This Week's Rheem/MenardS Chevrolet at Road America ... Max Papis will pilot chassis No. 097 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series stable in Saturday's Sargento 200. Built new for the 2012 season, this RCR chassis will be put through its first competitive laps this weekend at Road America.
Road America Nuggets ...This weekend's 50-lap event marks Papis' second appearance at the Elkhart Lake, Wis.-based facility. His lone Nationwide Series start at the 14-turn road course came in 2011 when Papis earned his career-best starting position of second and contended for the win in the late stages of the race when contact from another competitor knocked him off course severely damaging his race car, relegating him to a 23rd-place result.
Road Racer ... Papis, a native of Italy who now resides in North Carolina, has nine road-course races on his Nationwide Series resume with his career best finish of second coming at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in August 2009. Throughout a five-year period, Papis garnered two top-five finishes and completed 87.4 percent (577 of 660) of the contested laps earning a 15th-place average starting position coupled with a 16.6 average finishing position.
A Little Racing Background ... The 2004 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series champion has competed in multiple forms of racing including Formula One, Champ Car, IndyCar and the top three NASCAR touring series. Papis earned six Grand-Am and three Champ Car victories and claimed the victory in the Formula One race Formula 3000. Since his first NASCAR race in 2006, Papis has competed in 88 races across NASCAR's top three national series, accumulating two top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
Points Racing ... With 13 races complete so far this season, the No. 33 Chevrolet sits fourth in the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series owner championship point standings with drivers by Kevin Harvick, Brendan Gaughan, Paul Menard and Ty Dillon.
No. 33 Recap: Michigan International Speedway ... Paul Menard piloted the No. 33 Rheem/Menards Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway last weekend in the 13th Nationwide Series race of the season. Menard led for 37 laps before coming to pit road for a schedule green-flag stop on lap 89 when a burst of flame from the tailpipe of the No. 33 Chevrolet singed the rear-tire changer, forcing the team to lose several track positions. The RCR driver was able to drive back into the top 10, crossing the finish line in the eighth position.
All Around Team Player ... Though Papis hasn't made additional starts under the RCR banner at thus far this season, he has been a regular at the race track throughout the first part of the year serving as driver coach for the Austin and Ty Dillon. The veteran driver works with the Dillon's on their fitness regimen and strengthening their road course skills.
This is your first start under the RCR banner, what are your thoughts heading into the race weekend? "It's a great opportunity. I love the fact that the after being involved with RCR since January on a testing and coaching level, I will actually get a chance to do what I love, which is to go out and race. To do it for RCR, it's a special thing. Obviously, RCR is synonymous with competition, family and loyalty, and I'm really proud to represent that name on the race track. It's going to be an awesome addition to my long list of teams that I have worked with. It's a really proud thing for me to do, representing such a name in the NASCAR world."
Besides turning right what's the biggest difference between racing on an oval and racing on a road course? "It's not even comparable. They have two completely different driving techniques. The only things they have in common are the use of the same steering wheel and pedals. But the rest has nothing to do with one another. Road course racing is more physical. It's an overall different discipline that requires a very different approach. I have been preparing for this for a long time so I feel ready for it."
Do you have a favorite turn at Road America? "I would say the carousel turn, the long right hander, is one of my favorites. I don't really have any favorite place so far, because I try not to. It's something that I always feel is a weakness, to pick a favorite spot. But, I would definitely say that in terms of satisfaction when you get it right, it's very technical long corner, you get squashed into the seat. Once you do it right, it's pretty awesome."