CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford Racing Portland race notes

PAPIS WINS AT PORTLAND FROM THE POLE - Team Rahal driver Max Papis led 69 of a possible 75 laps at Portland to win the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 from the pole. In a caution-filled race that saw numerous spins and accidents due to slick and rainy...

PAPIS WINS AT PORTLAND FROM THE POLE - Team Rahal driver Max Papis led 69 of a possible 75 laps at Portland to win the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 from the pole. In a caution-filled race that saw numerous spins and accidents due to slick and rainy conditions, the scheduled 98-lap event was shortened to 76 laps in order to end in the required two-hour time limit. The win was Papis' first of the season, his second of his career (Homestead '00) and the first for Ford-Cosworth at Portland since 1992 (Michael Andretti).

NOTEWORTHY - Rookie Max Wilson and Arciero-Blair Racing scored their first top five CART finish with a fourth place result ... Papis' victory was Ford-Cosworth's third this season, and the third in the last four races ... Papis is the first driver powered by Ford-Cosworth to win from the pole on a road course since Roberto Moreno accomplished the feat last season at Cleveland ... Papis was the first polesitter to win at Portland since Alex Zanardi accomplished the feat in 1996.

MAX PAPIS (#7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 1st

"I'm very glad that I can finally show my emotions. We've gone through a lot of disappointment in the last year and a half, and I didn't feel that I wanted to enjoy yesterday's pole position as much as I felt in my heart. Today I am the happiest person here, and we drove a fantastic race and the team gave me a fantastic strategy. We had to race with a fuel strategy while at the same time I had Roberto (Moreno) and Christian (Fittipaldi) behind me, who put a lot of pressure on me. I didn't make any mistakes and the Ford engine was fantastic today. It proved again that we have a great edge there and that we have a lot of power in the car. It was a fantastic race for us, especially because it was done under a lot of pressure to not make mistakes, to go fast and to save fuel. Every restart I was the one that everybody behind me was trying to pass. Cristiano (da Matta) kind of got around me on the second restart, and I didn't exactly know that he was there. I was trying to warm up my brakes and he hit me in the back and I saw him spinning off. It was kind of disappointing because I really wanted to have a good battle with him. This was a very special win for me because we came back from zero to hero, now Mad Max is here."

HOW DID YOU STAY IN THE LEAD WHILE TRYING TO SAVE FUEL IN THE CLOSING STAGES OF THE RACE?

"I knew that I had to drive like hell because the car was fantastic, although it was very slippery out there. I just tried to look around on the track where it was getting drier, and I changed my line three times through Turn Three depending on where we had more or less grip. It was a very tactical race - you had to be smart, you had to pace yourself and in some places you couldn't even apply the power depending on how much grip there was. I kept chasing the grip and listening to Mark Johnson on the radio. He kept telling me that the pace was good and that we needed better fuel mileage, so I conserved fuel to have a little bit more at the end. When I saw Roberto (Moreno) catching, I pushed a little bit harder and played a good psychological game. I think that I drove one of the most tactically and smart races that I've ever had."

MAX WILSON (#25 Redback Networks Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 4th -

"It was very hard to keep the car on the track. Until the middle of the race I was just trying to keep my car on the track, but after the pit stop I saw that I could fight with the leaders. I think towards the end of the race the track was getting drier so my car was getting very loose because I was pushing very hard to try and overtake (Roberto) Moreno. I overtook him once but I overshot the chicane so I had to let him by again. But this is great! It's our first points, we just missed the podium but I'm very happy with the finish."

THIS RESULT HAS TO BE A TREMENDOUS BOOST TO YOUR CONFIDENCE.

"Yeah, it means a lot to me and for the entire Arciero-Blair team here."

ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THAT YOU COULDN'T HOLD FITTIPALDI OFF FOR YOUR FIRST CART PODIUM?

"It would've been very hard to try and hold him because he was much quicker. I tried but I locked my rear tires under braking and he overtook me. I was kind of disappointed, but I finished the race and scored our first points and I'm very pleased about that."

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAY.

"I was lucky to keep the car on the track. There were a lot of crashes and spins around the circuit, but the car was very good in the wet. The team did a great job, they gave me a good pit stop and we just kept the car on the track and finished fourth."

CONDITIONS OUT THERE WERE NOT IDEAL, BUT YOUR PACKAGE SEEMED TO BE IDEAL.

"Our package is the best. It's just our third race with the Ford and we've already scored some points, so I'm very pleased. These guys have given me some great support, as has Lola and Ford-Cosworth."

LARRY BLAIR (Owner, Arciero-Blair Racing) - YOU'VE GOT TO BE VERY EXCITED AND VERY HAPPY.

"This is really a fantastic feeling. For finishing in the points for the first time, Max was really able to showcase his talents under some very difficult conditions."

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU AND THE TEAM?

"I think it's a tribute to our hard work and achievement to date, and we're extremely proud of what Max and the team accomplished today."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's Forsythe Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 5th - HOW BAD WAS IT OUT THERE TODAY?

"Man, it was horrible at the beginning of the race. It seems like it's worse when it's not raining too hard - the track still isn't dry, but it's so slippery and all the boys were really excited to do this race, perhaps a little bit too excited. Paul (Tracy) passed me in the beginning and I just let him go. The guy was just passing everybody and going insane, but he was really fast. We just had to stay where we were and be patient. I pitted early and I wanted to make it in one stop, so we had to save so much fuel at the end. I couldn't even brake. Instead of braking I was easing off the throttle and letting the car coast on the back straight trying to save as much fuel as I could. Christian (Fittipaldi) went by because he was running full rich and everything, but I'm very happy. Everything went well and we had a good finish."

IT LOOKED LIKE YOU PLAYED BUMPER CARS A FEW TIMES TODAY.

"Yeah, I was involved with that a couple of times. (Roberto) Moreno tried to push me off the track even though I was beside him. I don't agree with that, but it's a long season and he'll get it back."

AFTER TWO POINTS-PAYING FINISHES, IS THE CONFIDENCE OF YOU AND THE TEAM GROWING?

"For sure. The guys know that we can do it, and I know we can do it. We started 10th, finished fifth, passed a few cars at the start and ran an almost perfect race with no mistakes. I got passed by Max Wilson and was going to try and pass him back on the back straight, but he blocked the hell out of me. I thought CART was going to give him a black flag, but hey, we'll take fifth place."

KENNY BRACK (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth) - Finished 11th - HOW DIFFICULT WERE CONDITIONS OUT THERE TODAY?

"It was pretty bad with people spinning left and right and there was very little grip, so it was very difficult, but that's how things are in the rain."

IT LOOKED LIKE YOU GOT KNOCKED AROUND A FEW TIMES TODAY.

"Yeah, I think they used me as a dart board in the beginning because I was spun around in the first corner, even though I was starting near the back, someone managed to run into the back of me. On the second restart the same thing happened again, but I managed to keep it under control. Then I had to take some avoiding action for Gil (de Ferran) when he spun; otherwise he would've taken the left side of my car off, so I had to go into the grass. I'm happy to get to the end because we weren't really that fast - we were very, very loose."

ALTHOUGH YOU HAD A TOUGH DAY, YOU STILL LEFT HERE WITH THE POINTS LEAD.

"I feel very good about that, but we have to sit down and try to get back to our former form, so we'll see. We'll be all right."

-Ford Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Max Wilson