HILLIARD, OH . . . The weather was great and the crowds enthusiastic, but Team Rahal driver's Max Papis and Kenny Brack would prefer to forget the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Both drivers ended the day with DNF's; Papis with brake failure on lap 40...
HILLIARD, OH . . . The weather was great and the crowds enthusiastic, but Team Rahal driver's Max Papis and Kenny Brack would prefer to forget the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Both drivers ended the day with DNF's; Papis with brake failure on lap 40 and Brack due to contact on lap 53. While they were running both drivers were in contention. "I feel we left some points on the streets of Long Beach," said Brack. "I felt the car was running well and that we had a chance for a strong finish, but it simply wasn't to be. The important thing is for us to comeback strong at Rio and be competitive." For Papis the DNF was just his third in 22 races with Team Rahal. "Every season there are going to be circumstances that are beyond your control, things that will cost you points or position," said Papis. "To win a championship you must minimize the impact of those circumstances. After Miami we had an advantage, that advantage is gone and the challenge before us is to recover that advantage." Papis' DNF at Long Beach snapped a streak of five consecutive top-four results for the Miller Lite car dating back to Laguna Seca of last season. Last season Papis first DNF didn't come until Detroit, the 13th race of the season. All three of Papis' DNF's since joining Team Rahal have come on a street course. In each of the two previous DNF's Papis responded with a top-five finish. Following a DNF due to contact at Detroit Papis registered at fifth place finish at Mid-Ohio last August. Following his second DNF due to contact at Vancouver, Papis posted his first career podium finish at Laguna Seca last September. For Kenny Brack Long Beach was his first non-oval race since October of 1996. "I enjoyed the experience and I felt that we were competitive and showed we have what it takes to win on a street or road course," said Brack. "Rio takes us back to oval racing although I have been told the course drives like a road course with two long straight-aways. The entire trip will be unique. I have never raced in South America before so the travel and the unusual track should make for an interesting experience."
QUALIFYING SUCCESS Papis and Brack started sixth and seventh at Long Beach, the first time this season that both Team Rahal drivers started in the top-ten. In the season opener at Miami, Brack started fifth and Papis 13th and in qualifying for the yet to be run Nazareth race, Brack was sixth and Papis 16th. "Qualifying takes on a greater importance on a road or street course, simply because it is more difficult to pass," said Brack. "The better you qualify for a an oval the less cars you have to pass, but there are plenty of passing opportunities so it is not as critical as on a street or road course." Premium starting position is not always a prerequisite of success. In his 12 career top-five finishes, Max Papis has started from 13th or higher in seven of the races, including last year's Rio race in which he started 13th and finished fourth and the 2000 CART season opener at Miami which Papis won from13th on the starting grid.
2000 CART Qualifying
Race Papis Brack Miami 13th 5th Nazareth 16th 6th Long Beach 6th 7th
THE ART OF THE OVAL
A win on the oval in the season opening event at Miami was simply Max Papis taking the next step on the CART ovals. Since last July and the US 500 at Michigan, Papis has been a force on the CART ovals. Papis has led 328 laps run on the last four CART oval races. He has collected a win at Miami, a runner-up at Fontana, a pole and a fourth place finish at Chicago and a heartbreaking seventh place finish at Michigan when his car ran out of fuel less than a mile from victory. Shell driver Kenny Brack has become an oval specialist, having drive exclusively on ovals the last three seasons in the IRL where he was champion in 1998. In his last 29 oval races Brack has posted four wins, eight podiums, 11 top-five results and 16 top-tens.