Papis hooks up with Hendrick

After seeing four-time Nextel Cup champion Jeff Gordon sitting on last-year's end-of-season, championship-race sidelines, Hendrick Motorsports is getting serious about utilizing every possible edge it can employ in the race to assure itself more...

After seeing four-time Nextel Cup champion Jeff Gordon sitting on last-year's end-of-season, championship-race sidelines, Hendrick Motorsports is getting serious about utilizing every possible edge it can employ in the race to assure itself more spots in this year's Nextel Cup Chase for the Cup.

Veteran Rolex Series sportscar racer and championship-winning driver Max Papis will be hooking up April 26-27 with No. 48 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet driver Jimmie Johnson -- who alone represented Hendrick Motorsports in last year's Chase - at Virginia International Raceway in an effort to help the team refine its road-course car setups.

"Mr. Hendrick said I was to be their test driver for two days," Papis said. "That's all it is."

Papis has made no secret of his desire to get into a Cup ride and has in the last few years tested for Nextel Cup teams, including Hendrick Motorsports and Evernham Motorsports, in his quest to do so.

In 2006, Papis is driving for Team Corvette in ALMS endurance events and has acted as a fill-in driver for various other sportscar teams, but has otherwise been out of a full-time sportscar ride.

Owed to a late-2005 miscue while awaiting a failed possible second Chip Ganassi Racing DP ride -- during which Papis turned down at least one other top-shelf Rolex Series DP team -- the Italian already has started his quest to find a solid, season-long 2007 DP ride.

"Chip tried his hardest to put together a second team but it just didn't work out," Papis said. "But if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have changed a thing."

"What I'd really like to do in 2007 is do a full Rolex Series schedule and some NASCAR races on off weekends," he said, adding that he's already had discussions with a top-level Daytona Prototype team for a 2007 ride in that series.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing