MAX PAPIS NETS IMPROVEMENT ON RETURN VISIT TO FONTANA Fontana, CA (February 21, 2010) -- Just a week removed from a storybook weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Max Papis and the GEICO team had to get back to real life, so to speak. Now...
MAX PAPIS NETS IMPROVEMENT ON RETURN VISIT TO FONTANA
Fontana, CA (February 21, 2010) -- Just a week removed from a storybook weekend at Daytona International Speedway, Max Papis and the GEICO team had to get back to real life, so to speak. Now that the sports biggest event is out of the way, the Germain Racing team is buckling down for the marathon season that sits ahead of them.
When Papis arrived in Fontana on Friday for practice and qualifying, he paced the garage area as if he had been there before. He was comfortable and exhibited confidence as he approached his opening practice session in the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry. It was just a few months ago that Papis and the GEICO Racing team made their debut in So Cal, where Papis recorded a 35th place finish after starting 15th on October 11th.
Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry wasted little time in making themselves at home. At the close of the opening practice session, they sat 28th on the speed charts, and third among the ten 'go or go home' entries. Qualifying also went well, that is until the car got loose between turns three and four, causing Papis to lose valuable time. Until then he was projected to start between 15th and 18th, but the loose condition instead found Papis and the GEICO Camry qualifying 35th. Due to a rule that applies to 'go or go home' cars, Papis was relegated to the rear of the field where he rolled off the starting grid in the 43rd position.
Cloudy skies and cool temperatures greeted the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday. Rain also flirted closely with the facility before departing after just a small amount of drizzle. There was no delay and the race went green on schedule.
When the green flag waved over the field, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry quickly caught fire, picking up five spots before he got to turn one. Jumping from 43rd to 38th on the opening lap is not something that a fan would have seen Papis do a year ago. It was progress in its purest form; it was visible.
With his spotter Jason Jarrett and crew chief Bootie Barker guiding him around the 2.5-mile D-shaped oval, Papis' poise was evident, as he approached the Top 20 before being ordered down pit road for a scheduled green flag pit stop on Lap 41. The Germain Racing pit crew quickly replaced four tires and filled his tank with Sunoco fuel before returning the GEICO Camry to the racing surface.
Rain would set in late in the race and Lap 193 found the field under caution. Papis was in the 31st position and reported to Barker that, "The car is better than it's been all race. I can actually make the corner." Once the rained cleared and action resumed, Papis continued his solid effort.
When the checkered flag was displayed in Fontana after 250 laps of racing, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry notched a 28th place finish; picking up 15 spots from their 43rd starting position. The results were a vast improvement from his October 2009 appearance in Fontana where Papis started 15th and finished 35th in his first-ever race at the track. Rather than going backwards, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry pushed forward and achieved the progress for which they are looking.
"It was a good weekend for the GEICO Racing team and I think we're all seeing the progress here," Papis said. "I felt much more comfortable coming here for the second time and I think that's something fans will see as this season wears on and we start going back to tracks that we raced at last year. The pit crew did a great job today of getting me on and off pit road and of course Bootie (crew chief) and Jason (spotter) were once again of great help." He continued, "I'm looking forward to getting back to Las Vegas next week because that's where we made our Sprint Cup Series debut a year ago in the #13 GEICO Camry. It's a special place to us and we really want to do well for GEICO and for all the fans that show us such great support."
Papis and the Germain Racing team will continue their West Coast road trip when they pack up the #13 GEICO Camry and head just a few hours away to Las Vegas, NV.