CIAO, AU REVOIR, GOOD-BYE: ITALY'S "MAD" MAX PAPIS
HOPING TO LEAVE THE FIELD BEHIND IN MONTREAL
--RWR Teammate Steve Wallace "Energized" Following Top-Ten Finish on Mexico City's Road Course--
MONTREAL, QC, CANADA (July 31, 2008)--If experience counts for anything, look for Italy's "Mad" Max Papis to be among the contenders battling for the victory in Saturday's much-anticipated NAPA Auto Parts 200 at the famed Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
One of the world's foremost road racing pilots, Max has experience at the legendary Canadian circuit in four separate series, including the NASCAR Nationwide Series, CART, Grand-American Rolex Sports Car and as a Formula One test driver. In what may seem odd to some, Papis' greatest success in Montreal came behind the wheel of a Nationwide Series car in last year's running of this event. In that race, he started from the outside of the front row and survived the race's many melees, to bring home a third-place finish.
Now behind the wheel of RWR's top-ten-ranked No. 64 entry for this year's event, the Italian enters Canada as one of the favorites in Saturday's contest.
Said Papis, "I've been looking forward to this race for quite some time. After the success I had here last year, I really think that we have a shot to win on Saturday. It won't be easy, though; there are a lot of great drivers and teams entered, but I think that we have as good of a chance as anyone. We spent some time testing at Virginia International Raceway with our cars for this weekend and I feel like we got our setup pretty close. I can't wait to get on the track Friday and see how we measure up."
In Papis's first race in the No. 64, earlier this year in Mexico City, his day was hampered by a mid-race accident. The Italian further earned his "Mad" moniker that day, however, as he wheeled a badly-damaged Chevrolet through the field, to earn the No. 64 team the fifth of their 15 top-15 finishes thus far in 2008.
While RWR's road course hopes centered on Papis in Mexico City, it was actually young Steve Wallace who led the RWR charge on the famous Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit. Despite a strong short-track background, the 20 year-old surprised many, earning his first career Nationwide Series top-ten finish at the unlikeliest of venues, on the Mexican road course.
After showing his road racing potential in the Mexico City round, Wallace has some extra incentive to have an "energized" weekend in Canada. Saturday's event marks the debut of Team 5-Hour Energy Rusty Wallace Racing. 5-Hour Energy, an energy drink packaged as a 2 oz. shot, will serve as primary sponsor of Wallace, one of racing's most energetic characters, in four 2008 Nationwide Series events, beginning with this weekend's race.
Said Wallace, "I'm really excited about this weekend's race. We were pretty fast in Montreal last year, but we just didn't have the right brake package and we ended up getting in a wreck. This year, making your brakes last is still going to be the key to finishing up front in here, but I feel like we're a lot smarter about what we need under our car to make it last. Max (Papis) has done a lot of road course testing for us and we feel good about the package that we have here this weekend.
"I really look forward to the road courses; I think they're a lot of fun and I enjoy them. Going to Montreal and Mexico City are especially fun, because I feel like it puts us younger drivers on a much more level playing field, as opposed to Watkins Glen, where NASCAR has been racing for a long, long time. Here, we all have about the same level of experience, at least in these cars."