MAX PAPIS & THE GECKO GET SIDEWAYS IN ATLANTA Atlanta, GA (March 7, 2010) -- The last time Max Papis visited Atlanta Motor Speedway, he found himself hard against the outside wall after a tire failure. It has been six months since his debut in...
MAX PAPIS & THE GECKO GET SIDEWAYS IN ATLANTA
Atlanta, GA (March 7, 2010) -- The last time Max Papis visited Atlanta Motor Speedway, he found himself hard against the outside wall after a tire failure. It has been six months since his debut in Atlanta and there appeared to be no residual affects, as Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry immediately shot up the charts in the opening practice session. He was 29th, but most importantly, third fastest among the 'go or go home' cars.
As cool temperatures turned cold on Friday evening, qualifying times picked up considerably. Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry were no exception. As the sun set in the Atlanta area, Papis set his sights on qualifying for his fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. After two laps at one of NASCAR's fastest racetracks, Papis took the checkered flag and found himself sitting 31st on the Kobalt Tools 500 starting grid.
While just three cars would be sent home from Atlanta, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry managed to outpace seven of the 'go or go home' cars, including NASCAR legend, Bill Elliott. He also improved his starting position by eight spots over his September 2009 39th qualifying effort. Not bad for a guy who is making just his second appearance in Atlanta.
Pleasant weather filled the Atlanta area over the course of the race weekend and Sunday would be no different. Bright sun and cool temperatures would provide the perfect setting for an exciting race. Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry started the race 31st, but by the close of the opening lap found themselves in 26th, while Lap 4 found them 25th.
The first of 11 cautions waved on Lap 5 for a Robby Gordon spin. The GEICO team would gamble and be one of the only cars to come down pit road to take on four tires and fuel, working a strategy that could pay dividends as the race wore on.
While Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry found themselves a lap down on Lap 34, they hustled and put themselves in position to receive the 'Lucky Dog' free pass award. During the event's next caution, the #13 GEICO Camry returned to the lead lap.
As one of NASCAR's fastest tracks, Atlanta Motor Speedway provides a fairly stiff learning curve. Papis settled in the 33rd position and would remain there for the majority of the day, as he tried to avoid trouble and learn the different driving lines around the racetrack. As the race began to wind down, Papis experienced a significant setback when he became entangled with Elliott Sadler and found the #13 GEICO Camry against the wall with just under 30 laps remaining. Consequently, Papis and the GEICO team would be relegated to a 34th place finish.
"We had a tough day, but we learned a lot and did all we could to keep the #13 GEICO Camry competitive on the racetrack," Papis said. "The pit crew did a good job of making the necessary adjustments and we got a lot better, but unfortunately we got caught up with another car late in the race. We showed great improvement this weekend and I am encouraged by our week-to-week improvement."
GEICO will next appear on the #13 Germain Racing Sprint Cup Series entry at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 18, 2010. In the interim, GEICO will travel with Papis and the Germain Racing team to Martinsville, VA, for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, March 27, 2010.