PAPIS IMPRESSES IN KANSAS; GECKO IS HEADED WEST Kansas City, KS (October 4, 2009) -- Arriving at Kansas Speedway with qualifying on his mind and his dad in his heart, GEICO driver Max Papis aimed at continuing his improvement on oval tracks.
PAPIS IMPRESSES IN KANSAS; GECKO IS HEADED WEST
Kansas City, KS (October 4, 2009) -- Arriving at Kansas Speedway with qualifying on his mind and his dad in his heart, GEICO driver Max Papis aimed at continuing his improvement on oval tracks. While he has recorded an 18th place finish at Talladega and a qualifying effort of 22nd at Darlington, his season highlights have occurred on road courses, where he recorded a 12th place finish at Sonoma and an 8th at Watkins Glen.
This weekend was special for Papis, as he celebrated national LIVESTRONG Day on Friday and his birthday on Saturday. The LIVESTRONG logo appeared on Papis' helmet in multiple areas, while he also made multiple appearances over the course of the weekend to bring about awareness to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Papis, whose father died in 2006 of pancreatic cancer, has great passion for finding a cure for the dreaded disease and committed his weekend to bringing attention to the need for a cure.
Practice started out well, as Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry sat in the 35th position at the close of the opening practice session. Most importantly, he rested ahead of five other 'go or go home' cars.
Qualifying found Papis touring the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval in 31.281 seconds, at a rate of speed of 172.629 miles per hour, which was good enough for the 34th starting position. His trip around the track also outpaced that of NASCAR superstars Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and a host of others. Nonetheless, Papis and the GEICO Camry would be forced to the rear of the field on race day. They were once again affected by the NASCAR rule that requires the last 'go or go home' car to qualify to start 43rd.
When Papis arrived in the garage on Sunday morning, he was met by perfectly clear skies, bright sunshine and a slight crisp breeze. With his wife, Tatiana, and son, Marco, in tow Papis cleared driver intros and buckled into the #13 GEICO Camry for 400-miles of racing.
Despite being relegated to the rear of the field, Papis took the green flag and made up ground quickly. Starting 43rd, 'Mad' Max reached the 38th position by the close of the opening lap and slid into 37th on Lap 2. The close of the second lap found the field under caution when Joey Logano spun through the infield grass.
It was the next caution that would cause an intense moment in the GEICO Racing pit area. On Lap 7, several cars would begin crashing and Papis would be forced to maneuver the #13 GEICO Camry through the grass to narrowly avoid the spinning cars. Once he successfully cleared the crash site, he headed down pit road to take on four tires and fuel.
Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry continued to make progress, even breaking into the Top 10 on Lap 55. They would eventually find themselves down a lap, but on two different occasions, Papis would successfully battle to get his laps back.
Papis ran his best oval race of the year, logging consistent lap times and racing hard throughout the afternoon. In the latter half of the race, Papis managed to hold off a hard charging Dale Earnhardt, Jr, for nearly twenty laps. When the checkered flag was displayed, Papis and the GEICO Camry managed to outduel John Andretti, Robby Gordon and David Ragan to record a 32nd place finish in their first visit to Kansas Speedway.
"This was my best oval race so far this year and I'm proud of this GEICO team," Papis said. "We have a platform to work from for the future and we need to keep building. I'm proud of our effort and look forward to getting the #13 GEICO Camry to Fontana next week." He continued, "I had a nice weekend here in Kansas and it was great to celebrate and promote LIVESTRONG day, as well as celebrate my birthday. My dad was in my heart today and I could really feel his presence."
The GEICO Racing team will head west this week when they travel to Fontana, CA, for the Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.