Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Houston
Topics: Grand Prix of Houston
May 11, 2006
ERIC MAUK: Good evening, and welcome to Grand Prix Houston, Round 2 of Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by two of our top three qualifiers. Our top qualifier will be along shortly.
We have our third place qualifier on the evening, the driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. He hangs up a best lap of 60.032 seconds, 101.346 miles per hour. Kind of a choppy session; tell us how it went for you.
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think it started out okay. Obviously we're not as quick as we want to be in comparison to Newman/Haas, but the rest of the group were where we needed to be.
We improved from this morning. We were really struggling on the bumps, getting the car to be compliant, yet still be in control and have grip is the problem here. We made a lot of changes, changed shocks, changed springs, changed stiff setting, a lot of different things. The car wasn't very good in warmup still, and we made another change in qualifying which seemed to bring it to life. It's getting there, but we still have some work to do.
ERIC MAUK: We are now joined by our qualifying leader, but we'll talk to our second place qualifier, driver of the #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Bruno Junqueira, with a lap time of 59.617 seconds, 102.051 miles per hour. Bruno, tell us a little bit about your night.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Well, it was good. This morning I had some problems, something that broke on the car. But tonight, we played a gamble to go early, but there was two red flags straight away. I was able to do one lap that was still not as fast. The session was really hard with all the red flags.
I was lucky that I think I had the second position already, but to improve the lap time I could get one lap in two corners. I think it was good. I'm very pleased that Newman/Haas worked very hard and everyone on the team to come here just on the first day. Tomorrow I have to work a little bit harder.
ERIC MAUK: Given the number of red flags in the session today, do you think that we're going to end up seeing in tomorrow's qualifying session a lot of guys going out earlier?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think so. I mean, it's just 30 minutes qualifying session, so if you want to wait, you want to wait five minutes because otherwise you're going to run out of time.
I think it was an interesting qualifying session today, and tomorrow for sure when the grid positions are really decided it's going to be even more exciting, especially because it's going to be harder, so we don't know how much the track improved, how much the alternate tires is going to improve, so there's going to be a lot of things flying around. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Our first round qualifying leader and our Championship leader at the moment, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He puts up the fastest lap of the day, a track record 59.1100 seconds, 102.927 miles per hour. Sebastien earns a championship point for leading today's qualifying, giving him 36 on the year, widening his points gap to nine over Justin Wilson. This also guarantees him a front row start for Sunday's event.
You hung half a second on the field. Tell us about how your car worked and how it went tonight.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Obviously the car was awesome today. Well, comparing to the position, because it's so bumpy out there that it's very difficult to say what the car is doing, but it seems to be quite a bit quicker than the old position. I'm just very happy to secure this front row stop. It's very important, especially here. We'll see if it opens up.
Tomorrow is going to be a completely different game. Probably we won't see as many red flags as we did today because it's difficult to understand what you need to do and when you need to go, and when you think you've got the break, well, the red flag comes out and everything has to be done again.
It's quite difficult, but the car seems fine and the grid position is good. So we are starting out on a good note, and we'll see if we can finish on a good note.
ERIC MAUK: We talked in previous races, with you and Bruno, the experience you had in 3,000 and the fact that you had to go out and learn tracks quickly because you didn't have a lot of track time. Tell us how that carries over and how you seem to pick up the tracks very quickly.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Both Bruno and I have -- I have had three years now, and basically we don't have any free practice sessions so you use that to go right to qualifying. You don't know much of anything, the car, the track, so you had to just anticipate and guess a lot of things, react by your gut feelings, and I think you develop a sense of how you need to understand the car over here in Champ Car, so it's very good for the Tour.
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien's 36 points means he has collected every available point that has been laid on the table. He got the maximum 35 at Long Beach and then picked up the point today, giving him 36, a maximum of a 9 point lead over Justin Wilson.
PAUL TRACY: I don't know. As far as I know, I heard his quote that he said he touched me. I didn't feel anybody touch me. Obviously I didn't see him. His car is a black colored car. It's dark, I wasn't looking behind me in that corner. If I was involved, I don't know if I was or not, but he was trying to pass me I guess on the outside in the sweeper, the fast sweeper, and I was running on the outside of the corner. I don't really know. I haven't seen a replay of it.
Q. Bruno, did the bumps bother your Indianapolis injured back?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, it was bothering maybe Paul Tracy's back, not mine.
Q. Sebastien, you're half a second faster than everybody else. Is this because you're newly married?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. A lot of people said that I was going to be slow this weekend. A lot of people told me I partied too much and I was going to be tired. Second, they said married men are slow. It doesn't seem to be a factor, but definitely now that it's official and we've got a common bank account, I might need to work a little bit more.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I don't really understand because it's quicker, but in the meantime it's extremely slippery. I have a feeling that these Bridgestone tires tend to work a little bit better when it's hot, but it's only a personal feeling.
Anyways, tomorrow we'll be on alternate tires, so we won't really be able to compare. But I felt better this afternoon with the car, felt that the tires were performing a little better, and maybe it's just a feeling because the environment is changing around you, and we know that tends to affect your perception of the car. But at the end of the day, I think I definitely felt more comfortable this afternoon.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Not so much for us.
PAUL TRACY: I think it's unfortunate the track was designed the way it was. I mean, it didn't take a lot of thought to see that there's a building at the end of the parking lot, and if you bring the corner back -- we're in a parking lot, it's not a street. If you brought the corner back 100 feet, you could give yourself 100 feet of runoff.
It's very frustrating that you show up here and they put a corner right in front of a building with no runoff. So we've had to makeshift this chicane that is so slow and really doesn't do any justice for the cars at all or the racing, and all it did was take a little bit of thought to think it out.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Are you looking for friends, Paul (laughter)?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, we never do, that's the thing. I'm just glad they did something this time because we kind of waved the flag thing, this is not right. Not saying it's completely safe now, but on both of these corners plus the straight line it's probably 60 percent better. It's probably not as safe as it could have been, but it's 50 percent safer.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's I think presumable.
PAUL TRACY: It's not very good in the day because it's so bumpy. I'm going to have to borrow Chris' glasses.
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, it's pretty well lit, surprisingly well lit for the limited amount of lights. The big spotlights that they have, the stadium light, it's actually surprisingly well lit.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it's got no comparison to anything.
PAUL TRACY: Long circuit Sebring?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: On the bumpiness, yeah. It's really a shame because it's one of the best layouts --
PAUL TRACY: It's a great layout and a good length, 60 seconds, 59 seconds, got a good mix of corners that are difficult. If it was smooth, it would be fantastic. If they took this layout and laid asphalt on top of it, it would be great.
Q. What about passing opportunities?
PAUL TRACY: Well, it's difficult at best. But the reason it's difficult is because it's so bumpy. You can't get alongside of a guy because the car in front of you is moving around all over the place.
You know, you never know. Denver is a place that historically there was never any passing, and Sebastien went to the back of the field and came all the way through the field and passed everybody, including me, on the last lap to win the race. You know, if your car is good, you can pass.
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I noticed that a little bit. It's a little bit difficult to see the apex.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Before the Astrodome you've got a shallow spot, but you're going quite fast anyways, and you kind of -- (laughter). But there on the apex of the corner, you're already there, so it's not going to matter. Really the lighting is not a problem at all.
ERIC MAUK: We'll wrap up. We set the final grid tomorrow with qualifying that begins at 4:00 p.m. Thank you all. Congratulations, gentlemen. Have a good night.
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