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June 17, 2006
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference from the GI Joe's Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, round five of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
We're joined by our top three qualifiers. Right now we have our first and second qualifiers. We'll go ahead and get started with our second place qualifier, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger. He led yesterday's qualifying, but also ran a second best time today of 57.639 seconds, 122.667 miles per hour.
AJ, you put up some quick times, but unfortunately had to kind of stand back and sweat it out. Tell us about how it went.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, I think it was good. Forsythe this whole weekend has been fantastic. Right out of the box, they've given me a good car. We just kind of slowly worked on it and fine tuned it. This morning we were the quickest. As we saw the times were really close. Going into qualifying, I think we all knew it was kind of just going to be up in the air for whoever could go in to get pole.
Taking the gamble yesterday with going on the reds to get pole, we knew that was going to be a little disadvantage today because we weren't going to have two red tires. So getting -- we ran a set of blacks. We were actually fairly quick on the black set of tires in the first run. Kind of had to take a guess at the reds the second run. The car was pretty good.
I don't think I got everything out of it because I caught a little bit of traffic on the last couple laps. But, you know, I guess I took it at the end yesterday. I probably deserve to have it taken away from me today in the last lap. Congratulations to Bruno because I think he's probably had the most difficult year so far and he deserved it. Congratulations to him. I think we have a good car tomorrow to go race.
ERIC MAUK: Before we go any further, I'd like to bring up Joe Barbieri, who will give the Bridgestone Pole Position Award to Bruno Junqueira.
JOE BARBIERI: Along with this trophy, Bruno gets $5,000 from Bridgestone. I know your owners are going to be happy again, but the Hole in the Wall Camp will also get a $2500 donation from Bridgestone. Great job to all of you.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Joe, real quick, kind of an off-and-on weekend so far weather-wise. A lot of challenges. Tell us about how Bridgestone has dealt with that.
JOE BARBIERI: As you all know, the weather has been changing quite a bit. Our service crew at Performance Tire with Bridgestone has been mounting, balancing with rain tires, street tires, rain tires, reds, blacks, all that kind of stuff. That's why we're here, try to make it very interesting.
Looks like it's going to be dry. You're going to hear some of those comments about the reds versus the primary tires we brought. The reds are quicker. There's a better chance that they may not last as long as the others. It's going to be a driver situation and car setup tomorrow.
I think it's going to be very interesting if this qualifying is any sign of what's to come. Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Great job as always. Thank you, Joe.
Our third place qualifier, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He put up a quick time today of 57.646 seconds, 122.652 miles per hour.
Sebastien, you gave it a good run at the end. Tell us about how it went.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it went fifteen-thousandths short. That's about as close as I can remember any qualifying session I ever did.
I'm very happy for Bruno. I think he's been through an extremely rough time. It's good to see him back up there. The whole Newman/Haas team did its best to bring the whole thing together. I think we have a great package once again, both the McDonald's car and the Hole in the Wall Camp car are both performing very well. I think it's a perfect setup for us for the race. We'll see how it goes.
Historically we've had extremely good cars on long runs. I'm fairly confident with our chances to fight for the win once again. It's a tough one. I think anything can happen tomorrow with the windows the way they are and everything. We'll see where we're at the end of the race. You could see another da Matta win from P10 or P15. So we'll see what happens.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
The polesitter for the G I Joe Presents the Grand Prix of Portland, driver of the #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno puts up a quick time of 57.631 seconds, 122.684 miles per hour. His first pole of the year, his first since Long Beach in 2004, the ninth of his career. He becomes the 15th different pole winner in 15 races here at Portland International Raceway.
Bruno, big day for you. Tell us about that last lap where you took pole.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I mean, I'm very happy for myself and for the whole Newman/Haas team. It's been a difficult two years so far. Yesterday it was very difficult. We were very much out of the pace. Got the help of Sebastien and his team. We changed the setup a lot towards his setup. The car was much better this morning. Then we tried to improve a little bit more.
My first run was good, but I knew that the car still had a little bit of understeer. I did some changes. The second run, my first flying lap was 7.9. I said I knew that 7.7 was the pole. I said I'm 2/10ths off of it. I really pushed everything, took all the risks. The lap was great. Ran a 7.6. I was quite happy with that. Very happy because the next one, supposed to be the last one, I couldn't make turn 12 very well. I lost 2/10ths there. I said no way that I can recover.
I'm quite happy with the result to be on the pole after long time. After my accident, it's the first time I'm on the pole, so I'm quite happy with that. Very happy the work the whole Newman/Haas team did for me, especially after a very difficult weekend in Milwaukee, very difficult day yesterday. Very nice to came here, rebound, come off with the pole.
ERIC MAUK: You've had a couple tough breaks this year, especially in the first laps.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, four. Not a couple. Every weekend (laughter).
ERIC MAUK: Getting into the first turn tomorrow, does it help you any knowing your teammate has your back going for that third spot?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: That's helps. What helps is that Mario - I hope, I don't know - he must be way back, so that's a good thing.
This track, the start of this race is always hard because you go extremely fast on the main straightaway, then you have a hard brake to second gear. I think have been Sebastien back and I hope AJ know that he has a good car and is important for three of us.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I'm winning the race in the first corner. I'm taking over the 7 car, so...
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Okay. I hope you are not the new Mario (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: If you take out my teammate, I'm going to go on you like you've never seen it (laughter).
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Whatever.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: He comes after me, I'll let my teammate come after you. How about that?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: He's not in striking distance. That's fine (laughter).
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I'm betting Sebastien, he took your teammate out three times last year.
But anyway, I think my strongest thing used to be, I think I am, is good races and have clean, solid races. So for sure I was unlucky four times in a row. Maybe I think Monterrey was a little bit my fault, as well.
Anyway, I hope I can get a nice, clean race and can be back on the podium, be back on solid top three and winning races again. You know, I mean, that's what I did throughout my career in Champ Cars, since I joined Newman/Haas, as well.
I show this year on those five qualifiers that I have the speed. I'm qualify quite well first and second row. Just a matter to put the race. I think I can do it. I'll do that tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations with your Bridgestone pole position. Let the record show, I lost control of this press conference at 3:19 p.m. Pacific time.
We'll open it up to questions for the media.
Q. In terms of local noise regulations, you have to do your warm-ups today instead of tomorrow. What kind of impact does that have?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. I don't really understand why because there were calls at 8:30 yesterday and this morning. Why can't we just have the warm-up at 9 like usual? I don't really get it.
I guess it's fine. I mean, it's probably actually closer conditions from the race tonight than tomorrow morning. Probably easier for us. It's just a big scramble for the team because they've got to prep up the race cars in not even a couple of hours.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: For us, for the top three, until the car go out of (indiscernible), they have like 45 minutes to prepare the car for the warm-up. So usually you change a lot of things from qualify to the race, from Saturday to Sunday. But now, I mean --
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We did it yesterday.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: They have to do everything in a hurry or some parts of it yesterday, so it's a little bit different.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I agree (laughter). I was just happy because I thought I got to sleep in tomorrow. But then they made the drivers' meeting at 9 anyway. I don't get to sleep in, so it's all right.
Q. Bruno, what kind of strategy is going to be successful against your teammate to win that race tomorrow?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Just stay in front of him. I mean, we are starting front, so I have to do a good start, keep the lead, try to go as fast as I can.
I mean, at some point I'll have to save fuel, for sure, because if there is a yellow flag or if he goes one lap longer, all those things. But you have to try to go fast, but still doing a good mileage, good on fuel so he cannot go one lap later. He go one lap later, he has a chance to pass me. That's pretty much what I have to try to do.
Q. Are six and seven still a problem?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think today, especially the soft Bridgestone tires, was much better. It was hotter. I think the track and the tires work much better today. For sure in qualifying, was hotter. 57.6 was a good time, but especially for these temperatures. But I was expecting to go -- everybody to go a little bit faster. But it got really hot. I mean, that slows down a little bit the whole track, but not just six and seven.
Q. Sebastien, you brought it up yesterday.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think was just a congregate of conditions that just made actually exit of five, six and seven bad. It could have been related to quite a few different things.
But today, I think the tires, the Bridgestone tires, seemed to be working a little better this year when it's hot for some reason, which is fine 'cause most of our races are in summertime. It's just as well.
We just need to know what kind of conditions we'll get tomorrow for the race more than anything else.
Q. (Question regarding strategy for race.)
AJ ALLMENDINGER: You've just got to consistently have a good car. As Bruno said, you have to save fuel. There will be fuel saving. As Sebastien said, pit strategy can work out weird here. It's just going to take a consistent car that's consistently fast so when you need to push it, the speed's there, but also not to abuse the Bridgestone tires because the track gets really slippery during the race. And just really a lot of luck. Everything's got to kind of fall in the right place, especially at this race.
If you just keep putting yourself in the right position, hopefully at one point it will turn your way and you can get the victory. But you just got to really have a consistent car around this place. Ultimate speed is probably not as important as just consistency, that you can keep running the same lap over and over again.
Q. (Question regarding AJ's optimism of winning the race.)
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, Forsythe has just done a great job all weekend for me. We keep kind of learning each other as the weekend goes on. I've been more than happy since I signed with the team, even really before I got here, with just how helpful they are and how much they show that they wanted me here and everything they've done for me to get the car fitted for me, to give me a great car to start with, and really working well together as a team.
It's fun to be here. I'm excited. I show up to the track every day laughing and smiling. I haven't been able to do that for a while. I'm excited. You know, my ultimate goal was to come in here and learn the team. This is surpassing my expectations of how the weekend was going to go.
Obviously, ultimately we want to get the victory tomorrow. If I can get on the podium, finish off a great weekend so far, I'll be thrilled with that.
Q. (No microphone.)
AJ ALLMENDINGER: No, I don't think so. I mean, the Forsythe team, obviously they're fantastic in pit stops and the crew works really hard doing practice pit stops. And everything that they've done, I watch them every day so far over the last two days, and they really work hard.
The only thing I have to do is make sure I hit my marks coming into the pits. They've kind of told me how they want me to do it. We're working well together for that. I know if I place the car on the right marks, it's going to be a fast pit stop. I'm not really too worried about it.
ERIC MAUK: Keep in mind again we have a 5:30 warmup session today. We go racing tomorrow, 105 laps, beginning at 12:30. Thank you very much.
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