Max Papis, driver of the ...
Max Papis, driver of the #7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth, is coming off of a career weekend after the inaugural Target Grand Prix of Chicago. Papis posted his first career pole position last Saturday and matched a career best fourth place finish in Sunday's race. His previous fourth place came at Rio earlier this season.
Papis, in his fourth year in the FedEx Championship Series, has posted seven top-five finishing positions in his first season with Team Rahal. Papis currently sits ninth in PPG Cup points with only ten points separating he and fifth place Christian Fittipaldi.
THINGS SEEM TO BE GOING MORE YOUR WAY THIS SEASON. WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT SUCCESS TO? "You have to look back over the last three years. I was developing the Toyota engine and we were on a completely different program. We were developing that engine and this year it is a different deal. We have winning equipment. Ford is backing us in a tremendous way and we have a very consistent car and are getting the right chemistry together which helps us knock on the door for a podium finish each week. The consistency comes out of us becoming better and better each race weekend."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE VANCOUVER TRACK? "Last year was not the best layout. It was kind of so-so. This year they changed it a lot and I think it is going to be much better. The thing I love most about Vancouver is the crowd. The passion of the people and having all of those race fans out there who are so knowledgeable, makes for a great event. I think now, with the improvement with the track, it is going to be a better show and more enjoyably for the drivers."
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF JUAN MONTOYA AND HIS DRIVING STYLE? "I agree with what he does. He is a very aggressive driver and a very determined one. There is nothing wrong with what he does. When he is out there he gets paid to beat everyone else -- no mercy. And that is what he has -- no mercy. For sure he is winning and he is winning a lot and for sure there are people who are not that happy about it but, if I was in his position I would not do anything differently. Maybe I would do it with more of a smile on my face than he does though."
WHEN YOU MADE THE SWITCH TO TEAM RAHAL, YOUR EXPECTATIONS WERE A GREAT DEAL HIGHER THAN WHAT THEY HAD BEEN IN THE PAST. NOW THAT YOU ARE KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF SUCCESS IS IT FRUSTRATING TO SEE HOW CLOSE YOU HAVE GOTTEN OR IS IT STILL ENCOURAGING. "I see it just the opposite of frustration. I see everything on the positive side. We are building for success and as you have been able to see recently our performance has been boosted a lot. When you know that you have winning material in your hands, a Ford, Reynard and Firestone tires, you know you can win every race or have the potential to win every race. We are developing for future success. We are making a lot of steps forward considering what the team has done in the past. I am working on the chemistry to be a top contender next year."
DARIO FRANCHITTI AND JIMMY VASSER HAVE BEEN REALLY UPSET WITH THE LAPPED TRAFFIC, ESPECIALLY AFTER CHICAGO. THEY WERE REALLY UPSET ABOUT P.J. JONES NOT PULLING OVER AND I THINK JIMMY VASSER SAID THE SAME THING ABOUT ROBBY GORDON. DO YOU THINK THIS IS A NEW TREND? "Definitely, there are some drivers who are stupid. The winners don't need to be stupid. When you are not so fast you let people go, and when you are fast you take your day. I am very, very disappointed and upset as well with what you said about P.J. and Robby for their behavior in the race on Sunday. It seems like it is always the same people and if it is always the same people it means that it is not related to the way of racing but it is related to the way these people think about racing. Sometimes it is sad to see that people don't accept their own limitation."
I WAS WATCHING A RERUN OF DAVID LETTERMAN'S SHOW AND IT JUST HAPPENED TO BE THE SHOW JUST AFTER YOU RAN OUT OF GAS AT MICHIGAN AND I THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO MAKE A JOKE, BUT, HE WAS RIGHT THERE FOR YOU. WHAT IS IT LIKE HAVING THAT KIND OF SUPPORT? "David is not only a partner in our team but a great supporter too. To be able to make people laugh you need to be able to make people think as well and that is what David does. Of course he makes a lot of people happy in certain situations. Having him congratulate the team and myself for my behavior both on the track and off the track is an honor. His support on national television is important. We know we have his support every weekend. It's great that a person with such a passion for motor racing is behind us 100-percent. And it is not only Dave, out team is built on human relations. We have great people on the Miller team and that is why we are building closer and closer to future success."
I WAS LOOKING AT YOUR WEB SITE THE OTHER DAY AND IT REALLY SEEMS TO CONVEY YOUR PERSONALITY TO THE FANS. WAS THAT THE GOAL WITH THE SITE? "The reason for the web site was mainly to let people to know who I am, why I am here, why I have the passion for motor racing, and give journalists a chance to get the latest news about what is happening with me. I want the site to help you out with your job and give the race fans a chance to know what is happening in my motor racing life."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH BOBBY RAHAL AND HOW IT HAS DEVELOPED? "He is such a great gentleman and someone who has done a tremendous amount for our sport. Having him on my side is great. He is my friend and my supporter in both the good moments and the bad moments. I know he believes 110-percent that I can win races and sit on every pole. The most important things for me is to build my team around people who believe in my abilities. Bobby is definitely my greatest supporter."
AS YOUR RESULTS HAVE BECOME BETTER IN THE RECENT WEEKS, WHAT HAS BEEN THE RESPONSE BY YOUR FANS IN ITALY? "As you know, in Italy we have a tremendous amount of passionate people that are following me every weekend. A lot of people cried that Sunday when we ran out of fuel in Michigan. But, I know they are going to be there when I win my first race. There is a lot of attention over there because of all the attentions and the passions that I am putting into the business. I am very proud to be representing all of Italy, not only in my country, but in the United States as well. For me to win, it would mean a lot to wave my Italian flag on the podium."
YOU HAVE DRIVEN IN FORMULA ONE, BEEN THROUGH SPORTS CARS AND NOW ARE IN CART. FOR YOU, WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE IN MOTOR RACING? HAVING A STRONG FINISH IN A 24-HOUR RACE, MAKING IT TO FORMULA ONE, OR MAKING IT HERE IN CART? "For me there is not ultimate. I enjoy driving Ferraris, driving sports cars, and when I drove for Toyota here in CART. For me I want to win races in Champ Cars. That's one of my greatest goals I have at the moment. Right now the two greatest things I want to achieve in my life are to win the Daytona 24-hour race and Le Mans. Those are two races that I really, really care about. I am working real hard to achieve those three goals. We have been knocking on the door all the time and that is what counts."