PAPIS TOPS CAREER BEST BY QUALIFYING THIRD FOR FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500 HERTA STARTS EIGHTH FOR TEAM RAHAL MOTEGI, JAPAN. . .Max Papis qualified Team Rahal's Miller Lite Ford-Reynard third on the starting grid for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500...
PAPIS TOPS CAREER BEST BY QUALIFYING THIRD FOR FIRESTONE FIREHAWK 500 HERTA STARTS EIGHTH FOR TEAM RAHAL
MOTEGI, JAPAN. . .Max Papis qualified Team Rahal's Miller Lite Ford-Reynard third on the starting grid for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 in Motegi, Japan. Papis, driving in just his second race with the team since replacing the recently retired Bobby Rahal, posted a lap of 218.280 mph in securing the best starting position of his three year Champ Car career. Papis previous best start was 13th at Australia in 1998.
"We'd been working a lot more on the race set-up than the qualifying set-up, so to me it is very surprising to qualify third," said Papis. "I'm super happy with the result. I am very happy for Bobby as well as for my crew. To do this in only my second race for Team Rahal is beyond my expectations."
Bryan Herta driving the Hilliard, Ohio-based team's Shell Ford-Cosworth/Reynard posted the eighth-fastest time of any qualifier. Herta overcame handling problems in the first three practice sessions to post a lap of 217.726 mph.
Both Team Rahal drivers improved their starting position from the FedEx Championship Series season opener two weeks ago in Homestead, FL. Herta qualified 11th for the Grand Prix of Miami and finished 12th. Papis qualified 15th and posted a career-best fifth-place finish in his first race with Team Rahal.
Placing both drivers in the top eight qualifiers is a feat that Team Rahal accomplished three times during the 1998 season, most recently in August at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI, for the Texaco/Havoline 200.
The Firestone Firehawk 500 will be run at Japan's Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday April 10. With the 13-hour time difference the event will be broadcast live in the United States on ESPN starting at midnight EDT tonight.