Miller Lite driver caps a remarkable comeback weekend with victory PORTLAND, OR . . . Team Rahal's Miller Lite driver Max Papis led 69 laps in the rain, including the last 36 of the race, en route to capturing his second career CART win in the...
Miller Lite driver caps a remarkable comeback weekend with victory
PORTLAND, OR . . . Team Rahal's Miller Lite driver Max Papis led 69 laps in the rain, including the last 36 of the race, en route to capturing his second career CART win in the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway. Papis' victory is his first win of the 2001 season and his first podium appearance of 2001. The win caps a remarkable weekend which saw Papis and the Miller Lite team comeback from a difficult start, which saw them, finish last in the first practice session on Friday.
Papis started on the pole, his first row start of the 2001 season, and avoided a series of on track incidents and six restarts in the first 24 laps to post the victory. Papis led the first 33 lap of the race dueling with various drivers including Paul Tracy and Cristiano da Matta. The only time Papis relinquished the lead was when he pitted on lap 34 under yellow and Christian Fittipaldi stayed on track. Papis regained the lead when Fittipaldi pitted on lap 41. Papis held off Roberto Moreno and Fittipaldi in the closing laps of the race to preserve the win.
"I'm glad I can finally show my emotion today," said Papis. "I was a little reserved on Saturday when I won the pole because I knew my job wasn't done. Today our Miller Lite team did a fantastic job. I've gone through some tough times lately, but now we can celebrate the win. The Miller team had a fantastic strategy with fuel and pit stops. The Ford engine had great power today and the Lola car was good in both the dry and the rain. It's nice to be fast when it's dry or wet. We just kicked their ass. I had to drive the hell out of car. I had to change my line three times in turn three today. I kept chasing the grip in the track. Plus I was trying to conserve fuel. Guys were flying off the track every lap in the beginning. That was the most difficult part of the race for me. You can't tell where to brake when you have so many yellow flags and you are the leader in the rain. Other drivers were using me as a reference point for their braking. I tried to stay as calm as possible during that first 30 laps but it was frustrating. I needed to use my mind, speed and fuel today. Every win is special here in CART since the series is so competitive with so many talented drivers. Miami (his 1st win last year) was very special because it's like your first girlfriend. We went from zero to hero this weekend. This is a very special day."
The win was the third of the season for Team Rahal marking the first time since Bobby Rahal's championship season of 1992 that the team has won three races in a season. Shell driver Kenny Brack previously captured back-to-back wins at Motegi and Milwaukee. The win by Papis and the Miller Lite car also marks the first time since Team Rahal began running two cars that both cars have won a race in the same season. The win was also the tenth victory for Team Rahal since Bobby Rahal founded the team in 1992.
"This is a great day and a great win for Team Rahal," said Scott Roembke, Team Rahal's Chief Operating Officer. "Max has had to endure some tough and frustrating times since his last win but this weekend Max and the Miller team showed what they are made of coming from last on Friday to winning the pole on Saturday to dominating the race in adverse conditions. This just shows the depth that this team has and what we are capable of accomplishing. Kenny and the Shell team demonstrated a champion's heart by taking a difficult weekend and managing to extend the lead in the championship. There is still a long way to go but our team is finding ways to be successful."
The day was also productive for Team Rahal's other car as Shell driver Kenny Brack, the CART FedEx Championship Series points leader, drove from his 22nd starting spot on the grid to an 11th place finish. The points paying finish was crucial for Brack as he extended his championship points lead over Helio Castroneves.
Team Rahal and the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series will resume with the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland next weekend (June 29-July 1) at Burke Lakefront Airport.