By David Reininger - Motorsport.com Portland, Oregon (June 24, 2001) - Max Papis won the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway, earning his second career victory in the CART FedEx Series. Papis earned his first victory in...
By David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Portland, Oregon (June 24, 2001) - Max Papis won the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway, earning his second career victory in the CART FedEx Series. Papis earned his first victory in the opening round of the 2000 season at Homestead.
Papis averaged 74.606 mph over the rain-shortened 76-lap distance. Instead of running the full 98 laps, the race was checkered at the two-hour mark, the limit for CART road course events.
Eleven of the first 15 laps were run under caution, accounting for four separate incidents involving contact between cars and cars going off course. Nearly one third of the entire race was run under caution period due to the slippery conditions.
Conditions were so poor that Gil de Ferran, the reigning CART champion, spun off track during the second parade lap. "I was trying to get a feel for how much grip was out there and the next thing I knew I was off the track," said de Ferran. "I had to pit and change the front wing which dropped me back to 22nd. I did manage to work my way up through the field, running as high as tenth, but I spun again."
De Ferran finished 13th.
While cars were going off track behind him, Papis drove flawlessly all day, leading 69 of the 76 laps, only losing the lead to Fittipaldi during the first round of scheduled pit stops.
"Now I am very glad that I can show my emotion. Yesterday was only a little bit of the job done," said Papis, referring to his start from the pole position. "We got through a lot of disappointment in the last year and a half. But today I am the happiest person here. We drove a fantastic race.
"It was a very special win for me, especially because we came back from zero to hero. Now Mad Max is back!"
Although wet for most of the race, the track started to dry out at one point, forcing the drivers to adapt to the changing conditions. "I changed my line three times through turn three, depending on where there was more or less grip," said Papis. "It was a very tactical race. You needed to be smart and pace yourself. In some places you couldn't even apply the power because there was such low grip."
Roberto Moreno started eighth and picked up three positions on the first lap, driving a brilliant race to finish second, 1.472 seconds behind Papis. "I was trying to catch Max, but I couldn't do it," said Moreno after earning his second consecutive podium finish. "I didn't have enough for Max. He drove a great race. I tried to put him into a mistake situation, but I couldn't do it. Whatever I did, I couldn't catch him."
Moreno, who finished in the runner-up position in last year's race at Portland, finished third at Detroit in last week.
Christian Fittipaldi recovered from a first lap spin to finish third. "A lot of guys went out on brand new wets, and those brand new wets are really slippery," said Fittipaldi. "I guess it took a couple of laps for us to get the hang of things. After 15 to 20 laps into the race, you could see that less guys were spinning out. I myself even had a small off; I missed the track by a couple of centimeters. I just stepped on the grass with the front wheel, and basically that was it. It really cost me a lot."
Fittipaldi's first lap incident cost him 13 positions, dropping him to 19th from his 6th place starting position. "The top two had one hell of a race and they didn't make any mistakes and that is why they are up there and I am not," said Fittipaldi. "Overall, considering everything, finishing third is pretty good."
Finishing fourth, earning his first top-five finish in the FedEx Series was Max Wilson, driving for Arciero Blair Racing. Wilson tried to hold off Fittipaldi during the late stages of the race, but an ill-handling race car eliminated his chances for a podium finish.
"It would've been very hard to try and hold him because he was much quicker," said Wilson, who was passed by Fittipaldi seven laps from the finish. "I tried but I locked my rear tires under braking and he overtook me. I was kind of disappointed, but I finished the race and scored our first points and I'm very pleased about that."
"Of all the guys out there, Max (Wilson) really drove a good race," said Fittipaldi. "His car was really oversteering. I could see it from behind. He was sideways and he was looking at me a lot."
Patrick Carpentier managed to avoid most of the day's troubles to finish fifth. Carpentier started tenth and ran as high as fourth before being passed by the hard charging Fittipaldi with eight laps to go.
"Man, it was horrible at the start of the race," said Carpentier. "It was so slippery and all the boys were really excited to do this race, perhaps a little bit too excited."
Despite pitting with the leaders on lap 34, Carpentier was forced to conserve fuel at the end of the race. "I wanted to make it in one stop," said Carpentier, "so we had to save so much fuel at the end. I couldn't even brake. Instead of braking I was easing off the throttle and letting the car coast on the back straight trying to save as much fuel as I could. Christian went by because he was running full rich."
The top seven finishers completed the race with only one pit stop.
Dario Franchitti finished sixth followed by Scott Dixon and Michael Andretti in eighth. Oriol Servia and Cristiano da Matta rounded out the top-ten.
In the post race press conference Papis was asked which instrument he would play if asked to appear on the David Letterman show with the Late Show Band as his teammate Kenny Brack did last week. Papis responded, "I do my show here!"