CHAMPCAR/CART: Houston Team Rahal Preview

HILLIARD, OH . . . Coming off a dominating performance at the Grand Prix of Monterey in the Shell 300, Team Rahal driver's Bryan Herta and Max Papis look to duplicate their success this week when the CART FedEx Championship Series moves to...

HILLIARD, OH . . . Coming off a dominating performance at the Grand Prix of Monterey in the Shell 300, Team Rahal driver's Bryan Herta and Max Papis look to duplicate their success this week when the CART FedEx Championship Series moves to Houston, TX. Herta captured his second Champ Car win with by leading wire-to-wire on the historic course of Laguna Seca while Papis piloted the Miller Lite car to a career best third-place finish. "I have never had as dominant a car as I had today," said Herta following the race. "I felt in complete control all day and I felt I could answer any challenge from another driver." Papis ran a consistent race and finished on the podium for the first time in his CART career. "All season long we have been working on building consistency and Laguna was another step forward for the Miller Lite team. We have been on the podium, now it is time to stand on the podium's top step." For Papis it was his fifth top-five finish in the last eight races. On the year Papis has posted 11 top-ten results with eight top-five finishes. The double podium appearance marked the first time in Team Rahal history that both drivers finished in the top-three. The win at Laguna Seca was the second straight for Herta and 1999 marked the third straight year he had captured the pole position. Over the last two seasons, Herta has led 164 of 166 laps at Laguna Seca Raceway. The Grand Prix of Houston's 1.527-mile temporary street course through downtown will host the Champ Cars for the second straight year. Last year's inaugural event was run in a heavy rainstorm and was won by Dario Franchitti. Papis logged a fifth place finish, the first top-five of his CART career. "Houston will always hold a special meaning for me because of the what we were able to accomplish last season," said Papis. "All the hours of development paid off in that top-five finish and it was a tribute to a lot of hard work by my team." Herta started on the outside of the third row and ended up eighth overall. "The course in Houston is nice and tight and it is a real challenge to drive," said Herta. "Last year we not only had to battle each other but the monsoon made the race even more difficult. Hopefully we will catch a break with the weather this year. From my standpoint the race in Houston is one of the busiest of the year. With Shell based in Houston, Team Rahal has a number of functions for the sponsor that will keep me on the go."

PAPIS CRACKS THE TOP FIVE IN SEASON POINTS On the strength of his third place finish at Monterey, Max Papis has moved into the top-five in points for the 1999 season. In his first year with Team Rahal, Papis is enjoying a breakout season having posted 11 top-ten finishes including eight top-five results. Entering 1999 Papis best finish in the PPG Cup points had been 20th which he accomplished last season. By topping the 100-point plateau, Papis became just the second driver in Team Rahal history to reach the century mark for points in a season. Team owner Bobby Rahal accomplished the feat four times (1992-93, 1995-96)

Three-time PPG Cup Champion Bobby Rahal will be signing copies of his new biography Bobby Rahal - The Graceful Champion, on Thursday from 7:00 - 9:00 PM at Barnes & Nobles bookstore (5303 FM 1960 West) in downtown Houston. The 256-page illustrated book was written by longtime motorsports journalist Gordon Kirby and released by David Bull Publishing. The book covers Rahal's legendary racing career from his early days in suburban Chicago to the historic "Rahal's Last Ride" during his final season in CART in 1998.

With just two races left to qualify for the finals of the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, Team Rahal's Miller Lite pit crew ranks second in the overall point standings. The top-four pit crews following the race in Australia will qualify for the competition's finals to be held at the final CART race of the season at Fontana, CA. Those four teams will compete in a head-to-head competition for the first prize of $50,000.

The Bobby Rahal Foundation will make a donation of $17,000 to the First Tee Organization prior to Sunday's running of the Texaco Grand Prix of Houston. The Bobby Rahal Foundation is the not-for-profit charitable endowment founded by the three-time PPG Cup Champion prior to his final season as a driver. During the 1998 season and "Rahal's Last Ride," the Foundation raised over $400,000 which is earmarked for charitable donations to organizations in CART race communities during the 1999 FedEx Championship Series.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Dario Franchitti , Bryan Herta