PAPIS LEADS TEAM RAHAL SWEEP OF TOP TWO SPOTS AT OPENING DAY OF CART SPRING TRAINING AT HOMESTEAD HOMESTEAD, Fla. (February 9, 2000) - Max Papis launched his second season with Team Rahal by taking his Miller Lite Ford Reynard to the top of ...
PAPIS LEADS TEAM RAHAL SWEEP OF TOP TWO SPOTS AT OPENING DAY OF CART SPRING TRAINING AT HOMESTEAD
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (February 9, 2000) - Max Papis launched his second season with Team Rahal by taking his Miller Lite Ford Reynard to the top of the speed charts Wednesday during the opening day of the fifth annual CART Spring Training at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Papis, named to the inaugural CART All-Star team one evening earlier and coming off a career-best fifth-place finish in last year's championship, averaged 206.044 miles per hour (26.243 seconds) for his fastest lap on the 1.502-mile oval. He led 25 drivers who posted times on the opening day of the two-day Open Test, which is designed to give competitors the opportunity to measure themselves against their rivals as they prepare for the 2000 FedEx Championship Series. The season begins March 26 with the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota in Homestead.
Papis comes off a season in which he posted 11 top-five finishes in 20 starts, including career-best runner-up efforts at Australia and Fontana in the final two events of the season. He also recorded the first pole position of his four-year career at Chicago Motor Speedway.
Rookie Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Reynard) had an impressive debut as Papis' Team Rahal teammate, taking second place overall at 204.176 mph (26.483 seconds). He joins Team Rahal this season after winning the 1998 Indy Racing League championship and the 1999 Indianapolis 500.
Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard) was third fastest at 203.462 mph (26.576 seconds). Carpentier topped the time sheets for the two-day Spring Training event at Homestead last year.
Wednesday's test featured use of the low-downforce variant of the Handford MkII Device, a new rear-wing package mandated by CART to help contain speeds on intermediate ovals. The new package held Papis' average speed to more than 11 miles per hour below the track qualifying record of 217.541mph (24.856 sec) established by Greg Moore last year.
Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard), runner-up in the 1999 FedEx Championship Series, was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for precautionary x-rays after making contact with the Turn 3 wall late in Wednesday's afternoon practice. He was awake and alert at the scene, according to CART Director of Medical Affairs Dr. Steve Olvey. Olvey said that Franchitti had a bruised right elbow and left foot and that the driver reported some lower back pain and slight discomfort in his left leg. He was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital for precautionary x-rays.
A second day of testing concludes Spring Training today, with sessions beginning at 9 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. ET.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
* MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Reynard: "I'm very glad because we ran with fuel in the car [full load], and if it's not right we know how to make it better. I'm very pleased with the new [Ford] engine; I don't think there's even one bolt in it that's the same as last year. It's very good for the season. We only tested here twice for a half-day each time and we still have a lot to prove. I haven't won anything yet." Asked about his new teammate Kenny Brack's performance, Papis said: "Kenny's very good on the ovals, we can share a lot of info. We drive very similar."
* KENNY BRACK, Shell Ford Reynard: "Well [jokingly], Max sets the car up for me and I go out and drive. I'm very happy to be here with Shell and Rahal; I'm in a very good position. I'm trying to learn a lot about this car right now." When asked about what it is like to drive for Team Rahal versus A.J. Foyt, Brack said: "It's a walk in the park. They're pretty different. They are both great guys and champions, like plus and negative on the battery; both the opposite but you need both to light the bulb."
* PATRICK CARPENTIER, Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard: "We only did one day of testing on the oval [at Homestead]. We decided to save the second day for the road course. It's unfortunate what happened [Franchitti's incident in the afternoon session], but I like the new wings. It's a bit slower in the corners, but faster on the straights. But it's like hitting the brakes when you lift off the gas. I'm pretty happy with the car, I hope it stays consistent all year."
* CART announced Wednesday that Oscar winner Sylvester Stallone has created a storyline around Championship Auto Racing Teams and Champ Car racing for a feature film planned for release next year. "CART's brand of open-wheel auto racing provides some of the most thrilling, emotionally involving and inspiring form of sport in the world," said Stallone, best known for his series of "Rocky" and "Rambo" movies. "It is extremely important to me that we create a film that accurately depicts the true sense of CART - the emotion, excitement, speed, technology and glamour that is Champ Car racing. Our goal is to begin shooting this season with the intention of releasing the film next year." Stallone joined CART President and CEO Andrew Craig and Vice President of Television Keith Allo in making the announcement. "We are extremely pleased to be working with a film-maker the stature of Sylvester Stallone," said Craig. "His interest in racing was been well-documented for several years, and we believe this is a great opportunity for CART to reach out to a broader audience through a film produced by one of the icons of the entertainment industry." Details regarding talent for the film were not released.
* CART also announced Wednesday that J. Kirk Russell has been named Chief Steward of the FedEx Championship Series, effective immediately. Russell has been with CART since November of 1978 and has served most recently as Vice President of Competition. He has been instrumental in several advances in race car and facility safety. "I am pleased to be able to make this announcement," Craig said. "Kirk has a vast knowledge of Champ Car racing, and his presence in Race Control will help us continue to effectively manage our 20 race events. His commitment to our sport is unquestionable. He has committed most of his adult life to CART, and our team owners, and I, are proud to have Kirk as our Chief Steward." Russell sees his new position as an exciting next step in his 22-year CART career. "CART has been the focus of much of my career. I accept this responsibility and appreciate the honor of the appointment. Also, I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with Wally [outgoing Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach, who remains with CART as a consultant] in 2000. His insights into running our races will be very helpful as I work my way through my first season as the lead man." Russell's appointment will lead to a reorganization of the CART's Racing Division, which will include the newly created position of President of Racing, who will oversee all racing operations.