Last season the Firestone Firehawk 500 was a bright spot for Max Papis. Papis qualified a then career best third and ran consistently among the leaders until a late race mechanical problem forced an additional pit stop and dropped Papis to ...
Last season the Firestone Firehawk 500 was a bright spot for Max Papis. Papis qualified a then career best third and ran consistently among the leaders until a late race mechanical problem forced an additional pit stop and dropped Papis to 16th.
"I feel confident that we can pick up where we left off last year at Motegi," sad Papis. "We had a very strong car and the only times we had a better qualifying set-up last year was at Chicago [pole position] and Fontana [second]. At Motegi the qualifying set-up and the race set-up are very similar. This unique track drives like a super speedway more than an oval. The key is to be smooth but to use your engine and its horsepower to your advantage. The Ford XF engine's strength is on our side and that is an advantage in that we know we have an engine capable of winning this race." Back-to-back DNF's have left Papis fourth in the CART points after three events. The consecutive DNF's are his first back-to-back DNF's with Team Rahal and they equal his total from all of the 1999 season. Last year Papis led CART in running finishes with a record tying 18. "I feel we have some unfinished business from the last couple of races. It was very special to start the year with the victory at Miami but the last two races and the DNF's have erased any advantage we had after the first race. We have to continue to work hard and fight to get a victory or at least a podium finish at Japan. We know we can do better than the last two races."
Over the last half of the 1999 season and the first race of the 2000 campaign no driver collected more points that Papis. In his last ten races that he has posted a running finish Papis has posted nine top-five results with four podium appearances. The lone exception among those ten results was the US 500 at Michigan last July where Papis dominated the race apparently headed for his first career victory before he ran out of fuel on the last lap and finished seventh.