> From IndyCar media relations Miller 200 Notebook Jan Magnussen and Max Papis made their PPG Indy Car World Series career debuts Sunday in the Miller 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Magnussen, driving for the injured Paul Tracy in...
> From IndyCar media relations
Miller 200 Notebook
Jan Magnussen and Max Papis made their PPG Indy Car World Series career debuts Sunday in the Miller 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Magnussen, driving for the injured Paul Tracy in this event only, started 18th and finished 14th in the Marlboro Penske Mercedes for Penske Racing. Magnussen, despite a late-race incident with rookie Mark Blundell (VISA/PacWest Reynard Ford), was able to complete his first IndyCar start and finished two laps off the lead pace.
"My first IndyCar race was okay; it was a lot like my first Formula One race [1995, Aida, Japan] except for the yellows, of course," said Magnussen, a 23-year-old Dane. "Before the first pit stop, there was a big push in the Marlboro car, but we were able to correct it by adding some front wing. On Lap 64, I was going into the hairpin and the No. 21 car [Blundell] went inside and hit my right front, which put me off course. It was strange to get stuck in the gravel and be able to get out and continue the race. All in all, I learned a lot this weekend and really enjoyed myself."
Papis, who replaced the late Jeff Krosnoff for Arciero-Wells Racing, was not as fortunate as Magnussen in his debut. Papis retired after completing 40 of the 83 laps due to engine problems with the MCI Reynard Toyota. He started 19th and finished 24th.
"We had several problems today with the car, but that is part of developing a new engine," said Papis, a 26-year-old Italian. "This is what we have to expect. It has been a fun weekend, though. This is a very competitive series, and I feel like I am in a good place. We'll be back next weekend."
Magnussen will drive the final three event s of the PPG Indy Car World Series season for Hogan Penske Racing as the replacement for the injured Emerson Fittipaldi. Tracy, out with a chip fracture of a cervical vertebra, will be evaluated on a weekly basis. Papis will drive in two of the final three events for Arciero-Wells. He will miss the Molson Indy Vancouver on Sept. 1 due to a conflict with his IMSA schedule.
* THE "I's" HAVE IT AGAIN
Unless one's surname ends in an "i," it may be time for drivers to consider a name change if they want a real opportunity to win the Miller 200. Rookie Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard Honda) became the ninth driver in the event's 15-year history with a surname ending in the vowel to win the Miller 200. The others were Teo Fabi (1983, '89), Mario Andretti ('84), Emerson Fittipaldi ('88, '92-93) and Michael Andretti ('90-91).
* CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATES
The United States, paced by Jimmy Vasser's runnerup finish, extended its lead over Brazil to 226-182 in the Nation's Cup. Canada is third with 98, but Italy, thanks to Zanardi, is closing with 86. ... Honda's fifth consecutive victory allowed it to further pad its advantage over Ford, 225-180, in the Manufacturer's Championship. Honda needs 15 points to clinch the title as early as next week at the Texaco/Havoline 200. Mercedes-Benz is challenging Ford for second with 170 points. ... Zanardi helped Reynard extend its lead in the Constructor's Championship. Reynard now leads Lola, 226-206. Penske is third with 121. ... Zanardi gained a maximum 22 points to break a tie with Greg Moore (Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes) for the Rookie of the Year points lead. Zanardi leads, 94-76. Blundell is third with 40.
* ODDS AND ENDS
The victory was the fifth in a row for Honda engines, matching the longest streak in the PPG Indy Car World Series since Chevrolet in 1992. ... Zanardi's victory for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing snapped a four-year Miller 200 victory streak by Penske Racing. This race also marked only the second time in the last 10 seasons that a Penske entry has not visited the podium. Al Unser Jr. (Marlboro Penske Mercedes) finished 13th and Magnussen 14th.