Champ Car World Series: Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey
Topics: Grand Prix of Monterey
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with post race press conference for the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey, round 11 of Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by our top three finishers. Starting with our third-place finisher on the day, driver of the #11 yokeTV.com Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Dale Coyne Racing, Oriol Servia, earning his fifth career podium and giving Dale Coyne Racing their first podium finish since Roberto Moreno finished third in the inaugural US 500 in 1996 in Michigan. Oriol, you guys have been knocking on the door for podium finishes all year long. Now here you are. How does it feel?
ORIOL SERVIA: It feels great. I just said Cleveland was really close. Didn't happen. Many of the races we've been close. But I think the basic thing is that the whole year, we've been working hard. It's proving that the team is capable of running stronger than they did, and myself can do a good job with them. It's just a good feeling that today we're able to do it - especially starting where we started. You know, we didn't have the easiest weekend. Qualified 12th. We've been having some issues with the engine, which is not really the engine, because we changed engines. I still have it. In the race since in lap 10, I had fuel cuts in both straights. It was getting worse every lap. At the end I was like three cuts per straight. I was like, "This is not going to finish." I was really happy it did. We just need to find what's going on, if it's something in the fuel lines or something like that. Doesn't really matter now. You know, we got it, finished third. Great race. I think three guys went off in front of me, but then we passed a lot of cars on the track. Pit stops were good. And the car, the basic thing, the car was so nice to drive, so easy. I would tell him where to go, who to pass, and he did it for me (laughter). It was great. We needed still a little more speed, but I think those extra 10ths that were missing, they mean some zeroes in the year budget that we don't have. But it's just great to be here and I hope we going to finish strong races the next three.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us about the close moment you had with AJ, what appeared to be at the top of the corkscrew?
ORIOL SERVIA: I had a couple. At the start with Rodolfo Lavin, we touched wheels, too. But the car was fine. And then with AJ, I think it was in a restart. The start of the braking, he was behind, and I think at the last minute he felt he could make a move. But I was braking late. When I saw him going, I said, "It's not going to happen." I tried to make him room, but I'm not going to open the door completely. I tried to kept my outside line, and he was not making it and just touched me. It was quite a big hit, but I was lucky enough that the car is strongly built and held on and was good to the end.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, good run. Our runner-up today, driver of the #6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno gets the 23rd podium finish of his career. That's just in 68 Champ Car starts. He is second here for the second consecutive year. Perhaps more importantly, he cuts the deficit in the points chase to just 24 behind Sebastien Bourdais. Bruno, you did it today like you've done it all year long, come home with the podium finish. How do you feel?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I feel really happy. I think this start a very weekend for me in the PacifiCare car. Last year was so strong here. I was talking to Pat. I was the fastest guy out there. I just finished behind him like half a second. I was actually faster than him. Not taking anything out from his last year win. But this year, came with great expectation, but the car was not good. We couldn't find the balance. I crashed Saturday morning. We had some problems in qualify. We start eighth. I knew that it was going to be a very difficult race, but I knew that I had to finish and I had to finish in a strong position. I think I did a good race. The PacifiCare team did a very good strategy. I was able to save fuel to do a very good fuel mileage. Was really hard early on in the race because I had the hard Bridgestones, and saving fuel, as well. But I hang in there, and I think the end of the race I was strong. I was really happy to finish second. I mean, really close in the championship and I'm still fighting. The championship is wide open. That's going to give again a good boost for me and the whole PacifiCare team to work even harder to get a good result in Vegas.
ERIC MAUK: After a late restart, after Gonzales stalled in turn four, brings you right back to Pat's tail. Did you think you had anything for him on the restart?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: There was a car between me and Pat. I had to pass the guy. I got a lot of marbles. The first lap wasn't too good. Then I did a 2.9 lap. I don't know, maybe Pat did a 2.5, something like that. I know he was a little bit faster. Third lap, my car slide a little bit. I decide this year I don't have speed to race Pat. After I start in eighth, and I was hoping close the gap to Oriol. I said I have to keep a good pace, but not take any risks. Maybe I finish second. Pat did a mistake maybe with six, seven laps to go on the last corner. I did two laps, but still he had the speed; he had a better car. My car had too much understeer. Wasn't the way that I like. But I hang in there and finish second. I'm quite happy with that.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run. This is Bruno's seventh podium finish of the season in the year's 11 starts. The winner of the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey is the same man that won it in 2003, the first man to post back-to-back victories here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since Bryan Herta in 1998 and '99, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Patrick Carpentier. Patrick gets his fifth career win, and this also gets him wins in four consecutive Champ Car seasons. Was it as easy as it looked?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, I almost lost it seven laps from the end. Some reason, I lost a little bit focus. Like last year, Bruno was behind me and kept me straight. I had to keep focus, focus. But you're by yourself like that, you have a tendency to wave off with the mind, and waved off a little bit too much. I hit the brakes and I had two wheels in the sand. I thought I was going to go off the track. It was really close. The team must have seen it because they said, "Focus, focus," right after that. I was hoping nobody would see it, but they saw (laughter). After that I tried to stay really focused. The car got a bit loose in the last four or five laps. But besides that, the whole race, the car was really, really good, really planted. I had a really good front and I just had to -- I could drive really deep in the corner and get back on the power fairly early. It was a smooth ride. I was behind Paul. I was trying to push him to make a mistake. He went off little bit going up the hill. I tried to go inside the corkscrew. I figured that if I made the move all the through, both probably wouldn't come out of there. So I let him go. He went inside. He had the entrance a little bit faster than me. After that he seemed to pick up the pace a little bit. We stayed behind and saved fuel. So I just was trying to save as much fuel as I could, using second gear on the corner leading out the front straight. Worked out, Paul had to pit earlier than us. When he pitted, then we turned it on and tried to do a really fast lap. Came in after that, and we came back out in front, and we stayed there. But it was fun. I really love this place. I don't know why. Since I went over the fence, it's been going great. I hope I don't go over the fence again.
ORIOL SERVIA: We both put a good show for these people more than once. You have to flip the car, something, Bruno, then it comes.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I'm ahead with my second place here.
ERIC MAUK: After you got by, you got out in the lead, you turned it on, built a lead of 22 seconds at one point. The yellow comes out. What comes in your mind when you see that, and how do you stay focused on the restart?
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I was thinking of Bruno, because in Montreal he said, "Every time I go up front, a big lead, and then the yellow comes out." That's what happened. The yellow came out. I was hoping it was going to be good on the restarts, but the guys got me in the pits and I had fresh tires for the start after that which worked out actually really well.But since Bridgestone came out with the soft compounds, for me I love those tires. I don't know why. We always use as much as we can of those. For me, I like driving on these tires. They really hook the car up. You got to baby them a little bit, but they're really fast. We did some fast times. I like to drive the car with it. That's what we used most of the day today.
ERIC MAUK: Before we turn it over to the media, the top five in points unofficially after 11 races, Sebastien Bourdais continues to lead with 275, Bruno has 251 in second place, Paul Tracy is in third with 215, Patrick is just one point behind in fourth with 214, Alex Tagliani is fifth with 201. With Oriol's podium today, he moves into ninth place in the points. Questions from the media.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I hope going to reverse after Vegas. I mean, going to Toronto, I had a lead, I don't remember how many points. In three races, he opened to 50 something points, you know. The championship is very close. If you have two, three bad weekends, and the other guy have good weekends, can reverse. And that's what happened. I was keeping the lead of the championship until seven races, something like that. I lost it. He opened a big gap. Now it's my time to have this sprint until the end. I hope I can keep having great results and catch him.
PATRICK CARPENTIER: I was thinking, "Holy cow, that was close." That would have been bad (laughter). Then I got on to the front straight. After that I made sure that I left a bit of a safety margin. It's actually what happened when I went off the track, when I went over the fence. I just -- I always here get really close to the edge when I enter the corners - and sometimes too close. And there I got little bit too close. I started hitting the sand little bit, and it kind of pulled me that way, went off. After that, from there till the end, I kind of kept a little bit of margin on the exit and entrance to the corners.
ORIOL SERVIA: You know, I was teammate with Casey Mears in '99. We have a good friendship. Actually, I was not supposed to be in Fontana. But I came on Tuesday to do an appearance for Ford. I was going to fly back to Miami. Our friend Frances was in Miami, so I thought it was better to stay and give my support to Casey, who did a great job at the Busch race. I had a great time. That was actually the first NASCAR race I was at. So I had a great time. I'm having a great time in open-wheel, to answer your question (laughter).
PATRICK CARPENTIER: It's pretty soon. It was supposed to be last week, and I postponed it. I was not ready to answer yet. We'll see what happens. I know Gerry is here, there's a few people. We haven't made a final decision yet, but it's going to be soon.
ERIC MAUK: That's going to close our press conference. Thank you very much. Thank you, gentlemen. We go racing in two weeks at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Bridgestone 400, presented by Corona. Thank you.
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