CHAMPCAR/CART: Australia Team Rahal Track Talk

"ON A ROLL" TEAM RAHAL HEADS DOWN UNDER FOR INDY 300 Hilliard, OH . . .Carrying the momentum of back-to-back top five finishes for both drivers, Team Rahal heads half-way around the world to Australia's Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise for the...

"ON A ROLL" TEAM RAHAL HEADS DOWN UNDER FOR INDY 300

Hilliard, OH . . .Carrying the momentum of back-to-back top five finishes for both drivers, Team Rahal heads half-way around the world to Australia's Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise for the 1999 Indy 300. The final overseas race of the 1999 FedEx Championship Series, the Indy 300 is also the final street course of the season.

Miller Lite driver Max Papis continues to carve out an impressive season ranking fifth in the series in points with 117. Papis enters Australia having finished in the top-five in four of the last five a races including consecutive finishes of third at Laguna Seca and fourth at Houston. He ranks third in the CART FedEx Championship Series in top-five (9) and top-ten finishes (12) and laps led (206). He leads the circuit in running finishes (16) and in laps completed (2,335) and is second in miles logged (3,714.6).

Shell driver Bryan Herta has rebounded from early season woes to start three of the last five races on the front row. Herta has posted back-to-back top-five finishes for the first time in 1999 with his win at Laguna Seca and a fifth place result at Houston. Herta has registered six starts from the first two rows this season.

The race at Surfers Paradise is one of the favorite stops in the Series for both Rahal drivers. "I really like the track and I especially like the fast chicane." said Herta. "This is a challenging track and it is really tough to pass but racing in Australia is a challenge that I enjoy."

Papis also enjoys the spectacle of the event. "This race is a national event for Australia and the fan support of the Australians is unbelievable," said Papis. "Australians take a lot of pride in this event, and they should because it is a first class with a superb facility. The course is very different than the traditional street course. The track has long straight aways and it isn't at all twisty like Houston or Long Beach. This is the track that other street courses should be modeled after."

MILLER CREW CAN CLINCH SPOT FOR CRAFTSMAN PIT CREW FINALS

The Indy 300 in Australia will be the final race for CART pit crews to accumulate points in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge. Entering the race Team Rahal's Miller Lite crew is in third place with 141 points, eight points behind the leader, Paul Tracy's Team Green Crew. The Miller crew can clinch a spot in the Craftsman Pit Crew "Shoot Out" to be held at Fontana by posting seven points in the last race.

The Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge is a season long contest between the pit crews of CART in which points are awarded based on the least cumulative time spent in the pits for each race. A driver must finish the race for his crew to be awarded competition points. The points are awarded on the same scale as the PPG Cup Championship points.

The four crews with the highest point total following the Indy 300 will be entered in the "Shoot Out" at Fontana with a prize of $50,000 going to the crew that wins the "Shoot Out."

Papis acknowledges that his pit crew is one of the reasons that he has posted 12 top-ten finishes during the 1999 season. "My crew has done an excellent job this season," said Papis. "They have been very sharp and precise since the start of the season and they certainly have played a key part in our success. I am looking forward to the pit crew finals. I hope we can make each of them each a little richer at Fontana."

PAPIS SETS THE BAR HIGHER 1999 has been a banner year for Max Papis. He has personally rewritten his Champ Car resume and has become the consistent contender that team owner Bobby Rahal handpicked for the Miller Lite car. At the start of the season Papis set a personal goal of finishing in the top-five in points for the 1999 season. It was quite a lofty goal for Papis who had never finished higher than 20th in the points prior to 1999. With just two races remaining in the 1999 FedEx Championship Series, Papis is fifth in the points with a career high 117 leading sixth place Christian Fittipaldi by ten points. Papis has established himself as a Championship contender for 2000, but ever the competitor; Papis has readjusted his goals for the last two races. "It is great that we are in the top five but my attention is now on aiming for fourth place," said the personable Italian. We have been gaining ground and we are now chasing Michael [Andretti] for the next spot in the standings. It would give me a great deal of satisfaction if I can take fourth from an Andretti." Papis trails Andretti by 24 points with two races remaining. There is a maximum possibility of 44 points over the last two races.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Bryan Herta