CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Toronto Preview

PAPIS PREPS FOR SECOND-HALF SUCCESS HILLIARD, OH (July 14, 1999) Max Papis turned adversity to accomplishment at Elkhart Lake last Sunday as the Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth/Reynard driver posted his fourth top-five finish of the...


HILLIARD, OH (July 14, 1999) Max Papis turned adversity to accomplishment at Elkhart Lake last Sunday as the Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth/Reynard driver posted his fourth top-five finish of the 1999 season. Papis was one of six cars involved in two separate incidents on the opening lap of the Texaco/Havoline 200 at Road America. Fortunately for Papis and the other drivers involved in the opening lap mishaps, CART officials red flagged (stopped) the race and ordered a restart. The red flag gave Papis' Miller Lite crew a chance to roll out his back-up car and start anew as the field was reset to qualifying position. Papis proceeded to shake off the effects of the crash and posted his sixth top-ten result of the season. In finishing fifth, Papis posted his best finish since Memorial Day and maintained his ninth place ranking in the PPG Cup standings. He was the only one of the six drivers involved in the failed start that finished the restarted race. The restart allowed Papis to keep his streak of consecutive running finishes alive at ten. Papis is one of only two drivers (Christian Fittipaldi) in CART to finish every race this season. Before joining Team Rahal, Papis previous best consecutive running finish streak was four straight with Arciero-Wells Racing. Papis carries the momentum of the race at Road America to Toronto for the Molson Indy, a race in which he posted a top-ten finish in 1998. "Toronto is a unique race in that it is almost a national event in Canada," said Papis. "The Canadian fans are great race fans and they add a certain zest to the event their attendance. The course itself is pretty cool for a street course. The straight-aways are a bit narrow which makes it difficult to overtake people, but it can be done. One of the biggest problems in the past couple of years has been the concrete patches in the corners, which were slippery, but they have been grinding those spots down so the track should be pretty good." As he drives the course at Exhibition Place, Papis can't help but feel he is carrying on the dreams and chasing the goals of the late Jeff Krosnoff who was tragically killed during the 1996 race at Toronto. Krosnoff's untimely death provided the unexpected opportunity for Papis to begin his CART career. "I often think of Jeff when I am driving and I am very proud that I have been able to achieve some of his goals in my career," said Papis. "Driving at Toronto is always an emotional experience because of the way my career is tied to this track and the incident with Jeff."

HERTA READY FOR "NEW SEMESTER" The first half of the CART FedEx Championship Season has been one of great frustration for Shell driver Bryan Herta. Herta registered three top-ten finishes in ten races and Team Rahal's first podium finish of the season with a third-place finish at Long Beach. He also posted five DNF's (Did Not Finish) which has left him ranked 12th in the point standings with 31 points. "Certainly this is not where I thought I would be in the points at this time of the season," said Herta. "I am looking at this season sort of like finishing a semester in school where you didn't do as well as you should, but you can start the next one with a clean sheet of paper. That is the approach I am taking as we start the second half of the year. My goal is simply to score more points in the second half than any other driver." The first "assignment" of the new CART semester for Herta and the other drivers is the 1.721-mile temporary street course of the Molson Indy at Exhibition Place in Toronto. "Every year when we come to Toronto people assume that I don't like the track because I was injured pretty badly there in 1994," said Herta. "That just isn't the case. As a driver you can be injured at any track, so if that were the basis I used for track preference I wouldn't like any of them." "I actually like the track at Toronto quite a bit. First off Canadians are great Champ Car fans and their enthusiasm really brings a spark to the event. Secondly the track is fast and offers a challenge to both the car and driver. It is difficult to pass on this course but it can be done. As far as the street courses go Toronto is one of the best. The trouble spot is the corners where the patches in the concrete are very slippery. That can make if very difficult to find grip in the corners."

HEADING FOR HAWAII? Preparations continue for the season-ending Hawaiian Super Prix, the $10 million invitation for CART drivers. The format is still being determined but the top 12 drivers in the final PPG Cup Standings and four "wildcard" drivers will battle for the $5 million winner's purse, the largest purse every offered in motorsports. Both Team Rahal drivers Max Papis and Bryan Herta rank among the top twelve in the points standings and, if the season ended today, both would compete for the record payout. MILESTONES FOR MAX Max Papis surpassed the $1 million plateau in Champ Car winnings with his fifth-place finish at Road America. Papis ranks ninth in prize money this season having already captured over $200,000. Papis will reach another significant milestone on Sunday as he makes his 50th Champ Car start. "I never thought I would have this many starts in a Champ Car. There are a lot of people who have supported me over the years which has allowed me to reach this milestone. I have to thank all of them for their support. Last Sunday was a great day for [Christian] Fittipaldi as he got his first CART win. Who knows, maybe this Sunday there will be another first-time winner."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Christian Fittipaldi , Bryan Herta