CHAMPCAR/CART: Nazareth Team Rahal Track Talk 1999-04-26

HERTA AND PAPIS CARRY LONG BEACH MOMENTUM TO NAZARETH HILLIARD, OH. . .Team Rahal drivers Bryan Herta and Max Papis enter the fourth stop on the FedEx Championship Series circuit riding the momentum of top-ten finishes at the ...

HERTA AND PAPIS CARRY LONG BEACH MOMENTUM TO NAZARETH

HILLIARD, OH. . .Team Rahal drivers Bryan Herta and Max Papis enter the fourth stop on the FedEx Championship Series circuit riding the momentum of top-ten finishes at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Long Beach marked the second time this season that both Herta in the Shell Ford-Cosworth/Reynard and Papis in the Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth/Reynard have both posted points in the season-long championship.

For Herta the third-place finish was his best of the 1999 season and his first podium finish since he won the 1998 Grand Prix of Monterey last September. Herta ran strong the entire weekend at Long Beach, qualifying third and leading the inaugural lap of the race. The points from the third-place finish pushed him to ninth in the season standings.

"I felt like we jump-started the season at Long Beach," said Herta. "We picked up some valuable points towards the season championship while producing a solid weekend of practice, qualifying and racing. It is important for us to build upon the momentum we established in California when we get to Nazareth."

For Max Papis, Long Beach represented his second top-ten finish of the 1999 season and his second straight qualifying effort in the top four. Prior to joining Team Rahal Papis had never qualified higher than 13th for any CART event and had posted five top-ten finishes in 39 starts. Papis enters the race at Nazareth tenth in the season point standings on the strength of his fifth-place finish at Miami and his ninth-place effort at Long Beach. Last season Team Rahal netted a pair of top-ten finishes on the 0.946-mile Nazareth oval. Bobby Rahal recorded a sixth-place finish to begin a streak of eleven straight point-producing races, a personal best for the three-time PPG Cup Champion. Herta posted an eighth-place finish, his second best oval finish of the 1998 season. Papis, then with the Aciero-Wells team, started 20th but finished 14th.

A big concern among the drivers heading into the upcoming race at Nazareth is the new CART rule dictating the cars run with the smaller super speedway wings, resulting in a reduction of the downforce by as much as 65% in the corners. Shell driver Bryan Herta had a chance to test with the new set-up in late March and he feels it will add an edge to the race this year. "Driving under the new rules is like playing a video game," said Herta. "You can see everything around you, but you almost can't feel the car underneath you. The feeling will definitely be better if the temperature is warm. This could be one of the more interesting and unusual races in a long time."

Rahal, the 1992 winner at Nazareth, feels the new rule will benefit the best drivers in the series. "Because you'll no longer have so much downforce and stick, you won't be able to just get in there and barely tap the brakes, stand on the throttle, steer and hang on for dear life," said Rahal. "As a driver you will have to drive the car and I think the best drivers will shine."

RAHAL FOUNDATION BENEFITS BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS

The Bobby Rahal Foundation will make a charitable donation to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley on Friday, April 30 at the weekly Team Rahal Media Breakfast. The donation is part of the Foundation's season-long program of donations to worthwhile organizations in CART communities. The Bobby Rahal Foundation raised more than $400,000 during the 1998 FedEx Championship Series as part of "Rahal's Last Ride."

RAHAL LOGS COMPETITIVE MILES IN RETIREMENT

Rahal logged the first competitive miles of his retirement when he competed in the Tour Auto de France Cenrenarie, a five day rally event throughout France and Europe last week. Rahal shared the driving duties in a 1973 Porsche Carrera with former sports car owner Bob Garretson.

"This is the type of event I've looked forward to. It was a bunch of old drivers telling great stories and some lies about their racing careers," said Rahal. "I guess I'm the newest of the retired drivers, so at least I am the youngest in some form of motorsports again."

HERTA SHOWS HIS SPEED AT PORTLAND

The calendar may say April but late last week Team Rahal's mind was on late June as Herta and the Shell team tested the Portland International Raceway for the G.I. Joe's 200 scheduled for June 20th. Herta, the defending pole sitter at Portland, turned in a best practice lap almost a second faster (57.30 sec.) than his pole time of 1998 (58.358 sec.).

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta , Bob Garretson