INDIANAPOLIS (August 5, 2002) - After seeing a promising season come to an unceremonious end when his team withdrew from the CART FedEx Championship Series, Max Papis will return to the saddle this weekend at the CART Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio as the popular Italian takes over the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone of Adrian Fernandez.
Fernandez will miss the August 11 event after suffering a hairline fracture of the left hip in a late-race crash in Vancouver two weeks ago. The Mexican driver spent the recent off week undergoing therapy with Dr. Terry Trammell, but will be unable to drive at Mid-Ohio, the track where he earned victory in 1998. This will be the second time in his CART career that injuries have caused him to watch a Mid-Ohio race, having yielded his 1999 ride to P.J. Jones after suffering a wrist injury at Belle Isle.
Papis returns after running the first five events of the year for Sigma Autosport. Papis earned a pair of podium finishes in his brief stint in the #22 car, placing third at Long Beach and Milwaukee. His 32 championship points had him tied for sixth when his team left the series, and still leaves him 16th of the 20 drivers that have tallied points this season.
A two-time CART race winner last year, Papis made his 100th career start at the season opener in Monterrey, Mexico. The first of those 100 starts came at the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in 1996 while driving for Arciero-Wells Racing and Papis has gone on to earn a pair of top-five finishes in his six previous starts at the Lexington, Ohio track.