- Associated Press - Friday, May 31, 2013

DETROIT (AP) - Alex Zanardi’s good luck charm remained perfect with Max Papis‘ pole-winning performance.

Zanardi lent one of his gold medals from the 2012 London Paralympics to Tony Kanaan last week before Kanaan won the Indianapolis 500. The medal was rubbed all over Kanaan’s car, and Kanaan said he cuddled with it in his motorhome before the race.

Zanardi also lent it to fellow Italian Papis, and Papis parlayed it Friday into a pole-winning run at Belle Isle. It was Papis‘ first first Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series pole since 2004 at Belle Isle Park.

“First he gave it to Tony and he kept it in his motorhome and obviously he wore it,” Papis said. “I got it, and I rubbed it all over me.”

Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in a horrific crash in a CART event in 2001, won the medal in paracycling. His recovery has inspired millions, including Papis, his friend and competitor with whom he raced against in CART for three seasons.

After several years in NASCAR, Papis returned to Grand-AM this season, where he races a Ferrari 458 Italia. He won the Daytona Prototype championship in the Rolex Series for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2004.

Alex said if it wasn’t going to bring me enough luck he would send it to me to keep in the car,” Papis said. “But it looks like it’s brought some luck.”

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