Watkins Glen: Top rookie press conference

Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At The Glen Post-Race Transcript An interview with: Max Papis KERRY THARP: Our top finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, he came in eighth place, had a great showing out there today, that's Max ...

Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips At The Glen Post-Race Transcript

An interview with:
Max Papis

KERRY THARP: Our top finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, he came in eighth place, had a great showing out there today, that's Max Papis.

Max, certainly you were up near the front all day. Talk about your performance out there in the No. 13 car.

MAX PAPIS: We had a game plan that was attacking from the first lap, respectfully. I think that's what we did. I got awesome restarts in the beginning. I think I put the GEICO car in the position to be able to be a contender. My guys did an insane strategy. We were fantastic on fuel. The Toyota engine was really well calibrated today. I was really saving a lot of fuel. I used a lot of those days of sports car racing where fuel mileage is everything. I used it all today. We ran out of gas 300 feet after the start/finish line when we got the checkered flag. That's not luck; that's calculation. My guys told me, I think you're not going to make it around after the checkered flag.

Besides that, I had my best ever finish so far in my NASCAR career. Actually not really. I had a third in the Nationwide. That's the difference between Nationwide and Cup, is like minor league and major league. These guys here are tough. I'm really proud of that.

KERRY THARP: Congratulations. Questions for Max.

Q: '97 you came from a lap down to win. What means more to you, this race today or the race in '97?

MAX PAPIS: I enjoy every race I do. I don't live in the past. I live in the present. I always say that I'm looking forward for the best win to the one that is going to come. Of course, that day opened my career in America. Today I feel we proved everyone that we deserve some respect, both as a team and as a driver.

We take it from there. These guys are definitely the best of the best I've ever raced against in my life, point blank. Better than Formula One, sports car, IndyCar, everything put together. When people say NASCAR drivers are not that good on road courses, I would definitely tell them to shut up because they're pretty damn good.

Q: Could you talk about such a great finish, the family is from the area, how ask it feel to do so well from them?

MAX PAPIS: We are a small organization. The GEICO team, we are just a small family. Every success is felt through the skin of everybody. Everyone in the shop work really hard. We maximize what we have. GEICO gave me and the team opportunity of our life. I'm proud that I paid them back today because you need to capitalize in these moments.

Spinning off in turn one, it doesn't take that much.  It's a calculated
aggression.  I was proud that I learn a lot.  I mean, I made a really good
restart.  At the end I drove the whole off the car, but the best I could do
was finishing eighth.  I took the car home.

But I can tell you that I never cruised one lap. I went hard, hard, hard every lap.

Q: The double file restarts?

MAX PAPIS: I love it. I mean, I think double file restarts, I don't see anything wrong with it. That's what I've always done in my career. I found it a little different when I came here, single file. Maybe you were 20th and you were getting the green when you were further back, so you didn't have much chance to fight hard.

At the end of the day, these guys are all professional. If they want to punt you off, it takes nothing. They can do it any second. I think is a give and take. They know just take a second to ruin the race of someone else. I was pleased that nobody abused me in a way. I pushed them around a little bit, and I felt that was just great, great.

Q: How much do days like today make you want to do more of this? Do you know what your schedule is from here out for the rest of the year? Could this impact it at all?

MAX PAPIS: This is what I want to do, and NASCAR is going to be the last thing I'm going to do in my career. You're not going to see me racing anything else, not seriously. Maybe go kart, something like that. I am dedicating all my life and my family, too, is dedicating, making a lot of effort. Without my wife, Tatiana, my kids, I would never be able to do what I'm doing. I put them through a lot to help them to achieve my dreams.

A day like today, I think it's a little special present coming that tells everybody sometimes David and Goliath things. We were so small, we came up with so much. It just make me remember that all the help, all the advice from my dad, all the people that helped me on the way here, they're all riding with me. When you are there and your arm are burning, you have 10 laps to go, you dig deep because this is your chance.

To answer your question, I really would like GEICO to bring me to a full season because running a partial season is very difficult. Being out of the top 35, that pressure you have going into qualifying, it's something that's insane. It's insane. You slip a little bit and you go home. I really hope that we can grow this program. For sure next year it's not going to be 18 races, but I hope that I get a call from my friend Doug Barnette and my friends at GEICO saying, Hey, we decided we want to do 18. That would definitely I don't want to say make my life easier, but I could be a little more in the rhythm and my team would be more accepted in a way.

Q: Even with all your road course experience, to come here and run like this, what did you learn today? How do you feel like you took another step forward as a road racer?

MAX PAPIS: As I told you, I used a little bit of different things I learned. Saving fuel. Had a good meeting with Andy yesterday from Toyota. He told me what was the best way to save fuel, and I did it. I was trying to keep the engine as cool as possible during restarts because we know we have more power if we are below 200. All those little things that makes a big difference.

To me today, you know, I come out of this knowing that this is a very, very tough form ever motorsport, point blank. Every time I call back to Italy, I say this is like endurance racing and rally driving at the same time because you need to improvise because the cars move around. They don't always do exactly what you want. But at the same time you need to have stamina, endurance, you're in the car for a long time. I mean, it's tough. It's tough.

Q: You've known Juan Pablo a long time. Nobody is dismissing his talent. We knew he wouldn't be an overnight success here. Did you think once he got it that he would be points racing to such a conservative manner like he is now?

MAX PAPIS: Juan, even if people think he's an ass, is a great guy. He's a good friend of mine. He's one of those guys that has a lot of determination. He growed up a lot through the years.

To put it in simple term, is like when I was behind him, we spoke a little bit before the start. He told me that, I want to finish in front of the 16 and the 17, something like that. I remember the 16. We came into turn one. I touched him a little bit. Came out of turn one, I bump draft him because I thought it was going to open up a gap as well. But that comes down to that little respect you need to have. I could have punt him off every day, or he could have punt me off. But that's not part of the sport.

I think you need to race hard. At the end of the day to win you need to be intelligent. If you are just aggressive, you are a sporadically winner. I feel everybody grows up. He doesn't need to prove anything. He's much more mature than what he was when I met him 10 years ago.

Q: Can you compare Sprint Cup to Formula One.

MAX PAPIS: I don't want to do that because that would be an offense to NASCAR racing.

Q: Just the difference between them.

MAX PAPIS: The difference between the two? The main things here there are people that race, they live for the sport. There is just the politics. At the end of '95 I retired. I had a dream. I went to Formula One. I spend all the money I made in all my career. I wrote a check for $400,000. They took my dream, they use it, they throw it away. That's the memory I have for Formula One. Disrespect the dream of a young kid. The dream and the work that everybody did to take me all the way there.

For me I have some friends there. I love them, especially some people in Formula One. But I didn't enjoy it at all the lack of respect for the human being. Here instead, that's why I fit a lot better, because I think I'm a good human being and people accept me for that. There they look first at your wallet and after they look if you are a son of someone famous, I don't know. If you are not one of those, they give you a kick in the butt and they let you go.

Q: You do understand the dog eat dog, eat you alive NASCAR? You have to be tough.

MAX PAPIS: In NASCAR?

Q: Yes.

MAX PAPIS: I'm a tough guy. The difference is that here you cannot buy the results. You need to create it. The human being in the team are creating your success. There you can buy the results because you can make a new front wing, you can make a new rear wing, do different stuff. Here it's very much left up to the people. That's why I love it because there is no excuse here. My guys messed up my car, my car is not fast this year. Tony Stewart has the same car I have. So there's no difference with that.

That's what I love about it. It brings the best out of it. At the same time there is so much respect for the human being here. You guys need to be very proud of being here. I'm proud every day when I walk into this garage because it's a special thing, it's very special to be able to be together with athletes like Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, people that make 20 times more money than most of the people in Formula One, but they're more humble. That's my opinion. Maybe I've been a little too hard, but I always talk what I think.

KERRY THARP: Max, congratulations on a great performance out there today. We look forward to many more. Thank you.

MAX PAPIS: Thank you, guys. Thanks for the support and for understanding the human being that is behind the racecar. I appreciate that most than anything. Thanks to my family.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Max Papis , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards