IRL: CHAMPCAR/CART: Cheever Racing hires Max Papis for Indy 500

Red Bull Cheever Racing hires Max Papis for Indy ride. INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 26, 2002) -- Experienced open-wheel racer Max Papis will drive the No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti in the 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26,...

Red Bull Cheever Racing hires Max Papis for Indy ride.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 26, 2002) -- Experienced open-wheel racer Max Papis will drive the No. 53 Red Bull Cheever Racing Infiniti in the 86th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26, team officials announced today. Papis will join Indy Racing League regulars Eddie Cheever Jr. and Tomas Scheckter at Red Bull Cheever Racing.

"We feel we have put together the strongest team of drivers to contend for victory at this year's Indianapolis 500," team general manager Richard Caron said. "This race is the cornerstone of the Red Bull Cheever Racing program, so we will be happy with nothing less than a victory. Eddie, Tomas and Max all have what it takes to win this race."

Papis, 32, will drive the Dallara chassis with the same dynamic blue Red Bull paint scheme found on the No. 51 car driven by Cheever, the team's owner and driver, and the No. 52 car of Scheckter. All three cars will be powered by the Infiniti Indy V8 engine and use Firestone tires.

Papis, a veteran road racer, will be a classified as a rookie in the Indianapolis 500, his first IRL event. He will team with Cheever, who won the Indy 500 in 1998 and was the race's rookie of the year in 1990.

"Although Max will be considered a rookie, he has shown the correct mix of courage, focus and talent in races on the large speedways of Michigan and California," Cheever said. "This experience will be valuable as he prepares for the unique challenge of competing in the Indianapolis 500."

Papis, who won the Rolex 24 at Daytona earlier this year, is currently fifth in the 2002 CART FedEx Championship standings heading into this weekend's race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

"I'm honored to have been chosen by Red Bull Cheever Racing to be part of their lineup for the Indianapolis 500," Papis said. "I'm also thrilled to be competing on the most celebrated oval track in the world. Many champions of the past and the present raced in Indy. It's the one professional experience that you just can't miss in a career in racing."

Papis, who resides in Miami Beach, Fla., led a total of 427 laps in his last six superspeedway races -- more than double the total of the closest driver, Michael Andretti. He had near victories at Michigan International Speedway in 1999, when he was leading before running out fuel on the final turn, and at California Speedway in 2001, when he finished second by .007 of a second.

"At Indy I am looking forward to applying my superspeedway experience to capture the win at the world's most prestigious 500-mile race," Papis said. "I will race at Indy knowing that --thanks to the support of the Red Bull Cheever Racing team -- I will have a strong opportunity that I am ready to grab. I have prepared myself physically, mentally and with a great will to succeed."          Before moving to the United States to race in 1996, Papis competed in seven Formula One races for Team Arrows, earning a best finish of seventh in the 1995 Italian Grand Prix. Born in Como, Italy, Papis began his career in karts, Formula 3 and Formula 3000.

Red Bull Cheever Racing, based in Indianapolis, is the brainchild of 1998 Indy 500 champion Eddie Cheever Jr. A leader in American motorsports, the Indy Racing League team is built on Cheever's experience in Formula One, sports cars and open-wheel oval racing. Corporate and technical partnerships with the world's leading energy drink, Red Bull, Nissan North America's Infiniti Division, TWR Group and Lincoln Financial Group greatly enhance the team's resources and technology. For more information, visit www.cheeverindyracing.com.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Eddie Cheever , Michael Andretti , Max Papis