Sports car and open-wheel racer Max Papis tested the No. 91 Dodge Intrepid research and development NASCAR Winston Cup car for Evernham Motorsports today at Kentucky Speedway. "It was a very good experience being in a Winston Cup car. It ...
Sports car and open-wheel racer Max Papis tested the No. 91 Dodge Intrepid research and development NASCAR Winston Cup car for Evernham Motorsports today at Kentucky Speedway.
"It was a very good experience being in a Winston Cup car. It is different than anything I have driven in the past," said Italian Max Papis. "The car is a lot lighter than I thought and has a different feeling with the downforce. I enjoyed every lap."
"Mad Max" did about 82 laps around the 1.5-mile tri-oval Kentucky Speedway. His quickest time was 31.1 seconds, with the fastest of the day being a 30.6, just five-tenths of a second off of Bill Elliott's time. Of course, it was just a test and Max spent most of the day getting a feel for the Dodge and getting acquainted with Winston Cup oval racing. Max not only had to familiarize himself with the car and the circuit, but he also had to test on a circuit with some seasoned pros like Elliott, Jimmy Spencer, Ricky Craven and Johnny Benson. There were eight to ten NASCAR Winston Cup cars testing at Kentucky today.
The capable Sammy Johns, Test Team and Research & Development Coordinator oversaw Papis' test for Evernham Motorsports.
"Max did a great job for his first time in one of these big, heavy cars," said Johns. "This is a far different car than what Max is used to driving. It's very heavy and doesn't stop the same. Max has some definite potential and made some headway today. He got close to or over-met my expectations. I helped him with how to get on and off the racetrack, which lane to use and to make sure he wasn't in the way of the other cars testing. He got along real well with the other drivers and they seemed to respond well to him. I've been doing a lot of driver development lately and found Max a pleasure to work with."
"Sammy really helped coach me along," added Papis. "He talked to me throughout the test and made me feel comfortable in the car, on the track and with the other cars. I really want to thank him for all he added to my experience. Also, I really enjoyed getting some advice from Bill Elliott. It was a great honor to get advice from someone like him who has so many racing achievements in this sport. He gave me some really good ideas and helped make me comfortable."
Ray Evernham chose Max Papis to do the NASCAR Winston Cup test for him as part of his test team and driver development program, based on Max's driving credentials. Max met Evernham last year in Bristol, right after he had done a test for Travis Carter at Lakeland.
"I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with Ray Evernham several times," said Papis. "I think he saw that I had a lot of will and determination and decided to give me a test. I want to thank him and Dodge for this great opportunity."
Ray Evernham is one of the most respected team owners in NASCAR, moving up through the ranks. He received much recognition overseeing Jeff Gordon to three NASCAR championships as his Crew Chief. Evernham found a new challenge in 2001, leading the Dodge Motorsports Winston Cup development program and becoming the team owner of the No. 9 and No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Intrepids. He achieved his first Winston Cup Series win at the 2001 Homestead race and earned three poles, at Daytona, Phoenix and Homestead, in his first year as an owner.
Papis is one of the few Europeans, and the first Italian, who has ever had the opportunity to drive a NASCAR Winston Cup car, which puts out about 750 horsepower. Papis has competed in Sports Cars (ALMS and Grand-Am - LMP, GTS and GT), CART and IRL, all in the U.S. Additionally; he has raced in Formula One, Formula 3 and Formula 3000 in Europe, as well as karting. Adding NASCAR Winston Cup to his racing portfolio is a desired goal. This test helps get Max one step closer to that goal.