Champ Car World Series: Champ Car Grand Prix de Montréal
Topics: Champ Car Grand Prix de Montréal
August 26, 2006
ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualify ing press conference, final round of qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montréal, round 11 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
Before we get started, I'd like to introduce Joe Barbieri from Bridgestone motorsports to give today's Bridgestone Pole Position Award to Sebastien Bourdais.
JOE BARBIERI: Sebastien, you wrapped up the yearly award, but another five grand to you, another $2500 to the Hole in the Wall Camps. Congratulations.
ERIC MAUK: Joe, you have a little data. Tell us how the Bridgestone Potenzas are performing this weekend.
JOE BARBIERI: We're pretty happy with the way it's going so far. The reds are showing a little bit of improvement over the blacks. Still very questionable what is going to happen in the race. I think we may be trying out our rain tires tomorrow, which will wipe out everything that we learned today.
We'll see what happens. It's going to be another exciting one. Probably maybe not as exciting, detrimental, whatever word you want to use, as Denver. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Thank you very much.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you.
Our top three qualifiers for tomorrow's event. We'll start with our third place qualifier, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. He puts up a best lap of 1:20.587 seconds, 121.017 miles per hour. Justin's seventh top three start of the year. He started third here a year ago on his way to a podium finish.
Justin, tell us about how it went.
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm actually meant to be here today?
ERIC MAUK: We just like to have you at these things, you know, liven it up.
JUSTIN WILSON: Tonight went reasonably well. We made improvements with the car. Feel as lot better. I'm just pleased to be in the top three. Was hoping to challenge these two a little bit more. You know, we keep sneaking away at it, getting closer. Hopefully, come tomorrow, we'll have an interesting race.
ERIC MAUK: Build on what Joe mentioned, the possibility of rain tomorrow. You obviously have an extensive road racing background and background in wet weather driving. Are you kind of hoping for rain, or would you rather not see it?
JUSTIN WILSON: I don't mind. Whatever happens, happens. Whenever you look forward to a wet race, it turns out that your car is not very good and you struggle. It's best just to take it as it comes, keep an open mind. I'm not sure if we have to run the red option tires in the rain. I'm sure we'll manage whatever we do. Try and keep it out of the wall. Keep going after the championship.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Starting on the outside of the front row, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, A.J. Allmendinger. His fast lap today 1:20.361 seconds, 121.357 miles per hour. This is A.J.'s fifth front row start of the year. A.J., you only one shot at it after yesterday. Came out and answered the bell. Tell us about how it felt.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I think I was pleased after practice. The car was really good. We seemed to struggle a little bit in qualifying. But the whole Forsythe Indeck team really got the car back together after the engine blew yesterday.
To know that we only had one shot to get a good lap in, be up front, I'm fairly pleased. I think the last time we sat like this after qualifying I won the race. I'm okay with that. Denver, won the race in Denver (laughter).
JUSTIN WILSON: We raced in Denver?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Are you still counting on your teammate to take me out (laughter)?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Is there an incident that happened between you two? I was so far ahead, I couldn't see it (laughter).
ERIC MAUK: That took me 16, 17 seconds. I was out. You can come stand over here, you if want.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, let's go (laughter).
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about your thoughts, what you think your prospects are for tomorrow's race.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think we've had a good car all weekend. Whether it's wet or dry, starting up front is always good. We'll go from there. We'll see.
I enjoy the rain, although I've never raced in it. I hear good things about it. I'm ready for it (laughter).
ERIC MAUK: Insightful as always. Thank you, Mr. Allmendinger.
Winner of the Bridgestone Pole Position Award for this week's Grand Prix of Montréal, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He puts up a quick lap today of 1:20.005 seconds, 121.897 miles per hour. His seventh pole of the year. His third straight pole here at Montréal. The 25th of his career, tying him for seventh all time with the guy you might have heard of before by the name of Paul Tracy. This is also the 100th pole for Newman/Haas Racing in their long and illustrious association with the Champ Car World Series.
Sebastien, awfully fast today. Tell us a little bit about how it went.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I went in the tires this morning, pretty quick. You know, I wasn't too impressed with that. But the McDonald's car was really good this afternoon after the boys did an awesome job to fix it. There was quite a bit of damage. They did awesome. We went back out and it's like nothing happened. I was really pleased.
Did a first run, P1. Going back out, I was expecting a little bit more grip from the Bridgestone red tires. It seems like it's very similar, I have a feeling, between the blacks and the reds. We'll see what happens tomorrow.
But anyways, whether it's wet or dry, we'll start from the pole, and that's the best spot you want to be. We'll manage.
ERIC MAUK: Most of the guys that have driven for Newman/Haas Racing, Hall of Fame roster, you've given the team its 100th pole. Talk about what that means to you.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's great. I guess I'm really part of the family now because, obviously, to be part of a quarter of all the poles that the team has achieved is quite something in only four years. It just shows how good this group has become over the years.
I take my hat off to these boys because, you know, they made it happen. I'm not alone in the car. A good driver without a good car can't do anything. I rely a lot on these boys, so it's a great feeling.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
We'll open it up to questions from the media.
Q. A.J., I asked these other guys this question yesterday. See what you have to say about it. How key is this race to the championship?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Well, I mean, I think with only four races left, every race is key. So you're just going to have to keep working at it, being strong. Obviously, it's going to take some luck for us to get all the way to Sebastien, but we're just going to go out there and keep focusing on trying to win races for the Forsythe team. Whatever happens at the end of the year happens.
I mean, for me, after the first four races of the season, actually about, what was it, June 10th when I didn't have a job, I didn't think I'd be in this position. I'm pleased to be here. I'm just going to take it in stride.
Q. A.J., part of your run you looked a little ragged. Was that a commando style qualifying?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, that was definitely commando. That's an inside joke, guys. Sorry.
No, I was trying a new style. I was seeing how that worked. Didn't work too well. I went back to my style, which didn't work so well either. Going to be searching tomorrow to see what we have.
I mean, I probably, for the track conditions at that point, was trying to get too much out of the car. I made a mistake. I really flapped part of the tire on the third lap. From there it was hard to drive. I just knew I needed to get a decent lap in to just have something to fall back on.
Q. Sebastien, you've done well on Saturdays here for the last three years. Sundays haven't gone as well for you. Are you going to be listening to the car a little more carefully tomorrow? Does that sort of enter into it at all?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess we've had three really bad races here. Hopefully the bad series is behind us and we can hope for something different tomorrow.
No, I just really hope that things are going to be kind of bright and sunny tomorrow, depending upon the weather, it doesn't really matter. I think the McDonald's car is really good. I'm pretty confident in both conditions. I just hope that we have an incident-free race and we have a fair shot at trying to win this thing. It would feel really good with this crowd that's really supportive of me. It would feel really sweet.
Q. All three drivers, if indeed it does rain tomorrow, how much do those kind of conditions throw out all the preparations of the last two days, throw it out the window
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it throws the setup. You know, you keep your starting position, which is obviously quite important in the rain conditions. When you're starting from the pole, you feel pretty good about it because you see.
After that, there might be A.J. who sees something, you know, if Justin drives on the outside of the track. But behind it's a wall of water. That's about all you see. It feels a lot better to start from where we are. That's the big advantage of being right now where we are.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Yeah, I mean, I pretty much agree with that. It comes down to -- yeah, I just agree with that. We'll go with that.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I really thought you were going to develop.
Q. Does it become more of a crapshoot?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: A little bit. I mean, it comes down to more the driver. But there's so many things that can happen when it's wet out between the track drying or raining harder, just so many different variables.
It will be an exciting race for sure. With conditions like that, you can see somebody from the back that's really got a good wet setup or are really good in the wet, can drive to the front that maybe in the dry it wouldn't happen. No matter what, it will be an exciting race.
Q. Sebastien, can you take us through what happened this morning with the crash. Sorry to bring that up again.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, we discovered that the right front wing broke in the back straight before the incident. I braked pretty much a few meters further than the previous lap. I wasn't going to make it. I just realized a little too late. Then I looked at the rumble strips there was at the left side of the track. I just hesitated and didn't shortcut, which I really should of. As a consequence, I hit the curb head on, jumped. By the time I made it back to the ground, I was in the tires.
Q. Sebastien, maybe Justin, the president of the series has told reporters yesterday that basically there won't be Champ Car here on this track next year. I just wonder what your feeling is about that. A big deal was made when Champ Car came here five years ago. It's been five races.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think it's really a shame, especially if it comes down to one guy. You know, what can we do about it? I think people like it. I think I can talk for the drivers, we like to come here. It's really a shame if we don't come back here. But it doesn't seem to be on our end. We'll have to do what makes sense, I guess.
JUSTIN WILSON: Sebastien said it all. It's the drivers are disappointed. It's a good driver's track. You know, we're not the ones making the calls or doing the negotiations. I think all the drivers believe in what the management and the owners of Champ Car are doing. We rely on them to do what's right.
Q. This being said, Mr. Johnson said there is a good possibility that the series comes back to Québec at another venue. What would be on your wish list as a track? Another street race, road course like Mont Tremblant, an airport or oval? What would you like to see more on the calendar?
JUSTIN WILSON: I prefer the road courses.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think I agree.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think most drivers prefer that because it's what we grew up racing, especially myself, Sebastien.
But, you know, we pretty much race whatever we're given when we come back here because, you know, it's a great place to come and race. The fans really seem to enjoy the show we put on. Hopefully we can continue to do that for many years.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I just want to go where the fans are. That's really the most important thing, is that anywhere we can go that gets a huge crowd. I mean, I think you've seen a race like Edmonton that was brand-new, San Jose, that got a huge crowd. I think I speak for all the drivers, it's exciting to be able to go out in front of 150,000, 200,000 people and show what Champ Car's all about.
As Justin said, wherever they put us, as long as there's a lot of fans there, I'll be excited to race.
ERIC MAUK: That will wrap it up. Our drivers will be available for one-on-ones. Thank you for your attendance today.
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