HILLIARD, OH . . . Since CART first went west to Monterey, California and the famed 2.238-mile road course of Laguna Seca Raceway in 1983, Bobby Rahal has been the man to beat. Rahal served notice in the mid-80's with four consecutive wins ...
HILLIARD, OH . . . Since CART first went west to Monterey, California and the famed 2.238-mile road course of Laguna Seca Raceway in 1983, Bobby Rahal has been the man to beat. Rahal served notice in the mid-80's with four consecutive wins (1984-87) on the course. In 16 races at Laguna Seca, Rahal racked up four wins, seven top-five results and 12 top-tens. Rahal's success has been passed on to the drivers of Team Rahal. Rahal has two wins at Laguna Seca as an owner for a total of six victories at Laguna Seca. Bryan Herta delivered three consecutive front row starts for Team Rahal and three podium appearances as well as back-to-back victories in 1998 and 1999 in the Shell car. In 1999 Max Papis joined the party posting his first career podium finish with a third place result at Monterey. "Team Rahal has always been successful at Laguna Seca," said Papis. "Last year it was a great thrill to end up on the podium with my teammate and to carry on the successful tradition that Miller has enjoyed at this track. Team Rahal has been the dominate team the last few years there but other teams are catching up to us and are learning the secret of Laguna Seca. I know we will be tough this week and the Miller crew is ready to give them hell." Sunday's running of the Shell 300 will mark Kenny Brack's Champ Car debut at Laguna Seca. The Shell Ford-Cosworth/Reynard driver raced at Laguna Seca during his 1993 Barber Saab championship season finishing seventh after running most of the race in the top-three. "Laguna is a tough track to pass on," said Brack. "I remember running third and trying to pass Bill Adams for second and we came into contact and both spun and ended up running seventh and eighth. The lesson from that for this weekend is that while there are chances to pass the maneuver is usually risky. We need to qualify well here to be successful." Both drivers tested at the track during a CART Open Test last month. "We tried a lot of things different from what Team Rahal has run there in the past," said Brack. "It was a chance for us to try some things that we though might be useful on the course. It certainly helped draw the lines for us and we know what to do and not to do going into the race weekend."
TEAM RAHAL MILESTONES
The dual top-tens posted at Vancouver by Papis and Brack pushed Team Rahal total to 20 top-ten results on the season, the third straight year the team has reached that mark. The team record for top-ten results in a season was set last year at 22. Every race that Team Rahal has finished in 2000 has resulted in a top-ten finish.
Shell driver Kenny Brack has a shot at two team marks set by Max Papis in 1999. Brack would need a top-five finish in four of the last five races to tie Papis' team mark of 11 top-five results in a season and Brack needs a top-ten in three of the final five races to tie the mark for top-ten results (14).
LOSING A SPOT BUT CLOSING ON THE LEADER
Vancouver marked the second straight race where Kenny Brack slipped a spot in the CART standings but he gained on the overall point's leader. Brack posted four points for his ninth place finish but the victory by Paul Tracy allowed the Team Green driver to move past Brack dropping Kenny to sixth in the point standings. Championship points leader Michael Andretti posted only a single point for his 12th place finish allowing Brack to pull within 20 points of the leader. The lead six drivers in series points are separated by only 20 points heading into the final five races of the season.
"It seems odd to see your self lose a spot in the standings but gain on the leader." said Brack. "It has been a crazy year in the series and to see so many drivers in contention for the championship makes it exciting for the fans. It is the time of the year where mistakes can derail your championship hopes. It is critical to excel in all areas of the race from setup, to qualifying to pit stops and so on. I am confident my crew is ready and I know I am ready to face the challenge ahead."
PAPIS BACK ON TRACK
A season of frustration is beginning to turn around for Max Papis. After posting a DNF in 7 of the first 13 races this season the feisty Italian has steered the Miller Lite car to three consecutive top-eight results. "It is a small victory but to score points you have to finish races and that is one of the things we did so well last year," said Papis. In 1999 Papis steered the Miller Lite car to a series high 18 running finishes and led the series in miles (4,403.5) and laps (2,650) completed. This year Papis is 15th in laps completed with 15 races in the book. "My goal is to finish fourth in the Championship and to win another race or two," said Papis. "Last year we finished strong and I thought it provided the basis for our success at Miami. Things got derailed along the way but I am looking for a strong finish so we can begin building the foundation of success for 2001."