

JONATHAN MACRI: Yes, actually. I've been -- every year, I'm learning a more and more about it. Yeah, I'm pretty familiar with the prestige of the Toyota Atlantics everything, coming back there and how it somewhat originated from that race as well. Definitely, I'm still learning more and more about every single race I go there.

Q. For both Josh and Jonathan, I'm sure you guys saw the impact of the gold medal victory in Salt Lake City; and Eric Gagne he has talked about how proud he is to represent Canada, even with the backdrop of the political situation of the Montreal Expos. I wonder if this is giving you guys some thought; you talked about personal team pride, does it give you a sense of the impact you could have, wearing that Maple Leaf on the firesuit, does it give you some thought about what it means and the impact that you could have as a Canadian athlete?

JONATHAN MACRI: Yeah, actually, I definitely feel the pressure of just kind of being back in front of the hometown crowd and having them put the pressure on me to allow me to do well in front of them, having friends and family, as well. I think it's coming to race in Canada, it's definitely something extra to push for. I think you kind of wake up each morning before the racetrack and you feel good about going to the racetrack. You have an extra reason to do good that day in front of the hometown crowd and everything. Yeah, it does feel really good. Definitely this year I feel a little support of the fans and the Canadian fans, and they are really good with the support that they are giving you. I think from my aspect, yeah, it definitely helps me do better in front of the hometown crowd.

JOSH BEAULIEU: Yeah, I think most Canadian kids grow up dreaming of wearing a gold medical around their neck at the Olympics. I think that same sense definitely transfers over to racing. My first experience, my first race this year in Canada at the Toronto Indy, I was definitely, like Jonathan says, you wake up in the morning and you have that much more -- what's the word for it -- that much more motivation to do well and to do a good job and to have a successful weekend in front of your own country, not only your hometown, but your home country. There's definitely an element of not only your hometownness, but also your national -- representing your nation well, and especially in an international series like we are involved in.

MERRILL CAIN: We appreciate you both joining us today, both Jonathan and Josh, thanks for participating in the call. We appreciate it and we look forward to seeing you in Vancouver in couple of days. We'd also like to thank Alex Tagliani of Player's/Forsythe Racing Team for joining us today. And we'd like to remind everybody that the champ cars do return to the track this weekend. Sunday's race will air live on Speed Channel with pre-race coverage getting underway at 4:00 PM Eastern time. Thanks to all what participated in today's call and have a wonderful afternoon.

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