AutoRacing1.com Media Conference
July 29, 2007
Q. We're here this morning in San Jose with Champ Car rookie Alex Figge. Alex, thanks for being with us today.
ALEX FIGGE: No problem.
Q. Why don't you tell our readers how you got started in racing. When did you first decide that you wanted to be a race car driver? How old were you?
ALEX FIGGE: My family has always been interested in it. Then I went to a racing school when I was like 16, something like that. And then start racing Formula Mazda and sort of went from there.
Q. Has it been harder than you expected coming to back to Champ Car?
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah. I would say it has, just from the standpoint that, you know, two new drivers and a new team has been pretty difficult. You know, especially since a lot of these tracks, you know, last time I was here was in '04 with Atlantic and seemed like we always had a top 5 car right out of the truck.
I was telling -- my engineer and I, who the same in Atlantic, we were talking about the other day in Toronto we were devastated to qualify like 4th or something. So it's a bit of a change. Obviously there's still a little bit of something missing between my engineer and I right now. We're both trying our best and it hasn't quite come together yet unfortunately.
Q. I guess you're both rookies, right, for Champ Car?
ALEX FIGGE: Yep, both rookies. Yeah. And our other engineer is a rookie, too, and more of the guys on our team. So just trying to pick it up as fast as we can.
Q. In hindsight if you had to do it over again, would you have picked up more veterans on the team you think?
ALEX FIGGE: I mean, you know, I think that, you know, that would help obviously to have somebody with like a knowledge base. I mean, I think everybody on the team, you know, has the skills to be here.
It's just putting it all together in this environment has been difficult, especially since a lot of Lola information transfers over. So without even that's it's definitely been hard.
Q. Right. (Indiscernible).
ALEX FIGGE: Actually, they just help with the racing, you know what I mean? I think I made some -- I made some mistakes in the races this year but I don't think I cost anybody anything. Hopefully that's just a product of being through a couple different series and being a little more heads up.
Because obviously we're not at the point end of the field right now, but I certainly don't want to be screwing up anybody else's race either. So I think it's a difficult situation to be in, but some of those experiences have helped a lot as far as being comfortable.
Q. Okay. Ryan is your teammate.
ALEX FIGGE: Uh-huh
Q. I guess you guys are buddies, good friends
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah. We're best friends, yeah.
Q. That's great. How is that working out as far as two rookie teammates?
ALEX FIGGE: I mean, I think like the whole combination of an entire rookie team is pretty difficult. But Ryan and I are close and I don't have any ego hang-ups with Ryan and I don't think he has any with me either.
I think that definitely promotes a single goal of just trying to move up the grid and trying to get more consistent.
Q. Are you able to share race setup? So you guys like the same kind of car set up?
ALEX FIGGE: Not usually, but the last couple races Ryan and Tim seemed to have found a little something. So on Saturday they've ended up making some really good decisions and making some progress. You know, so we have definitely been able to share some information and get some gains that way.
Q. Speaking of progress, you qualified 13th in Edmonton and Cleveland, which showed a little promise there.
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah. I think Cleveland was a good weekend. We missed one of the practice sessions due to some car problems, and I think without that we would have had a shot at a decent qualifying result.
You know, here, you know, it's too bad we had to take this morning to do this. But here's been a little rough I think for Mario and I. You know, just trying to keep my head up a bit. I don't know, hopefully the results will be a bit better in the future.
Q. Yeah. Yeah. How is your back by the way? Long Beach you had hurt it.
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah. It's been slightly sore all season. I'm back to 90%, something like that. I can only feel it -- you know, after the race it hurts a bit, stuff like that. But really no big deal. Nothing that keeps me out of car or anything like that.
Q. How hard was a stepping out of car in Houston?
ALEX FIGGE: It was pretty difficult. In one respect, you got to give people a fair shake, and I don't think I would have been able to do a very good job. My guys work pretty damn hard to get the car running and, you know, just to make everything work. To not be able to give them 100 percent is not fair either.
In that respect it was the right thing to do, but it's certainly an embarrassing thing to have to do, you know.
Q. But drivers do get hurt.
ALEX FIGGE: That's true, yes
Q. I mean, look at where you're at today. I think everybody expects you guys to struggle the first yeah. Like you said, you're all rookies. Have you set any kind of goals at all for the end of the year? One-year, two-year, three-year goals?
ALEX FIGGE: You know, obviously I'd like to qualify in the top 10 a few times here. We had some promising -- like you were mentioning some promising leads. Long Beach seemed like we were strong and then Cleveland and Edmonton seemed like we were picking it up a little bit.
But, yeah, I mean, just basically I'd love to have some Top 10s. I think that would make me feel good. To be honest with you, right now it seems like it's been a long time since we sort of pulled ourselves up a little bit.
So trying this morning to sort of remotivate for the race and be able to run a good race and have a good result. I think this place a has some potential for people to make some mistakes.
Q. Yeah, but the field os so tight here.
ALEX FIGGE: I know
Q. If you're off by two tenths you're down the back.
ALEX FIGGE: Absolutely.
Q. So it's really hard. Do you see yourself being a driver long-term, or do you have aspirations of someday being a team owner?
ALEX FIGGE: I certainly have aspirations of being a team owner. But I don't feel like I've reached my goals here, and I do feel like I do belong here and I can succeed here given the right situation. You know, hopefully not too many other people's opinions differ from that.
It has definitely been a struggle this year. Right now just trying to stay positive and have good finishes and learn as much as I can from the guys who have been here.
Q. To me this is the toughest serious by far to be in. It's so close.
ALEX FIGGE: There are some great teams here, too.
Q. Great teams, and the talent level in Champ Car is really, really good.
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah.
Q. Doesn't get as much attention in the media as it should for other reasons, but the quality of the driving, in my opinion, just getting these cars to launch is hard.
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah. I mean, no question.
Q. Given the engines and the tires and all. So you're only one second off here. You're not that far off.
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah. I mean, no question that we have super quick guys here. It's just meaning everything. I mean yesterday I thought -- I mean, I still think we would have been towards the back, but we had a couple that were in the 49s to at least look a little better.
But, man, sometimes we won't play the traffic right or play the strategy right. That's not anybody's fault; we just don't know. Seems like we're trying something different every weekend, and sometimes we hit it better than other times.
Q. I see your parents are at most of the races. Are they at all the races?
ALEX FIGGE: Yep.
Q. That must feel so good to have their support there.
ALEX FIGGE: It's always nice to have their support. My grandma is here this weekend. She lives in Palm Springs, so that's fun. Try to have my friends come out whenever they can when they can get off work and stuff like that. It's always nice to have a support system. Ryan and I being best friends helps a lot, too.
Q. I notice the camaraderie there.
ALEX FIGGE: Yeah, absolutely.
Q. I have to give you credit. To come in here and do what you're doing, you know, it's all rookies.
ALEX FIGGE: It's tough. It's tough
Q. I saw Ryan, was it last race that he qualified up there pretty high?
ALEX FIGGE: He did very well.
Q. So there's some potential there.
ALEX FIGGE: Absolutely.
Q. When you guys hit the set up you're going to be okay.
ALEX FIGGE: Absolutely. We're moving the right direction, and when we make the right decisions I think we're right there.
Q. Next year you might be in a lot better shape.
ALEX FIGGE: Absolutely. I think so.
Q. Okay. Very good. Best of luck today and the rest of the year.
ALEX FIGGE: Thanks.
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