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Champ Car World Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Champ Car World Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Sebastien Bourdais
Bruno Junqueira
Paul Tracy
April 17, 2004


LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

ERIC MAUK: We are here in the final qualifier for tomorrow's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, for the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford. I'm Eric Mauk, I'm the news manager, here with the top three qualifiers for tomorrow's event. We'll start with the man who will start third in tomorrow's event. He is up here by virtue ever a time of 69.156 seconds, 102.477 miles he put up in yesterday's qualifying. He's the defending series champion, defending winner of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, driver of the #1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth for Forsythe Championship Racing. You start third tomorrow. How do you feel about the way things went today?

PAUL TRACY: It's the same for everybody. It was a little bit of a panicked qualifying session with the weather today. I think maybe it should have been called a little bit different from the chief steward, should have been called from the beginning of the session a wet session so that everybody would run on rain tires and dry the track up earlier. I think it would have been better for the fans to have the cars going around rather than nobody for 15 or 20 minutes. With 11 or 12 minutes of running, we really didn't -- we ran one set of tires and tried to do a second run on the same set of tires and it didn't play out for us. I'm happy with third. It's a long race tomorrow. So we'll just try to get the car ready for the race.

ERIC MAUK: You've come from a lot farther back in the field than third and won here at Long Beach. What does it take and what do you need to do to win this thing tomorrow?

PAUL TRACY: You've just got to have a clean race. Historically, this race has had a lot of yellows and a lot of mishaps. And it's early the in season, it's the first race for everybody, so a lot of guys haven't driven in a while. So from our standpoint, the crew guys haven't done pit stops in six, seven months. So a mistake-free day and a trouble-free day should bring us the podium, is what we hope for.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations and best of luck tomorrow. Our second place starter, he starts on the outside of the front row, fastest qualifier on the day, thereby earning himself a championship point with a top lap of 69.800 seconds, 101.501 miles per hour, driver the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Quickest on the day starting outside the front row, are you happy with the way things went?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, that's a very good question. I think I really could do better than that. Looking after the condition we've been facing this morning, I was expecting a wet session. I felt pretty comfortable that I could get some result, and what I got right now. But for sure, the fact that it's all right and we are to put the softer Bridgestone tires on with absolutely no knowledge about what the balance shift; plus the fact that we had only two minutes left in the session to do a lap time, it's not been very, very easy, especially since yesterday I was behind. I'm just glad this the car is up to speed at the right time. It's not been a completely clean lap, but for sure, it was a real fight in the car and it just worked. I'm really okay with that.

ERIC MAUK: You are in the outside of the front row, your teammate sits inside of the front row, does that affect the way you charge into turn one tomorrow?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think obviously we are not going to repeat the Surfer'S Paradise stuff because it's not for the championship contention any more. So the guy who is going to be in front is going to be in front, I guess is what's going to be the team order. And at the end of the day, we know that Paul is going to be very aggressive, so we just want to pull away from the rest of the pack as much as we can. So, I guess we'll see. It looks like both of the PacifiCare car and the McDonald's car are looking very good, and let's hope it's going to turn out to be a good day tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations and best of luck tomorrow. Our pole sitter for the 30th anniversary of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach driver the #6 PacifiCare/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira wins the first pole of the season, the eighth of his career. Congratulations. How do you feel about starting the season from the pole?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I feel really good. I think that's the best way to start the season. PacifiCare and Newman/Haas team did a good job over the winter. And you can see both Newman/Haas cars on the front row, I think that's very good for the team. Let's look forward to the race tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Kind of a tricky session, starts out wet, with dries up fairly rapidly, how did the tires hold up throughout the session?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I had an engine problem this morning, just warming the car up. Unfortunately I couldn't run in the morning session, but it was wet, anyway, didn't lose much. But had to change the engine to the afternoon. I had to do two laps in ten minutes and make sure everything goes right. Then I wait until like, at the last minute, I did one lap and then the red came in, my first lap, and I knew that I had two laps to go. He was behind Tracy and Sebastien. Tracy slowed down the first lap, I slowed down. I let about five cars go and I started to get very close to Tracy, a little bit of downforce and I knew that lap was the last one. I thought we could run maybe 95 and I knew that I was faster than Tracy because I catch him and Tracy and Sebastien were pretty even. I said I think we are going to get the pole then. I just keep the speed just for the end of the lap, and it wasn't a perfect lap, but I was very lucky yesterday to get the clear lap and put a good lap time. Like today, if I had a bad qualify yesterday, I would be not in a good position because I got Tracy. But anyway, I think it's very equal between me, Sebastien, Tracy. The race is going to be very difficult. The push to pass is going to be a factor, for sure. The soft Bridgestone tires is going to be another change. The most important thing is to know the other team's strategy. I think that's going to play, for sure, a really important role in the race. I think that's going to make guys from the front finish on the back and the guys from the back win the race. I hope this doesn't happen. I hope that Newman/Haas finds the right strategy that can put our car on the front as we are starting the race to the end of the race.

Q. Any concern you have a teammate -- inaudible -- does that change the strategy?

PAUL TRACY: No. That's something that we'll probably have to deal with throughout the year. So, both Bruno and Sebastien are very quick. I'm expecting to have to fight for the championship with both of them. I think the biggest question, I think for everybody, everything has changed quite a lot for this year. You have a softer tire that you have to run, you have the push to pass and the strategy is much different. There's no more mandatory pit on a certain lap. You know, a lot has changed. There's a lot to learn for the engineer in a short amount of time: Making the right decision, the right kind of pit. You never really are going to know how things are going to play out till the very end of the race. Hopefully we make all the right calls tomorrow and have a nice, clean race.

Q. The push to pass button, is it going to play a big role in this race because it's the first time you're going to be using it in a race situation?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess it's tough to predict. For sure it gives a shot if you cross the guy. If you are no further than one car behind, you definitely have a way to pass the guy. It gives you around three miles an hour advantage over the other guy if he doesn't use it. So, yeah, it's also something we have to know if guys are going to use it at the start of the restart, it's definitely a lot of things we have to discover.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I have seen the strategy, and luck is going to play more than push/pass than cars.

PAUL TRACY: I think everything. I think it's a combination of everything. A lot has changed. Like I said, a lot of different things that can happen in this race. I think the strategy, getting the strategy right is going to be most important thing, the fuel mileage, when you're going to pit, when you're going to take the softer tire, is going to be important. And we don't know how long the softer tires are going to last. Because of the rain today, our goal today was to run the softer tire in the whole session to see how it lasts. We couldn't do that today. So, nobody really knows. We'll just -- that's a big question mark for everybody.

Q. How long were you actually in the car and how difficult was it to play the waiting game?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I spent maybe 20, 25 minutes in the car. I knew that you have like two options. If it goes between 20, 25 minutes to go and do your first run, and then stop and go between ten to eight minutes to the last run, and you knew that at 20 minutes, nobody would get even a reasonable lap time. The track wasn't there, and it was a waste to go out and try to do any kind of lap at that time. Then wait until eight minutes and I went out. That's pretty much -- I mean, it's not much wait. It's better because I was in a comfortable position because I got the pole yesterday, and it was just a matter of what's going to happen if the track is going to be faster or not and if you're going to get like clear traffic and if the car is going to hold well to get the good lap.

Q. How much did the track change from yesterday to today, and with regards to setup and track conditions because of rains, what do you have to do for tomorrow?

PAUL TRACY: Well, I think the track, it's not as good today as it was yesterday. There was still wet spots. There was still a couple of damp spots and puddles, especially going into the fountain turn, there was a big puddle right before the turn in, so you had to go around that. So there was definitely more time in the track yesterday. All of the rubber was washed away today. So really, the only dry running was in the last ten minutes of the session. So, you know, if we had run in the dry this morning, the track would have been much quicker, today.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It was colder, too. You're not working the same way when it's colder.

PAUL TRACY: It was pretty similar to yesterday. We knew what we had yesterday, so we started the same way.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Come on, Paul. Don't you want to tell us what you changed? (Laughter).

PAUL TRACY: The only change I wish would have happened, I wish Pat would have put in the tires a little further so make the red a little bit longer at the end there. (Laughter).

Q. You talked about the push to pass button and its effect, are you going to be driving with your mirrors and see if somebody seems to be coming up really fast behind you and you use hit the button yourself?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, that's something that's going to be different. You have to watch what the other guys are doing. I don't know. Let's see how it plays. I think it's a long race. It's going to be, as I said, the combination between tires, push to pass and strategy. But the strategy can play a big role, especially because you never know when the yellow is going to come in. This is why I say luck is going to play a lot because it can maybe make the right -- there is no right strategy anymore. Now it's going to be kind of, you make the safe strategy and hope that the yellows fall in the right times. And then after at the end of the race, you're going to really race the guy and then use the push or pass; that's what I think is going to happen. For sure, the guys on the back, they are going to use it in the race to try to go forward.

Q. There are so many potential permutations of strategy, you'll probably spend five hours going through all of that. Can you kind of characterize how you're going to sit down tonight and work out your strategy what the limits are the permutations, how you're going to approach such a complicated thing?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: For sure, the computers are going to be smoking this evening, more than anything, you know, you can just guess and get figures and percentages and that's how you compute. You never know when the yellow is going to come out, and if it's right when you need to stop or when you plan to stop and you have no buffer, then you're screwed. That's about it.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: For sure, you shouldn't tell the strategy, but the problem is, you always try to win, otherwise to go as further as possible. And then when they put the pit stops window, you always speed on the last lap as possible, but now that you have to do the stops on the green, you know, if you tired to stop on Lap 100 -- there's not a 100, I'm giving a hypothetical thing, or stop on Lap 100 hundred and then on Lap 99, there is a yellow, you're going to be in a bad situation. It's pretty much what's happened in Australia, that me and Jourdain were leading the race and then some guy pits one lap early and then the yellow comes in, there was a back-up and then the three leaders went to the last three positions. This can happen any time now.

PAUL TRACY: I have to agree. I think we had a good system the last year. You know, the only two races where we had the situation was in Brands Hatch, which basically turned into a fuel mileage race, guys trying to stay out as long as they could and not pass anybody; and Australia, where things got screwed up there with the rain and the way the yellows fell. I'd prefer it, the old system, because it allows you to go flat-out as hard as you can go. You pit on a certain lap, and it kept the guys, the leaders, who legitimately qualified at the front, it kept them up front and it didn't have a lucky call put a guy to the front. So, you know, you had a true race from the start to the finish. So, maybe that's just my opinion, and I think that's the opinion of most of the drivers. We talked about it in a pre-drivers' meeting that, you know, how do we come -- how do we come back three years into the same type of situation where we used to have races like that before, where would you get a guy at the back, he'd call a yellow right and then he'd end up at the front and win the race? We'll just have to see how it plays out tomorrow.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Before, the yellow was a good thing, and now the yellow is a bad thing. That's the problem.



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