IRL: Indy 500: Max Papis race report

Max Papis drove a hard race to finish the Indianapolis 500 with a crippled car From a qualifying position of 18th Max Papis improved to finish the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 14th spot. The team ran strong throughout the race, ...

Max Papis drove a hard race to finish the Indianapolis 500 with a crippled car

From a qualifying position of 18th Max Papis improved to finish the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 14th spot. The team ran strong throughout the race, eventually moving up to 9th position. With 50 laps to go the Cheever racing / Sport Clips Dallara/Honda was critically damaged making it difficult for Max to nurse the car home to the finish.

After getting a good start the team used the first pit stop to take care of a small shifting problem and to also dial in the car. Max was able to begin to move up in position through the middle of the race, turning in very respectable times.

Everything was working well. The fuel was on target. Max was running comfortably and able to stay out of trouble. Until he ran over debris that damaged the undertray of his left sidepod with 50 laps to go.

The debris was a fuelling probe, or the nozzle used to put fuel into a racecar. The damage was severe enough that Max struggled to keep the car on the track while running with a 20 mph reduction in speed. Without the downforce of the left sidepod the team slowly slipped back until the race ended, leaving them in the 14th position.

The extent of the damage was not known until after the race when the team was able to get the car up on lifts and inspect the damage. The fences were broken and gone. The fuel probe had lodged itself in the broken carbon composite just in front of the water cooler.

Max looked under the car and his jaw dropped. He was lucky to make it to the finish.

The Memorial Day classic was run under sunny skies and in very hot temperatures. In fact, this was one of the hottest Indy 500's in recent years. The stands were full and the fans were treated to an exciting finish, which saw rookie Marco Andretti just miss his first, win when Sam Hornish beat him to the line of bricks by 0.0635 seconds.

Max' Indy 500 Comments That was an unbelievable race! We got a good clean start but I found that my shift without lift wasn't working properly. We ran that way until the first pit stop where the team corrected the problem. After that the car was really good.

My engineer, Ian and I were on the same page. The speed difference with some of the cars was huge, but we were able to run at a comfortable pace and begin moving up through the positions.

In the middle of the race I was even able to mix it up a bit with Marco and Michael Andretti. Everything felt good. The fuel was right. I think we were positioning for a top ten finish. We were as high as 9th.

Then with about 50 laps to go I was running behind Al Unser Jr, when he hit something on the track. We found out after the race that it was a fuel probe. It went straight from his car to mine. I felt a bump but kept running. I noticed that Al's car was leaking fluid. I tried to stay out of it as I followed him around. Then he lost it. That was a big moment! My spotters were great. I kept the car low and was able to avoid any further trouble.

Unfortunately my car was so damaged by the debris that our race was over. It was so hard to drive the car after losing so much downforce. It just wouldn't steer, and I couldn't keep any speed up.

So, out of the race with 50 laps to go. Just trying to keep the car on the track and staying out of other people's way. This was very frustrating because until the incident we were running well and could have had a good top ten finish. I had passed Marco a couple of times, and we saw how he finished.

The last five laps were the hardest. We had a re-start from a yellow and I was behind race leader Michael Andretti in line. I knew the cars behind me would be dog fighting to run him down. At the green I just tried to let everyone get around me so they could race to the finish.

That is how these races go sometimes. I couldn't have expected anything more from my engineer, my crew or my car. Everything was great. I really thank Eddie Cheever and my sponsor, Sport Clips for that. If it weren't for them I would not have been here.

At least we knew that we were good. We showed that Max is really back.

I had a great two weeks in Indy. This place is very special to me. The fans are some of the best in the world. The organizers run a great event. I want to come back.

-maxpapis.com

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Marco Andretti , Al Unser , Sam Hornis