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Denver Driver Interviews

Denver, CO, September 1, 2002 Julie Andre scours the Denver pit lane and paddock looking for drivers to answer your questions. Then, she had a few of her own to solicit drivers' thoughts on their reactions to big events, what should happen to qualifying if more cars enter the series, and their future plans.

READERS TO MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Does Michael know how betrayed all the CART fans who supported the entire Andretti family feel about his move to IRL?

Why are you turning your back on the fans and your father and taking Honda's money and going to the IRL?

ANDRETTI: I do not know how to comment to that because no official announcement has been made. We are waiting for our sponsors to tell us where they want us to race next year. I do not know if that means CART or IRL right now.

READER TO PAUL TRACY: The true CART fans love Paul for staying loyal to CART and making pro-CART statements. How does it feel for him to be the most popular driver in CART?

TRACY: I don't really think about it. I know where my heart is, and I know what I want to do. This is what I have done my whole career, and I am not just going to walk away when there are hard times. I want to support CART and help them get back to where they were.

JULIE: Do large successful events "pump" you up, and do you find yourself performing at a higher level at such events?

CARPENTIER: Yeah, but Montreal was a lot of pressure and a lot of stress for me. Those weekends are tough so I do not want too many races like Montreal. No, but seriously, it is nice to see a great turnout like at Montreal and here in Denver. I am amazed at how many people came to this race.

DA MATTA: In the car it is different than it is for a football or basketball game. When the stadium is crowded you find yourself doing better. But in the car, it is so noisy and busy that you do not have time to see how the crowd is reacting or how they really feel until the end. However, it does feel really good to see the grandstands full. Of course, we are all human beings and everybody likes to have recognition of their sport and for their work.

DIXON: Yeah, for sure the crowds are great. That is what it is all about. It definitely helps. I think everyone pumps everyone up, and it helps with the sales and brings more money to the series. Maybe there is just a lack of promotion here in the U.S., although the race here is not bad.

JUNQUEIRA: I think I try to perform at a high level all the time. But it is much more exciting at tracks like Montreal, Long Beach and Road America when there are a lot of people or any of the Canadian events. Road America is really nice because they are real race fans. The people that attend that race really seem to know the sport.

TRACY: For sure when the crowd is there and you have the support of the crowd it is great. There is a good crowd here. Maybe this is what the fans come to see -- a lot of spinning and crashing. Fans seem to like that.

JULIE: If the field real does grow next year, what do you think the qualifying situation will be like with even more cars out? Will they have to resort to a split qualifying session like before?

Quote Image ANDRETTI: I do not think CART needs to worry about it because right now I do not think that they have more than nine cars.

CARPENTIER: Never. They have to keep it the way it is. They might need to increase the qualifying session times and make it longer or something but it has to be together. It is definitely more fair. Sometimes it doesn't work out for you as a driver but it is fairer.

DA MATTA: No, I do not think so. I think if we have more cars it is definitely going to be more difficult to qualify, but I think that everyone is going to play it smarter. Now, everyone waits to the very last moment, but I think that if we have more cars we are going to be more spread out. People will use more of the beginning of the session than they normally do.

DIXON: Probably, but then everyone will start complaining about it. I think they will have to keep it how it is and the guys will just have to look after each other. It is the tracks like this one, a 1.5 mile circuit, when you will come up on somebody pretty quick. This might create a problem.

FERNANDEZ: I don't think so. I mean I do not think we will have more than 20 cars next year which is a good number to have a combined qualifying session like we currently have.

JUNQUEIRA: Yes, I think they will have to do it because if you have over 20 cars like last year together on the race track, it is impossible to get a clean lap. It is not fair but it's the only way to get a clear lap.

TRACY: I do not know. I haven't even thought that far ahead.

JULIE: What do you think about the new qualifying changes with the practice session at the beginning?

CARPENTIER: I like it; I think it is fantastic. It gives you a chance to see what kind of car you have and to do a couple of adjustments on it and get used to it before qualifying begins.

DA MATTA: I am very happy with the changes. I think it is the way to go. We had a lot of dead time during the session and the way it is right now we can go out and evaluate the track and feel if the track is good enough to go out in the beginning of the session. That is important!

DIXON: I think it is good, but I think they need to get rid of the 10 minutes of uncertainty. It should be 30 minutes of certainty and that is it.

Paul Tracy Interview Photo FERNANDEZ: I like it especially the first ten minutes because it puts everybody on the track and the winners are really the fans in the end. Before they would have to wait a half an hour before anyone would be on the track.

JUNQUEIRA: I think it is okay. I think it is much better with more practice. It gives a driver a way to try out any changes or adjustments that have been made.

TRACY: I think it is good. I do not have a problem with it. The new rules allow us a chance to try our changes first, so we can see what happens.

JULIE: What are your racing plans for next year?

DIXON: I do not know. I am still waiting for Chip. Obviously, he is going to make a decision shortly on who he wants and what series. So, we will see what comes.

JUNQUEIRA: I am talking to a lot of teams and with Ganassi. I am exploring all of my options, but at this moment as a driver I am not able to sign anything because a lot of teams do not know what they are going to do next year. You can not sign something when the team does not know what they are going to do. I think when the teams decide, things will go pretty quickly.

TRACY: We are still in the negotiation process. Nothing has been finalized yet.

Copyright © 2002 by Julie Andre and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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