CONFIDENT PAPIS RENEWS QUEST FOR HIS FIRST CART VICTORY HILLIARD, OH . . .Less than two weeks after his dominating performance in the U.S. 500 that ended in heartbreak, Max Papis and the Miller Lite team return to southern ...
CONFIDENT PAPIS RENEWS QUEST FOR HIS FIRST CART VICTORY
HILLIARD, OH . . .Less than two weeks after his dominating performance in the U.S. 500 that ended in heartbreak, Max Papis and the Miller Lite team return to southern Michigan for the Grand Prix of Detroit. Papis' performance and the drama that unfolded in the aftermath of the race prompted a flood of support from around the globe for the fourth-year Champ Car driver. The competitive Papis acknowledged the disappointment of seeing his first CART win evaporate, but insists that the experience has made him only more determined to succeed. "I am proud of what the Miller Lite team and I were able to accomplish at Michigan," said Papis. "After the race Bobby [Rahal] told me it had been a long time since he had seen someone able to dominate at Michigan like we did. The performance of the car and my crew just confirms everything I have said this year that we have the potential to be a dominant team in this series. Getting a taste of running up front has just made me hungrier and increased my desire to win." Going into the weekend at Detroit, Papis feels confident that he can again be the car everybody is chasing. "Running at Detroit will be very different from the last race at Michigan. The course at Detroit is fast and it is a place where the driver can make a big difference in the performance of the car. It is one of the tracks that I like best. Last year I was able to hold the provisional pole in the developmental car. This year I am looking forward to attacking this course in the proven package we have at Team Rahal." Shell Ford-Cosworth/Reynard driver Bryan Herta likes to race in Detroit even though the course is a tough, physically demanding venue. "The biggest challenge to Belle Isle is passing," said Herta. "The course is fast but it is fairly narrow, which makes passing very difficult. Therefore qualifying is critical to a successful weekend. The best plan at Detroit is to start up front and let everybody else worry about trying to pass you." In five races at the 2.346-mile street course, Herta has posted a pair of top-ten finishes and a pair of top-ten qualifying efforts. Papis posted a points-paying 11th-place finish in 1997 driving from a 20th-place start. Papis held the provisional pole on Friday last season before a crash forced him to qualify his back-up car on Saturday.
HERTA & PAPIS EXCEL AT MID-OHIO TEST Herta and Papis and their respective teams spent Wednesday and Thursday testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last week. The Team Rahal drivers turned in unofficial track-record times while testing the 2.25-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio. Both drivers ran nearly 400 miles over the course of the two-day test that was interrupted by rain on Wednesday. Herta posted an unofficial fast lap of 1:05.1 and Papis a fast lap of 1:05.5--both quicker than the track record of 1:05.679 set by Dario Franchitti in capturing the pole for the Miller Lite 200 last August. Herta, the 1997 pole winner at Mid-Ohio, feels the test will benefit the team over the next couple of races. "The success of this test just prior to Detroit and Mid-Ohio should give us momentum," said Herta. "It was good to get back into the road/street course mentality after having spent the last week running the super speedway."
MILLER LITE TEAM LEADS CRAFTSMAN PIT CREW CHALLENGE
As Papis was leading his first Champ Car laps around the Michigan Speedway, the Miller Lite pit crew was grabbing first place in the season-long Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge. The 19-race competition between the CART pit crews awards points to the fastest pit crews based on cumulative time spent in the pits. For the second straight race the Miller Lite crew was the fastest pit crew, edging out the closest competition by over three seconds. Papis acknowledged that his crew has played a role in his breakout season. "I have developed a special relationship with my pit crew," said Papis. "They are like a family to me and we all share a common goal in our quest to win. I know that my crew will be there and that I can rely on them to get the job done and done right so that our car will be as competitive as possible. They know they can rely on me not only as a friend but also as a driver who will fight hard for the win. I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to win a race this year to pay them back for all the hard work." The four highest-scoring crews will compete in the finals at the Marlboro 500 in October for a $50,000 prize.
CRAFTSMAN PIT CREW CHALLENGE STANDINGS THROUGH 7/25 1. Miller Lite/Team Rahal (#7) 121 2. Forsythe Racing (#99) 101 3. Ganassi Racing (#4) 94 4. Newman/Haas (#6) 85 5. Team Green (#26) 83 6. Newman/Haas (#11) 82 7. Team Green (#27) 70 8. Shell/Team Rahal (#8) 63
BOBBY RAHAL FOUNDATION BENEFITS HENRY FORD HEALTH SYSTEM
The Bobby Rahal Foundation will make a donation of $17,000 to the Henry Ford Health System's hospice program prior to Sunday's running of the Grand Prix of Detroit. The Bobby Rahal Foundation is the not-for-profit charitable organization founded by the three-time PPG Cup Champion prior to his final season as a driver. During the 1998 season and "Rahal's Last Ride," the Foundation raised over $400,000 which is earmarked for charitable donations to organizations in CART race communities during the 1999 FedEx Championship Series.