July 26, 2003
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
ERIC MAUK: Let's get started with our top-three press conference following the second round of qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver. We are joined by our third-place qualifier, driver of the #4 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Roberto Moreno. Roberto, congratulations, tell us about your lap.
ROBERTO MORENO: Thanks, very much. It's been great. What can I say? I think the best way to describe, it's been an effort that's been growing in our team. Our team, the Herdez Competition, has gone to a two-car team this year. We've hired a bunch of good people, and they are starting to work together. We're starting to work together. Tom Brown is feeding the two new racetrack engineers with information. Me and my engineer are trying to use that to the best possible way. In the first four races, we sort of have very strong personalities, we sort of clashed a little bit. One day we sat down and fixed that. From that day on, which was Germany, we started to just gel and learn more and more about the car, Lola car being a new car for me. He's new to CART. We're starting use what Tom Brown was giving to us, and the results are starting to show now. The result today is just the result of all this effort that we've been putting to develop. We just keep looking at what Paul is doing, and we're trying to do the same a little bit to get to his level. That's what's been happening really.
ERIC MAUK: Seems to be working. Third consecutive week you posted your best starting position. You have run a million miles around Vancouver. Heading you're into the first turn tomorrow in third place, watching Paul and Bruno go in there first. What is your mindset attacking the first turn tomorrow?
ROBERTO MORENO: Just have to take it as it comes. This place, so many things happen in the race. It's about being there at the end, up front. Then you start fighting towards the end. I guess that's the best approach that somebody can take in this track. You know, just follow Paul a little bit and try to get up front, that's all, get on his snip shrimp. But to get to where we are, it was not easy. If you looked this morning, I did a lot of laps with one set of tires, and a lot of changes in the car to learn a little bit more the steps that we needed to make to go to the next level between the teams that have won many races and have a lot of experience in winning. It was hard work. I almost went off four times today because we pushed all the way through with this old set of tires trying to get a bit more out of the car. But it paid off. So I'm very, very pleased. Vancouver is still the same. Each time you go out, there's more grip on the track. We will be careful with the red flags. But it worked to my advantage yesterday - not so well today, but good enough for us. We're quite happy.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. This is the highest qualifying position for a Herdez car since 2001 since Michel Jourdain, Jr. qualified third at Nazareth. The polesitter for the Molson Indy Vancouver is Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Paul led the qualifying session with a time of 60.926 seconds, 105.236 miles per hour. This is Paul's fourth pole of the season and the 17th of his career. The 17 poles ties him with Emerson Fittipaldi for sixth on the all-time Champ car list. Paul, given the events of yesterday, how satisfying is it to come out and put one up today?
PAUL TRACY: I think it's very satisfying. Yesterday I felt we were wrongly stripped of my pole position and the one point. It was given to the wrong person; he hadn't earned it. So from that standpoint, I mean, I'm very happy about today and was very motivated by today. You know, we went out early and did the time on the track and we finished running, but with 14, 15 minutes to go, so there was no room for anybody to complain about anything. That's what our game plan was.
ERIC MAUK: Second stint you came out very early, short turnaround time. Just wanted to get out with a clear track?
PAUL TRACY: We wanted to go out. We knew the track was empty. We wanted to leave no room for anybody to complain about anything.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We're now joined by our second-place qualifier, second fastest on the day, Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Bruno used his last lap of the session to hang up a time of 61.070 seconds, 104.998 miles per hour, second best on the day. This is the fourth time this year Bruno has started on the front row. Bruno, congratulations. Tell us about your day.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Today was okay. This morning the car was good. We felt that I had a very good car. Then came qualify. I push my best. Unfortunately, I just had three laps on the last outing. I ran a 10th short of PT. He was fast today, and so was Moreno. I think three of us was like half a second step from the guy that's in fourth. That was very impressive because this track is not that long. But anyway, I think the PacifiCare car is very good, and I hope it can do a good race tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: That last restart after the red flag with Patrick's crash, as soon as the green flag drops to restart that, you come out right out behind Michel. Takes you almost two laps to find some space there. Your thoughts on coming right now? Did you think about holding back a little bit to creating some space right away?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I was behind Michel. I was making impression on him because I knew if he pushed hard on the out lap, could do four laps instead of three. I think he didn't realize that. The team told me it was (inaudible) for them. But Michel didn't push on the out lap, then didn't get extra lap. I think, I mean, took me a chance to improve a little bit. Anyway, was okay.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. We'll take questions from the media. We'll take a question from Roberto first, though.
ROBERTO MORENO: Any chance to give Paul the pole from yesterday so I can be second (laughter)?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No.
ERIC MAUK: You'll have to arm wrestle Bruno for that one.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I was faster than you.
ROBERTO MORENO: Today? Really (laughter)?
Q. Bruno, after the red flag coming out of the pits, was there contact between you and your teammate in the pit lane there?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No. I think he was close because I just take my (inaudible) off and they said green, and I wasn't expecting, but no.
Q. Paul and Bruno, in the past it's always been the fast lap team right at the end of the session, or generally. By going out today and doing what you did in the middle of the session, does that change anything? Does that prove anything, that it doesn't need to be that way?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think most definitely the track was faster at the end of the session. It always is. I feel that, you know, if we would have been out there at the end the session with no red, with seven minutes to go, I felt that I could have gone faster. So, you know, the track is always improving. But, like I said earlier, we decided to do our time, get it out of the way, do our talking on the track, and sit and wait, put a mark up for everybody and see what would happen. We were finished, our session, with 13 minutes, 14 minutes to go.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Last year Cristiano got the pole here very early in the session. I think the most important here is to get a clear lap. For sure in the end of the session on the track keeps improving. But here is more important to get a clear lap because the track improves one or two tenths of a second. If you don't get a clear lap, you can lose much more than that.
Q. Paul, do you feel like you're a marked man every time you leave the pits?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I feel a range of emotions in the last 24 hours that I'm not very happy with. I feel that I've supported CART when CART had nobody to support them. (Inaudible) supported CART when nobody was supporting them. The things that have happened and the inconsistencies in the rules that have been going on for years and years are very frustrating to me and very troubling. My emotions are probably not much different from that of Tony George or Honda or Toyota, Marlboro Team Penske or Michael Andretti. So those are the type of feelings that I've had over the last 24 hours with how CART is handling what's going on on and outside the racetrack. It's very frustrating to me. Like I said, I supported CART when nobody wanted to support them, so I feel betrayed in some way.
Q. Paul, it's one thing to have a war of words with people who say you're blocking. It's another thing to get into an alleged physical confrontation with the CEO of CART itself. Can you tell us what happened with Chris Pook last night and the alleged incident of being pushed by the CEO?
PAUL TRACY: There was no pushing. We were having a talk. I said the same thing that I just said to you to him. You know, a lot of things get blown up out of proportion by you guys. You know, him and I had a talk. You know, it was a con -- it was a physical (sic) confrontation, so...
PAUL TRACY: I wouldn't say it was friendly, but it wasn't unfriendly either.
PAUL TRACY: Exactly what I just told you just now is what I reiterated to Chris Pook.
Q. I'd like to ask a question that isn't quite so political and maybe a bit of a rookie racing journalist. At the bottom of the sleepers, your braking zone numbers. Now there's a number five there. I asked an official because I'd never seen a five, I only see the four, three, two, one. One of the stewards said they put there to give you something to aim at because you're heading down that straight at around 185 when you hit the braking zone. Did it work? Was it something to aim at going down that back straight or do you even notice it?
PAUL TRACY: I never noticed it.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: You just brake so much later than that. At that point you're upshifting maybe.
ROBERTO MORENO: There are drivers that do look at those boards. There are drivers that just look to the inside of the corner. To be honest with you, very rarely I looked on those boards.
Q. Bruno, I just wanted to find out your reaction today from being the provisional polesitter and finishing second to Paul today, considering what happened yesterday.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think what's happen yesterday was a very strange thing because I didn't want to get the pole that way. As I said, since Brands Hatch, I think in my own opinion, a single qualify, like we did in Brands Hatch, is the best way that you're never going to have traffic, you're never going to have excuse, you know. For sure yesterday, after qualify, I was frustrated because I thought that I could do well or better. But I felt really surprised for what happen. Today I really try to be on the pole even harder, as Tracy tried, because he tried to prove that he had the pole, and I tried to prove. I mean, I knew today the track would be much faster, today would be the day that decides. I really pushed hard, but I just went a little bit short. Well done for him. But anyway, the most important is tomorrow, it's the race. Let's see who can get a good race.
Q. Did the flap over the issue of blocking yesterday make people sort of pay more attention today to their mirrors? Because of the way things turned out, there were more people in the pits, seemed to be more open laps today, so maybe it wasn't an issue. Do you think the people were aware of it more today and paying more attention? Paul, regarding your comments about Tony George and Honda and Toyota, Penske, the common denominator there is they've all left CART. Has your experience over the last 24 hours made you reevaluate your connection to CART, your loyalty to it?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think definitely it's made me question what exactly is going on. I have a contract that I will honor. From there, who knows what will happen. I've signed a contract with Gerry Forsythe. I always honor my commitments. From that standpoint, you know, that's all I can say.
Q. Paul and Bruno, obviously the incident hasn't left you. You're still a little bit upset, Paul, with what happened. Is this going to cause any type of fireworks tomorrow on the track?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Not for me. I mean, I think what's happen yesterday was something that I wasn't even expecting. I think Paul maybe is not happy - maybe with me, I don't know why. But anyway, sure I wasn't happy with him going slow yesterday. But I going to try to race the same way I always race and try to win. I know that's difficult because he's being fast other weeks, as well. But I going to try to race as usual, fair as possible.
PAUL TRACY: Well, my frustration level doesn't just stem from yesterday. You know, over the last few races, it's been very difficult for me. You know, at Portland I received a stop-and-hold penalty for I felt no reason. We went on to Cleveland. I received a $15,000 fine for wearing shorts to a press conference. Then from there, we went to Toronto. I was leading the race by 33, 34 seconds, and there was a full-course yellow for no apparent reason for a car that was in the runoff area running, getting turned around. Then we go into today and yesterday, and what happened yesterday. So it's a cumulative thing. You know, like I said before, I've supported CART when nobody was there to support them. You know, I just don't feel I'm getting the same in return.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to today's press conference. We warm up tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. We take the green flag for the Molson Indy Vancouver at 1 p.m. in the afternoon. Thank you.
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