Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio
Topics: Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll start with our post race press conference for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, round 13 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We're joined by our top three finishers in today's event, starting with third place driver, earning his first ever Champ Car podium finish, Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone. Ryan earns the best finish of a year for a Reynard driver and the best for the rookie American Spirit Team Johansson this year. How does it feel to be up here?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Unbelievable. Accompanied by two great drivers. I did it for a rookie team, in a Reynard, it couldn't be a better situation. I'm real happy. I would like to dedicate this podium to team owners, to the newlywed James family and to the Bentons, for sure. It's great to be here.
ERIC MAUK: Talk about the pit stops. Last week you guys had some trouble on pit lane. This week it was pretty much flawless. Talk about how well that went for you.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I'm not really sure exactly what Patrick did on the first stop, but they had an awesome stop. We came out, you know, right very close, almost had to go in the grass -- he almost had to go in the grass. It was very tight. But everybody did a solid job today. The whole team did a great job. I drove hard. I drove fast and consistent. The whole team did a great job. I think Jimmy would have been right there behind me. He's helped me out all weekend long. It's been a complete team effort. For a rookie team, this seems harder than it seems, truly.
ERIC MAUK: Take us through that last restart. Bunched up with four laps to go. How did you approach that?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: There was so much excess rubber, it was unbelievable. There was buildup, upon buildup. I tried to stay on the racing line. It would just clump up on the tires. It was almost impossible not to get it, not to just accumulate on your tires. The first lap was pretty dicey, you know, through the Carousel, some of the really key corners, on the passing zones. You really had to watch yourself, really be on top of your game there. Everybody that watched it got it good. Patrick went through there one time, got a little wide. Thought this might be a chance. But he collected it up, got out pretty good. Once again, third for rookie team American Spirit. These guys are really doing a great job and they really believe in me, which is really important, so yup.
ERIC MAUK: Our runner-up today, Patrick Carpentier, driver of the #32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone who scores his third consecutive Mid-Ohio podium finish with the runner-up performance. This is Pat's third podium of the season, 16th of his career. He along with Paul Tracy are part of the first 1-2 finish in Player's racing history. Patrick, take us through that second stint. You came back, you were nine, almost 10 seconds down. By the end of that second stint, you were in sight of the leader.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, we had a great car. Early in the race, it was a little bit loose. As the race went on, it came to me. The power was amazing. The car was just really fast. But when we started in that pit stop, (Ryan) was wondering what happened. It was a lot of teamwork. These guys, they waited, could have gone, then I would have had to stop. My start would have been longer, I never would have passed these guys. These guys took a chance to wait a little bit longer, let me inside the box, so I went out after that. Everything helps. This weekend my guys had really, really fast stops. So it was good. It was a close call coming out of the pits. I didn't know if I was going to have to go in the grass there or something. But came out up front. The car was good. We caught up to Paul, but to pass him would have been another story. I think it's a bit easier to catch somebody. But I don't think could have been able to pass him. But it was a great day. I really enjoyed it. Had a good battle with Sebastien Bourdais. He went a little bit wide up on the keyhole there, couldn't recover from it. Got his tires a little bit too dirty and couldn't accelerate on the back straight. So that's probably why I passed him because my drink, I have a tube to drink, and it came off the helmet and it was spraying me in the visor, I couldn't see anything. That's why I probably brake and end up passing him. But for me it was a fun race. I pushed hard, really enjoyed it. Team Player's, 1-2, first time. Paul is on a roll. It's fantastic.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, great run. The winner of the Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who takes his career best sixth win of the season and the 25th of his career. He takes the maximum 23 points available on the weekend, reclaiming the points lead, taking a 20-point advantage over Bruno Junqueira. You talked about answering back this week. 23 points. That must have been what you wanted to do?
PAUL TRACY: Well, you know, you always come into a race weekend wanting to do that. But I think the thing that we focused on the most was, you know, I had a long talk with Tony this week. He said, "We got to go into Mid-Ohio, we're not going to win the championship at Mid-Ohio but we definitely can lose the championship at Mid-Ohio if we don't have a good race. We can't afford to have a bad race from here on out. The championship is going to be a fight to the end. "I had a good week off, got some good training in, felt strong coming into this weekend. Last week I was sick. I had a bit of a flu. So, you know, I still really didn't have anything to do with me spinning off the track. So, you know, I felt good coming in this weekend and just wanted to take advantage of everything feeling right. We pushed to the limit all day. When we started the race, the track was very slippery, like it's been all weekend. The track never really rubbered up the whole weekend. My car was very balanced right from the get-go. I was able to pull out a lead of about 10 seconds. I was able to maintain it for a while, till my second stop. I came out behind Tiago, he passed me. I came out of the pits, he was on hot tires. He came down the inside of me. I didn't even realize he was there, he came down all locked up inside of me. Almost had me off. I just said, okay, he's on hot tires. He's got 15 or 14 laps till he has to pit. You know, his pace wasn't that quick. It was about 9.9s, 9.8s. I just had to sit there. I wasn't going to take a huge risk to try to pass him. I just waited for the opportunity. He pulled off. Then Pat had pulled the gap down to about almost a second or two seconds, and then right before the last stops I was able to just really push hard and get into the 8s. I pulled a little bit of a gap before the pit stop, then we got in and out real clean, and then, you know, I was able to just on the second run maintain a distance of about two and a half seconds.
ERIC MAUK: Six victories, the highest total you've had in a season. Your first one here at Mid-Ohio. Talk about how it feels to finally get one here.
PAUL TRACY: Oh, it feels great. You know, it's been such a long time. I finished second here four times. Been a bridesmaid a lot. Had good runs here, but never was able to get it on the top of the podium. So it feels good. I won a championship here in 1990. I wrapped up an Indy Lights championship here with a win. So to come back now and have a win feels great.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Our top five in the points after 13 events, Paul Tracy has 184, Bruno Junqueira 20 back with 164, Michel Jourdain in third with 137, Sebastien Bourdais fourth with 126, Pat with 114. We'll take questions from the media.
Q. Paul, at any time did you feel any pressure from Pat?
PAUL TRACY: Not heavy pressure. He got within a second at one point, then I was able to pull a little bit back on him and keep it at about two, three seconds. So, I mean, I was definitely pushing as hard as I could go. I mean, my car -- as the race went on, the car started out really well, really balanced. As the track got more and more rubber, my car began to understeer more and more. So my times, I couldn't really get off the corner and get through the middle of the corners as well as I would have liked. I think, you know, we started out with a setup that was very good for a tricky track condition. When we started the race, we were doing, you know, 1 minute 10s. By the end of the race we were doing I think low 8s. So, I mean, it's a big swing in time difference. My car was very good in slippery conditions. So, you know, that's kind of how we've been. These tracks that have been slippery, we've been really good at, like Toronto, Vancouver and here. All weekend it's been kind of slippery. But as it rubbered up, we didn't quite have the balance the way we wanted. But it was good enough.
Q. Ryan, toward the end, you had Patrick in your sight. If it hadn't gone yellow, did you have enough to get by him?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Catching somebody and getting by them is two totally different things here. You know, he was real strong. It would have to have been a major mistake on his part, which I don't think he was going to do, to take advantage of it. So, no. I mean, you know, a lot of the race is done in the pits here, what you do on your in-laps, out-laps. So it was, you know -- I wouldn't say -- even though I was catching him, I wouldn't say there was a great chance of getting by.
Q. Ryan, talk about just the rhythm you got in today. Second question, assess yourself after 13 Champ Car races as a rookie.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, first, the rhythm, you know, it was a learning process for me. You know, it was pretty much qualifying laps the whole time. I hadn't really experienced intense driving like that. I mean, it was definitely a different pace than I was used to. So that was great. I feel good after the race. You know, granted, it's a very physical track. You don't have a lot of time to put your hands down and rest for a second. It was a very good experience for me as a rookie to be up there chasing these guys. And hats off to them for the pace they did. I just tried to keep up as best I could. As you could see, my teammate Jimmy was flying there for a while. He kind of lit the fire under my butt a little bit, get me going. I was back on a really good pace again. As for my rookie season, I mean, this is absolutely excellent, you know, to be here this early in a Reynard. But, you know, everybody's learning there. We've gone through a lot of personnel shuffles. Everybody has been working real hard. And we just kept our heads up, kept trying to gain, worked real hard. So here we are. I think it's excellent. Facts are facts. Here we are today. So we did a great job. We were running three and four there for a second, so.
Q. Ryan actually touched on it, but any other thoughts about Vasser? Seems for a while he had the car, a fast car at least, that was strong.
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Our cars have been strong all weekend. Jimmy had an unfortunate situation in qualifying there. Didn't get a real good shot at it. Didn't get a shot at it the second day. I have yet to hear the stories of how he climbed from 14th all the way up to fourth. Once he was up there, for sure, he was flying, you know. Once I saw how quick he was coming, I had to really bear down and try and equal it, which I did. I don't think these guys would know much about it.
ERIC MAUK: Did you guys know he was coming? Did they let you know that he was on the march?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: No, we don't want to know these things (laughter).
Q. Ryan, since you're running the Reynard, I think the track probably is more suited to a Reynard. At least the Reynard shows up a little better competing against the Lola. Have you done anything different? Have you added on any parts or changed anything that was different than the beginning of the year?
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Road America was my first new race, with the (Renske) wing, which is a Penske part. I don't know. Ever since then, it's been great. Really suited my driving style. You know, I had a great qualifying there. I had a great qualifying here. It rained there. We didn't have the best of cars there. But the bars hooked up on the cars, we thought it was going to dry out. But here we were fast again. That's kind of our new part that we put on. Other than that, just overall team effort, good setup. Guys did their job inside the trailer, I did my job out on the track.
Q. Paul, you talked about last week, the mistake at Elkhart Lake. What do you go through then to overcome a situation like that mentally?
PAUL TRACY: You just have to. I mean, you have to just let it go. I mean, you just got to look at it like, "Well, this is part of how the whole thing is supposed to happen." You know, I made a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. I don't think there's a driver out here that's ever had a perfect season. You're going to make a mistake here and there. So I made my first mistake of the year there. You just got to look at it like, "This is part of it." Let it go, not harbor the feelings all week, think you got to make it all up the next weekend. Because if you come in with that type of attitude, you're going to set yourself up for failure. I just come to each race. We talk about what our plan is, we go out and we try to execute it. You know, we decided we came here, we had a good setup in the test, we're going to wait. When we went on the track, we waited for the track to get good. The first time I went on the track, we went P1. You got to have confidence on what your team is doing, not second guess things.
Q. Share what you're thinking about the championship. Can you slow the pace a little bit? Are you ready to start racing for points instead of wins?
PAUL TRACY: No. I mean, we're just going to go all the way, for sure. Bruno is going to have some races where he's going to respond, like he did at Elkhart. I have to expect -- I don't expect Newman/Haas or him or his teammate to lay down. I expect them to come back at us with full force next week. They won the race last year in Montreal. No, Dario won the race there, didn't he? But Newman/Haas cars were strong there last year. You know, we have to just fight all the time. I don't expect Bruno to lay over and say, "I can't beat their team." He proved last week that he can have those type of weekends. Once you get on a roll, it's hard to stop it sometimes.
Q. You had three races in a row. Extra week off. How does it affect your rhythm to have this long stretch between now and Montreal?
PAUL TRACY: No stretch for us. We're going to be doing media.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: It's good to have a weekend off. Two races in a row is always, especially for the guys, more for the mechanics, the guys on the team, they work night and day. If something happens with the car, then they got to work even more. For us, we go home and we get three days off. It's always a little bit of time to rest and train like Paul said. Same thing for me, I trained last week and rested. I came here and I was not more tired than when I started at Vancouver. But it's more difficult I think for the team guys because they work night and day.
Q. This week in Montreal we learned that the Grand Prix won't be on the calendar any more. You respond with a 1-2 finish here. Do you expect a pretty emotional race in Montreal?
PAUL TRACY: I think it's going to be our biggest race of the season, maybe next to Mexico in terms of the amount of crowd. Mexico City is a massive race. It holds a lot of people. Montreal is probably going to be our second biggest attended race of the year for sure. To have a result like this coming into Montreal I think, Pat can say more than me because he spends a lot of time there, he lives there. I think he'll send the fans into a frenzy.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I think it's going to be a great weekend. I know it's been announced -- I wouldn't say there's not going to be a Formula 1 race. I would say there might not be a Formula 1 race. We'll see what happens. I think it's a big weekend. It's very busy. But this year we seem to do a little bit less than what we've done in the past years as far as promotions and things we have to do. Before it was four or five days in a row. Now we'll get a couple days off. For me, it's a little bit easier. But I'm really looking forward to going to race in Montreal, the way it's going lately. We don't know which race going to be there in the future, what's happening. So every time we go there, we never know what's going to happen with the government. I'm looking forward to it. To finish 1-2, Paul finishes first pretty much every week, so for him it's the same. But for me to be second place, just a race before Montreal, we had our struggle on our side. To do that for me is fantastic.
ERIC MAUK: That brings an end to our press conference. Thank you very much.
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