PORTLAND, Ore. (June 24, 2001) - Max Papis of Team Rahal mastered a damp racetrack that wreaked havoc on many of his most prominent pursuers Sunday when he drove to his second career FedEx Championship Series victory in the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's...
PORTLAND, Ore. (June 24, 2001) - Max Papis of Team Rahal mastered a damp racetrack that wreaked havoc on many of his most prominent pursuers Sunday when he drove to his second career FedEx Championship Series victory in the Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco at Portland International Raceway.
On a day which saw none of the top 10 drivers in the championship post as much as a top-five finish, Papis kept control of his Miller Lite Ford Lola to score a 1.472-second victory over Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing in the two-hour, timed event. It was the second Champ Car victory of Papis' career, following Homestead in 2000, and the third of the season for Team Rahal, following wins by Kenny Brack at Japan and Milwaukee.
A total of nine caution flags for 25 laps helped shorten the race to 76 laps from its scheduled 98-lap distance per CART rules, which mandate a two-hour time limit for all road or street-course events. Papis averaged 74.606 miles per hour en route to the triumph and led a race-high 69 laps to collect the maximum 22 championship points for winning from the pole and leading the most race laps. The effort moved Papis from 14th to 11th place in the championship with 38 points.
Brack (Shell Ford Lola) maintains the championship lead with 76 points after his 11th-place finish Sunday, and actually extended his advantage over Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske, who finished 17th and did not score. Castroneves, the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, remained at 69 points, followed by Michael Andretti (Motorola Honda Reynard) of Team Motorola, who continued in third with 53 points following an eighth-place performance.
Moreno's (Visteon Toyota Reynard) runner-up effort was a season best, as was the third-place finish of Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing. An unusual twist saw Moreno and Fittipaldi duplicate their second and third-place performances of last year here.
An assortment of spins, contact and misfortune conspired to bedevil the championship frontrunners, beginning with defending FedEx Championship Series champion Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Honda Reynard), of Marlboro Team Penske. De Ferran entered Sunday's race in fifth place in the championship, but spun on the pace lap on the rain-slickened track surface and immediately fell off the lead lap. He managed to get his lap back before the checkered flag, but finished 13th and out of the points.
Before a single lap was completed, Brack, the championship leader, and second-place Castroneves also spun off course; Brack in the first corner and Castroneves in Turn 7. Both continued after falling out of the top 20 and never challenged for the lead thereafter, although Brack managed to salvage a pair of championship points by finishing 11th.
Third-place Andretti and fourth-place Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) of Newman/Haas Racing also fell victim to early incidents. Andretti spun on Lap 23, then was assessed a drive-through penalty four laps later for an illegal pass of Bryan Herta (Zakspeed/Forsythe Racing Ford Reynard) under caution. Still, Andretti managed an eighth-place finish worth five championship points to solidify his hold on third place.
Da Matta, meanwhile, slid off course while trying to wrest the lead from Papis at the end of the front straightaway on Lap 8, then spun under caution when he rubbed wheels with Papis three laps later and dropped to 19th place. Like Andretti, he bounced back to score three points with a 10th-place finish and continues fourth in the championship with 49 points.
Rookie Max Wilson (winner B2B.com/Arciero-Blair Racing Ford Lola) of Arciero/Blair Racing put together a strong effort to finish a career-best fourth, followed by Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing, who came home a season-best fifth.
MAX PAPIS, Miller Lite Ford Lola: "First of all, now I'm very glad I can show my emotions. Yesterday [after winning the pole], it was a job half-done, and I didn't want to show too much joy. Today I'm a happy person, we did a great race. The Miller team did a great job on the strategy, and the Ford engine was great today with the Lola chassis. I knew I had to drive the hell out of it, because it was very slippery out there. It was a very tactical race, and you had to be smart and pace yourself. Besides that, we kicked their ass! On every restart I was dictating the pace. It was very special for me, because I came back from zero to hero. Now 'Mad Max' is here and he's back!"
ROBERTO MORENO, Visteon Toyota Reynard: "We had a very slow start this year. We were qualifying in the back, and it's very difficult to make up positions. It took a little while for us to learn the Toyota engine. Today wasn't a fuel race, but the fuel strategy got us up here. I didn't have enough for Max today. I'm very happy to be the Reynard between the two Lolas. It was extremely tough in the beginning. One of the Target guys went by me in the Festival [Curves], and slid his car right into my sidepod, and actually damaged the sidepod a little bit. That was tough today. There were a lot of drivers trying 'Kamikaze' moves. [On yellow flags] CART did a great job in Detroit in keeping the course as green as possible. In many cases today, it was important to get the cars off the track, because more cars could go off the track there."
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Kmart Toyota Lola: "The conditions were very hard, especially in the beginning of the race. There were a lot of guys who went out on brand new wets [tires], and they were very slippery. I had a small 'off,' and missed the track by a few centimeters. I'm very happy, more happy for the points. We had a slow start to the season, but now we're coming back. The top two [finishers] did a helluva job, and didn't make any mistakes, and that's why they were first and second, and I was third. Of all the guys out there Max [Wilson] did a helluva race. He's pretty new to the series and his team is a new team this year. I could see his car was understeering pretty badly. I think he finished fourth. He did a good job."
* Max Papis (Miller Lite Ford Lola) earned the first victory of his six-year FedEx Championship Series career on a road or street course. His previous best road- or street-course finish was second at Australia in 1999 and his previous best finish on a permanent road course was third at Laguna Seca, also in 1999.
* Max Papis became the fifth different winner in seven FedEx Championship Series events this season. The others are Cristiano da Matta (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola) at Mexico; Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske at Long Beach and Detroit; Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group at Nazareth; and Kenny Brack (Shell Ford Lola) of Team Rahal at Japan and Milwaukee. The FedEx Championship Series record for different winners in a season is 11, established last season.
* Max Papis recorded Ford's third victory in the last four FedEx Championship Series events, following wins by Kenny Brack at Japan and Milwaukee. The triumph allowed Ford to close ground on leader Honda in the Manufacturer's Championship through eight rounds. Honda leads with 116 points, followed by Toyota with 114 and Ford with 100.
* Max Papis scored the third FedEx Championship Series victory from the pole of the 2001 season. Helio Castroneves (Marlboro Honda Reynard) of Marlboro Team Penske had recorded the previous two wins from the pole, at Long Beach and Detroit, respectively.
* Roberto Moreno's (Visteon Toyota Reynard) runner-up performance was his best since finishing second in last year's season finale at California Speedway, and his best on a road or street course since last year's victory at Cleveland.
* Christian Fittipaldi (Kmart Toyota Lola) scored championship points for the fifth time in seven career starts at Portland International Raceway, including finishes of third in 2000, fourth in 1997 and 12th in 1995 and '96.
* Rookie Max Wilson (winner B2B.com/Arciero-Blair Racing Ford Lola) earned the first championship points of his FedEx Championship Series career in his fifth start. His career-best finish entering Sunday was 21st at Long Beach.
* Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard) of Player's Forsythe Racing logged a season-best fifth-place finish, his best result on a road or street course since finishing fifth at Australia last year.
* Dario Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) of Team KOOL Green took sixth place, the highest finish of the day among the top-10 drivers in the championship entering the event. He moved from ninth to sixth place in the championship with 45 points and has scored in six of seven starts this season, topped by a finish of second last week at Detroit.
* Rookie Scott Dixon (Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota) of the PacWest Racing Group finished seventh and padded his points lead to 44-23 over Bruno Junqueira (Target Toyota Lola) of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing in the race for the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year Award. Dixon has scored championship points in four of his last five starts, starting with a victory at Nazareth last month.
The FedEx Championship Series continues with its third event in as many weeks, the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar, next Sunday, July 1, from Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio.