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Champ Car World Series: West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick

Champ Car World Series: West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick

A.J. Allmendinger
Sebastien Bourdais
Justin Wilson
July 23, 2006


EDMONTON, ALBERTA

ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, well get started with our post race press conference, from the west Edmonton Milwaukee Grand Prix, presented by the Brick, round eight of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
As the third of our top three finishers is making his way to the podium now, we'll start with our third place finisher today, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger, finished third today, earned his fifth podium finish of the season, 12th of his career.
A.J., you fought a long battle today. Not only did you have to come from fourth on the grid to fight your way up, but you fought a number of health problems today. Tell us a bit about it.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: It was a tough race, for sure. I was under the weather since yesterday. You know, really we had a third place car. The whole Forsythe Indeck team did a great job. We've been struggling since we got here. I think we kind of fell behind the track. We were quickest in the morning session on Friday. We kind of fell behind the track.
It's been a tough weekend throughout with all different kinds of things. But the team fought hard. We got on the podium. Whether I was healthy or not, I think we probably would have had a third place car. I'm really pleased to be back on the podium.
You know things are going right when you're kind of disappointed being third after four races with a team. You know, I'm pleased with it. I'm looking forward to San Jose now. Go back to a street course. I think we got those figured out fairly well.
ERIC MAUK: Tell the people a little bit about what it takes to stay focused and to stay fast, perform well in one of these cars when you feel like what you'd rather be doing is laying down.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, especially on this racetrack. I don't know if I've ever seen so much rubber laid down on a circuit. Under yellow, rubber was flying everywhere. This is probably the worst circuit to be unhealthy at just because it's so physically demanding. You know, it's just something that we all go through at some point where we're sick for a race. You just got to keep fighting. The middle of the race is probably the toughest when there was no yellows for a whole stint and a half. But you just fight through it. You have no excuses. You just do the best you can with it. When you have a great team like Forsythe, it makes it just a bit easier to get through problems when you're having it like that.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run today.
Today's runner-up, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien finishes second, earns his seventh podium finish of the year, the 31st of his career. He led a race-high 55 laps today.
Tough race. You ran up front the first stint. Tell us about how you thought the day went.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It really felt like we had two races today. The first stint, the McDonald's car was awesome, I was feeling very comfortable. I could manage the tire wear, was really having great balance. That was on the red Bridgestone tires. You know, everything seemed to be quite in control. Then we put the blacks on, and I don't know whether it's the tire or it's the track that picks up more grip. We went out with brand-new tires, and for some reason we completely lost the ending. I wasn't really expecting that at all. We really suffered. We were suffering quite a huge understeer. Like the rear grip wasn't there either. I was sliding all over. Justin just ran me down. For some reason, the car kind of came back to life at the end of this second stint. I was getting to be a little hopeful again because I saw Justin spinning. We were going to go some three or four laps further. I wasn't looking bad at that point.
Unfortunately, I don't know what happened with Alex. He nearly lost it coming into five, ran slow in six. When we got to seven, I was side by side with him. Just completely didn't see me, I guess. He turned and we had contact. I lost some four seconds on that lap. You know, came out of the pits after that a little behind Justin, but we would have stand a chance at that point. That's probably when we lost the race. You know, that's racing. But we just, in the meantime, got a little lucky not to break down right there, because that was quite a hard contact. After that, you know, I guess I could have tried a little harder to try and stay with Justin, but I was starting to be a little tired in the end. The car was still not completely there for me. It was probably safer to just hold on to second place and get the checkered flag, so that's what we did. We managed to get a podium finish out of it.
ERIC MAUK: Satisfaction with coming in here? A.J. had been chewing up your points lead. You come in, have a very good weekend, lead both qualifying sessions, you come out here protecting your lead.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, the good thing for the championship is obviously we're coming out of this event, even if we don't win it, with the same point lead. Not the same chaser any more, but it's still 23 over the second-place guy. It's not comfortable, but it's better than being chasing the guy in front of you. We'll take it. Now we'll have to turn things around in places where we usually are pretty good. Looking forward to San Jose and Denver and Montréal where we've been very, very quick.
We'll see what happens.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run today.
The winner of the West Edmonton Milwaukee Grand Prix presented by the Brick, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. He led 28 laps on the day, got his first win of the year, the third of his Champ Car career. He also ran the fastest lap of the event. He moves up to second in points as Sebastien alluded to. He's 23 points behind Sebastien after eight races.
Justin, good strong run today. Tell us a little bit about how it felt.
JUSTIN WILSON: It felt really good. The first stint was all about saving fuel and trying not to drop back too much. Obviously Sebastien changed his strategy, pitted a couple laps before everyone else. But, you know, we decided to go for a short fill, get past Paul, try and force the issue. That's what we were able to do.
My car was working really well. You know, we just got quicker and quicker as laps went on. What else can I say? It was a fantastic day. Really got to thank my whole crew, did some fantastic pit stops, and my engineers who did a great job with the strategy and also with the car setup. I'm very pleased that we made this one happen, pulled this one off.
It's great to do this for CDW Canada, as well.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us about the last stint. On the restart, we're sitting here, you have 10 seconds 'push to pass' left, the guys behind you have 35 seconds more than you do. You snap off 58.5, 58.2. Where did those come?
JUSTIN WILSON: 59.2, yeah. It took a few laps to clean off the tires. I think we all struggled with the same thing. We seemed to get a lot of pickup. Once we got rid of that, got the tires cleaned up a little bit, could start to push. The car, again -- the track was rubbering in. The car was feeling better and better. I just tried to go for that fastest lap. I knew Sebastien was going to save his up and then use it on one lap to try to get the fastest lap. My team was telling me that. I didn't have that luxury, so I decided I got to go for it. I managed to do it without the 'push to pass'.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: We'll take questions from the media now.

Q. Last year on the restart you had a problem near the end. Any flashback in your mind at that point?
JUSTIN WILSON: Definitely (laughter). You know, for both of them, I was, you know, pretty nervous and just didn't want to make a mistake. I knew we had a pretty quick car, we could make this one happen. It's all a case of not throwing it away like we did a year ago.
It feels really good to come out and get the win and try and make up for the mistake last year.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I'm not quite sure he wanted to expand on that.
JUSTIN WILSON: Basically I got too confident and too relaxed. I had been saving fuel the whole race up until that point. I was finally given the green light to go and able to keep pace with these two guys actually and was saving fuel. As soon as they said, Okay, time to go, I knew I could pick up the pace at least half a second a lap. Just got carried away, just spun out. That was under caution. I was warming up my tires. It bit me.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Are you trying to make him look bad (laughter)?
ERIC MAUK: Dude, remember that one time you crashed? That was cool.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: What's for me (laughter)?
JUSTIN WILSON: Tough crowd.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Good press conference, see you guys!

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I just -- my car would push a lot. It was really, really well-balanced. We had just a little bit of understeer on the first stint. I thought I had enough fuel in the car to correct that for the second stint. I completely ran out of fuel by lap five. From there on, that was it. I couldn't get it in on the balance. I saw Justin coming back at us. Really not much I could do. Then finally after three-quarters of a stint, the car kind of came back a little bit to us, but we hit traffic, lost the very end of my gap. Pretty much that was that really.
Our only chance after that moment would have been to, just like I said, go further, which we were going to do, because we had full fueled the car and Justin had short fueled. That had been taken away by Alex who nearly crashed us. That was a shame. In the end, I didn't mention that, but I think obviously when you look at the lap times, Justin was just the fastest of the field today. We just didn't anticipate enough how much grip the track would pick up. We had too good a car at the beginning of the race and wasn't good enough in the end. Thumbs up for these guys. They did better than us. I'll try to give them a response in San Jose.

Q. (No microphone.)
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I drank too much Red Bull (laughter). No, I'm kidding.
No, you know, I woke up yesterday, just felt ill, hoped that it would kind of go away yesterday. Today, it didn't. But, you know, that's no excuse or anything. We had a third place car, so we finished third. I'm pleased with that.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Are you playing the sissy again?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Pardon (laughter)?

Q. (No microphone.)
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, it's just an excuse. I like to make as many excuses as I can (laughter).

Q. (No microphone.)
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: What time did we lose the press conference this time now?
ERIC MAUK: Three in a row.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I mean, I don't feel great. But, you know, just when you're in the car and you're working that hard, the heat's building up, it's definitely a lot harder.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, we were planning on short-filling, trying to get ahead of Paul, get some clear track, go after Sebastien. I didn't make it easy for my crew. I came in. I was struggling for the last half of that stint, sliding around, understeer, oversteer. When I came into the box, I got on the brakes, not much happened. The wheels stopped turning and I just carried on.
Had a shuffle along a little bit. Still managed to do a great pit stop and get me out. Just beat Paul out of the pit lane.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, no, no. The safety committee has been formed after Houston this year. That was pretty recent. The track layout was the same. It was just, you know, relocating walls and making sure we had some runoff and stuff like that. It's not a hundred percent ideal, but it's a lot better than last year, especially with the fact that we don't have the banners in the middle of the straights with these walls. That was a pretty big improvement.
In the end what really matters for you guys, don't take it personally, but I think it doesn't affect you. It's more, you know, on our side to try and get our stuff together to make it safe for us. What matters for you is that this track is probably providing one of the best showing I guess of the season. It's blindingly fast, it really shows on TV, gives us justice, and that's what we need. Everybody enjoys it and that's that.

Q. Justin?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's a big step on last year. They've made it safer. Like Sebastien says, it's all down to ourselves and Champ Car fine tuning things in general, not just Edmonton, but other things, how we work.
You know, we all love the track. I think it's awesome obviously because I won. But even last year when I threw it away, I thought it was a fantastic circuit, a great venue.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: It's a quick circuit. We carry a lot of speed through these corners. There's no time to relax. Even on the straights, you come out of one corner, you're driving diagonally across the other side of the runway to get set up for the next corner, you're up-shifting. I found it difficult to find time to take the (indiscernible) off the shields this year. It keeps you pretty busy. It's very demanding.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, it's obviously the most recent, so it's the best one. It's in the top three, as A.J. says (laughter). It is fantastic. It's a tough race today. That middle stint was like qualifying every lap, flat out. You're trying to go quicker, catch Sebastien. Once we got ahead, it was a case of trying to pull away and open up the gap because he was going to pit three or four laps later than us and have that advantage back.
It was tough. We had to keep pushing the whole race. There were times in there where it was more difficult to drive than qualifying. Definitely feel your arms pumping and your lungs working hard. This one's right up there.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, we just needed to do a slightly better job. We had four second places. A couple of those, you know, a few if's and but's and would have been first. This is racing. You can't afford if's and but's. We had to make sure we didn't make any mistakes, we didn't leave anything on the table. We had a good car. Today we did that.

Q. (No microphone.)
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: One (laughter).
JUSTIN WILSON: I told A.J. earlier, it's my turn to go on a streak.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: You had your streak. You finished second in a lot of races. That was your streak (laughter).

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I've seen it done in touring cars back in England, Germany as well does similar things.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's tough enough.
JUSTIN WILSON: Pretty difficult. Each weekend, each session, you know, you can be fifth or you can be first or you can be seventh. You know, it's hard enough to hit everything right and end up on top.
I think it will come down to the people at the back having a little bit more experience in their driving, a little bit -- a bit of everything. You've got to work with the team and the team's got to step up, have the money to be able to develop the cars a little bit more. I think next year you'll see a more level playing field, everyone starting from scratch again. That will do a little bit of what you're asking.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you.



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