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May 21, 2006

A.J. Allmendinger

Sebastien Bourdais


ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference from the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey. Before we do, I'd like to announce that Justin Wilson will not be attending this press conference. He has been sent to the medical center. He's a little overheated after the events of the day, as you may expect. We'll try and get some quotes from Justin in here later.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Do I get his points?
ERIC MAUK: You get half his points.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: What did you call him, a sissy?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: A sissy, yeah. He's tall. British guys, heat, tall (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I'm sure you're going to have a great article.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Anything else you want, Eric?
ERIC MAUK: We'll start with our third place finisher in the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey presented by Roshfrans, round three of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, he is the driver of the #10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger. This is his best finish of the year coming home in third place, his eighth podium finish of his career. Also vaults him to eighth place in the points.
AJ, real interesting times through turn one a couple times today. Just take us through your day.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, it was for the most part a steady day. You know, I think for myself, the black tires were probably a bit better than the reds. I probably made a mistake of telling the team to go to the reds on the second set of tires.
But, you know, I mean, all around, it was a good performance, good way to get the season back on track for my whole RuSPORT team, get Red Bull and CDW back on the podium with me. That was great.
ERIC MAUK: Take us through the very first lap. You passed Justin in turn one, then came back out of there in third.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, Justin, you know, he's kind of mean because he doesn't really make it that easy on me. I thought I had him passed. I'm like, all right, cool, up to second. Then he passed me on the outside into two, which he's not supposed to do, but we'll let him have that one.
Other than that, it was a good start. You know, I think, as I said, especially on the reds, Sebastien and Justin had the pace on me a bit. I got around Sebastien on the restart. More than anything, I kind of knew I was probably using more fuel than he was, so he was probably going to go longer than me. I was just thinking the first two races he had too many easy victories, so I wanted to make him sweat just a bit this time and stare at my Red Bull wings for at least 20, 25 laps.
ERIC MAUK: Last few laps of the race, you were on the 'power to pass,' turned some quick laps, threw a 14.6 up at the very end, showed you had some speed there.
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, the black tires were giving the car a better balance. I knew for how far Sebastien and Justin got out there, I wasn't going to catch them or anything. I was just trying to do some quick laps. With 10 and 5 laps to go, I caught a lot of lap traffic. After that, after I pulled my fast lap, just kind of chilled and just tried to get through the traffic and just bring it home.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good result today.
ERIC MAUK: Justin Wilson finished second. It matches his best result of the year, moves him into second place in the championship. He led 28 laps today in the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT. It is the fifth podium finish of his career. Like we said, we'll try and get you some quotes from him a little later on.
The winner of the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey presented by Roshfrans, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His 19th career victory, second of the year. He is the second driver to win two races here in Monterrey. He also set the time for the fastest lap. He led 47 laps. He is the first to win three consecutive races to open the year since Paul Tracy back in 2003. He's also the first defending series champion to open the next season with three consecutive wins since Al Unser, Sr. in 1971. It also gives Sebastien a 25-point lead in the championship.
After three races, Sebastien, here we are again. Tell us a little bit about it.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, that was a heck of a day, that's for sure. I think you had a great showing from the three top cars of the beginning of the season. I think we really gave each other a run for our money. Nobody kind of, you know, laid back or anything. It was running flat out the whole time.
Definitely for the McDonald's car, it seemed to be running exceptionally well at the beginning. I really thought we had things under control. But, you know, we had I thought a good pit stop, but probably RuSPORT short fueled a little bit for the first one. When we got out of our box, we were second. From there on, I knew it was going to be a tough race.
My car was extremely good. The balance was good and everything. But, you know, it's very difficult to pass, especially when you're fighting against quick cars like Justin and AJ. As AJ explained, Dan Clarke made a mess of this restart. I really couldn't believe it. You know, after that, it was more of a game like, okay, well, let's try not to be too crazy out there, let's capitalize. It's better to finish third than get together with AJ or during lap traffic passing or things like that.
I knew my car was going to come to me during the second stint with the standard tires comparing to these guys with the option tires. I just couldn't pull it off. I still had to make the mileage to try and go further in case I wasn't going to pass them on the track. It was kind of a mind game a little bit.
I called for the option Bridgestone tires at the end because I knew the last stint was going to be only 20 laps long. I kind of had the feeling they were a little quicker up to speed, which they definitely were. That helped me because I pulled out of the pits right in front of Justin. The out-lap after the second stop was extremely crucial. Just from there on, it was a sweet ride. We just had to make sure we were not going to make any mistakes.
In the meantime, I wanted to get the point for the quickest lap of the race, which we did, not by much though. You know, I'm just extremely happy for this whole McDonald's team. Couldn't be a better start for this season.
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien, a couple of tight moments with some lap traffic, especially the last 20, 25 laps. Looked pretty tight on TV. Was it as tense in the cockpit?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, Katherine I think didn't anticipate I was closing as quickly as I was. I caught a wreck in turn nine. I was like, Oh, boy. Justin was right behind me. I had to make a tough call because if I was staying behind her, if for some reason she was backing off, I was done.
So I made it on the outside in the dust. That definitely wasn't easy with the 'push to pass' to keep it flat. I was sliding forwards. I was just kind of getting worried I was going to run in the grass on the exit, but didn't. Justin had to back off a little bit.
He got a run on me, but not good enough. He didn't really have a shot for turn 10. That definitely was probably the toughest moment of the race for us. But, you know, well, maybe not. I guess the toughest one was to let AJ by and not take a risk at the restart. That was just heartbreaking. Rather take third than nothing.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations.
Unofficially our top five after three events, Sebastien leads the way with 102 points, Justin Wilson is second with 77, Mario Dominguez third with 69, Andrew Ranger is fourth with 58, Alex Tagliani is 50 with 56. Andrew Ranger also earned a championship point for gaining the most positions today, the third consecutive race he's done that. He is the first driver since we instituted the new points system in 2004 to earn the championship point for gaining most positions in three consecutive races.
Questions for our top finishers today.
Q. Sebastien, you talked about your mindset when you were in third place after the restart, knowing that you had a car that was at least the equal of the guys in front of you, but playing the mind game, waiting it out.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's a tough call because basically either you go for it, you burn fuel, you have to go by, or you save fuel. So at some point I felt I really had a shot, couldn't really quite pull it off. I burned just a little bit too much to really keep in the window. I was really desperate at the end to make it.
In the meantime, you know, going a lap further doesn't help you if you're too far behind. It was kind of an up-and-down battle. At the end of the day, we pulled it off. We kind of looked bad when we full filled on the first stop, but that definitely helped us towards the end.
Q. AJ, you mentioned you got to show Sebastien your Red Bull rear wing for a while today. How frustrating is it that you're seeing that McDonald's rear wing almost every week?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: Well, I haven't seen it much because I haven't been close enough. I saw it as we turned into turn one at Long Beach, then I saw the tire wall after that. In Houston, we couldn't see much because the car was bouncing so much. It was good to see for the first time this year.
No, I mean, they're on their game, and Sebastien is on his game. I think it shows that RuSPORT is getting closer on a lot of these tracks, that at least we were the only two guys that could even come close to him this weekend.
You know, we're making our progress. We're still a young team. We'll get to a couple tracks that we're really quick at last year and hopefully we can have a good result there and just keep plugging away and see what we can do.
Q. AJ, Justin seemed to have the speed pretty close to Sebastien. You were right up there. Is there a difference in your driving styles between you and your teammate? Do you have different setups? What's lacking to catch Sebastien?
AJ ALLMENDINGER: I mean, we definitely have different driving styles. At the same point, a lot of the time we're using the same setup. I think this weekend we were a bit different.
But, you know, I mean, we got to work as a team to try to make both myself and Justin quicker so we can go after Sebastien. I think as long as we can always have two good cars during the weekend, we can try to just kind of keep stepping our games up to learn off each other and make both of us quicker.
Hopefully we can go to Milwaukee and do the same thing.
Q. (Question regarding Bruno Junqueira's performance.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think Bruno is obviously having an extremely difficult start of the season. Not speed-wise. He's shown some speed. He just doesn't seem to have any luck at all this year. Even PT said, from what I heard, that he didn't really deserve that penalty.
You know, I think it's a little tough from race control to give him that penalty because he already has had a miserable start of the season. You know, just give him a little bit of help. When you're trying to build up momentum and you've had a terrible start of the season after two races, you barely scored any points, and you get to the third race, you are showing some speed, you're riding right there. He was in the top four, five, and then he gets a penalty even though Tracy is going in front of him.
I really feel that Bruno is going to be there. For sure, you know, mentally right now it's difficult. I would be affected just as much as he is right now. I just hope that he'll be able to overcome that because I need his help, for sure.
ERIC MAUK: Before we go, we have the official attendance for the three-day event, 76,055.
That will bring an end to our press conference. Join us for round four of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford as we go racing in the Milwaukee Mile in two weeks. Thank you very much.
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