Champ Car Media Conference
Topics: Champ Car
ERIC MAUK: Welcome, everyone, to today's Champ Car/Toyota Atlantic Championship media teleconference where we have a couple very exciting announcements as we lead into this weekend's GI Joe's presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland to take place at the Portland International Raceway June 17th, 18th and 19th. The Toyota Atlantics will be running a doubleheader, running once on the 18th and then again on the 19th. Sunday's Champ Car race will take place getting underway at 3:45 eastern on Sunday. That can be seen live on CBS Sports. We'll start with our Toyota Atlantic Championship portion of our teleconference today where we have a very exciting announcement. Brooks Associates Racing will be running a new driver in their #10 car starting in Portland. They'll be running him for the remainder of the season, a driver that is no stranger to many of you on the call. To those of you who haven't met him, you certainly met a member of his family somewhere along the line as we are very pleased to announce that Al Unser III will be campaigning in the Toyota Atlantic Championship for the remainder of the year running the #10 BOSpoker.net sponsored machine for Brooks Associates Racing. We are joined today by Al Unser III as well as John Brooks who is the owner of Brooks Associates Racing. Gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us today.
JOHN BROOKS: Thank you for having us.
AL UNSER III: No problem.
ERIC MAUK: Al comes back to the Toyota Atlantic Championship. He ran four races in the series last year, earning a personal best eighth place finish in his final start of the season, running at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Most recently Al has been competing in the Infiniti Pro Series. He has a long history in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2003, worked his way up starting back with the Formula Dodge National Championship back in 2002. Al, congratulations and tell us a bit about what excites you about coming back to run in the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
AL UNSER III: I'm definitely very excited to work with Brooks and again, Peter Jacobs, team engineer, is definitely extremely smart. We definitely mesh well together. Getting back to all the Champ Car circuits definitely excites me a lot. I love running on street courses and road courses. Portland is going to be a great race for us.
ERIC MAUK: You've run at Portland before. You ran there in the 2003 Barber Dodge Pro Series. Give us a little bit about your thoughts on the Portland circuit.
AL UNSER III: Portland's going to be great. I've heard they've changed the festival curves a little bit, made those a little bit faster. It still will be a prime passing area going into those corners. But I like Portland. It's a very, very challenging track. I've got some history there with my dad winning his first Champ Car event there.
ERIC MAUK: Absolutely. He took that win in 1984, his very first one, first of 31 Champ Car wins for Al Unser, Jr. John Brooks, no stranger to the Toyota Atlantic Championship. A long time campaigner, first as a driver and then as an owner. He runs two cars in the championship. He has Andreas Wirth in the #8 car and will now have Mr. Unser in the #10 car. John, tell us a little bit about how this came about and what we can expect to see the rest of the year.
JOHN BROOKS: Well, it's sort of a homecoming for Al coming back to the team, as you know. As you said, we ran Al in four races last year. He was dividing his time between the Infiniti Pro Series and the Atlantic Championship to get as much behind-the-wheel time as he could. They approached me a short time ago when they realized that we had an opening and it was Peter's car and all. I knew how well Al and Pete got along and how good of work they did together. We just thought it was a great combination to get back together again. We were excited to have them contact us. It's just nice and comfortable having Al back in the team. We're very optimistic. We're looking forward to the consistency of the rest of the year. We know Al is going to do a great job for us.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. That's a great driver lineup with Al Unser III and Andreas Wirth. Andreas coming after driving a season of Formula BMW competition last year. Looking forward to having you guys join us. Again, Saturday and Sunday you will take to the track for your first series battles as a doubleheader for the Toyota Atlantic Championship taking place this coming weekend. We'll get right to the media portion of today's teleconference.
Q. Al, you're coming back to a series and a circuit that you're quite familiar with. How much did that play into your decision in you've been on probably most of these tracks, probably walked most of them as much as you've driven them.
AL UNSER III: Yeah, you know, I used to rollerblade around the tracks that we were at as my dad traveled around the circuit. I'm definitely very excited to get back to Portland, being a special place.
Q. Also Cleveland I guess has been a pretty big place for you. I believe you raced here last year, one of your four, as well.
AL UNSER III: No, I do not believe that was one of my four in the Atlantic car. I did, however, race there two years ago in the Barber Dodge Pro Series car.
Q. What is the big difference in these cars?
AL UNSER III: Between the Atlantics and the Barber Dodge car?
Q. Yes. And the Infinitis.
AL UNSER III: Well, between the Atlantics and the Barber Dodge, I would say the Barber Dodge is a step below the Atlantics. It has a little bit more horsepower, but the car's a lot heavier. The motor in the Barber Dodge was a stock Intrepid motor. Came right out of the Dodge Intrepid that you can buy on the street. Then moving to the Atlantic car, it's a very light, nimble car. You have less horsepower, but you have so much downforce and a lot better tires, that it's an extremely grippy. Moving on to the Infiniti Pro Series car, you know, both Infiniti Pro Series and Atlantics are feeder series for the bigger series in IRL and Champ Car. They're basically kind of an equal car in terms of speed. The Infiniti car is more horsepower but also weighs a lot more.
Q. Al, we have a lot of pictures in the office of Shelly taking you around the track in a stroller. I'm wondering what some of your earliest memories are of Portland?
AL UNSER III: Some of my earliest memories of Portland? Well, it actually doesn't consist with the race. I was at the race. I would say I was probably about 13 or 14. I actually took a trip up to Mt. Hood and went to a snowboarding camp and came back to the racetrack later that weekend. I don't know, some other memories of Portland is definitely the Rose Festival, being there when there's huge floats made out of flowers and birdseeds and all kinds of stuff. I mean, Portland, the city itself definitely embraces the race. To have GI Joe's still sponsoring it after I don't know how many years, I remember them from the beginning.
Q. Weren't you on a float one year when your dad was Grand Marshall?
AL UNSER III: Yes, I do believe we were on a float one year. I've got pictures of it. But, unfortunately, I was too young to remember. Portland's got great fans and it's going to be a great race.
Q. Al or John, the sponsorship involved, I'm wondering if you could talk a little about was that an influence? What was behind the decision to take this sponsorship and do the Atlantic Series rather than the Infiniti Pro Series? What all went into that decision?
AL UNSER III: Well, I'll go ahead and take the question. Being with BOSPoker.net on my car, they are actually an entertainment and charity website for their main company, BOSPoker.com, who is also sponsoring the four events in the Toyota Atlantic Series. I think mainly the sponsor wanted to get some prime coverage and be able to get their name out there. We went ahead and went on board.
Q. Certainly Toyota Atlantic has a long history of success, but certainly in the last couple years we've seen kind of a flowering of success in terms of Toyota Atlantic drivers moving up to the "big leagues," whether it's Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick in the IRL or Ryan Hunter-Reay and AJ Allmendinger in the Champ Car World Series. Al, could you talk maybe about what that legacy means and just from your experience in Toyota Atlantics how you think it prepares you to make that move to either of the "big series"?
AL UNSER III: Yeah, I think the Toyota Atlantic Series is definitely proven. We've had past champions come out of the Atlantic Series and go win championships in Champ Car and so forth. Now we've got up-and-coming drivers that just came out from last year. Ronnie Bremer and Andrew Ranger have done very well so far this year. I think Ronnie had a top five. They both had a couple top 10s so far. I think the Atlantic car, you have limited horsepower, but you still have a whole bunch of downforce. So you have to keep the corner entry speed as high as possible and get to power as soon as you can. I think moving on to a big car, if you can keep that entry speed high, when you have horsepower, when you get to the power, you can motor out of the corner if you made a mistake.
Q. Al Unser, the Toyota Atlantic and the IRL, will you be doing the Infiniti Pro Series, too, or is this a commitment to the Toyota Atlantic?
AL UNSER III: Right now I do have a commitment to the Toyota Atlantics. I will be running the rest of the season here. I'll be focusing most of my main effort. Right now I'm not scheduled to run any more of the IPS races this year, although if an opportunity opens up, there are a couple non-conflicting weekends. I think as much seat times a I can get, I'll go ahead and do.
Q. So much has been made about young drivers bringing money with them or responding to sponsorship. Is this something that brought you to the Toyota Atlantics, the chance to run with the sponsored car or is it just a career decision for you?
AL UNSER III: It's a little bit of both. I mean, it's definitely an extremely hard market right now, especially with drivers in the sub series having to bring substantial budgets. Now that we've actually acquired a sponsor, and I think they want to continue on in the years to come, that definitely was one of the ups for me. I expect to carry on this relationship for two or three years if not more.
Q. There was a period of time when Toyota Atlantic champions had a very hard time moving up to Champ Car. Do you think that's been resolved now and some of these seats are becoming available and you do see an opportunity to move into the major leagues on this side of the aisle?
AL UNSER III: I think there was a little bit of a fear there for a few years without Indy Lights in the middle where some of the team owners might have thought that an Atlantic driver couldn't handle a Champ Car car going right into it. But obviously it's been proven. We've got AJ Allmendinger out there and Ryan Hunter-Reay who has already won a few Champ Car races. So I think now the team owners know if they see great driving talent it will usually carry on to the bigger cars.
ERIC MAUK: To further illustrate that point, four drivers, AJ Allmendinger, Ronnie Bremer, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andrew Ranger, have come out of the Toyota Atlantic Championship just in the last three seasons. Two of those drivers already have podium finishes this year. Ryan has a couple wins, as Al alluded to. And Ronnie Bremer has led in two of the three Champ Car starts in which he's made since joining the Toyota Atlantic Championship.
Q. I know you ran Toronto in the Barber Dodge series. How do you see it in the Atlantics? Is there any particular challenge to Toronto that you're either looking forward to or dreading?
AL UNSER III: I'm definitely looking forward to the Canadian fans. Canada definitely has some great people that come out to the race. All the Canadian races are usually completely packed. Toronto, it's a bumpy street course. It's very thin and narrow. You know, I'll attack it just as I would any other racetrack. I'll prepare for it as much as I can.
Q. Were you not referred to as one times a Mini Al? Was that the old days or young days before you got serious and got started?
AL UNSER III: Oh, yeah, I was known as Mini Al. I was a relatively small child, which helps a race car driver with limited weight. It wasn't until my dad changed over to Penske that the guys -- I was about 12, and so I was getting bigger in size. They came up to me and they were like, "Well, we don't really want to call you Mini Al no more, because you're not that mini, so what do you want to be called?" I was just like, "I want to be called just Al, just Al, that's all I want to be called." So they took it literally and said, "Okay, Just Al." We switched from one nickname to the next. At least whatever nickname they're calling me, they know who I am.
Q. Your style, closer to dad's style or granddad's style?
AL UNSER III: I'm really not sure. I'd like to say that I'm a little closer to my grandpa's style, since he's got four wins and my dad's got two at Indy (laughter). But either way, I definitely have taken advice from both of them. They basically both have the same style. You know, it's just smooth and consistent, work your way to the front.
Q. Eric, I thought I heard you say it was BOSPoker.net. Did you mean BOSPoker.net?
ERIC MAUK: Dot net. The primary sponsor on the car. That is an entertainment-only gaming website, like Al alluded to. BOSPoker.com will be the website that will be sponsoring four of the Toyota Atlantic events. They will sponsor Atlantic races in Portland, Denver, Cleveland and Road America. They're two separate entities.
Q. I haven't heard much about your dad here recently. Is he involved with your career? Is he helping you out? If so, can you tell us what he's up to?
AL UNSER III: Well, what he's mostly up to is being retired. He does help me out with my career. I mean, we don't necessarily see him at the track all that much. But, you know, we'll probably get him out to a couple of these races, even though I'm always on the phone with him and getting the advice. But when it comes down to it, I'm the only one in the car. I can only use his advice to a certain extent.
Q. What is the biggest challenge starting in the middle of the season with a team? What is going to be the most difficult thing you have to overcome?
AL UNSER III: Well, the number one thing is definitely communication. I mean, being there not the first two races, lots of the team, my chief mechanic and my other mechanic, may not quite exactly know what I mean when I'm saying I want some changes. But since I've worked with Peter before, that should be all right. The second thing is that I haven't seen any of my competition. I tested with my teammate Andreas Wirth, who I've heard has been up and seen that he's been up in the top two or three every practice or every qualifying. So during testing, I was only a couple 10ths off him, so I should be nice and competitive and prepared for this race.
Q. A quick question about going back with John and Peter. You had some races with them last year. Can you talk about, I don't know if there was much of a decision to be made, you know, just which team you would run with this year, but just again talk about kind of the expertise they bring to the table.
AL UNSER III: Well, John's definitely got some expertise, being a driver himself. Now that he's turned owner, I think he's focused a lot more attention on the certain aspects of the team that would make it successful, including chief mechanics and second mechanics and definitely the engineer, working with Peter Jacobs, I mean, the guy's definitely got some talent there.
Q. John, your thoughts on Al.
JOHN BROOKS: Well, we're just really excited to have him back. Last year we felt as though we really weren't able to accomplish everything we wanted to because he was dividing his time between the two series. We understood that he wanted to get as much seat time as he could and all, but if you remember, like in Denver, he finished the race in the Infiniti Pro Series car and then flew in and just did the morning warm-up in the race. It puts you at too much of a handicap and doesn't give people a true indication of what he can do behind the wheel of the car. One of the things that Pete and myself both were excited about is that it was going to be a good, consistent program for the balance of the year, so there wasn't that jumping back and forth. He was going to be able to really know the car, understand what the car wants, what the car doesn't want, and give us a real chance to show people what all of us can do together in this series. And we have very high hopes and we're confident that we can get Al up in the frontonsistently and we can continue to improve throughout the course of the season.
Q. John, the Toyota Atlantic formula, the engine and the chassis has worked so well, a testament to the fact that the guys coming out of this series have gone to Champ Car and done well out of the box. Is there any talk at all about changing this formula? I don't know what you'd do to it necessarily, but Champ Car is looking at a new style of race car. What about the Atlantics? Has there been any discussion about changing the engine formula, the chassis, what have you?
JOHN BROOKS: There's been a lot of discussion. As everybody knows, our agreement with Toyota goes to the end of the season and they've got an option on years to come beyond this. And I know they've been discussing with Toyota the possibility of a future. Toyota has been so wonderful to support this series for as many years as they have and provide a really unique training ground for young up-and-coming drivers. That being said, Champ Car also understands that if those negotiations don't provide a continued relationship, they've got to see where they can go from here and they want to continue to provide a good series for young drivers to be able to compete, demonstrate their skills and attract the notice of the Champ Car owners in the hopes that they can make the transition to the big cars. I know that Champ Car is looking at a bunch of different options. I know that Champ Car enjoys their relationships with their sponsors and vendors that they've had for so many years, and they don't want to disrupt that, but they want to continue to improve their product and be able to continue to showcase the talent of the drivers and the manufacturers and our series also. So we're very much excited about what the future is going to bring, although we don't know specifically at this point in time what I understand in the very near future will be made public to everybody. We're just excited to hear what's going to happen. Our team will support the series with a two-car program for years to come.
Q. What about the family rivalry? Isn't this the 33rd season that an Andretti and Unser have been racing against each other? Any chance we'll get to see that again?
AL UNSER III: Well, Marco had just joined the Infiniti Pro Series, and he was only going to run one or two events. After he won St. Pete, I guess they announced he was going to be at more. His performance at Indy indicated that he definitely still has a little bit of learning to do on the high-speed ovals and so forth. He's definitely going to come along well. For sure we will be competing against each other. It's definitely a family rivalry. But as far as me and Marco are concerned, we really don't have anything between each other.
Q. At this point in your career, are you a ways away from being ready for a move up or do you feel like you're close?
AL UNSER III: I actually feel like I'm extremely close. With this upcoming year under my belt after we're done, I'd like to see if I can - of course sponsorship pending - get in and run the Mexico City race in a Champ Car. That would be my hope. As far as next year, I'd like to still do another year in Toyota Atlantics and hopefully run three Champ Car races. Then the following, third year, hopefully move on up.
Q. I've heard drivers and team owners say that the Star Mazda cars are fairly a good training ground also and they're less expensive than Toyota Atlantic to run a campaign. Is this something that is maybe on the works or viable or something that is too far in the background to consider?
JOHN BROOKS: Do you want me to take that, Al, or do you want to?
AL UNSER III: I'll let you.
JOHN BROOKS: If I understand the question correctly, I think what you're asking is, is the Star Mazda series like a viable competitor or similar characteristic to an Atlantic car at a reduced cost. I think when the Star Mazda series came out with this new car, they found a marketplace to where they could tap into a lot of their previous owners that were more the club-oriented type of team drivers. Because the car was so cost efficient, when it was first introduced a lot of those teams bought those cars and they could have a competitive environment to compete in. What always happens in motorsports is the teams get more serious, they spend more money, hire better people. The budgets escalate because of that. The guys that were thinking they could do it at the level they were doing it the previous years find that they can't be as competitive. Unfortunately, the costs go up, the performance of the car goes up because of that. I think that the series is a good series. It's a viable series. I don't think they have the venues that we have in Champ Car. I don't think they have reached the level of competitiveness and professionalism that the Atlantic Series is known for, but it's certainly a very, very good series. I think that also demonstrates to us that the time is very, very soon that we have to be looking at improving -- not improving, but changing our package a little bit and maybe increasing the horsepower a little bit, a little bit newer and sophisticated chassis so we continue to be the steppingstone up to the Champ Cars. I think the Champ Car owners understand that and I think that's the direction they're going to go in the future.
Q. You mention that something is in the works. When the Toyota Atlantic contract ends, is that the direction you're going of looking at, whatever the new thing is going to be?
JOHN BROOKS: Us as a team, most certainly. We're going to support Champ Car. We're going to be an entrant in whatever the series is going to be next year, whatever components are going to be in the series. I've already made my commitment to Mr. (Inaudible) and Tony (inaudible), that we will be there, we will be there with two cars, and we look forward to whatever direction they set for the future. And they have our full support that we will continue to support Champ Car.
Q. But you would like to see more horsepower, maybe more sophistication in the car, whatever that car is?
JOHN BROOKS: I'm a racer. I want to see more horsepower. I want to see us be, you know, as close to the big cars as we possibly can be. But I understand the way that the cost has to go to make it cost efficient for drivers and team owners like myself to where we can go out there and take good drivers and not necessarily be directed by how much budget each driver has or what sort of sponsorship package. We want to put the best drivers in the best cars, that's the bottom line. We always try to surround ourselves with the best people, the best drivers. In all honesty, the cost is somewhat secondary. I mean, we can't do it for nothing. But we want to go out there, we want to compete, we want to ensure that the best drivers are in the best cars and as a team we can showcase that in a good competitive series.
ERIC MAUK: Al and John, I appreciate you guys coming on today and sharing your thoughts with the media. Again, congratulations on this. We're all very excited about it. We look very much forward to seeing you guys this weekend.
AL UNSER III: No worries. Thank you so much. We'll see you at the track.
ERIC MAUK: We'll move on to the Champ Car World Series portion of today's call and welcome in Oriol Servia, the new driver of the driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing. Oriol is a six-year veteran of the Champ Cars, has finished in the top 10 in the season's final point standings in each of the last two seasons. He takes over the #2 car for the injured Bruno Junqueira, who as you know was injured in an accident not of his making in the Indianapolis 500. Oriol took over the car two weeks ago at the Milwaukee Mile, qualified sixth and ran it to a third-place finish, earning the sixth podium of his career. Oriol, thank you very much for joining us today.
ORIOL SERVIA: Hello, everybody. I'm really glad to be here.
ERIC MAUK: Oriol, tell us a little bit about how you have been affected by what's happened. Obviously, it's made a very important career move for you. Tell us a little about your thought process, how you attack taking on this new challenge.
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I mean, when the opportunity arise just before Milwaukee, I honestly didn't think twice. I mean, I've been in the series for a while, working really hard to get an opportunity to go on a good car. When it happened just before Milwaukee, for sure I had no doubt that I had to take it. I mean, at that point was just one-race deal. I knew was kind of risky because obviously in one race, an oval, anything can happen. You can be involved in a crash, your fault or not your fault, and the weekend's over. So the season could have turned in a very different way. But again, you know, just the opportunity to be able to work on such a team, I really felt that that was the thing to do. Lucky enough I did a good job and finished third and everything work out well. Gave the team enough confidence to hire me for the rest of the season until Bruno is back. So right now I couldn't be happier. I have the opportunity I've been looking for for a long time, and I am really getting prepared and ready for the upcoming challenges. So Portland will be the first one.
ERIC MAUK: Oriol is tied for sixth in the season championship after running his first two races of the year with Dale Coyne Racing, then getting the podium finish with Newman/Haas in Milwaukee. Let's talk about Portland International Raceway a bit. You have four Champ Car starts there, three top 10s in those four starts, finishing fifth back in 2003. Tell us a little about your thoughts on the racetrack there in Portland.
ORIOL SERVIA: I honestly have mixed feelings about the racetrack. I had my success and bad races, too. I was actually in pole position in Indy Lights there, and I think broke the track record. So was pretty good. We were pretty fast. And then in 2000, in my first Champ Car year, I qualified seventh, but I was the first Toyota. I qualified Montoya, da Matta, Vasser. I've been good there, although it's a racetrack that I feel it's very easy to overdrive the car. You know, you can get easily too excited and instead of gain time lose time trying to try a little too hard. So me going on the Newman/Haas car for the first time in a road course, I can see myself wanting to do a little too much, and that's not the track where you want to do it. So I'm just trying to really (inaudible) my brain and try to attack the weekend but in a right way, in a cool way, just doing the best job I can out there every time and getting used to the car and to the team step by step.
ERIC MAUK: We're all very excited for you and for this opportunity. Now we'll go ahead and open it up to questions for the media.
Q. Taking the seat, this is a championship team, a team that has won many championships in the Champ Car World Series, what kind of pressures off the track not just to win but have you faced or is that even a factor?
ORIOL SERVIA: Honestly, I mean, of course there's more pressure, you know, when you are the top team. I step in the PacifiCare car that was leading the championship, so obviously you have more pressure than when you are on the smallest team out there. But that's the reason why they are leading, you know, they just do everything a little bit better or a lot better than everybody else. So for the driver, is actually everything is easier. I mean, obviously you have higher expectations, but your work, everything is just a lot better prepared from the setup to the strategy to the race to the car itself to the cockpit, to the communication with the team, engineers. Everything is just -- you know, everyone's put a lot of thought into everything, so it's just an easier process for everybody. So, of course, there's more pressure, but it's just such a pleasure to be in that environment and I'm just really enjoying it so far.
Q. What are you looking forward to the rest of the season? You're now sixth in the points. Where can you finish in a somewhat shortened season for you if Bruno gets back before the end of the season?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, we're not starting in a bad spot. Sixth is not too bad. Plus we're not too far off in points itself. I mean, I don't know. I really -- I'm not setting up any goals towards finishing in any position in the championship, A, because first of all we don't know when Bruno's going to be ready. Obviously we hope he's going to be ready soon just for his own health. You know, they say could be between four and six months. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's sooner than that because I've seen many sportsmen, especially in good shape like Bruno, to recover a lot faster than anybody expected. So, you know, I'm just going to try to do the best job I can on the track, off the track, every weekend that comes along, and hope that I do such a great job that it's taking into account for my future, whether it's Newman/Haas or any other team. So it doesn't really change much. I'm just trying to do the best job possible, obviously try to win as many races as I can, and try to win the championship with Sebastien.
Q. What have Brian and Don has been telling you about what they want you to do with this car? Your style isn't the same as Bruno's. Your setup may not be the same. No doubt they want to give you the car you want. It obviously worked at Milwaukee. What are they telling you about what you can do with this thing?
ORIOL SERVIA: I mean, the attitude of the team from the minute I got into the shop, it's been extremely supportive. I'm Oriol Servia, I'm nobody compared to Newman/Haas and all the people that have been there forever with all the success they've had. But they really give you the greatest support. You know, they listen to what you say. You know, if they think what you say it's not sensible idea, for sure they have an open mind and listen to it. But I am listening them a lot more I hope than they're listening to me. You know, they've proven that they are very successful, so I'm just there to learn and do the best I can. And from the setup point of view, we haven't been able to test anywhere yet. And the race this week isn't an oval, so it's a completely different stuff. We don't really know how will the car suit me. But, you know, they finish 1 and 2 last year in Portland, so it's obviously a good car. I hope it suits me, and if not I'll make it work, if you know what I mean.
Q. It was obvious that Dale Coyne was not too happy with the way the thing went down. He was kind of left out of the loop when it happened. I'm wondering if you're feeling kind of bad about the way it went down on the other side of the deal?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, actually the thing with Dale, you know, it wasn't -- it could have been a little better for him just because everything happened like two days before the race weekend. That's the only part that I would have liked to happen different. But he's actually -- he has no problem with the situation at all. Basically the way we work last year and the way we work this year, we didn't have even a contract, a verbal agreement or even a handshake for the next race. We both knew what the situation was. If an opportunity would arise for me, I was going to take it. So, you know, it's just a question that everything happened in a rush, and he didn't have much time to find a solution for Milwaukee. But we both knew the situation beforehand. You know, obviously if these things happen, it's always in a rush. I think we both kind of knew it was going to happen, it was going to be that way. But he's actually very happy for me and the opportunity that just happened to me.
Q. The formal announcement of your deal was last Friday. Can you take us through what you did after Milwaukee? Were you sitting on your cell phone waiting for the call? What was that week like while you were waiting for the decision?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, you know, the way I went to Milwaukee, I took an approach of, hey, I'm just going to go there and enjoy every second I have to work with that team and, you know, do the best I can. The race was good. The result was good. Obviously you never know until you know, right, until you get the call? But I felt happy with the team and I think the team was happy with me. So I didn't see why wouldn't they hire me for the future. I don't know. I was kind of confident. I got the phone call. I went to see Mr. Haas up in Chicago. We had a very nice meeting and we both agreed to continue till Bruno's back. It wasn't that big of a deal. I mean, I was obviously very, very excited to be able to know that I'm going to be able to pace myself and get used to everything and get the best out of it and not just one-race shot like Milwaukee. We were lucky that everything went well. As we all know, in one-race deal, everything can go wrong. Even the best driver, the best team and best scenario, you can still have bad luck. So I was glad that didn't happen in Milwaukee and we're going to have a longer-term time to work together.
Q. You mentioned testing. Have you gotten that far in terms of the plans for the coming weeks? Two races back-to-back with Portland and Cleveland. Is there any sort of little longer term for you to test or haven't you got that far yet?
ORIOL SERVIA: For sure I would love to spend more time in the car not only the race weekend. The race weekend, like here in Portland, tires are very important in the race and we're not -- nobody's going to run much I think Friday just to try to save tires. And in my case, I'd like to have as many laps as possible under my belt with this car. It's not going to be the case. So you want to try to have some testing between races and do more laps. When I started the season with Dale Coyne, we didn't do much testing, so I have plenty days of testing. But Bruno did most of his testing with the Newman/Haas car. I think the way the rules are, it's about the car and not the driver, so I think I only have two, three days left with Newman/Haas. So, yeah, for sure we'll have a little bit of testing, but not as much as we'd like to.
Q. You'll be one of the few -- you didn't test as Portland, I believe, correct?
ORIOL SERVIA: Actually, we did. The only test we did.
Q. Happy coincidence then.
ORIOL SERVIA: Yes.
Q. Your expectations must be pretty high at this point. Have you spoken to your good pal Bruno? Has he given you any advice?
ORIOL SERVIA: Actually Bruno is doing impressive. I went to see him Saturday. He's already in his house in Miami. We watched the F1 qualifying together of Montreal. You know, you knock on his door, he comes, himself opens the door. He walks, already sit down normal. I was very impressed how well he is already, you know. It's just a week, 10 days ago he got the surgery. So he's doing very well. He is very supportive. He hopes I do the best I can in his car, you know, for the crew, for the team, for the PacifiCare people, for everybody. He feels bad that he's not in car, but from the first second he was very supportive with the idea of me driving his car until he gets back on it. I told him to go quick and recover quick because I'm feeling more and more comfortable in the car, and I'm not so sure I want to give it back to him later.
ERIC MAUK: We'll go ahead and wrap-up our Champ Car Toyota Atlantic media teleconference. Oriol, thank you very much for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you on track at Portland International Raceway June 17th through the 19th.
ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you very much. See you in Portland ready to rock'n roll.
ERIC MAUK: This concludes our teleconference. There is also a replay available to you. You can hear this in its entirety, broadcast quality, available through next week. You can get that replay by dialing 1-800.678.0756. Again, if you have any questions or anything we can help you with here at the Champ Car World Series, don't hesitate to call Champ Car Public Relations at 317.715.4100. Thank you for attending today and your support of the Champ Car World Series. Have a good day.
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