PAPIS FINISHES FIRST SHORT OVAL IN 13TH AND ON LEAD LAP; SIGHTSET ON TEXAS Martinsville, VA (March 30, 2009) -- When the weekend rolled around last week, Max Papis knew he would be in for a battle as he was scheduled to challenge NASCAR's ...
PAPIS FINISHES FIRST SHORT OVAL IN 13TH AND ON LEAD LAP; SIGHTSET ON TEXAS
Martinsville, VA (March 30, 2009) -- When the weekend rolled around last week, Max Papis knew he would be in for a battle as he was scheduled to challenge NASCAR's toughest racetrack. Martinsville Speedway would be Papis' first-ever short track race and he eagerly anticipated racing on the flat half-mile paperclip-shaped oval.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature would win the first battle, as rain set in and forced the cancellation of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday. Consequently, Papis and the GEICO team found themselves racing today amid clear skies and cool temperatures.
On Friday, Papis relished the opportunity to turn laps at one of NASCAR's most historic facilities. While he sat twenty-second on the monitor at the close of the first practice session, Papis would pick up the pace and rest fifteenth on the final chart when the red flag ended the final practice.
While rain forced the postponement of the race, the weather did permit the Truck Series to qualify on Saturday morning. Papis toured the half-mile facility at a blistering pace that would find him sitting seventh on the starting grid for the Kroger 250, sandwiched between Kevin Harvick and Matt Crafton.
When the green flag finally waved on Monday afternoon, Papis would only get to turn fourteen laps before the first of fourteen caution flags appeared. The #9 GEICO Tundra would slide back to the eleventh position by Lap 25 when Colin Braun's #6 truck found the wall and once again brought out the yellow flag.
As the race progressed, Papis would get nudged from behind and find himself out of line, permitting most of the field to drive right by him. Freefalling through the field, he would soon find himself sitting in the 30th position. Papis' learning curve was accelerated, as the #9 GEICO Tundra launched an assault on the field that would find him methodically picking off truck after truck until he was once again running with the leaders.
With just forty laps remaining, the #23 truck of Jason White found Papis' rear bumper, sending him for a spin while also sustaining damage to the front and rear ends of the GEICO Tundra. Despite the crash, Papis managed to save the truck and travel down pit road to fix the damage. Papis was displeased at the notion that he was wrecked and showed his disdain by remaining eerily quiet; not a good sign for a guy who spends most of his time talking and smiling. He was anxious to return to the racing surface and regain lost positions as the race began to wind down.
Restarting at the rear of the field, Papis and the #9 GEICO Tundra would soon be back in the Top 20 with just twenty-nine laps remaining. Papis would be relentless, and despite being involved in a late-race crash, he would hustle to a thirteenth place finish at one of NASCAR's toughest tracks.
"This was a great experience here today and I really learned a lot; like never get out of line here in Martinsville," Papis joked. "I had a lot of fun here today and it means a lot to be able to race at this place. I mean, Martinsville is historic, man. It was a little frustrating at the end, but this Germain Racing team did a good job of getting my GEICO Tundra fixed up and back on the track. We proved a lot here to day. We get caught up in an incident towards the end of the race and we're still able to get a 13th place finish. That's special." He continued, "We'll continue making progress and head to Texas this week for the Cup race and try to put the #13 GEICO Camry in the show."
This week, Papis will hop in the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry at Texas Motor Speedway for the second of twenty NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races slated for 2009 with the Germain Racing team.