March 26 in Motorsports History: Papis clinches first victory in Miami

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Twenty years ago today, a future IndyCar race steward won his first major open-wheel race in South Florida.

In his 60th start in CART competition, Max Papis won the Marlboro Grand Prix at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 26, 2000.

The Rahal Letterman Racing driver started the 150-lap event from 13thand slowly moved through the field as the race progressed. On the final restart on Lap 112, Papis was in second behind leader Paul Tracy.

Max Papis celebrates after winning the 2000 CART season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo: Roberto Schmit/AFP via Getty Images)

While Tracy had a clean restart and seemed en route to his 16th career victory as the laps wound down, the Canadian eventually hit lapped traffic, slowing his pace.

With 10 laps remaining, Papis caught Tracy and passed on the inside to take the lead on the frontstretch.  Third-place Roberto Moreno followed suit as the cars raced down the backstretch.

The top three maintained their positions through the checkered flag.

As he crossed the finish line, Papis punched the air with his fist. He was halfway out of his Reynard-Ford and raising his thumbs in the air as the car rolled down pit road towards victory lane.

“I knew we had a fantastic car,” Papis told ESPN in victory lane. “I just had to wait for the right opportunity. Today is the happiest day (for us).”

The afternoon was also a happy one for Papis’ sponsor, Miller Lite. That same day, Rusty Wallace won a 500-lap NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in his Miller Lite Ford.

Papis went on to win twice more in CART (both the following season). He later also raced sports cars and NASCAR before being hired by IndyCar as a race steward in 2016.

Homestead-Miami Speedway switched their alliance to the rival Indy Racing Leauge the following season and continued to host open-wheel racing until 2010.

Also on this date:

1978: Danny Ongais won the Datsun Twin 200 at Ontario Motor Speedway in California, the first of five victories for the Hawaiian driver in ’78.

1989: Nigel Mansell won the final Grand Prix of Brazil at the Jacarepaguá Circuit. The race moved to Interlagos the next season.

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MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has second surgery on fractured arm

MotoGP Marc Marquez second surgery
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Defending MotoGP series champion Marc Marquez underwent a second surgery Monday after a titanium plate inserted in his fractured right arm sustained damage. The Repsol Honda Team said in a statement that it’ll be two days before the recovery period is determined.

Marquez was injured during a crash in the July 19 season opener. He underwent an initial surgery July 21 in Barcelona, and doctors said there was no nerve damage.

The eight-time champion was cleared to race in the season’s second event Jerez. But Marquez decided to skip the July 26 race after experiencing discomfort while riding the No. 93 bike in a July 25 practice.

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He had planned to race in Sunday’s grand prix at the Automotodrom Brno in the Czech Republic in hopes of returning to defend his title. His status for Sunday apparently will be unclear until at least Wednesday.

In a statement Monday, the team said the titanium plate in Marquez’s right arm successfully was replaced after stress accumulation. Marquez will stay in the hospital for two days recovering.

Dr Xavier Mir, who performed the surgery at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus, said in the release that “Marc Marquez underwent surgery 13 days ago and today he returned to the operating room. The first operation was successful, what was not expected was that the plate was insufficient. An accumulation of stress in the operated area has caused the plate to suffer some damage, so today the titanium plate has been removed and replaced by a new fixation.

“The rider has not felt pain during this period. He has always followed the medical advice given and the feeling from his body. Unfortunately, an overstress has caused this issue. Now we have to wait 48 hours to understand the recovery time.”