"Mad Max" Papis had his best run in a CART Champ Car since returning to the series with PK Racing in late June. The Italian, who currently resides in Miami Beach, Florida, overcame a 16th place qualifying performance to come within four seconds of a podium finish in his fifth race with his new team.
"Sunday's race showed that under difficult circumstances, determination and the will to succeed came out in everybody," said Papis with his usual gusto. "The guys gave me fantastic pit stops, and I made it happen on the track. It was a team effort, and we never gave up."
Papis, who climbed the charts quickly, hounded Darren Manning late in the contest, and when the Englishman's Reynard broke third gear, Papis slipped past into fourth place. He set off after Alex Tagliani, who was slowing with worn rear rain tires, but Max ran out of laps to catch his rival with the rain-shortened 34-lap race. Papis climbed from 16th to the Top Ten by Lap 11, and into the Top Five by Lap 18.
We are really making progress," Papis said. "Under difficult circumstances, the team was good in the pits and I drove very hard. Once given the opportunity, I take it. We are focusing really hard to grab whatever we can. We need to improve our qualifying and step up our game, but we are not that far off. We will get there!"
The PK Racing team spent today performing a seven-post shaker rig test in Indianapolis, from which they expect to learn additional information in preparation for this weekend's race at Mid-Ohio.
"Road America's race was great proof of the determination of the team. It is the first gift I give to Kevin Kalkhoven and everyone at PK Racing. My goal is a podium finish before the end of the season. This weekend we were only five seconds off that goal. We will continue to push to succeed at what I know we can do," added the popular Italian.
Papis now posts 17 points in the CART points championship, placing him 16th overall in just three finishes in five races.