Champ Car World Series: Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey
Topics: Grand Prix of Monterey
ERIC MAUK: We'll get started with our post-qualifying press conference, first round of qualifying for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Round 11 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by our top three qualifiers on the day, starting with our third qualifier, driver of the #1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy, the defending series champion, put up a top lap today of 1:10.214 with a speed of 114.746 mph. Paul, how do you feel about the way things went today?
PAUL TRACY: Fairly pleased. Tires ran well. Just waited probably a little too long, we were looking for a gap on the track because there was a lot of traffic and we were looking for the right spot to lead to go out on the track. And probably waited a little bit too long and by the time I got the tires to the temperature, I only had one lap at it. I started my run on the following lap and Pat went off. Took a lot of paint off the front of my car and off my helmet. That was our first lap, so probably not the optimum lap. And I couldn't see all the way from four of the last part of the corner. We'll try to it again tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: You came off the truck probably quick, you were quick in the practice, are you pretty confident about this weekend?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I think we had a good race here last year. We really worked on the setup. We came back with a good setup and basically came back with the same car that we ran last year in the race and it was good right off the truck, it's not perfect.
ERIC MAUK: Our second place qualifier on the day, our series points leader, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien puts up a quick lap of 1:10.130 seconds, 114.884 miles per hour. Sebastien, talk about how qualifying went.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I'm pretty happy. I think last year was a very good weekend for us. I'm pretty happy to be second and got it close to pole position. Tomorrow we'll see how the alternate Bridgestone tires we put on the car. The racetrack is going to be faster.
ERIC MAUK: How did the regular Bridgestones hold up for you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Very good. Just a very tough racetrack on tires.
ERIC MAUK: Your second race weekend at Laguna Seca, how about giving us your impression of the racetrack?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The racetrack, it's beautiful. But when the temperature comes up like that, the racetrack becomes very slippery. It's a real challenge and it's always nice to drive the car during the winter. You know, conditions are the same for everybody.
ERIC MAUK: Our first round qualifying leader, the defending champion of the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey, who went wire-to-wire last year leading all 87 laps and taking the win, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Patrick Carpentier. Pat puts up a lap today of 69.918 seconds, 115.232 miles per hour and guarantees himself a front row starting spot for the race, his first front row starting spot of the year. Also gives himself a championship point giving him 182 on the year moving him into sole position of fourth place. You picked up right where you left off last year, how do you feel?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: It felt very good, this morning we made a few changes on the car that didnâ��t work that well, but once we were in position we had good tires and the car was really hard this afternoon. First set of tires was good I felt like it didn't get the whole lap and Paul was very fast. I knew that with these guys it would be a tough battle before I could get the pole. On the second set we tried to regain the pole, and it went really well. Actually on my last lap I was coming down the last corner, and the lap was a couple of tenths slower than the previous lap but made it a little bit better and the car was really neutral, was not pushing and was not loose.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us about the trip through turn three it looked a little dicey coming through there.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Well, what I had in mind was just trying not to bring the red flag out and I was just trying to first stay off the wall, and then all I could see was red, and I knew if I brought the red flag out, I was going to lose my pole time. It got a little rough there and I had to fight to keep it under control. I feel bad about ruining Paulâ��s lap though.
ERIC MAUK: You guys are just 35 hundredths off last year's pole time already. How much quicker can you go tomorrow or does it just depend on the weather.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: If the weather is the same as what it was today I think we can go faster tomorrow. With this track, more grip gets in the track the more we run on it and tomorrow it's going to be really close with these guys again.
ERIC MAUK: Also, for those of you who did not see, we put out a release today stating that Bridgestone and Corona will both be participating as event sponsors at the Las Vegas race in two weeks. The race will now be called the Bridgestone 400 Presented by Corona, and that will take place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway September 25th.
Q. Pat, what were you thinking during your close call?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I was hoping not to make it there. I was well on my way but not the same speed. I was just thinking about staying off the wall because I kind of went out and the wall comes back in and I was just trying to get away from the wall.
Q. Pat, given what was said in Montreal about your future, does it put more importance on the next few races for you since they could be your last?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: It is important, but it hasn't made a difference. Every track it's important. I think not so much about this year but more of what happened last year and the tracks that are coming up I really enjoy those tracks. No matter what happens, I will enjoy the rest of the year but nothing has been decided yet and I could very well be here next year so weâ��ll see.
Q. People say that the Champ Cars have outgrown this track, there hasnâ��t been much passing in the last coupld years. Will the push-to-pass button make a difference?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the reality, there is no straight line, that's the real problem about passing, but yeah, you could push to pass and perhaps make a move.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I think it will make a difference, if we had it last year, Paul would have passed me when I made a mistake, but last year even though he was right behind me, he didnâ��t have the power to get by when I made the mistake. This year it would be a different result.
PAUL TRACY: I think you don't have really a straight line here but you have push to pass, more horsepower going up the steep hills in the back. We have had better races every place we have gone this year because of it.
Q. Paul, give us your outlook on Sundayâ��s race?
PAUL TRACY: Well, we have to get through tomorrow first. Obviously, I feel like we have more time then we can gain. But this track is all about not making mistakes, it's very fast, make a mistake and get off the turn will cost you a lot of time. It's one of those racetracks where you get very little for the amount of yellows, and you have to be able to hold a high pace. That's difficult to do sometimes because of the nature of the track, how coarse the track is, the tires. It's all about being consistent.
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