Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Monterrey
Topics: Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey
May 20, 2006
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to start with our post qualifying press conference from the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey presented by Roshfrans.
First, we're going to award the Bridgestone pole position trophy to Sebastien Bourdais. Our presenter for the trophy today, Mr. Yoichi Nakata (ph). As many of you are aware, the Bridgestone Pole Position Award comes with a $10,000 prize, $5,000 goes to Sebastien and Newman/Haas Racing, 2500 of that goes to the Hole in the Wall Camps, and another 2500 goes to another deserving local charity.
I'd like to introduce Mr. Joe Barbieri from Bridgestone. 140 degree track temperatures out there today. Got to put a strain on the tires. Tell us about how you handled that.
JOE BARBIERI: We did bring a new alternate tire here. It seems to be working out very well. For some of you, that converts to 62 degrees Celsius. It's very, very hot out there. The drivers seem to be doing very well with it. They haven't experienced any problems right now. It's going to be a very, very tough race tomorrow with those temperatures. They're telling me the track is changing constantly out there. They're really going to have to be on their toes how they set up those cars, do what they can out there.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you, Joe.
We are joined by our top three finishers in today's final qualifying. Same gentlemen we had up here as top three in yesterday's qualifying.
Our third place qualifier, driver of the #10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger. His best lap today, 1:13.796 seconds, 102.640 miles per hour. His first top three start of the year, his fourth straight start in the top five in the Champ Cars. This is his best ever start here at Fundidora Park.
AJ, tell us about how you feel how it went today.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: You know, I mean, I was fairly pleased overall today with how it was going. Practice, we were fairly quick. You know, a bit disappointed in qualifying. I didn't think we got the car exactly right. But, you know, I'm pleased to be in the top three, at least in touch with the front. As everybody said, it's going to be a long race tomorrow, it's going to be difficult. I think we got a little more fine tuning to do with the car. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: At the at the end of the practice, you had a little off-course excursion. You were a little upset after afternoon practice before qualifying. Tell us about that.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I was just trying a new line out there. Just seeing if I could widen the track out a bit. It didn't work. I know that for tomorrow's race now.
ERIC MAUK: What are your thoughts going into tomorrow's race? What do you expect for tomorrow?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: That's a good question. I don't know. You guys going to be nice to me, kind of run into each other on the start, move out of the way, or not?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm not Paul.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: That's good. Glad you didn't say anything else after that (laughter).
I mean, it's going to be a difficult race. If we can get through turn one clean, go racing from there. If you can just get a consistent car that's got a good balance on the Bridgestone tires, you know, I think you'll have a good car throughout the race. As we were talking about, if you just miss the setup just a touch, it's going to be a difficult race.
Hopefully we go back and get the car right for tomorrow and have a great race.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
Starting on the outside of the front row, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. His best time today 1:13.532 seconds, 103.008 miles per hour. Second quickest time of the day earns himself a front row start, his sixth front row start of his career.
Justin, tell us about your afternoon.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was pretty good. Not quite as good as yesterday. You know, like AJ said, it's very difficult to set the car up around here. The slightest change you make wrong, rather than it being half a 10th or a 10th, it's going to be 3/10ths. You have to really work hard on making very small adjustments, trying to keep the car in the right window so it works well.
Generally it's been working pretty good. We made some changes to the right direction, ready for the second qualifying. But, you know, part of the gamble we took yesterday to use the alternate tires for that one lap paid off. We knew it would hurt us a little bit today. We didn't have a very good buildup and understanding of what the tires liked.
You know, maybe we could have done a better job. Under the circumstances, I'm pretty happy with the way we've worked, the whole CDW #9 car crew have done a great job. Looking forward to the race now.
ERIC MAUK: Any issues with traffic at the end of the session? Every car was on track six or seven minutes. You posted two very fast times at the end.
JUSTIN WILSON: I managed to get two times in. I managed to have a couple of laps in the middle to back it off a little bit, find more clear track. You know, generally it's working well. The Bridgestone tires are working well for me. Really enjoyed being on the options. Gives you a nice feel in the car. Makes it very enjoyable to run this track.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations.
The winner of the Bridgestone Pole Position Award, the two-time defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His best time today, 1:13.253 seconds, 103.401 miles per hour, a new track record for Fundidora Park, the fourth consecutive year Sebastien has won the pole here, the first time since Rick Mears from 1988 to '91 that a driver has won poles in consecutive seasons, four consecutive seasons, at a Champ Car track. He also earns a championship point, giving him 69 on the year, widening his lead over Mario Dominguez to 19 points.
19th career pole, Sebastien. 113.2, an awful quick lap. Tell us how you did it.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it was a little bit of a crazy session. We went out there and didn't really know what to expect with the option tires. But Bridgestone had pretty similar compounds, just a little grippier. We didn't guess it exactly right, so we got the red flag, pit, made a change, went back out, and definitely the balance was a little better. We really capitalized on that.
I had clean track, two laps in a row. That was exactly what I was looking for. We just got it right. Could not be any happier for the McDonald's team. I think it's quite an achievement to do that four years in a row. I just really like this racetrack. I hope it's going to be good to us tomorrow because it's always been a bumpy ride for the race. We'll see what happens.
ERIC MAUK: You put up a 132. You came in and pitted. A lot of people thought you were going to sit and wait this out. AJ throws up a 13.7. You went back out. What was your thought behind that?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, you never quite know what the track is going to do. In normal circumstances the track would have picked up another 3, 4, maybe 5/10ths. Fortunately, quite a few guys ran out and dragged a lot of dust, grass and stuff on the racetrack which really didn't allow us to improve. I think it really showed amongst the competitors. It's just something you know once you've done it. You always look a lot smarter afterwards.
I just think track position is extremely important here. You really want to start from the pole. We just made sure we were going to be right there. For sure you'd like to save the tires, but as I said in Long Beach when we did it, you look like a star when it succeeds. But when you miss the pole because you got greedy, you sat down for the second set, you really look awful stupid.
It's a tough call. You've got to decide. We played it safe this time.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
Questions for our qualifiers today.
Q. Sebastien, four times here, four pole positions, great record. Can you maybe assess how you've improved as a driver since you came here as a rookie in 2003?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Tough to say. I think, you know, obviously my knowledge of the car, my knowledge of the track, the way we end all qualifying sessions, the way we work all together is a lot better.
But I don't know. Every time we come here, we seem to be able to elevate our games just enough to keep, you know, quite a nice (indiscernible) on the field. It's always a challenge. We come here and we are the one to beat. We're just trying to keep that status.
But it's not easy. I mean, definitely you could see RuSPORT yesterday, you know, raise their game, too. We didn't know what to expect exactly. We only know we were going to have an advantage on Justin because we were going to have two sets of the Bridgestone option tires. Realistically, you know, you never quite know how good the competition is going to be. You only hope you're going to be good enough.
ERIC MAUK: That brings an end to our press conference. We go racing tomorrow, start at 1:00.
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