August 14, 2004
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll get started with our post-qualifying press conference. Round nine of the Champ Car Series championship powered by Ford. We are joined by our top three qualifiers for tomorrow's 90 lap event. Starting with our third place qualifier, the driver of the No. 1 Index Ford/Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, the defending champion, Paul Tracy. Paul puts up the third best lap of the day with a time of 60.588 second. 98.455 miles per hour. Paul, you gave it everything you had out there, how do you feel about the way it went?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean that's really all we had. We did the best we could. Pat and I are very similar, we're third and fourth on the grid. So we're optimistic for tomorrow. This is a very technical and difficult track. Very easy to make a mistake. It's a long race, so we'll have to wait and see what happens.
ERIC MAUK: How did the tires hold up today?
PAUL TRACY: We're struggling for grip on our car. That's our main problem is we just can't seem to find the grip. Can't get the tires to grab the track. That was mostly due to the way we're running the car. Obviously, the Newman Haas team has figured out a way to get the mechanical grip in the car. So we're going to keep trying tomorrow for a different set-up and we're not going to leave any stones unturned.
ERIC MAUK: Best of luck tomorrow. Our second place qualifier, driver of number 6 Ford/Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. He earns his third front row start of the year with a time of 60.255 seconds, 98.558 miles per power. Bruno, it turned around after a little bit of a struggle in the last couple of races. Feeling pretty good about the way it went?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, I think this race -- I was actually struggling, I think Road America I was not struggling, I was really good, ready to win. But this race, I did well the last two years and I think this weekend will be a little bit more difficult. I think Bridgestone came out with a much better tire, softer, over a second a lap faster. But just the fact that it was good for me last year and it's not working very well so we change the set-up a lot. A lot of different directions and we're still struggling a little bit. My car was not that good, but I was able to at least to put a reasonable lap time up. And I'm happy with that. And I think tomorrow can improve the car and I can fight for another win here in Denver.
ERIC MAUK: They made some modifications to the racetrack, but it still looks like there's a couple of bumpy, choppy areas of track out there. Does it really affect the handling of the car or is it something you can get through without having to worry about it or is it difficult?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Well, this one of the most difficult tracks of the year because of the altitude and some of the turns in the course. And there is a very little low grip. But as I said, the Bridgestone tires this year is a little bit better, but still a little low grip. And they made some changes and I like the turn one now, it's wider. And turn five is a little bit different as well. Turn nine, it's not that good. And maybe they can go back and improve it. Maybe they can go back to the old nine, because now you break with a bad angle to the wall. But I think I am quite happy with the work that they did here in Denver. First year when we came to the track, the track was very, very difficult. They improved it for the second year and this year they tried to improve again. And I think that's pretty nice that every, that people that organize the race here are trying to improve the track. I think that makes me quite happy. The promotion is here for the race it's been fantastic. I came here two weeks ago to do two days in advance and I would say that that's the best or one of the best race promoter here in the United States. And I hope tomorrow we can have good weather, great crowd and an exciting race. And let's see what happens.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. Pole sitter for the driver of the No. 2, the McDonald's Ford/Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien Bourdais sets a new track record with a time of 59.942 seconds, 99.516 miles per hour. His fifth pole of the season, his tenth pole of his young career. It also gives him another championship point, boosting his total to 215 on the year and giving him a 49 point advantage in the Champ Car World Series Point standings. Sebastien, I know that 59 second mark was something you were shooting at. How do you feel about the way it went?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: For sure. Yesterday we were talking about it, breaking the minute. And I think I was very glad to be the first one to do it. The car was great today. I really have to say that the team did a fantastic job. Last year's been really a struggle for me and I've been improving myself and kind of adapting to the difference that this race is really apart from the other ones because as everybody said the down force and everything. So you have to drive the car somewhat differently and to accept some kind of defaults on the car. But really straight out of the truck the car was really fast. And I think we just basically changed the front wing angle and the car seems to, we started Friday morning really fast when we started. So I'm really pleased. I think we have a great race. We have been consistent on the tires and very fast on the new tires. So tomorrow is another day, but I hope it's going to be a successful and sunny day for the car again.
ERIC MAUK: We mentioned, a new look in turn one. Tell us a little bit about what to expect as we go into turn one tomorrow.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: As I said, I'm just glad to sit on the pole and going to approach turn one on the inside. Because it's a tight turn. And I really wasn't thrilled about the approaching this turn from the outside. Obviously I don't have to worry about it, so it's pretty good.
ERIC MAUK: Paul, you're going to get a unique look at turn one. Tell us a little bit about what your thoughts are heading into that turn tomorrow.
PAUL TRACY: I think it's going to be exciting. Bruno tells me he owes Sebastien for last week in turn one, so he says you watch tomorrow. So I'm going to watch. (Laughter.) Like I did last week.
ERIC MAUK: We'll go ahead and take --
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You don't watch last week --
PAUL TRACY: I watched you guys run off the track behind the pace car.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think you did another thing as well, no?
ERIC MAUK: Go ahead and take questions from the media now.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: If they want to fight each other and take each other out for 15th place, it's all right.
Q. Paul, on your last lap it seemed like you locked it up there or at least I saw smoke. Was that heading into turn one and did that kind of kill you there?
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I've been struggling in that section. This morning we were 16th quick in that sector. And we're just having trouble getting the grip to the ground. We're having trouble stopping the car. And that particular spot there's a big kind of bump as you brake into turn one and just really struggling through there. And I was trying hard, it was at the end of the lap, there was only, at that point of the track there's only two more corners to go, and I was even with my quickest lap and I tried to go just a little bit deeper on the brakes, and it locked them up, the front tire and then I lost a tenth and because Bruno and I are only a couple hundreds of a second apart. So I mean I was even with my best time. And it just that little bit and it didn't happen.
Q. Sebastien, it seems that your car is very fast here. And I'm just wondering, because every one seems to have some problems with their car, how well balanced is it for this type of racetrack?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I really think that nobody's completely happy with the balance of the car. It's just very difficult, because of the rake of down force you're always going to have disconnected cars that has both entry shoes on the steering. So it could be really, really difficult to put that together. So, but I guess it's how well you adapt to it and what's the difference of you doing it. Because you definitely have to drive the car differently and accept to have problems on the car and to live with it. So usually I'm not very good at that and apparently this weekend it's going pretty well so far. But, no, I think that I was okay with the balance I had. And I just tried to tune it very slightly from day one and it was fast straight out. So I didn't want to mess up with it.
Q. Sebastien, after you turned your fast lap, and it didn't look like, didn't seem like anybody was going to get threaten that, you were, then you went out again about five minutes left to go or so and turned a lap, I think your second fastest lap was still good for pole. Can you sort of explain what you were, what the reasoning was behind that, going out there again?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, you're right, I probably tried a bit too hard. But you always feel stupid if you don't try and you lose the pole. You never know what's going to happen with the racetrack and so this was very good rubber from the new tires and sometimes the track picks up like three or four tenths just suddenly and you don't really know it. So we went out and I saw the racetrack was not getting that much better, so it cannot -- so we did two okay laps which was good enough for pole. But, I don't know, I just, after that, after that very fast lap on the first run, I really didn't feel like I could go any faster than that, because it was really a pretty flying lap. So, you just try because you never know. But I was not thrilled about really going for it. Because you can always do a mistake when you're trying that hard. And if you do that, you can lose it, so.
Q. What kind of race should we expect here tomorrow for anybody, I guess?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think it's going to be a full throttle race. Pretty much because the rules are different and you have a lot less chances to get screwed by yellow. This time a yellow is going to be nice for you because you take it and you pit on yellow and good. So if you can build yourself a gap and it is within your window, then on fuel, I mean, because there's no window for the first one at least, but it's just going to make the thing much more fair for everybody. And we like that. And the board understood that and change the rules.
PAUL TRACY: I think typically, I mean, when you put the three of us up at the front, there's going to be no holding back. And it's going to be maximum effort all the time. So typically if you look historically over the last year, year and a half, I mean we're just going at basically qualifying pace the whole time. And want to take it slow, then you take the chance of getting passed.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I agree with what Paul said. Pretty much every race that we start up the three it's been very exciting race. And qualifying lap every lap. And exciting because three good drivers and I think the fans will have a great show tomorrow. I think we'll have a better show this year because of the booster pads and that than we had the last three years.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's a different strategy, that's for sure. With the booster pads. Pretty much it's been clear because the affect is to protect the guy, if he was using it or straight away with driving, completely driving by you and then there was nothing you could do about it. So the main straight line is still pretty long here. And the fact that we have less down force also means we have less drive. So the cars are still going damn fast in the straight away and if it's a street course, so I think we might see some action in turn nine. I mean.
PAUL TRACY: The straight away here is maybe only two thirds as long as Elkhart Lake and our straight away speed is only two or three miles an hour slower than there. And so with the lack of down force and the less drag, I mean the cars accelerate so quickly here. And you are coming onto the straight away with a much slower corner, corners at Elkhart are over 120 miles an hour leading on to them and this is a 70 mile an hour turn and we're achieving almost 186 miles an hour on the straight away. So it's pretty impressive.
Q. Speaking of that, how does the G forces and stuff like that, I mean, is it going to take a toll here tomorrow in terms of the stress on the body?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Usually the race here is not physically so difficult. It's just about the strength. Because the steering is pretty light. You don't have that much down force, you don't have the grip on it. But the fact that it's at altitude and we're not living, at least for me, I'm not living in Denver, so you are lacking some oxygen. But I guess we are fit enough hopefully.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It's going to be hot as well tomorrow, but it's going to be okay.
ERIC MAUK: Final questions?
Q. We have a Newman Haas front row and then we have a Forsythe second row. Aside from continuing where they left off at Elkhart, Paul is there anything that you and Pat can do to try and beat Newman Haas?
PAUL TRACY: We're trying. There's some rules changes that have happened in the last few weeks, we have had to change to a different type of shock absorber. Whereas Newman Haas has been able to continue with their same shock. So we're still continuing to learn. We have had to make a change because of the rules and so we're still learning those, the new shocks and we feel they're not as good as the old ones. But we'll get there. It was a cost containment rule. To eliminate teams that have factory prepared shocks and special deals. And we had a deal with Ohlins and now basically we have to use the same shock that is available to everybody else, so.
ERIC MAUK: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. That will wrap up our press conference today. We begin at 1 o'clock. Thank you. 90 laps around the streets of Denver. Thank you.
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