Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Cheever hires Papis as second driver for Indy
INDIANAPOLIS -- Bumping could be back this weekend at
qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.
Eddie Cheever Jr. hired veteran Max Papis as the second driver
on his team Tuesday, giving the field for the May 28 race 34
driver-car combinations -- one more than necessary.
Papis will drive the No. 52 car and becomes the teammate of
Cheever, the 1998 race winner who will drive the No. 51 car. Both
drivers are attempting to make their first starts at Indy since
2002, and the hiring means someone could go home before race day.
Papis, 36, finished 23rd in his only Indy start in 2002 but has
driven in Formula One and won three races on the CART circuit.
Papis, a native of Italy, has been one of the top drivers in
American sports-car racing in recent years.
He posted an overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2002 and
won the Grand American Rolex sports car series championship in
2004. He also has had two runner-up finishes at the 24 Hours of
"Papis drove for Cheever Racing in his rookie race at the 500
and we did not deliver for him when we had mechanical problems with
his car," Cheever said. "I am happy we are able to give him
Practice resumes Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
after the first weekend of qualifying was rained out for the first
time since 1983. Race officials hope to qualify 33 cars Saturday
and hold Bump Day as scheduled Sunday.
But having 34 driver-car combinations does not necessarily mean
anybody would be bumped. Seven drivers have no backup cars entered,
so a crash could keep them from qualifying.
Only one driver, Arie Luyendyk Jr., was bumped last year. Felipe
Giaffone knocked him out of the starting grid with less than 30
minutes left in qualifying. That was the first time a driver was
knocked out of the starting field since 2002.