Champ Car Media Conference
Topics: Champ Car
MODERATOR: Today's guest is the points leader of the Bridgestone presents Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, the man who has won the first two races of the season, Mr. Paul Tracy. Thank you for joining us today. Paul has won the first two races of the year, has 43 championship points, holding an 11-point advantage over Michel Jourdain, Jr., And is looking to become the first driver since the formation of CART to within the first three races of the season and the first champ car driver since 1971 to win the first three races of the year, Al Unser, Senior was the last man to perform that. Obviously the first two races of the year with your new team, Player's Forsythe Racing, I guess living up to everything you could have hoped for?
PAUL TRACY: Well, it's been a great start to the season. To start off with a new team, team players, and I think we have surpassed our expectations for the first couple of races of the year. Our goal was really just to finish the races and get points. And to come out of it with two wins and most laps led and 43 points has just been fantastic. We just need to try to do a good job this weekend in Long Beach.
MODERATOR: Obviously, you are a two-time winner at Long Beach and you won your first champ car race at Long Beach. Tell us how you feel about going back there.
PAUL TRACY: I feel good. My last win at Long Beach was 2000. I seem to always run well at Long Beach. I am enthusiastic about going there this weekend. Pat has been testing yesterday and he's testing today over in Phoenix, so we are learning more about the car and my engineers are over there watching the tests. I think that we've got a good chance this weekend to help get a good result.
Q. Wanted to find out first how this series feels to you now with a lot of the changes? And what were your expectations coming in, you were talking about surpassing them, but what were your expectations with everything changed around?
PAUL TRACY: You know, I knew it was still going to be competitive and hard to win. I thought that coming to a new team and being surrounded by new people at the beginning of the year, I felt would be a little bit harder. In testing, we weren't the fastest car in testing over the winter. So my expectations were really -- maybe my expectations levels were that I could win the first couple of races, and I knew I had a good team around me and maybe it would take some time. You know, to come out of the first two races with two wins, has been great. So, you know, I think still, my goals are the same. My goal is the championship and to try to score points in every race. I think that's going to be the most important thing is to finish in every race.
Q. Did you feel like you would have more of an advantage being one of the more experienced drivers?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think my experience level is important. A lot of the tracks other than St. Pete I've been to and raced at before, and a lot of the newer drivers don't have experience. So I think going into the first day of practice in qualifying, I think that's an advantage, but obviously some of the new drivers have proven that this doesn't take them very long to learn a circuit, and one person in particular is Sebastian. He's on the second day, he's been able to put us on the pole both times with no track experience coming into the weekends. You know, experience does help in the race, and race distances and the first day of practice.
Q. The Indy 500 you're removed now from what happened last year. Your thoughts on what happened last year, have you put it behind you or is it still a sore spot?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I don't think it's -- it's something that I don't really think about from day-to-day. But, you know, I still feel and know that based on the evidence that is there at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in their film department, I know that I won the race. It's really politics that have dictated the outcome of the race. There's really nothing I can do about it. That's just the way it is and I move on and concentrate on my new team and what I have to do.
PAUL TRACY: My focus is to do a good job for Players and Jerry Forsythe, and their focus is on CART. So that's what they pay me to do and that's what I want to do.
Q. The question I have to you is there's starting to be buzz about is this the year for you, is this a championship season things are going swimmingly, how do you feel about keeping those feelings in check and how do you approach it?
PAUL TRACY: I think all I can do is keep doing what I've been doing, and that's I've been training hard over the winter and getting prepared for the races, each individual race that comes up. A lot of people weren't picking me as a favorite to win the championship before the season started and now we've had two races and I guess, really, all I can do is just try to go into each race and try to minimize the mistakes that I can make on the racetrack and minimize the -- a race weekend, you go through a weekend and you make thousands of decisions on what you're going to do on car setup or this or that and try to make all of the right decisions. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we've made more good ones than bad ones and that will translate into more wins and good finishes. So, I really would just take it race by race and concentrate on each one that comes up.
Q. Do you feel that you've been relatively fortunate in the races that, Sebastian has basically caused his own trouble, or at least the team?
PAUL TRACY: Well, we haven't put ourselves into a problem yet because we've made good decisions. When the yellows have all been -- they have made clear-cut decisions on when to come in and not to come in. We've been back in a situation where we've been stuck in traffic, like at St. Pete, you know, where you could make a risky move and maybe damage the car trying to pass somebody. I think as a whole, the team has made good decisions and I've made good decisions, and that's translated into a couple of wins.
Q. Going in, you've won the first two races and you've traditionally been a slow starter, have you readjusted your goals now, do you see now record-chasing as well as a championship in your future, it's been 30 years since somebody has won the first three races of the season?
PAUL TRACY: Not really. Like I said before, I know that there's -- like you just said, it's been 30 years since somebody won the first three races and I don't really get caught up in that. All I want to do is do a good job and finish the race and get some points. I know that if we can start up front going into a race weekend, I know that if we come out of the trailer with a good car and start close to the front, then I can win in any situation, but that's the goal going into the weekend is to make sure that we get a good car, a good set up together. And then when the race comes, I know that I can do a good job. That's really all I'm concentrating on, is just getting through each weekend end, like I said, without makes mistakes.
Q. Have you been happy or impressed with what Players has done in terms of communicating what your needs are with the car and ensuring that you are getting the best car every weekend?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I certainly don't have any complaints as of right now. In the off-season, our testing, it didn't go super great. I mean, I was decently quick, but I wasn't setting the pace anywhere. But then that was a little bit by design because I've never been super, super fast, just at qualifying or anything like that. It's more on race day when I'm able to perform.
Q. A bunch of us are writing about some of our favorite Long Beach memories on the champ car Web site, and I was going to right about the'93 race, and of course it was your first win, what are your recollections of that?
PAUL TRACY: It was a great win for me. My first win was at Long Beach and it came off Phoenix when I was really dominant at Phoenix. I was leading the race there by two laps and ended up putting it in the wall. Came into Long Beach with my tail between my legs and came out through Long Beach and dominate that had weekend -- we got a couple of flat tires throughout the race. We have problems throughout the race but still came out of it with a win, which was great.
Q. You alluded earlier to how Sebastian has really caught on quickly and seems to me there was a time when you ran some laps but did not win until Long Beach. Can you talk about the jump he has to make to win?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think it's just getting the whole weekend to come together. It not just about qualifying or practice times. You have to be able to get through the whole race. A lot of guys have come into the series with a lot of speed but that doesn't translate to a lot of race wins. I'm sure he's capable of winning races and is going to win races but you've got to get to the finish of the race and we have to keep finishing well and keep building up a fairly big points gap and I think that will help us at the end of the season.
Q. You are back together with Tony and you have a new engineer in Malloy and you have a pretty good relationship with Pat, can you talk about that relationship and how it all has maybe played a part in your early success?
PAUL TRACY: I think in any racing team a driver has got to be comfortable with the people he's surrounded by. Coming to a new team, I've been fortunate enough that when I came into the team, the team was able to put some people around me that I've worked with before. One being Tony Cicale, who I have had great success with. Another is Brett Canover (ph) who was Paul Canover's (ph) son. I worked with him at Penske for seven years. He was a crew member on my car and he is also working on my car as well. And then, you know, now he's got Todd Malloy on the team who I worked with at Green for five years. There are some other key people that are on the team, Phil Lapen, the team manager, I've never worked with him but I've known him for a long time. So that's made the adjustment from one team to another fairly easy because the learning process is probably cut it in half because we've just really had to learn about the car and not learn about individual idiosyncracies about how to work with people. The key people around me, eve known for a long time.
Q. What about Patrick Carpentier, sometimes teammates don't always get along and in this case you two seem to get along quite well?
PAUL TRACY: We get along. I think we both have a mutual respect for each earth. I think he respects what I've been able to do on the racetrack and I respect what he's done we are both learning. I'm looking at his telemetry and he's looking at mine. I've learned a lot of things that I've seen in the past few years with Dario and Michael, and I think the same goes for him.
Q. Having an unaccustomed lead in the championship early in the season, do you now go into a race like Long Beach -- obviously you go into the race at Long Beach still wanting to win the race, and are no less focused on that than ever, but maybe go in there with a somewhat more relaxed and more confident frame of mind, and if maybe Friday does not go to -- for whatever reason doesn't go so well, you can sort of take it in stride rather than getting -- sort of not necessarily pushing the panic button but getting bent out of shape about it. Do you feel a lot more relaxed than in the past?
PAUL TRACY: I would say I do because I've been able to win the first two races. I think coming into the season, like I said before, I was not the fastest guy when we went to testing. And coming into the season, I think the first race, my anticipation was I wanted to do well and I wasn't thinking that we could win races, but I wanted to have a good finish and get a good handful of points. I think my own anticipation was a little bit higher and my anticipation level was wanting to do well and do good for Players and prove to them that they hired the right guy. From that standpoint I am more relaxed because I've won the first two races and everybody is happy, I'm happy. So I'm not going to Long Beach and sit back in my heels. We are going to take it like we do every weekend, and that's to go out there and try to win.
Q. Do you feel that you are driving as well or better than you have before?
PAUL TRACY: I think so. I'm still learning as a driver. I'm 34 and I feel I'm in the best shape and conditioning of my life. So I feel that there's still a lot left on the plate to do and I don't feel burned out at all. I feel that right now my energy towards racing is at a peak.
Q. Where do you see yourself in five years?
PAUL TRACY: Sometimes I don't even see where I'm going to be in five minutes. I don't really have a five-year plan. I don't think right now the way auto racing is in North America that you can make a five-year plan. I know that I want to continue and enjoy what I do. I don't really have any other plan other than that I love racing and will continue to race in whatever until I am not happy doing it.
Q. Do you see yourself in any other form of motor sports besides champ car?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I don't think you can race at this level -- the commitment level is obviously very high and the performance level, it's all about performance. If you're not doing well, then you're on the outs. I think from my standpoint, as long as I'm competitive racing in champ car and when that day comes that I'm not competitive, then maybe I'll try something else. There's things that I want to do other than open-wheel racing. I'd like to try sports car racing. I'd like to race at LeMans and maybe race at Daytona in a Winston Cup car. There's things that I would like to try and do other than just open-wheel racing.
Q. You have competed several years in Champ Car, but you compete in other levels, also. Do you remember that you got an exciting beginning of the season and other levels?
PAUL TRACY: I think the year I won the Indy Lights championship in '90, I think that year I won nine of 12 races. So, I mean, it was so long ago, 1990, and it doesn't really translate to what I'm doing now but I mean, I'm happy that I got off to a good start and it's a nice change. Normally, like I said, I'm a slow starter and it takes me a little while to get going. I think the advantage is that a lot of these tracks that we are going to go to in the next five or six races, I know very well, and I know the car and I know the crew guys I'm working with. Hopefully we can do well throughout the whole season.
Q. You mentioned sport cars and stock cars. Is there any consideration of going to F-1 in your future?
PAUL TRACY: For me I'm a little too old for F-1 now. Everybody in Formula 1 is looking for the next 22-year-old superstar. So I think my time has kind of passed for that.
Q. Cars are kind of different this year. Could you talk about how it feels different, how it behaves and how you think that's going to work in Long Beach?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think the car is pretty much the same and the tires are fairly similar. I guess the biggest change is really the engine. I've used the Ford engine before in '95 but never at this lower revving capacity. We dropped the revs last year. With the Honda, we were almost running 16 and a half thousand RPMs and now the maximum is 12. We have a lot more boost than we had from last year. But I feel the power level is really at about the same level as what we had last year. It's just, you know, we were able to in Monterrey break the lap record there. I feel that the car is just as fast as it was last year but just doing it in a different way. It seems to be in a more reliable way because the engine has been very reliable throughout the first two races. So I think that's a good thing for CART. They have been able to reduce costs and maintain the sound and the field of the race cars that fans like, and the cars are still just as fast, if not faster. So I think that it's all been positive stuff.
Q. You said that you are in the best shape of your life, physical condition, how does that correlate to success in the driver's seat?
PAUL TRACY: I think the races are two hours, some races are 500-mile races; it can be up to four hours you're racing into the Midwest and you have a lot of heat and humidity. And when you're fitter you are able to cope with the temperatures and the temperature of the race car and the ambient temperature much better. I've been training a lot over the winner in the last couple of years and feel that I'm in the best shape of my life, and I don't feel that it showed last year in terms of scores points or race wins but I think my level of commitment is as high as it's ever been and I feel that hopefully this year will be the year.
Q. Have you lost a lot of weight over the winter or anything like that?
PAUL TRACY: I didn't really lose so much weight from last year to this year, maybe about five pounds, six pounds from where I am right now. Just running cycling, a couple of days a week, just lifting weights.
MODERATOR: To reiterate that point, Paul is talking about the St. Petersburg race and how this commitment to fitness doesn't necessarily stop once the season starts. Track walk time at St. Pete, first time on a track a lot of guys had not seen it, a couple guys out on their scooters and guys in the golf carts running along. And we are up in the media center putting that thing together, and you kept coming by with your bicycle probably went two hours on that like the whole entire time. Shows quite a commitment and definitely illustrates the point that you are trying to make today the fitness level and the commitment you've made to Champ Car here has definitely stepped up here the last couple of years.
PAUL TRACY: I think for me, reading the track is more beneficial because I'm able to get one more day of workout in and also get a better look at the track. We had a two-hour window that we are allowed to go out on the track and look at it. I think a lot of guys choose to walk with their engineers, and really you can only get maybe in a two-hour time, you can only get maybe two or three times around the track to get a look at it. And a lot of those times, the track is still being put together and it's not completely finished at that point. For me I'm il able to, on both of these last two races I've been able to get about 40 miles in, which is probably about 20 to 25 times around the track. So I'm able to look at all of the different corner times, rather than just walking it once or twice.
MODERATOR: Also joining us, going to make his second start of the year in the RuSPORT car at Long Beach, A.J. Allmendinger. A.J., thanks for joining us today.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Thank you for having me.
MODERATOR: We've followed your career quite closely coming up, and tell us a little bit about how you got started and got hooked up and started your relationship with Paul.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It's funny, about middle of 2000, I was on a carting team just kind of -- carting team was good, but really wasn't taking me anywhere car-wise. I remember Paul called me because he was starting up a new team at the beginning half year and asked me if I wanted to drive for him. It took me all of about two seconds to say yes and I figured out -- from there on, it's just been so beneficial to me; one, just publicity-wise, being a part of his team and being around him. Two, just especially now like with Barber Dodge and Atlantics this year, being able to be at most of the races, any time I have a question, be able to go to him and hang out with him and have fun, it's been so beneficial. Like I said, he's got so much knowledge and so much experience to the point where if I do have a question about setup or line or anything, I can go over and ask him and just have that in my bag of tricks that somebody else that might not have that and it's been a big help to me.
PAUL TRACY: I think for sure we saw a guy who is on a CART team that was maybe lacking a little bit of the funding to do it right, and he was winning races at the ABC level and then moving up to 150, leading a lot of races and in position to win races. We were looking for somebody that was young, and we had an association with the Skip Barber program and through CART, and we were able to get A.J. in one of our carts and then translated into winning races and from there he was able to get into the Barber Dodge program through the scholarship. That's been what our focus is on, trying to get guys into the CART system.
Q. Talked about CART becoming privately-held again and rumors of maybe Champ Car becomes a division of Formula 1, and any comments about that one way or the other about all the talk?
PAUL TRACY: I really just read things on Internet and I haven't really paid too much attention to it because I've been concentrating on what we have to do as a team. Whatever is going to happen will happen over time. Whatever does happen, we can get more manufacturer support back into the series and more car manufacturers back into the series. We already have a very strong package of race venues, but there are a lot of venues that are vying to get car races and really good markets, if we can do that I think that will strengthen the series backup again.
Q. I know you've been proud to wear the Maple Leaf but knowing what team Players means to motor sports in Canada, have there been emotions to put on that fire suit and especially to add to the legacy of the organization the way you have?
PAUL TRACY: It sure felt good. It took us a long time before I got suited. I tested all winter with a white suit and I wanted to get the Players suit on. When I was able to get it on at string training I felt good and everybody has commented that it looks good. There's this sense of pride and heritage to be associated with Team Players and what they have done in motor sports in Canada. If I can continue on that spirit of winning, then it's great for the sponsor and also the other Canadian drivers coming up.
Q. A.J., curious your thoughts about the Long Beach circuit and then how exciting a venue this is for you, especially for the young drivers to be able to race on.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I've been to the Long Beach Grand Prix, and just the scenery around it, the people, the town, to be a part of it is exciting, and I'm really looking forward to racing this weekend. And like I said, it's just, I think, Paul could tell you and anybody that's raced there, it's just an amazing race to be a part of, and I'm looking forward to being a part of it and building up the momentum I had at Monterrey to get a podium and e a victory at the race.
Q. You've been talking about your training and so forth, you just set a new personal record on your ride in the morning with the climb and so forth, but when I saw you after the race in Monterrey, I guess the nicest way to say it is you had issues on both ends; was that due to your physical fitness level?
PAUL TRACY: No. I caught some kind of virus down there, Montezuma's Revenge. I had about half-distance in the race. And I talked to you after the race, you had issues, too, at both ends. Everybody on our team mechanics-wise got very sick. I don't know if it was from the restaurant, at the hotel or maybe some of the water that we had in the coolers, but I had a couple good weeks of training in the last couple of weeks and I had a great ride today before Long Beach.
Q. On Tuesday you told me that you had a Kaopeptate buzz going. Now, A.J., this time last year I was taking a lot of grief -- inaudible?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: She's a good driver. But you look better with the color around your neck more than anything, walking around the pit area with your leash.
Q. Which leads me to my next question which is about Monterrey. What would Paul have to say about getting beaten by Danica (ph)? And in all seriousness, advice on what went down in Monterey?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I mean, it was just a rookie in the series not racing with the guys, I didn't expect Louis (ph) to break when he did for turn one. And you know, it's his call, he's leading the race on turn one, and I just got caught off guard and got caught in the back of him. For me it was still a great weekend because it was the first face with the team, the team's first race in the series, and I was up in the top two the whole weekend time-wise. And I figured that I could have finished on the podium, and even had a chance to win the race during the race because the car was really good in long runs and if the tires got worn down more. We had a good day of testing yesterday and I'm really looking forward to Long Beach and continuing the success we started. For Danica's part, she did a great job. There's no doubt, a podium in her first race, she made no mistakes all weekend and I give her a lot of credit as I'm sure everybody else did. She's just another competitor on the track, not that she's a girl or anything, just another competitor and hey, you got beat by her, too. I mean, you had more experience, a lot more experience, so I don't know what your excuse was.
PAUL TRACY: Hey, Tommy, how come you didn't use a chrome horn?
Q. She asked me that the other day, she came out early for Long Beach and said: "I've been meaning to ask you something, you had that one chance to get rid of me and got caught up in traffic and didn't." I didn't have an answer for her. So I felt much the way you did. I appreciate your good nature. I'm a big fan of A.J.'s, as well. It's nice to see two young drivers 21 -- how old, you're 21 as well, right --
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yes, I am.
Q. -- that are leading the charge here. Editorialize a little bit, for Paul. I think Paul probably sees a lot of himself in A.J., just a tremendous amount of talent and ability so I'm sure he probably said, hey, what were you thinking. Deep down he knows that the reason I think he hired A.J. is because he sees a lot of potential there. Behind our ribbing there's a belief and we wish you the best.
MODERATOR: Remember that we can catch Tommy and the rest of the SPEED Channel crew on Saturday beginning at 2:45 Eastern time and also the live race coverage from the Atlantics beginning at 1:30, and, of course, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach starting at 4:00.
Q. I would say you're probably driving the best of your career this season, and I'm wondering if you could address what it's like for the competition on the track because some people may think that we some returning teams that are fairly strong, and we have a few teams that maybe are not that competitive and you make it look easy. But imagine that you have to pass the guys in our field, it's pretty tough. Could you elaborate on that?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, I don't really know what the other teams are thinking. I know a lot of the drivers know that I'm fairly experienced and can win at any of the venues we do to. Really I've just been concentrating on my program and not worrying about what other people think. Just try each weekend to get the most points that we can.
Q. What do you think of your chances at Long Beach, considering the car that you have and the type of circuit that you will race on?
PAUL TRACY: I think that I have a really good chance of winning there because I've always run well there and I've been able to win the race there twice in the past. So, again, I think experience is important and these street races, whether they are long, you've got walls all around the tracks, so there's plenty of opportunity to make a mistake. I feel good going into this weekend. The team is wrapping up a test today, and apparently yesterday they learned some more things good the car and they were able to find some more speed with our setup. So, you know, I always felt that the team that we need to beat in Newman/Haas and they had a good setup and good drivers. We are still learning about the car because this is our first -- Players first year with the Lola. We have a couple more tests on testing at Milwaukee and also Mid-Ohio after this race. So that will wrap up our testing for the year.
Q. Being here in Wisconsin, when you do come back to Milwaukee you'll be coming back to a track that will look a lot different, you'll be racing at night, plus a different wing package and no traction control. Can you talk about that, coming back as the defending champion?
PAUL TRACY: I think the biggest difference for me is going to be racing at night on an oval, but I haven't done it yet in my career. Coming back with the road course wings, I've done that before at Milwaukee and won in that configuration twice with pens key and with Newman/Haas. So we are going to come there for one day of test and get a feel for what it's like with the current engine and the current aerodynamics of the car. With the big wings, it's going to be very fast and we just want to figure out a couple of things on the car ride, how it was, because we have not done it in a long time with big wings. So, I feel that it's going to make the racing better with the bigger wings. I think there will be more passing.
Q. I notice you've moved to Colorado. Why?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: That's where the team is based out of.
Q. Does that help you in your training with the elevation?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, the main reason I moved was because the team was based out of Colorado. But there is, the training up there with the thin air, it has definitely helped because being up there, and then coming back to like Colorado or wherever, and driving the car I can tell that just my breathing-wise and my health is so much better. Moving there for the team I thought it would be so much better, especially with a new team because being there every day at the shop and just hanging out and getting to know the guys so well and know that when I'm there, they can see that I'm putting all my effort into it just as they are. It really helps and I think it's brought me closer to my guys that are working on the car and the whole team around me. So for that reason, we can go to the track and know that we are always on the same page and that we are always thinking the same thing. It's just been a big help. I think it showed at Monterrey.
PAUL TRACY: He didn't tell you yet that he's got a girlfriend that lives there.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, Carl, he ran in the Atlantic series last year. Basically with the same team but it was under a different name. (Ding) he wanted to put together a program not only for Atlantics for a higher pinnacle of racing. He bought the team out and just renamed it RuSPORT. But he was looking for young drivers. He had Aaron Justice run the last three races last year and that was Aaron's trial basis right there for the test for the ride this year because he knew it was going to be two cars. And, he chose me and two other drivers to go for a test for the ride, and fortunately enough, I got the ride at the test. From then on, it's just been a lot of testing and stuff, and it's been a big deal putting the whole team together, being around the shop and seeing how much actually goes into putting the whole team together is amazing. We are still building. We are still adding people, still just figuring out everybody, and I feel that we are just going to get stronger and stronger throughout the year and that's exciting because we are already clicked right now.
Q. Have you also assisted A.J. financially in his new team?
PAUL TRACY: Luckily I have not had to. Other than financially going through the go CART program, when we went into the Barber Dodge it was on a scholarship program from winning a run-off and he was able to win another scholarship for a free season of Barber Dodge. So really, all A.J. has had to handle is his travel expenses. And then going into this year, after he had won the Barber Dodge Championship, there was a couple of teams interested and actually went to a meeting with A.J. with Doricott and talked to a couple of teams that were interested, but they really didn't have any type of a long-term program. And that's where I guess his new team owner Carl Russo got in contact with him and he had a two- or three-year plan and was he signing A.J. up to a program to hopefully where he can win races and win a championship and maybe move up to Indy cars. So that really worked out to be the best program for him.
Q. Paul, the new Formula 1 rules this year seem to be mixing things up a little bit; that, and the weather. What do you think about rules like that for CART, would that be something good for part, with the qualifying rules that they have?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think it's definitely interesting. We have that qualifying format on ovals and it seems to work for us on ovals. The problem that we have currently with doing a one-lap qualifying effort is that, you know, Formula 1, they go straight out of the pits and come out on the first time and they get the green flag lap and that's it. They have tire warmers, whereas CART does not. Some of the venues that we go to, where we've got a fairly hard tire and it's a street course, so whatever -- and it takes four or five laps before the tires are up to temperature and pressure. I think CART is looking at it and I think that is the format that is being talked about, about qualifying at Brands Hatch because the track is so short, they are going to think about going to a one- or a two-lap qualifying format like we would do on an oval. But again, we don't have tire warmers and we don't have -- it takes a few laps for us to get to where we can go. So, that's something that needs to be figured out. It's how many laps do we actually get to do.
Q. Paul, would you comment on the succession that the European drivers have had coming over versus the traditional feeder series from the Atlantic drivers? Seems to me there's a lot of very good Atlantic drivers that are struggling to find a place in Champ Car, could you comment on that?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think in Europe, you know, when you come from Europe, you have the opportunity to drive. If you look at a guy like Montoya, or Zanardi, they are racing -- they are come from a Formula 3000 background, Formula 3, Formula 3000. A Formula 3000 car is fairly similar to what was an Indy Lights car. The cars were updated every year. So technically, there were maybe a little bit more superior to an Indy Lights car and had about 75 more horsepower. They were in about the 500 horsepower range. A lot of the drivers that are at the Formula 3000 level of winning also have testing contracts with Formula 1 teams to do just general testing. So they are getting Formula 1 experience in 800-horsepower cars. So I think the transition from that level to an Indy car is easier than coming from a 300-horsepower Atlantic car straight to an 850-horsepower Indy car. So I think really just the level of experience is a little bit higher with the drivers from Europe because the driving cars more at a similar horsepower range than what we have over here.
Q. How do you feel about what CART is doing with carting and bringing that into the fold, and where would you like to see that develop?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I believe it's good. I was a part of the program in it's first year. It's good because that's -- in any open-wheel racing, that's where you get your start. So for me, I was a part of it for a long time and I think what CART and Champ Car is doing is a good thing because that's where the young kids come from. It gives them kind of into the spotlight where Champ Car media and people in general start to get to know their names so when they start moving up, like I got the chance to, they already kind of know your name and you just keep building on that. For that, I'd like just to see it keep building in the same direction that they are taking. And I think in the long run, I think it will be good for everybody.
PAUL TRACY: Also what CART has done with the Stars of Tomorrow has been great and also the television coverage that the Stars of Tomorrow has gotten from SPEED Vision is also been great for carting in general. I think carting is still pretty dysfunctional. You've got multiple levels much racing now at the 125 level, there's three different National Championships you can win. Until you get everybody running in the same group, whether it be the Stars of Tomorrow or -- inaudible -- and make it all one uniform group like they have in Europe, that's the problem with carting right now is there's too many different series that at the same level. You can have three or four national champions all at the same level, same class. So how do you say who is the national champion.
Q. A.J., since this is the first time that Toyota Atlantics fans have the chance to meet and you to know you, what about yourself would you like them to know, first and foremost?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Just myself personal level, driving-wise I'm always giving 110%. I love to win. Paul knows, I'm kind of like him, I hate to lose and when I do, I work ten times harder the next weekend just to figure out what went on and what happened. I'm never going to give up, no matter where I'm at. I think people saw that in Monterrey with my incident, the front wing hanging off the carry was still setting fast laps early in the race. I love being a part of CART, Champ Car and racing in general and being able to be where I'm at. I think people see that in my driving, they see that in my personality or after just when I'm walking around. I love to be there and be a part of it, but foremost, I love to win races and championships and that's what I'm there for.
Q. How is it looking for you next year? Do you think you're going to stay in Atlantics? Is your goal and the team's goal to move up to Champ Car?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: My goal is always to try to move up. I'm not looking at that right now. It's still early in 2003. The team's goal, my goal is we are all building together. Obviously, I want to win the championship this season, and I think we have a really good shot at it just starting out the way we've done it. Moving forward, into Long Beach and through the rest of the year, I think we have a great shot at it. Hopefully if that happens, if we do move up, if not, we see where it goes if that's another year in Atlantics, that's great because most people do take a two-year program. Hopefully I can only take a one and move forward. But if not, no big deal. We move on to the next season and try to win the championship again. That's my main goal and I'm just really working hard at the team to make that happen.
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