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Freedom 100 driver quotes
Jaime Camara, Wade Cunningham, Al Unser
May 27,  2005

PAT SULLIVAN: Two guys that have worked very hard, obviously. On the podium and, in fact, Al started in the seventh position, Wade started fifth. Moved forward and some rain, you stopped, you started, and there were some crashes and hard to get a rhythm in that situation, I would take, or was it OK?

AL UNSER: You know, once the green flag flew in the beginning, I was a little hesitant because of the rain. I didn't want to get on it right away, and I lost a few positions.

Then we came in for the red flag. And then, when we went back out there, we got one pace lap. And I noticed it was nice and dry, and I noticed once that restart started, I went ahead and started picking them off and it's a great day for Brian Stewart Racing.

It's Brian's birthday today, and we bring him home a two-three finish. I'm happy for him.

SULLIVAN: Wade, how about your day? Talk about it.

WADE CUNNINGHAM: The plan today was to try and split the two Sam Schmidt cars, for sure. They're obviously the fastest here this weekend. If they had the chance to work together in that race, there would have been no way anyone could have stuck with him. So my goal at the start wasn't to get to the leader, it was to get near the front; and when an opportunity comes up, you just take it, so I went to the lead pretty easy, and then it was pretty short-lived with the yellows and the rain.

The restart I got killed. I wasn't fast enough to be out front, and it showed. So I went well down in the order. Then coming through passing Jon Herb, you know, we crashed going into (Turn) 3 together, and I was right down under the white line. I’m pretty sure I bent the pushrod with the steering arm. The car was pretty loose after that and it was pretty hard to drive. And then slowly worked my way forward picking them off, and then Jaime and I sort of worked together for a bit and pulled away. And then when race closed up for that last restart, I’m pretty sure that where everyone started that restart, they finished it.

SULLIVAN: Very good. Questions from the group.

Q: Wade, congratulations on your second place finish. There in the second half of the race, couple times coming down the front straightaway, you and Camara were running side by side. You weren’t able to get past him in Turn Two, but what would your strategy have been for the end of the race if the yellow had not come out on about Lap 35?

CUNNINGHAM: When I was running behind Jaime, I was pretty much beside him at the start/finish line. I was backing out of the throttle trying to work, keep him down low a little bit and work him a little bit harder and set something up for going into (Turn) 3 because that's where I was quick. I was generally quite quick on the exit of (Turn) 2 going to (Turn) 3. That's where I was planning on trying to pass him and then obviously didn't get the shot because of the yellows.
Q: Wade, were you aware there was going to be a green and a checkered flag? Which to me, coming from New Zealand and probably you, too, seems a little bit unusual.

CUNNINGHAM: I think they just wanted to finish the race under some kind of green-flag situation. It's definitely better to do that than to drive around at 80 miles an hour and finish under the yellow. It gave the opportunity to pass and, a small one, and there just wasn't enough time, and that was it.

Q: Did they tell you on the radio?

CUNNINGHAM: Yes, we knew when it was coming out.

Q: Al, now that you have driven your first race here at Indianapolis, what's your reaction? It's only been over for a few minutes but what kind of thrill did you get out of this?

UNSER: I definitely feel the tension with this place. It's not a normal oval. It's like we were talking before the race: It's not an oval; it's a road course with four slightly similar turns. But I had a great day out there. I've got to thank my sponsors and Brian Stewart Racing for giving me the race car to go out there and do it. We really showed we could perform.

Q: Any thoughts about when you'll be in a race like Sunday's race?

UNSER: Whenever I could get the money together and get the sponsorship acquisition and hopefully end up with a good team. And, you know, I'd like to see myself out here next year or possibly the year after.

Q: Wade, same for you.

CUNNINGHAM: That's definitely the plan, coming to America. This is the first year in the series, and it might be a two-year deal. It wouldn't hurt, but obviously if any opportunity came along, I'd be crazy not to take it. My goal is to get to the IndyCar Series. Racing here in this series is obviously the best way to get here.

Q: I'm curious from both of you, when was the green in effect on the last, was there a certain point on the back stretch or north chute from there on out? What were you told on the radio?

CUNNINGHAM: There are two orange cones between (Turns) 3 and 4, and that's the acceleration zone for restarts. If the leader hasn't gone by the last orange cone, the green flag is waved. Jaime did a little bit of brake checking, obviously, to try and hold his lead, which I knew he would. He went quite early, but he tried to slow the field up just before he accelerated. That was that.

SULLIVAN: Would you have done it?
CUNNINGHAM: Oh, absolutely. (Laughter)

Q: Did you surprise him at the very start?

CUNNINGHAM: I have no idea what was going on.

Q: It seemed like he took a little slower, you and a couple others popped out wide to try to get position.

CUNNINGHAM: I don't know, they were going awfully slow. It was obvious the green was going to come out no matter what. Third time by we were told it was going to be green, time it best you can and get the full throttle, and I think I timed it pretty good.

Q: Do you know what the point situation in the series is after this race?

CUNNINGHAM: I was three points behind coming in and one point in front of third. So I'd say I'm in the lead now, for sure.

SULLIVAN: I think Jaime may be in front, we'll double-check that for you.

Q: Al, have you talked to your family yet, do they have any comments on your performance today?

UNSER: My dad is back at home with my sister, Cody, who graduated. My mom is sitting in the back of the room. She already gave me a big hug. She said I scared her a few times, but that's probably what I do to most mothers and what most race car drivers do to their moms.

My grandfather did come up and give me a hug and told me good job, you know.

SULLIVAN: Other questions?

Q: At the end there it looks like you guys got pretty close. I know you probably would love to have another lap or two to duke it out but tell me both of your opinions what happened there in the last little stretch.

CUNNINGHAM: You know, obviously we had just a few thousand feet to accelerate and, you know, by the time you come out of Turn 4, there was no way there was going to be any passing. Al looked like he was coming up, but I knew that he couldn't get it, and he probably knew it and Jaime knew that he had won it. So I don't think it really gave anyone the opportunity to make any positions unless someone was terrible on the start.

Q: Al, before the race, either just before or in the last few days, what sort of family guidance from either from your grandfather or father did you receive?

UNSER: You know, just to, my grandfather was with me right before I went out. And he said just, you know, be calm, take it easy. It's a long race. And it showed that I kind of listened to him at the start. I was a little hesitant. But then we started picking them off and, you know, came up here at the end.

Q: I'm just wondering, when you were running with the leader into (Turn) 1, and is it seemed like a lot of people wanted to pass in (Turn) 1, which seemed odd. Also, it seemed like in the main straight guys wanted to duck down low inside the retaining wall and zip around there. Was there something about that spot? It looked like the lead was changing back and forth there.
CUNNINGHAM: I think people run the low line just to make it difficult to pass. Jaime was definitely going down the inside of the main straight so you could never get on the inside of him there unless you were right behind him on the exit of (Turn) 4. You know, I was trying to always set up my passing down into (Turn) 3 because I think it's easier to take a worser line through (Turn) 3, it's not as critical as (Turn) 1 is.

So you know, I was just playing with him a little going on the outside into (Turn) 1 just keeping him down low. Just never got the opportunity to set that pass up later in the race.

Q: You had a couple there in (Turn) 1, too.

UNSER: I was passing in (Turn) 1. Seemed like a great place for me. I could come out of (Turn) 4 and really draft them. Going into 3, I was fast through 3 and 4 like Wade was, except I would go ahead and hold the draft down the front straight and just pop out right at the last moment. I think I got Herb and the 20 car a couple times.

SULLIVAN: Other questions for two and three?

Q: In pre-race what sort of strategy was there between the two of you or your team?

UNSER: Well, before -- who spun at the beginning? Before the --

SULLIVAN: Cole Carter.

UNSER: Before Carter spun at the beginning, I was planned to start right behind my teammate and we were just going to try to work as a team because you need a drafting partner here. It's faster in the draft than running by yourself.

Then coming down the last 10 laps, we were going to duke it out but unfortunately we didn't get to have the green flag finish.

SULLIVAN: Other questions?

Gentlemen, great job. Congratulations.

UNSER: Thank you.

CUNNINGHAM: Thanks a lot.

PAT SULLIVAN: Well, it tops off a perfect couple of days for you, Jaime, obviously winning the pole position, your first. And now you're in Victory Lane and of all places at Indianapolis. Congratulations on your victory.

Tell us about the day. It was a little hairy out there from time to time.

JAIME CAMARA: Thank you. Man, when the race start, Wade passing me on the first lap, I was surprised. But I knew I had a good car and I saw the way he was driving. I saw that I could pass him one or two laps later. Was very good. But he was behind me all the racing and was putting pressure on the No. 6 car. Jon Herb was there, too, one or two laps. But I knew I had the best car there and that I could maintain my position to the end of the race.
SULLIVAN: You were confident of that early that you had the best car?

CAMARA: Yeah, because we started yesterday on the practice. We were the fastest. The qualifying we were the fastest, and the last practice we were the fastest again. So it was one of that weekends that you can't believe how good the car is. It's amazing. I have no words. It's my first victory here in Indianapolis and the biggest race of the year.

SULLIVAN: Congratulations. Questions for Jaime?

Q: Talk us through that final lap and what they told you on the radio and what was going through your mind.

CAMARA: I was worried in the last lap when the yellow came out, because I didn't know if they were going to restart the race. I was asking my crew if the race was going to finish on the yellow flag and they said no, it's going to be one green.

I was very worried because I knew Wade was back here, and I was worried he had a run on the front straight and maybe pass me before the start/finish line. But I think I did a good job in maintaining my position.

SULLIVAN: Other questions? We're not going to be shy here with our winner now, are we?

Q: They told you on the radio this was going to happen?

CAMARA: Yeah, they were preparing me. Look for Wade, and he's going to try to pass you. He did it in two restarts before that, he did that. So I was worried.

Q: So when they waved the green and the checkered at the same time, have you ever seen that before in any race anywhere?

CAMARA: No.

Q: What were you thinking?

CAMARA: I couldn't believe it. I started screaming on the radio, ‘Yeah, we did it.’ This is it, you know, because I couldn't believe, man. I mean, I'm with that sensation that job was done, you know. Job well done. It was very good since the beginning here. I have only good memories now.

Q: How did they explain the restart, the last restart to you? And who told you about it, your team or Race Control?
CAMARA: Team, my engineer. I asked him, I talked to him a lot on the track and I asked him about if the race was going to end on the yellow and he said no, they will give green one lap to go.

Q: The gave the green where, when you were in the north chute?

CAMARA: Between (Turns) 3 and 4, I restart, I restarted.

Q: OK. You must have gotten that as a radio signal?

CAMARA: Yeah. My spotter on the Turn 3, he told me: ‘Pick it up, pick it up. Let's go, let's go. This is it.’ And I restart again.

SULLIVAN: We went through this in the last group. You knew where the acceleration point was, you knew where you were supposed to pick up the throttle?

CAMARA: Yeah.

SULLIVAN: Wade says that you might have brake-checked the field a little bit. In other words, you hit the brake to try to create some separation. For the record, he said he would have done the same thing. Is that one of your strategies to try to break free?

CAMARA: I never did that. I started to pick it up, and I was just increasing speed and I never did that.

Q: So in just a couple of weeks the Formula One teams come to town, and they reconfigure the track, and you guys get to do this all over again at the same facility. What does it mean to you being the champion of this race and going into that one?

CAMARA: Pressure. That means pressure. Everybody's going to ask me if I'm going to win again, but we have to wait until then. It's a road course race, it's very different. You've got to wait then.

SULLIVAN: Looking forward to it?

CAMARA: Yeah, I'm looking forward to race here on the road course. The track is really nice. I like to drive here. I think we're going to do good, too.

Q: What stands out from the things your family or friends said to you. Is there any one thing that somebody in your family said to you when you got out of the car or when you were out there celebrating, or is there any one moment you'll remember forever when sharing with them?

CAMARA: They were cheering and screaming my name. They are very happy for that. They came here from Brazil to watch the race, a few sponsors, too. So they're very happy -- I'm very happy that it ended like that in Victory Lane. It couldn't be better, man. There's no way it could be better.

SULLIVAN: Other questions for Jaime?

Q: Obviously, the IRL has made a home for Brazilian drivers. What is your ambition and how soon do you think you can get into IndyCars competitively?
CAMARA: I think I need to gain experience first. And this is only my fourth race in Infiniti Pro Series. I have the whole season. It's not easy to drive a car out there in the draft. You've got to know what you're doing. So I'm looking forward to gaining a lot of experience this year. Hopefully, fight for the championship at the end of the year. And next season, if everything goes right, I'll try to go to IndyCar Series, or I will stay one more year in Infiniti.

Q: Growing up in Brazil, you obviously had some hero drivers. How much did you know about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

CAMARA: I always watched the races here, and Emerson Fittipaldi, Castroneves. They were all kind of heroes back there and for me, too. They were people that I look at and base all my decisions of coming to race in the United States from them. I looked at them, and I want to do that. I think here in the IndyCar Series, growing up a lot, and it's the best place to come and race. It's better than anywhere in the world, I think.

SULLIVAN: Questions for our winner? Congratulations. Well done.


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