Champ Car World Series: Molson Indy Toronto
Topics: Molson Indy Toronto
ERIC MAUK: We will go ahead and get started with the press conference after final qualifying for the Molson Indy Toronto Round 10 of The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series powered by Ford. My name is Eric Mauk joined by the 3rd place qualifier for tomorrow's event, the driver of the #9 Gigante Ford-Coswith Lola-Bridgestone, Michel Jourdain Jr. Michel took the 3rd spot with a lap of 59.218, 106.691 miles per hour to earn his 5th Top-3 starting spot of the 2003 season. This is Michel's best ever Toronto starting spot. Pretty tricky day out there, Michel, little rain, little dry, kind of a dicy session. Take us through your strategy on the session today.
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR: Yeah, well, I mean, when it went green I mean, the track seemed dry, and since during the last couple of days, so we started to go out and I think it was a good strategy and when we went out at the end I think it was the right strategy. The track I think is good that much, both sessions we had were -- both set of tires I had much, much better laps than that. But it was just a really, really frustrating day because I mean, it happened yesterday, it happened today, it happened last weekend and it just keeps happening. People are just out there, seems like they go out there to block everybody and nobody does nothing to them. I understand what people do because nobody does nothing to them. If you go to a store and you see that television and nobody does nothing to you they are going to keep doing it because you are going to have a lot of televisions and, it's very nice. I mean, so it's just kills me. At the end we had a very, very fast lap going after three or four turns we had over 14 starts -- (inaudible).
ERIC MAUK: (Inaudible) It rained for 10, 15 minutes during the session. You guys sat there, kind of waited, about 17 minutes in, you went back out. You were one of first guys back out. Speeds got pretty low fairly quickly. Were you surprised at how quickly the track dried up.
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR: I mean, it hasn't been raining, it's just been a little mist and as soon as it stops in 30 seconds the track is completely dry, so I knew as soon as that little mist stops and 30 seconds, one minute, the track is dry, so I am sure the strategy was good.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, best of luck tomorrow. 2nd on the day by virtue of leading yesterday's qualifying session is the driver of the #1 PacificCare/Ford-Coswoth/Lola/Bridestone, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno turned a quick lap today of 59.332 seconds, 106.486 miles per hour; a lap that was 4th best on the day. However, he guaranteed himself a front-row starting spot by leading first-round qualifying. This is Bruno's 3rd front-row starting spot on the year and his best ever starting position here at Toronto. Bruno, take us through your day. You sat there quite a while and then made a few quick laps at the end.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, it was really bad. This morning I didn't went out with very old tires. (Sic) I was the fastest and after people start to run new tires, new tires and I don't know, Sebastien have to run two or three sets of tires to end up the session, but then he said that he found something in the car and did the same on my car. Unfortunately the ten minutes rained a little bit and I did just one lap. Then we were waiting for 30 minutes to go, like 32 minutes to go it start to rain and then lost the chance to have two outings. I knew I would just have one outing with eight minutes to go. And on the first three laps or four laps that the car was only the best, I get traffic and after almost everybody complete their run, but then it start to rain a little bit, like in Turn 8, 9 and 10, and my tires start making -- my car start to get really loose, with laps on the tires, and I couldn't improve -- oh, I did 9.3 but I could go much faster and it is very frustrating because I mean, rained a little bit that took out the chance for me to be on the pole and a part of the setup that we have on the car, I just find out qualifying it wasn't the best thing, but let us see what is going to happen in the race tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: It's your front row starting spot. Earlier this year, you finished 2nd and 4th in the two races you started in the front row. You go in that front-row start tomorrow, tight Turn 1, take us through how you approach that first turn tomorrow.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's going to be really difficult. Sometimes it's better to even start 3rd than to start 2nd. But let's see if I can keep up the position and make some pressure on Tracy. I think my car has been good and ^ Newman/Haas had a very good car last year and I know that Tracy under pressure makes mistakes, and that's the way I am going to try to pass him.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulation, best of luck tomorrow. We'll op it up to questions for the media.
Q. Seems like an obvious question. In the 18 years the race has been won, the pole setter has only won twice including last year. So why is it so important to try and win the pole?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: First you have the best starting the position and you got a point. If he -- if the pole is just like unlucky but very often the pole-sitter has the best chance than the guy that is starting last.
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR: Of course, I mean, you want to always have the pole, I mean, seems it is more coincidence the way the circumstances have been. But you want to have the fastest car and you want to have a clear track in front of you, and if things don't go your way after that, it's okay, but you have always try to be in the front no matter what.
ERIC MAUK: We are joined now by our pole-sitter for Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto, the driver of the #3 Player's Forsythe Ford/Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Paul Tracy. Paul claimed his 3rd pole of the year with a lap of 58.839 seconds, 107.378 miles per hour, giving himself the 16th pole of his career which moves him into a tie with Gil deFerran for 7th on the All-Time Champ Car List. This is his first pole at the Molson Indy Toronto. Congratulations, tell us how it feels to win a pole here in Toronto.
PAUL TRACY: Well, it's great, we took some advice from Bruno yesterday. We sent a mechanic in one of those paddle boats (inaudible) out in the lake, and we timed it just perfect. We got very lucky today. It was a very mentally challenging session for us because I went on the track about six minutes into the session and I was just starting a quick lap and it started to rain I was like, oh, it is raining, Turn 4, 5 and 6 and Max crashed in front of me. And it went red and then from there it was raining, after that the track was wet, we sat and waited. I thought we were kind of going to end up at that time we'd a fallen 5th or 6th. We sat there and waited and it was drizzling harder and harder; all of a sudden the wind picked up. The rain stopped, it would start again and stopped. The track was drying. We sat there and a few guys went out on the track. The times were quite slow. We waited like three or four laps and then we went and the track call was very slippery on cold tires; wasn't a lot of grip. I put in a good lap. I came out of the first turn and I saw that I was 3/10 up on my quick lap from yesterday and the first lap was good. I lost a little bit of time in the last few corners. And did a 59.4 and then I stayed in it and then came out again about a half a second up at the end of the back straight-a-way and the car stayed -- the grip almost stayed the same throughout the rest of the run and we dropped into the 58. So it was a fantastic run. Right after that it started to rain again and the track got more slippery, so our timing just came right at that time, so very lucky and very happy for Team Player's.
ERIC MAUK: Yesterday you didn't run a fast session, you were trying to go hard and you spun, gave yourself a red flag and you had to build yourself back up. Today you snap off that 58.8 but then you stayed in it. What --
PAUL TRACY: Tried for one more lap because I knew Bruno was on the track at that time when they he was out there and he had a lot of laps, he was going to run to the checkered. I tried for one more. I came out of 1 and 2, just a couple of a hundred seconds quicker. I was able to maintain that and then lost a 10th in the last section, Turn 9 and then dove into the pits. I knew that it was over then. I was out of the car with about five minutes to go and had to stand and watch Bruno go around. That's always hard to do because Bruno and Michel, they can put a lap together at any time. And with the track conditions changing all the time, the track can come right in one lap and then be bad the next lap, so we just waited and the checkered fell right at the right time.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, best of luck tomorrow.
Q. You had a short practice session this morning; but you didn't look pretty upset. Were you really happy with the setup of the car today?
PAUL TRACY: I was happy with it yesterday. I just didn't feel we got the most. Again our timing was off from when the guys went quick, we went out, and we set the benchmark early. I spun, I lost a lap, so we went back out and had to do it earlier then -- probably 15 minutes earlier than most guys and set the mark, you know, for Bruno, he was able to do it on the last lap. We knew we had a fast car. This morning we had a gearbox failure. We lost oil pressure and it smoked the gearbox half an hour into the practice session but Pat did some work this morning. He was quick at the end. They did some shock work and things like that, so he improved the car and we went with a couple of little small changes and the conditions were tricky. You just have to catch it right at the right time.
Q. Paul, Christiano last year won the pole and won the race, only second time in history in this race that it happened. I asked this of the other fellows, they said you always want to be in front. You always want to have the fastest car and having the pole kind of proves that. How much of wanting the pole is superstition and just personal preference or is it just a silly question?
PAUL TRACY: It's something I guess, really it's a feather to put in your cap to say that you scored the pole. It's a big deal for me to be on the pole in Toronto. It's a big deal for Player's, which is more important for them in their final year. You know, I have never been a particularly great qualifier, I seem to be a lot better this year, but you know, for me being on the poles it's a nice thing to do. It's a great thing to do. Gives you a lot of confidence going into the race but I don't think it gives you any particular advantage, it's a long race, the conditions right now if they stay this way, it's going to be a very technical race strategy-wise how you do it, and you know, we'll just -- the most important thing for us is that -- I have the two guys right here that I need to beat in the Championship, they are right here, so the most important thing is that we don't lose points and we need to finish the race and not make any mistakes.
Q. Paul, supposed to clear up tomorrow. If it does come out bright and sunny, does that mess up everything you have done so far on the setup on the car?
PAUL TRACY: No, I don't think so because we're running basically the same setup that I ran last year, pretty close, springs and shocks. Shocks are a little different because we're using a different manufacturer. But it doesn't really change much. We'll just have to see what Bruno says about the weather tomorrow. (LAUGHTER)
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think it's going to be sunny.
PAUL TRACY: That's what you said yesterday.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I said it was going to be sunny for Sunday, not for today.
PAUL TRACY: Okay.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I wished rain today. (LAUGHTER)
Q. Paul, I gather maybe your biggest problem in qualifying, was it your gears maybe weren't quite right after changing engines? Can you talk a little bit, should you be a little bit quicker tomorrow when you get them dialed in correctly?
PAUL TRACY: We had to switch gearboxes. At the same time we switched engines because I was slow on the straight-a-way the whole weekend, four, five miles an hour slower than Pat. And this was the same engine that I ran in Portland and it was fairly slow on the straight-a-way there too. So three or four miles an hour down on the shorter straight-a-way. So we weren't very happy about that. Coincidently it's the same engine I ran in Germany too, we struggled there for speed. So we just decided, you know what, we don't know if it's the gears. I went from a 7 speed to a 6 speed, back to a 7 speed trying to find where the speed was and where we were losing the time on the straight-a-way. So we just decided to let us just put a fresh engine in and now all of a sudden I was out of gear on the straight-a-way, I was in the limiter on the back straight-a-way in 7th gear, and with a head wind on the back straight-a-way. So the motor that we got from Ford today was significantly better than what we had been running. I was losing time on the straight, so I was pretty happy about that. When I went out for a warmup I was already in the limiter. We could have probably made some more time having not been on the limiter for maybe 100 yards.
Q. Could you share with us the significance of winning the Greg Moore Pole Award?
PAUL TRACY: It's fantastic to win the Greg Moore Award. Dario has won it, now I have won it, we were both really good friends with Greg, and Rick, and, you know, the Greg Moore Foundation has done great things for a lot of charities. So it's just something that -- it's something that you have that you will always cherish, and his family will always cherish that his friends have been able to win these awards.
Q. Can you talk about what this whole week has been like being home in Toronto as the points leader. (Inaudible) on the cover of the paper with models (laughter)?
PAUL TRACY: It's great. But it's things that come to you with experience. I have been doing this a long time and I have been in the shadow of a lot of great stars of our sport; whether it be Michael or Mario or Emerson or Rick, who were always the stars of the series. And I am in that position now because of years and experience in the series and, so, it's my time right now and I am relishing that time. I enjoy it. I like to have fun. I like to say what is on my mind. I like to enjoy what I do. And I think a lot of the general media that are regulars on the series know that and I really enjoy what I do and I love what I do and I have a passion for it. So being in front of the media is a lot of fun for me.
Q. Is being the star, does it come natural to you?
PAUL TRACY: It didn't come natural at first. A lot of these guys who know me, when I first started racing I didn't say two words. And it's just something you get used to with experience, and a lot of the young guys in the series are new and in the future they are going to be stars and over time you learn how to do these things and you learn how to deal with media and press events and I have a certain flare for it now but that comes with experience.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you, gentlemen. Good luck.
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