Champ Car World Series: Lexmark Indy 300
Topics: Lexmark Indy 300
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started. We have two of our top three finishers from our todays Lexmark Indy 300, round 12 of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Our third place finisher, driver of the #12 Gulfstream/PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, Jimmy Vasser. Jimmy hangs up his second podium finish of the year, he's gone back to back on the podium for the first sim since Houston and Surfers Paradise in 2000, his fourth podium finish here in Surfers Paradise and the 33rd of his career. Jimmy, right where you wanted to be most of the day, top five. Tell us about how it felt.
JIMMY VASSER: You know, I felt fine. We were still lacking a little speed. The first stint, I was just shadowing Tagliani. I was a little disappointed when I had to peel off into the pits and saw he was going to do another lap. I started out trying to run the number we needed to run from the beginning of that stint, 171. I could have run it, but I needed to keep pace. So I was running 165, 167. Then he stayed out. But apparently he ran out of gas and came in dead stick. We got him in the pits that way. They made a little miscalculation, either that or they were trying to push it. Not to jump around, but the start was -- I didn't see what happened. You know, as everybody expected, there was going to be carbon fiber flying with PT starting fifth, all the dynamics of how the rows were lined up. Oriol and Sebastien together, with Oriol on pole, I don't think Sebastien was all too happy about that. So we had that melee at the start. Really a lot of my race was kind of racing around Tagliani and his times in that first stint, where he was. I think he was trying to do some shortcutting and things like that to try to get in front of us. Just didn't work out for him. All credit to my PKV Racing team. They've been working really hard since Montreal. Been on the shaker rig three times, a test. These cars are an awful lot of mathematics. We've been working real hard crunching the numbers trying to make the team better. I think it's starting to show. Street circuits have been our weakness all season long. With da Matta qualifying third quick yesterday, starting in fourth position, running good this weekend, I was a little bit off the pace, I think. But we made it a little better for the race. However, we ended up with a podium finish. I think it's starting to show that the hard work on the team is starting to pay off.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little about the last few laps of the race. At the end of the day you had Tagliani by four and a half seconds. You posted your fastest lap on lap 54 or 57. Did you know he was back there?
JIMMY VASSER: A lot of guys were right there in the end. The track is rubbering up. Glock left 56, Servia 56, myself 54. You know, so, I knew he was there. They were telling me. I opened up -- I started out the run at a three-and-a-half-second gap. I opened it up to five-and-a-half seconds on him, probably six or seven laps, then had enough just to back off a little bit, not having to push. It's very difficult to push hard at the end of the tire stint because the tires are starting to get old, it's easier to lock up brakes, a lot easier to make a mistake. I throttled back a little bit. I couldn't even see. I don't know the pace you guys were running, but I couldn't even see those guys. By the time I got through the traffic after the restart, they were many miles up the road, so.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run.
JIMMY VASSER: Thank you very much.
ERIC MAUK: Today's runner-up, driver of the #10 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, AJ Allmendinger. AJ matches a career-best finish by finishing second here today. His fourth podium finish of the season, the sixth of his career. Moves him back into the top five in the standings, one point ahead of Jimmy Vasser. AJ, strong run today. Tell us about it.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, RuSPORT gave me a great car today. We struggled a bit early in the weekend. I mean, can't say enough about my team. They just keep fighting to improve the car. You know, the car during the race was absolutely amazing. We had to calculate the first stint on fuel. We had a little problem in warm-up calculating it. We had to be conservative. I had to save a lot of fuel on the first stint. After that, it was just trying to chase down Sebastien. Unfortunately, you know, all these podium finishes, I got about one guy that's got a real quick car during the race. You know, I mean, it looks like from the lap times we had everybody else covered, but I was just trying to hang on to him. After the second pit stop, he had about 10 seconds on me. I just kind of took it easy. At the end, pushed a little bit just to see what car still had. But I'm pleased to be on the podium here. Didn't expect it. I think everybody in the series talks about what a feeling it is to be on the podium in Surfers Paradise. Glad I get to enjoy it.
ERIC MAUK: Top five in points, you take a little momentum into the season finale in Mexico.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I'd like to keep improving and finish fifth in the points this year. We finished third at Mexico City last year. We have good data from that racetrack. Hopefully we can go there and improve the car and give ourselves a chance at another podium and maybe a victory.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run today.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Unofficially the top six in Champ Car points, Sebastien Bourdais clinches the 2005 Series Championship with 344 points with one race remaining, Oriol Servia second at 265, Justin Wilson third with 231, Paul Tracy is fourth with 221, AJ is fifth with 199, Jimmy Vasser is sixth with 198. We'll take questions from the media.
Q. Just a few points separating you for Mexico City. That's where it's going to be decided, isn't it?
JIMMY VASSER: Definitely. How far back is Dominguez?
ERIC MAUK: Dominguez is eight points behind you.
JIMMY VASSER: I mean, he's in the mix, too. It's a good race for top five in the points. If PT has another outing like he had today, we end up on the podium, perhaps even fourth place is up for grabs. We finished fourth there last year. I think we have some good data, as well. I'm optimistic that we can have a good run. It's been an exciting championship. New points system allows for that, although our champion has a sizable lead. I think Mexico City is going to be a very exciting race. It's a challenging track, a lot of great Champ Car fans in Mexico City. We're looking forward to getting down there, too.
Q. Jimmy, now that you've had your second podium in a row, maybe you'll do well in Mexico City, does that affect your outlook for the future?
JIMMY VASSER: No, not really. I'm not contemplating resigning my Champ Car seat because of lack of performance really. I feel like I'm on top of my machine. We're working hard to build our race team. Good database, move the team along. You know, I don't think that da Matta is a slow driver. I don't think I am either. I think it's important that we build faster race cars and improve on that. We're going to base our decision about my driving or not pretty much on what's best for the race team, what's best for PKV. I can drive another one or two years for sure and still be competitive. I believe that. But I think in today's Champ Car climate, it might be better that we get to work on building for the future with the younger drivers. It could have some -- there could be some commercial aspects, as well, sponsorships and things of that nature. I'm not trying to be coy by putting it off saying anything, but we're really going to make a decision in mid December time about what we're going to do with me and the whole team. But thanks for asking.
Q. AJ, one, two years left?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, I think about mid-season, Carl said I had about five minutes left in my career. You know, I mean, we're coming back. I like to mix in a couple good finishes with a lot of bad just to keep them on the edge thinking, "Maybe he's figuring it out." So, yeah. I'm just going to destroy my Fantasy Football league if I retire.
ERIC MAUK: We'll let Jimmy and AJ go. Thank you, gentlemen. We are now joined by the winner of the Lexmark Indy 300 and the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion for the second consecutive year, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien wins his sixth race of the year with today's victory, the 16th of his career. He also recorded the fastest lap today setting a new race record in the process. He becomes the first back-to-back series champion since Gil de Ferran won the titles in 2000 and 2001. Sebastien, first let's talk about the race today.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess it didn't really start the way it was supposed to. I guess we didn't understand each other. We were supposed to kick off things really early with Oriol. By the pass (indiscernible), we were still idling in second gear. I was getting a little worried. I saw everybody bunching up behind us. I thought, "Trouble coming." Sure enough, when we got to the braking point, I was a little ahead, but not by much, everybody was all over us. What happened wasn't supposed to happen. It's just very unfortunate for the beginning of the race. After, I was feeling very bad. I was just supposed to be Oriol's wingman today. You know, he was out on the first lap, or pretty much. I was behind PT, who came out of nowhere, jumping up and down in the chicane. I was like, "Yeah, that's just great." So really after that, I really had to win this race because it would have been terrible if PT had won the race for Oriol. So I was giving it all, even more than in regular conditions. I was able to stick with him. I nearly lost the car in the braking over the bump in turn three. I nearly lost it. I lost like two seconds in this lap. After I had to keep on saving fuel to try and go a lap further and still catch him because we were still too far away. It was like a tough mission, but I still managed to get back in touch with him. We adjusted the car on the first stop, too much understeer. From there on, the race really turned around because we went one lap further with the changes. The car was really quick. We were in front this time, although we had to short fuel to make sure we were really going to go around. I really had to pull a gap on everybody behind to try and keep this position after the second pit stop. Sure enough, the yellow came out (laughter). I was like, "Okay, this is looking very good now." We still managed to really up the pace significantly in the second part of the middle stint. I was just -- the car was responding really well, and I was just like a flying lap every lap. I did something like six laps like that before pitting. We pulled out a very nice speed and took the fastest lap of the race with it, which was something like 5 or 6/10ths faster than the qualifying lap. I was very happy with that, even more happy when I saw that we were going to stay in front because AJ didn't go a lap further either. He probably short fueled the same as us in the first stop. After that, it was a pretty straightforward deal. We proved we had the quicker car. I was just taking it easy. It was a cruise to the finish. Then when I heard that Oriol was settled for second in the championship, things went back to normal. It was overall a very good day for Newman/Haas Racing.
ERIC MAUK: The second championship for Sebastien Bourdais, the sixth championship for Newman/Haas Racing. Although interestingly enough, among those six champions, Sebastien is the first driver to win two Champ Car titles for Newman/Haas Racing. Sebastien, you clinch it again with a victory, just as you did last year. On top of the heap. Tell us how it feels.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I just got up, I said, "Maybe I should try a 360." No, I'm just kidding. It was a nice win, very straight forward once everything sorted out in the pit strategy. I was just very happy to see how quick we were again. You know, such a great reward for this team that's working so hard. Obviously you're going to say I won the back-to-back championship, but without the organization around me, I would be nothing. I can't be grateful enough for all this hard work. It's just unbelievable. One and two for the second time in a row in the championship. I guess Newman/Haas Racing is going to have a tough time to top it up again next year. It's tough to keep up with that.
ERIC MAUK: What are you going to do for an encore? Only Ted Horn has won Champ Car titles in a row.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess once you've tasted it, the one thing you want to do is try again. I think we can pretty much announce we'll be back in 2006 with Newman/Haas Racing and the McDonald's car No. 1.
ERIC MAUK: We'll open it up for questions for Sebastien.
Q. Another first-time winner here. What it about this track that means that nobody has gone back-to-back here? No person has won here more than once. What is it about this track?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't win any other seasons here. Bruno, my teammate, won last year and I finished second. I guess Newman/Haas Racing has got to have a pretty good setup. It's true on basically every single street course. We definitely have a very strong car here. We qualified again with Oriol 1-2. As I said, it just outlines really well how good this team is.
ERIC MAUK: Newman/Haas Racing's sixth victory here in Surfers Paradise. Today's race attendance 105,297, bringing the event total to an event record 316,459. That is a record for the 15 years here at Surfers Paradise.
Q. As wins go, did this one have special significance, taking the championship? It was a race you said you particularly wanted to win, the Gold Coast race. Anything special about this race win today?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, it was one of the races I had never won before. It's an historical one. Obviously, it's one that means something. It's a long one. It's a race where anything can happen. You can make a mistake extremely easily. The chicanes are like big traps waiting for you to get caught. I was just extremely happy to go through it and show what kind of pace we had. More than anything else, I think it's just really, really a great performance to be able to win the championship and to top it off with a win and finish in great fashion.
Q. About the significance of this win itself. We talked yesterday. You said in the first two years, you never really have been completely happy with your car here. You weren't really happy yesterday. Again, the fact you won the race obviously suggests the car was pretty good. I assume that is also a sense of satisfaction, too?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I was a little disappointed yesterday, although, as I told you, probably could have taken pole if for not really bad timing in the session. That's one that didn't count. But whatever. It was just not our day. I wasn't very happy with the balance. It was still pretty competitive. As I told you, as I said, the car doesn't feel very good, it doesn't feel very competitive. It doesn't mean it's not. It feels weak from the inside. When you're looking at the clock, not looking bad particularly. I felt that was one of the cars we had that was a little deficient compared to the feel we have somewhere around different places. We didn't make a big revolution, but definitely improved it significantly for the race, and even during the race we made it better. It was very -- I just was having a very good time in the car the middle stint. It was a lot of grip, good balance. I was just throwing a lot of energy in the fight. But definitely great laps one after another.
Q. Even in practice and qualifying, the car seemed to have that little bit extra in it. Were you holding back at all at any stage?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. The first day I think under rain we pulled off a great lap at the end - good enough to take pole on Friday. Yesterday, I never really got a chance to go up to speed. I did one lap and caught traffic. Then did another lap, caught traffic again. Most of the times on a track like that, it's good to have two or three times in a row. Never got in this position. I was a little frustrated, as I said. But when you know you're going to finish the championship, everybody is like, "Come on, just cheer up, it's okay. Nothing wrong. You're still going to start on the first row. Don't be too greedy." But definitely during the race, we felt that the car was up to the challenge ahead and we just pulled it off. That's really satisfying.
Q. You have already won the championship. What can we expect of you in the race at Mexico City?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think Mexico City is a track where I was pretty (inaudible) last year. I'm not going to go over there with any kind of pressure. Oriol is going to be eager to show that he can win the race. I think personally on the McDonald's side, we really have the right package to pull it off. It's just going to be a great fight. Really not so many people are going to have championship aspirations. It's just going to be about this one race, like a race outside of the championship where everybody goes for it. Might be pretty interesting, I guess.
Q. Earlier in the season a couple of times you said after races where you haven't won, "We just have to accept that this year isn't like last year." If that's the case, how do you feel this title compares to last year? Coming back from the earlier frustrations of the year, does this one mean more or would you prefer to have been absolutely dominant?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I'm not sure I heard everything.
Q. I'll cut it short. How does this title compare to last one?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, I think you mentioned the frustration at the beginning of the season. I guess we really started very well with Long Beach, then things went a little wrong on the way, just bad things happened. Just like today, could have gone seriously wrong with the yellow falling at the wrong time when you're short fuel. You need to be a little lucky to win races and win the championship. Definitely things were not going our way. (Indiscernible) taking a penalty after a master cylinder failure. It went on like that at Indy, something going wrong the last two laps, feeling we were working really hard and not getting rewarded for it. We were still finishing within the top five. We said, "If bad days are top five, I guess when things are going to turn around, it will be a great season again." I think it's not been as enjoyable as last year because of the few incidents we had along the way. But at the end of the season, really when you look at the figures, we still pulled off six wins, there's one to go. Came kind of late, but the level of performance was really right there all the time. If not for incidents at the beginning, we probably could have had more wins than last year by the end of the season. I think we really have to be pretty happy with what we've done. I just hope that next year everybody is going to be -- it's just going to be a trouble-free season where it's, "Let's go racing," and everybody gets the results they deserve.
Q. After the results of these past two years, you've turned out to be one of the greatest champions the series has ever seen. Looking back at your early career, looking at Formula One, are you happy you came here now? Is it satisfying?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think I've always been happy to be there. You know, obviously when you're in a professional series and winning races, making a pretty good living out of it, working for Newman/Haas Racing, you have to be satisfied. F1 is not something I completely gave up on. But so far I never had a chance to prove what I can do. You need a good one to be able to show something. So we'll see if something happens during the 2006 season, if I can get a chance for the 2007 one. So far there's nothing really scheduled. We'll see what happens. I guess I can't predict the future.
Q. Will you have time to take in and absorb your win here on the Gold Coast? Are you on the first plane out for Mexico?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: First plane back home tomorrow. Unfortunately, every year we say we're going to stay there. But the schedule is not wide open. I have the Race of Champions in Atlanta on Friday or Saturday night. I have to make it back home, practice a little if I don't want to look completely stupid. Might want to hurry back home.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you. Sebastien, congratulations.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thank you.
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