Watkins Glen preview

RISING FERRARI STAR MAX PAPIS PREDICTS SPRINT RACE IN GLEN SIX HOURS WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- When Max Papis arrived at Daytona for the IMSA Exxon World SportsCar season-opening Rolex 24 Hours, he was virtually unknown by American road racing...

RISING FERRARI STAR MAX PAPIS PREDICTS SPRINT RACE IN GLEN SIX HOURS

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- When Max Papis arrived at Daytona for the IMSA Exxon World SportsCar season-opening Rolex 24 Hours, he was virtually unknown by American road racing fans and competitors alike. Only two months later, however, the young Italian has become the division's newest superstar. He ran the fastest lap of the race in the final minutes at Daytona, finishing second in the closest finish in the history of the Rolex 24 Hours. He then visited Sebring for the first time, and won the pole in his second strong showing in the Momo Ferrari 333SP. Last weekend, Papis scored his first American victory, winning at Road Atlanta. While the series next visits Texas World Speedway May 5 and Lime Rock, Conn., on May 27, Papis is already looking forward to his first visit to Watkins Glen International, for the season-opening Six Hours of the Glen June 7-9. While the Glen event is twice as long as most of the remaining events on the Exxon World SportsCar schedule, Papis is still treating it like a shorter event. "Watkins Glen will be more challenging than the Road Atlanta three-hour race, but it will still be a sprint race, I feel," Papis predicted. "We will race as if it is a sprint race, with a full team effort. I hope to do as good of a job as we did at Atlanta. We will try to keep ahead of the others and win the race." Joining Papis in victory lane at Road Atlanta was car owner and co-driver Gianpiero Moretti, who scored his first victory since winning at the Glen two years ago with Eliseo Salazar. "Watkins Glen is a very historic circuit," Papis said. "I saw televised Formula One races there when I was younger and always dreamed of racing a Ferrari there." Papis was given the opportunity to drive a Ferrari by Moretti at the beginning of this season. He made the most of his opportunity with a solid showing at Daytona. He saved his best for the final hour of the race, breaking the track record late in the race in finishing only one minute behind Oldsmobile driver Wayne Taylor -- who ironically was his predecessor with the Momo Ferrari team. "You cannot really describe the feeling you have driving this car," Papis said. "For me, an Italian, to win in a Ferrari is like winning $10 million in the lottery." Papis drove for Team Arrows in Formula One last year, with his highest finish a seventh in a Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He began racing in karts back in 1981, and his resume includes several years in F3000 and Formula Three. Practice for the Six Hours of the Glen begins at noon on Friday, June 7. Saturday's schedule includes Exxon World SportsCar qualifying at 12:30 p.m., followed at 2 p.m. by a three hour IMSA Endurance Championship race. The new Slick 50 Pro Series opens Sunday's racing with a 40-minute race beginning at 9:30 a.m., followed at 11 a.m. by the start of the Six Hours of the Glen. The beginning of One Lap of America will follow the Six Hours, with each of the 100 cars taking a two-lap time trial starting at 6 p.m. Tickets are now on sale for the Six Hours of the Glen, including Pit Roof Seats and a special Glen Club Upgrade. For additional information or credit card orders, call (607) 535-2481.

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Series IMSA