Team Rahal drivers Kenny Brack and Max Papis were pleased with their first oval track test of the 2000 season last week when they drove the team's new Ford Reynard on the 1.5-mile Miami Homestead Speedway in Florida. For Brack, it was his first...
Team Rahal drivers Kenny Brack and Max Papis were pleased with their first oval track test of the 2000 season last week when they drove the team's new Ford Reynard on the 1.5-mile Miami Homestead Speedway in Florida. For Brack, it was his first test run with a CART champ car on an oval after spending three years on oval tracks in the Indy Racing League machines. And the current Indy 500 winner turned in some impressive times in his two-day stint. For Papis, it was back to business after a two-month layoff since his back-to-back second place finishes (Australia, California) at the conclusion of the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series. "I went into Homestead with an open mind since I had never been there before," said Brack, who recorded track times of 26.6 seconds, the best of the five drivers testing that week. "With the Hanford wing, the car felt very much like the IRL car at Indy. So that was familiar to me. I want to make more long fuel runs and pit stops with our Shell crew. I want get more accustomed to the team. The track didn't surprise me too much since I have run nothing but ovals the last three years." Papis, who finished fifth in last year's final CART standings, felt the car wasn't much different changes when I ran," said the personable Italian. "We had a little electronic trouble but the new Ford engine feels very strong. I was impressed with the new XF motor. The second day was a tire test for Firestone so I felt like I just got the rust from the two-month layoff. Now I'm ready to do some serious testing." The Shell and Miller Lite drivers will be hitting the Phoenix International Raceway oval next week (Jan 25-27) before heading back to Homestead for CART Spring Training on Feb. 9-10.
Max Papis' first 2000 race will actually come on the high banks of Daytona on February 5-6 for the annual Rolex 24 Hours when the Miller Lite driver competes for Dyson Racing. He'll drive with Elliott Forbes-Robinson, James Weaver and team owner Rob Dyson in a Riley & Scott Ford that has won 22 races in the last four years including Daytona. "I've driven a Ferrari the last few years and never beaten the Dyson team," said Papis. "Now I hope I can win with them. It's the first time I've driven an H-pattern gearbox since Formula Three in 1992."
The new Shell driver was hoping for a return visit to the highly-competitive International Race Of Champions (IROC) this year but scheduling proved to be a problem. "I really enjoyed the IROC last year," said Brack. "And they wanted me back. But the second race on the schedule at Talladega conflicts with Long Beach (April 16). Plus I want to really concentrate on the CART FedEx series. Maybe I can run IROC again soon, just not this year."
Letterman Update: Flowers, cards and well wishes may be sent to Team Rahal co-owner David Letterman, care of The Late Show with David Letterman, 1697 Broadway, New York, NY 10019