Max Papis scored an astonishing victory in the feature race of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300, coming from 25th on the grid to win the timed event of 76 laps, originally scheduled for 83 tours of Mazda Raceway at Laguna...
Max Papis scored an astonishing victory in the feature race of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey featuring the Shell 300, coming from 25th on the grid to win the timed event of 76 laps, originally scheduled for 83 tours of Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, Monterey, California.
Using exceptional pit strategy to move through the field, Papis called for service five times during the contest and bested 25 challengers for his third career Champ Car victory and second of the 2001 season. "We didn't have the fastest car, but we had the best pit strategy," Papis explained. "We attacked all race long. Last to first takes lots of will and a little bit of luck. We believed in ourselves and I told Mark Johnson [Team Rahal director of operations] we could pull something special out of this. I simply focused on what I could do to achieve our goals."
Papis dedicated his victory to fellow Italian Alex Zanardi, as did Firestone, which accomplished its 100th victory since rejoining open-wheel competition in 1995.
Papis was followed to the checkered flags by Memo Gidley in the #12 Target Lola/Toyota, who started 23rd after he overcame a pit fire on lap five of this race. "I felt the heat over my shoulder but I wasn't going to stop. I was told to keep going and I wasn't about to let the fire catch up to me," the Californian said. "Sometimes you win by starting up front and sometimes you win from the back when you have good strategy. That's what happened with us these past two weekends," he grinned.
Gidley finished third last week in Houston. Bruno Junqueira added a seventh-place finish in his #4 Target Lola/Toyota to the Lola tally and Christian Fittipaldi notched ninth place points in the #11 Kmart Blue Light Special Lola/Toyota. Kenny Brack failed to finish the event yet still holds second place in the title chase with two races remaining. He trails Gil de Ferran 179-153 going to Australia in two weeks, where the Swede brought his #8 Shell Lola/Ford to third place last season.
The weather played a large part in the event, which was punctuated by eight caution flags, all for contact or off-circuit excursions. Firestone engineers reported ambient temperatures between 85-89 degrees for this October afternoon, while track temps ranged between 108-117 degrees.
The series reconvenes on the Gold Coast town of Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia, for the Honda Indy 300 on October 28th.