CHAMPCAR/CART: US 500 Track Talk

PAPIS CARRIES MOMENTUM OF JUNE TEST AT MICHIGAN INTO US 500 HILLIARD, OH . . . Coming off back-to-back top-five finishes, Max Papis prepares for the ultimate test of a Champ Car driver, the 500-mile race. This Sunday's US 500 at...


HILLIARD, OH . . . Coming off back-to-back top-five finishes, Max Papis prepares for the ultimate test of a Champ Car driver, the 500-mile race. This Sunday's US 500 at Michigan International Speedway is the first 500-mile race of the 1999 season and will be just the fifth 500-mile race of Papis young career. Papis has established himself during the 1999 FedEx Championship Series as a consistent top-five threat. Among Papis seven top-ten finishes this season are a career high five top-five finishes, including the last two races at Elkhart Lake and Toronto. Entering the US 500, Papis' confidence is boosted by a late June test at Michigan that saw him turn the fastest laps of any competitors at over 229-mph. "The test was primarily to give me a chance to run the speedway with our set-up and get used to the Ford-Cosworth/Reynard and Firestone package at the higher speeds," said Papis. "The test was a success not only because I gained the comfort level with the car but because we were also the fastest car there. In CART, a lot of things can change in a very short time, so just because we were fast in June doesn't mean we will be the fastest here this weekend. Still I would prefer to come in to the weekend with a setup we know is capable under certain conditions of going fast rather than begin searching from scratch on Friday." For Shell driver Bryan Herta, the prospect of a 500-mile race is a daunting task, one that requires a little bit extra of every one involved in the race. "A driver really can't carry a car as much as you can on a street course like Toronto," said Herta. "The key at Michigan is the set-up, you have to be fast. I have been fortunate to run really well over the years at Michigan. The key in a 500-mile race is getting to the end. As a driver you have to be smart. When it comes to the race you as a driver play a much larger role, you have to be savvy and you have to be fast. When you are in a three and a half hour race you must remain in the elite group so you can make a move at the end."

Herta & Papis - 500 Mile Race History

Bryan Herta             
Date    Track                   Start   Finish  Status
5/29/94 Indianapolis            22nd    9th     Running/197
5/28/95 Indianapolis            33rd    13th    Running/198
7/30/95 Michigan                7th     15th    Contact/193
5/26/96 Michigan (US 500)       3rd     15th    Engine/216
7/28/96 Michigan                11th    2nd     Running 250
7/27/97 Michigan                8th     5th     Running 249
9/28/97 California              3rd     21st    Engine/80
7/26/98 Michigan                5th     10th    Running 250
11/1/98 California              17th    15th    Contact/239
Max Papis       
Date    Track                   Start   Finish  Status
7/27/97 Michigan                23rd    8th     Running/241
9/28/97 California              25th    12th    Running 242
7/26/98 Michigan                22nd    19th    Electrical/237
11/1/98 California              24th    16th    Contact 239


Coming into the US 500 every aspect of a race team is crucial in finding an on track advantage at speeds approaching 240 mph. Shell driver Bryan knows that the race can be won or lost in the pits, especially when you have to make as many stops as the cars will during a 500-mile event. "There are many elements you can point to as factors during a race as long and grueling as the US 500," said Herta. The pit crews are important in every race, but during a 500-mile race where you are going to make significantly more stops than normal, they are crucial. With the race at the super speedway, the pits will close on a yellow and everybody will come into the pits together. Any advantage you build up on the track is erased. Your pit crew can gain or erase an advantage in a mater of seconds." Fortunately for Herta and his teammate Max Papis, Team Rahal has two of the top-ranked pit crews in CART working on their cars. Papis' Miller Lite pit crew is tied for the lead among CART's pit crews in the 1999 Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge. Herta's Shell crew ranks 7th overall but is just 11 points out of fourth.

The top four teams in the in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge following the race in Australia will compete for the $50,000 first prize in the finals at the California Speedway in October.

Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge Standings Through 7/18/99

        Team                            Pts.
1.      Miller Lite (#7)                101 
2.      Forsythe Racing (#99)           101
3.      Ganassi Racing (#4)              88
4.      Newman/Haas Racing (#11)         74
5.      Team Green (#26)                 69
6.      Newman/Haas (#6)                 69
7.      Shell (#8)                       63

TEAM RAHAL & MILLER HONOR BASEBALL GREAT ROBIN YOUNT Miller Brewing Company and Team Rahal will honor baseball great Robin Yount's inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend with a special logo on Max Papis' #7 Miller Lite car. Yount, a two-time American League MVP, played his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers and has a long-standing relationship with Miller Brewing Company. Yount, an avid racing enthusiast is involved in the Atlantic Championship Series as a car owner, and is a frequent guest of Team Rahal at Champ Car races.

THE RAHAL FOUNDATION BENEFITS C.S. MOTT CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL The Bobby Rahal Foundation will make a donation of $17,000 to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital of Ann Arbor, Michigan prior to Sunday's running of the US 500. 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.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing