MAX PAPIS AND THE GEICO TEAM PERSEVERE IN DOVER Dover, DE (May 30, 2009) -- When Max Papis and the ...
MAX PAPIS AND THE GEICO TEAM PERSEVERE IN DOVER
Dover, DE (May 30, 2009) -- When Max Papis and the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry took to the track in Dover for their opening practice session on Friday, they were hoping to qualify for their seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Unfortunately, Papis would narrowly miss qualifying for Sunday's Autism Speaks 400, as the vicious one-mile high-banked oval would get the best of him.
He may have lost this battle, but Papis is still winning the war. His passion and enthusiasm are unparalleled and have been a refreshing experience for NASCAR fans and crew members alike.
It's no secret that what Papis is attempting to do this season is near impossible. If one listens closely in the garage, they can hear the whispers. The whispers of people questioning the concept of Papis attempting to go Sprint Cup Series racing with very little experience in either the Truck Series or Nationwide Series. Each week the questions are posed, but every week Papis has answered, qualifying for the first six events on the GEICO Racing schedule. Dover marks the first race that the #13 GEICO car has departed a racetrack without first seeing the green flag displayed.
Always the optimist, Papis kept that million-dollar smile on his face and vowed to learn more about Dover during his stay there this weekend.
The weekend was not a total loss, as Papis and the GEICO team did manage to qualify 22nd for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Monster Mile. The #9 GEICO Toyota Tundra started 22nd on Saturday evening after rain canceled the event originally scheduled for Friday.
While most other drivers would have slept in and made their way to the track around 4:00 PM or so for the 6:00 PM Truck Series race, Papis instead arrived in the early morning. During Sprint Cup Series practice, Papis was found perched atop Turn 3 with a notebook in hand quickly scribbling what he observed on the racetrack.
On his way down to the garage, Papis found words of wisdom and encouragement in legendary team owner Richard Childress. "He told me that racing is full of peaks and valleys, but that champions come out of the valley faster and never give up," Papis said. "I did that today."
Papis would then slip on his GEICO driver uniform and make his way to pit road, where he would strap into his #9 GEICO Toyota Tundra for two hundred miles of racing.
When the green flag waved under sunny skies and pleasant temperatures, Papis moved the #9 GEICO Tundra forward, reaching the 20th position before the event's first caution flag was displayed on Lap 3. Papis would attempt to continue his progress until he was met with yet another yellow flag on Lap 6. The cautions would continue to fly, totaling ten by the end of the day, but Papis would remain focused. The GEICO driver would continue picking up spots, moving as high as 13th with sixty-one laps to go.
When the #9 GEICO Tundra took the checkered flag under the setting sun, it would record a 16th place finish.
"This started out as a really tough weekend because we missed the Cup race," Papis said. "These are the times that you learn something about yourself and your race team. We didn't quit this weekend. Even though the #13 GEICO Cup car missed the race, we continued working hard and learning. It really paid off in the #9 GEICO Tundra because I learned so much about this place. This is a tough track and you have to respect it or it will bite you." He continued, "I'm really looking forward to getting back here in the fall and taking a run at it again. We'll be well prepared and, for certain, things will be different."
While the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Pocono next weekend, Papis and the GEICO Racing team will have a weekend off. Michigan International Speedway on June 14th marks the eighth race of a currently slated twenty races for the GEICO NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program.
On June 6th, Max Papis will be in Sacramento, California, for NASCAR Day to help promote the upcoming Toyota/SaveMart 350 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The 2004 Grand-Am champion and GEICO driver will be leading a parade through downtown Sacramento, as well as doing interviews and signing autographs. For more information, please visit www.infineonraceway.com