IndyCar Mid-Ohio Saturday Press Conference

Bourdais answers questions from the media

Drivers:

  1. Sebastien Bourdais
  2. Josef Newgarden,
  3. Tony Kanaan
  4. Carlos Munoz
  5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
  6. Will Power

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with today's Verizon IndyCar Series post qualifying press conference.

Josef, we'll start with you, starting second in tomorrow's race. Tell us what came together for your team to get this front row start.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, I think honestly the rain helped a little bit, just spread everyone out. It's so tight. I mean, I really felt confident. We were here testing. I thought we were pretty bad last year. We didn't have a handle on what we needed. I didn't get the most out of what we needed.

This year I thought we had a much better package in general. I thought we were pretty good in practice three, but it was so tight I was kind of happy that it rained because it spread everyone out.

I thought we had a good car. It was just about managing traffic. We were down in the pit lane so we had a lot of traffic every time. Fortunately we were able to pull out a good lap.

The car was great. I thought we had a really good car. Just trying to get the most out of each lap was the key. You couldn't have any mistakes was the big deal.

THE MODERATOR: Ryan Hunter-Reay starting fifth tomorrow.
Ryan, we talked to you earlier today. Did the conditions that you predicted for qualifying come into play?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah. Unlike Josef, I was hoping for it to stay dry. It was a handful out there. Same for everybody. So it's a level playing field in the wet. It was a lot of fun. Changing conditions in that last Fast Six made it tough because you could go somewhere and experiment, but if it's the wrong experiment, it could cost your qualifying run.

Actually both of the first sessions in the full white were a little more straightforward.

But, yeah, it's disappointing being fifth, just because of how we've been in the dry so far. We could definitely do it from there tomorrow. Tomorrow is the only day that counts. Looking forward to it.

THE MODERATOR: Will Power, fighting for a championship, starting sixth tomorrow, how does that track position for the race help you in that championship fight?

WILL POWER: Yeah, it's definitely better to start closer to the front. Pole is a big deal here because it's so difficult to pass.

I was really happy to make it to the Fast Six. The toughest possible conditions at this track. It's just so slippery. Yeah, it's typical IndyCar, it's all mixed up, you don't know who is going to be pole one week to the next.

It's great racing. Hopefully we can get together and get a podium tomorrow, maybe a win.

THE MODERATOR: Tony Kanaan matches his best start here at Mid-Ohio of third.
Tony, another great start for a weekend for you. Tell us about your qualifying run.

TONY KANAAN: Well, actually we struggled over the last two days I think a little bit. This morning I felt confident we had a good car. Then I couldn't put a lap together, so it was a little bit frustrating.

But the rain helped us. We kept it on the track. Like Will said, it was extremely slippery out there. Towards the end, started to get dry. I was tempted to go to slicks, but I think I was going to be too brave on that one. So I picked not to.

Great start for us. I think track position, it's so important here that third is not bad.

THE MODERATOR: Carlos Munoz, what are your impressions of this track as your first time in an IndyCar?

CARLOS MUNOZ: Pretty much I like it. When we tested here, I was pretty fast. I was really comfortable in the test yesterday. Friday, I was second fastest on practice. This morning I was good.

I was really happy with the car. As well as Tony, I just couldn't put a lap together. In IndyCar, if you don't put everything together, you are off to be in the top five or in 16th place. We saw in practice, we were 6/10ths off from the first.

Pretty comfortable in the rain always. I feel all the race I've been doing in rain, so I felt comfortable. Was tough, the Fast Six. My first Fast Six of the season. I'm happy with that, but also a little bit frustrated because I think we had a little bit more. I just misjudged a little bit the practice. A mistake on my last lap.

I think it's hard to pass here, so, yeah, the strategy is going to counts a lot tomorrow. We saw this the last couple of years. Everything is much easier when you started in front. Happy to have the experience. It's a long race, anything can happen. Whatever the weather is, I think I feel really comfortable.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.

Q. How close were any of you guys to jumping on slicks?

TONY KANAAN: I thought about it. Then on the first part of the track was actually fairly dry. I drove in. I was behind Carlos and Ryan at the time. I said, Maybe I'm going to come in for slicks. As soon as I thought about that, I went to break into turn 12, I almost lost it. I just turned it around, didn't come in, it's not ready to go.

But I think the only way that it would have worked was if you actually got out of the pits with slicks right away, struggled through, tried to stay on the track for the first five, six minutes, then it would have worked.

The thing is, all the red flags we got during the previous sessions, how could you predict the Fast Six we're not going to have any reds? It would cost you a lot because the tires would get cold, so forth. I would say I wasn't that close.

Q. Ryan, Carlos just said passing is not very easy here. Do you think maybe tomorrow for a win or a good result patience is maybe the key for success?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I think we're all going for the same thing here, so it's going to be tough. Carlos did a great job, by the way. That's very impressive.

It's only a few races left in the championship. We have to put all the points together that we can. It needs to be wins, too, so I'm definitely going for it. Not like I'm trying to bank a fifth or something like that.

Q. Will, the guy you're chasing in the championship didn't advance to the top 12. Does that give you a little bit of an edge going into tomorrow?

WILL POWER: Yeah, that's very good that he's starting back there. Who knows what's going to happen with strategy in this series. You could start last and basically be first off the first stint if the yellow falls right.

Yeah, but still great that he's back there. Hopefully gives me a chance to get some points. Hopefully this bloke here does something that costs him some points and it's all good, you know.

I rely on other people's mistakes. I don't rely on my own talent. I'm not quite good enough for that (laughter).

Q. Last year this was obviously a big fuel mileage race. It changed between the two and the three stops. Where do you see it shaking out this year?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Well, last year we pulled Will and Scott into the fatal two stopper, right?

WILL POWER: If you were going, I was going. I sat behind you, lifting, Just go.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We were counting on that yellow to come. Never came. It ended up to be completely the wrong decision to do it on two stops. This year we're going to try to do it on one. That's the way it is.

WILL POWER: You probably could.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, I don't see it working again. Going to have a lot of Dumpster divers coming in early, seeing if the pit selection, the time you get in to when a yellow comes out, will work.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you. We'll see you tomorrow.
We'll continue with our post qualifying press conference. We're pleased to be joined by our pole winner Sebastien Bourdais.

Sebastien, another great weekend for you in terms of qualifying, finishing on pole in Toronto race one. What is it? Is it the momentum from Toronto or a development in the team that helped you figure out these road and street courses?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. It's quite clear that we have pace this year. We got it wrong more often than not for one reason or another. Finally it's kind of going our way. Definitely the fact that we had a test here was a big help. We managed to get the car about where we wanted it to be.

I don't know if we were going to have it in dry conditions in qualifying, but definitely in the wet the car was really, really strong. I had really great power down. It was doing just about everything I wanted it to do.

I felt like, Oh, boy, we got this. Sure enough, it started drying. It was not drying where we were on the racetrack around the outside, it was drying on the dry line where there is a whole bunch of patches, sealer, this and that, which makes it evil when you hit it with wet tires. It's still a little damp.

The last lap I knew we were not on pole. It was going to take a little bit more. I just went for it, started to kind of drift the car from the apex to the exit. It worked out.

Couldn't be any happier for the guys. Jimmy was saying, All we need is a couple to go our way and maybe we'll be on a roll. I don't know, I hope so.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Sebastien.

Q. History shows you need to be in the top six to get a win here. How much did you put into qualifying? When it rained, how much did that screw up your plan?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the big thing really is that you always get a big shift between the blacks and the reds, and you try and anticipate what it's going to be.
We were really happy with the car on old tires. We couldn't seem to get anything out of the new tires. We're not the only ones.

Clearly on blacks it was a bit of a struggle to really get the new tire effect. There's a couple of guys that managed to do that, then they were dropping off. We just seemed to be able to run around 66 laps 90 something, but maybe not get it to the next step.

I was a little unsure of what we were going to face, if it was going to be dry in qualifying. Then you saw the reds on that, Okay, maybe it's going to work out, maybe not. We'll find out.

That's the whole thing about that two-year program really, you really want to be able to build a database with that kind of setup and know how the tires react in two different track conditions and tire types.

We didn't really change anything for qualifying because we kind of got what we got. We were going to see. Obviously, when the rain arrived, it threw everything even more up in the air.

I was like, Okay, let's see what we got. Just really happy it worked out. Like you said, you have to start at the front here if you want to have a good weekend. Unless it rains tomorrow, in which case probably everything is going to be out the window, might be somebody coming from the back wins it.

On a straightforward dry race, it's a must to start at the front. Hopefully it's going to be like that.

Q. Sebastien, based on what happened in Toronto and here, is there more of a bounce in your step? Explain your demeanor right now from the standpoint of confidence.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, confidence obviously and serenity obviously is very important when you're in the car and you're not desperate to try to get a result. You're probably more clear mind and making steady and right choices.

But Toronto has always been a place where I've been fast. I kind of know what I need from the car to be good at these places. Then here, like I said, the first time I was at a media conference yesterday, so I've never enjoyed that much success. We only came once in Champ Car in '03. Since I came back to IndyCar, I've been up there not so much. 2012 was good, but we still missed the podium.

I don't know. We'll see how it goes. But for sure right now the spirits are high and everybody is pumped up and we're figuring more and more things out of the car, what works, what doesn't. Hopefully it keeps going our way like that.

Q. Obviously you haven't had a chance to run on the reds yet. Is that going to be a big part of who wins the race tomorrow, who figures out the setup?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, that's the thing. I mean, obviously we have no clue what's going to happen to our car when we do that. We tried to use the black tires the best we could. I think we got to a decent place. Typically it's a place where everybody uses every set of red tires and spends most of the time on them.

Definitely the fact that the car needs to be very competitive on reds is key. We don't know. But maybe it's better not to know. We'll find out.

Q. For tomorrow for the race, will you start the race in the same trim or you have some ideas what to change, make the car even better?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, like I said, we'll obviously monitor the weather. If it's dry, I think the car is in really good shape for the race. It seems to be taking care of the tires and everything, very consistent. Hopefully it holds true and we can have a great day.

Q. When you're out there qualifying in those kind of conditions, how much of it is a crapshoot from corner to corner almost of how much you can push it? Can you explain what's going on in your brain as you're turning a lap in that situation?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the trickiest part is always to know how far you can push it on the braking, how much speed you can roll until you run out of racetrack.

Because the car, you crank the wheel, you wait for the understeer to settle. Sometimes the white line comes a bit too quick.

It's happened couple of times to guys in front of me. It happened to me behind Marco. Then you have to kind of guess very fast because I knew there were going to be like lots of red flags. Obviously, the first group was like that. I knew the second group was going to be the same. And Q2, as well.

You know you have to produce a lap time real quick, but there's a big guessing game. If you slightly overshoot it, hit a patch, you're off. That's game over.

It's a big rollercoaster emotionally because you never know exactly how you're going to fare. I guess after the first run, I felt pretty comfortable. The car was giving me good feedback on the braking. I didn't have to dare it to the very last yard or whatever to really figure out how much I needed to go to produce a good lap time.

We're always in the mix, P1, P2. That was going to be good enough to advance. It was really only in the Fast Six where you had to give it everything you got. That's when the conditions changed. That really changed the whole game because we went from using the outsides to having to go on the dry line, but it was not quite ready at every corner. There were corners where you needed to be on it, some corners where you needed not to be on it.

In the final act of the whole thing, you say, Okay, I'm going to do this here, this there, you pick your stuff. If you're right, it's going to be great. If you're wrong, you're either going to spin or it's not going to be such a good lap.

Yeah, it's a big guessing game basically.

THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, congratulations.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thank you.

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