SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia (October 18, 1998) - MCI Racing Team/Arciero-Wells driver Max Papis finished 17th today in round 18 of 19 in the 1998 FedEx Championship Series down under. Robby Gordon, racing the MCI/Panasonic ...
SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia (October 18, 1998) - MCI Racing Team/Arciero-Wells driver Max Papis finished 17th today in round 18 of 19 in the 1998 FedEx Championship Series down under. Robby Gordon, racing the MCI/Panasonic Duskin-sponsored entry, finished 16th.
Papis qualified 13th for the 65-lap race through the 2.795-mile beachside street course at the Indy Carnival. The collective efforts of the MCI/Arciero-Wells Toyota team marks the highest qualifying effort for Toyota on a road course. Gordon had electrical problems taking away any real hope of qualifying and he started 20th on the 28 car grid. However, things looked hopeful for Gordon and his crew; he was first in the Sunday morning warm-up.
During the race Papis and Gordon ran with the leaders and charged to the front from the beginning of the 62 lap event. The Toyota drivers ran strong and nose to tail for most of the race. The MCI entries were in the top-ten on lap 35. The 25 and 24 Arciero-Wells pit crews performed flawless pit stops; Papis was in eighth on lap 43 and Gordon was ninth. Both drivers made a late race scheduled pit stop with many other front runners pitting as well. However an official late race decision made the event a timed race changing the finishing results for many teams. The decision was made right before a yellow flag. The decision to make it a timed raced, combined with a late race yellow were both unforeseen circumstances. Eight to twelve cars would have still needed to stop for fuel.
"We were running with the lead pack and pitted both of our entries when we should have," said Arciero-Wells Director of Indy Car Operations Richard Buck. "When CART changed the race from a distance race to a timed race, it effected the results of six to eight cars. When the lap count down was started a number of cars could not have gone to the finish without pitting. At that time we had already stopped for fuel and we would have finished at the front. This certainly effected where Max and Robby ended up today."
"The MCI/Toyota was strong today, said Papis. "We had a good car and ran at the front, but our luck did not play out for us."
The race will air tape delay on Sunday, October 18th on ESPN at 8:30 ET. Please check local listings. One race remains, the Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota. The next race for the MCI Racing Team/Arciero-Wells will be on November 1 in Fontana, Calif. The race will air tape delay on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET. Please check local listings.
"I want to finish a lot higher at Fontana this year than last year and higher than my first 500-mile race (which was eighth at Michigan in 1997)," said Papis. "Hopefully the momentum and progress we are having will continue. It will be my last race for the MCI/Toyota team and I want to give everyone a special goodbye present and finish with a good ranking."
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