Orange County Teams’ Day Takes a Turn for the Worse
Strong performances by both Orange County Champ car programs may have contributed to an accident in which Newport Beach’s Max Papis was knocked out of the Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday by a driver from the other Toyota team, rookie Alex Barron.
Papis, driving for Rancho Santa Margarita-based Arciero-Wells Racing, ran as high as fourth. Running well at 14 when he was hit from behind by Barron on Lap 38, Papis was sent skidding sideways into the Turn 1 runoff area.
Barron, driving for Dan Gurney’s Santa Ana-based All American Racers, said Papis had blocked him twice already.
“Blocking is one thing, but unsafe blocking is another,” said Barron, 27. “You’re only supposed to make one move to block. When somebody is committed to a turn to overtake you, you’re not supposed to move over.
“These cars are so fast and so big, you have to respect the speed. When you’re fully committed to brake underneath somebody like that and they move over on you, there’s nothing you can do. . . . It also put me a lap down [because of front wing damage].
“I’m sure we’ll have a meeting; I just hope everyone tells the truth.”
Papis, the fastest Toyota qualifier at 24th, finished 24th.
“I am very disappointed by Alex’s behavior,” said Papis, 28. “What he did today means he does not understand the philosophy of why we are here and that disappoints me very much.”
Richard Buck, team manager for Arciero-Wells, said it was a milestone day for the third-year Toyota program because of the success before the accident.
“It was a racing accident,” Buck said. “Everything we can control went very well. I’m disappointed because our whole day was going absolutely perfect.”