Atlanta: Max Papis race report

MAX PAPIS RECORDS TOP 20 IN ATLANTA For the third time in as many weeks, Max Papis climbed behind the wheel at a NASCAR event with the Gecko as his sidekick. After success at Fontana and Las Vegas, Papis and the Germain Racing team were ...

MAX PAPIS RECORDS TOP 20 IN ATLANTA

For the third time in as many weeks, Max Papis climbed behind the wheel at a NASCAR event with the Gecko as his sidekick. After success at Fontana and Las Vegas, Papis and the Germain Racing team were optimistic heading into Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

Preparing for just his second career Truck Series race, Papis warmed up quickly to the 1.54-mile quad-oval, as the GEICO Tundra appeared 15th and 20th in the respective practice sessions. Qualifying found the NASCAR 'rookie' touring the facility in 31.716 seconds, which would put him 10th on the starting grid.

When the green flag waved in front of 40,000 fans, Papis immediately lost ground due to an extremely loose condition. He would battle hard to keep the truck under control, but in the process he would lose 15 positions in just the first four laps. NASCAR is a humbling sport and Papis learned this quickly as he soon found himself back in the 27th position.

Lap 30 found the #9 GEICO Tundra making its first trip down pit road, which was good news for a frustrated Papis. The GEICO team would attempt to make adjustments and tighten up the GEICO Tundra, while also adding Sunoco racing fuel to Papis's tank.

Papis re-started the race in the 24th position on Lap 32 before charging forward to make up positions. The adjustments during the pit stop would help initially, however it would not be long before the truck fell off and Papis would once again find himself trying to manhandle the #9 GEICO Tundra.

While Papis would bring the #9 GEICO Tundra down pit road during later race cautions, adjustments would be of no avail and Papis would do his best to stay up front with the leaders.

Late in the race, Papis's crew chief would apologize for missing the set-up on the truck, but he would be consoled when an enthusiastic Papis radioed in and said, "I never quit. We never quit. I will keep pushing and do the best I can. We're a team and we're racing and learning."

Despite fighting an ill-handling race truck for the entirety of the race, Papis would still manage to record a Top 20 finish when the checkered flag was displayed after 200-miles of racing.

"A Top 20 finish is fine, but it's not what we're out here for," Papis said after the race. "We gambled on the set up and lost, that's all. We learned a lot today and I'm looking forward to getting to Martinsville in the GEICO Tundra and experiencing my first short-track race. I appreciate the hard work of the GEICO team and we will continue to make progress each week and get better."

With a smile on his face, Papis packed up his gear and spent a significant amount of time with the fans in attendance at Atlanta Motor Speedway. A world-class race car driver, Papis is also quite the salesman, as he told hundreds of fans everything that is great about GEICO Insurance. It was not long before the fans were chanting his name and singing his praises. He would then head off to be with his wife and two sons before attending Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, where he would watch from atop the spotters stand.

Papis will next hit the track in the #9 GEICO Toyota Tundra at Martinsville Speedway on March 28th for the Kroger 250. Martinsville will be the third of a currently slated seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races for the former Formula One driver. A week later, Papis will be attempting his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2009 season in the #13 GEICO Camry at Texas Motor Speedway.

-credit: www.maxpapis.com.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Max Papis
Teams Germain Racing