PAPIS NETS BEST QUALIFYING EFFORT IN FONTANA; HOME RACE UP NEXT Fontana, CA (October 11, 2009) -- Coming off of a good run at Kansas Speedway a week ago, Max Papis and the GEICO team were looking to make continued improvement when they arrived...
PAPIS NETS BEST QUALIFYING EFFORT IN FONTANA; HOME RACE UP NEXT
Fontana, CA (October 11, 2009) -- Coming off of a good run at Kansas Speedway a week ago, Max Papis and the GEICO team were looking to make continued improvement when they arrived in Fontana, CA. Kansas marked the second consecutive race where they would be forced to start in the 43rd position. This was a trend they were looking to change.
When the opening practice session came to a close, Papis and the #13 GEICO team were sitting 36th on the speed chart. More importantly, they were sitting ahead of four 'go or go home' cars. With 45 cars on the entry list, Papis and the GEICO team would need to out-hustle two cars if they hoped to stay in Southern California for the balance of the weekend.
Due to the competitive nature of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, each qualifying session is riddled with tension. While others may have been nervous when Papis took to the 2-mile D-shaped oval for qualifying, he wasn't. Two laps later, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry rocketed to the top of the scoring tower when they sat in the 15th position after zipping around the track at 181.305 miles per hour and completing the trip in just 39.712 seconds. His time would stand and give him and the GEICO team their best qualifying effort of the season. Not too bad for Papis' first trip to Fontana. His previous best start was 16th at Watkins Glen.
Cool temperatures and overcast skies welcomed Papis and the GEICO team when they arrived at the track on race day. As the Chase has begun to heat up, Papis would exercise discretion when the green flag was displayed on Sunday afternoon. Starting 15th, Papis and the GEICO Camry would stay out of the way and move towards the rear of the field on the opening laps. This would prevent any unnecessary incidents and also provide the necessary learning environment for Papis and the GEICO team on their first visit to Fontana.
As the race began to wear on, Papis' lap times became quicker and more consistent, until at one point crew chief Bootie Barker radioed to Papis, "You're faster than the cars in front of you, Max. Keep going."
Late in the race, Papis would carefully maneuver the #13 GEICO Camry through multiple crashes, narrowly avoiding peril. When the checkered flag was displayed, Papis and the GEICO team recorded a 35th place finish.
"We made great improvement this weekend and we're very happy to have qualified the GEICO Camry 15th," Papis said. "Each week we're making improvement. For us, our priority is making the race because we're not in the Top 35. It makes it tough to prepare for the race, but we'll continue to improve and I'll continue to learn the more we race. Lately, we've been running either the GEICO car or the GEICO truck every week and I think it's starting to show. Next week will be our second trip to Lowe's (Motor Speedway), so I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do there."
The GEICO Racing team will get to sleep in their own beds next weekend, as they will be racing just down the road in Concord, NC.