'MAD MAX' PAPIS FINISHES 3RD IN WILD FINISH IN MONTREAL Montreal, Quebec (August 4, 2007) -- After burning up the practice charts for two days at Circuit Gille Villenueve in Montreal, Quebec, Papis turned his attention to qualifying on Saturday...
'MAD MAX' PAPIS FINISHES 3RD IN WILD FINISH IN MONTREAL
Montreal, Quebec (August 4, 2007) -- After burning up the practice charts for two days at Circuit Gille Villenueve in Montreal, Quebec, Papis turned his attention to qualifying on Saturday afternoon. Papis would settle comfortably into the road racing qualifying format that NASCAR uses on its limited number of road courses that it runs throughout the season.
In front of a passionate Canadian crowd, Papis and the #1 Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Chevrolet went out for qualifying in the final group of cars. He wasted little time in climbing to the top of the speed charts when, on his first lap, he shot straight to the 4th position. Before his qualifying session ended, he would climb to the 2nd position, narrowly missing the opportunity to knock Canadian Patrick Carpentier off of the provisional pole.
After being told that he qualified P2, an elated Papis would come across the radio and say, "I'm so proud of you guys. Thanks so much for everything you've done this weekend. You're making my dream come true. This is one of the greatest days of my life."
The #1 Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Chevrolet would be the final car on the track for qualifying and Papis would entertain the Canadian fans when he exited his car, put on that huge Papis smile and waved his arms at the cheering crowd.
Participating in just his third NASCAR Busch Series race, Mad Max would start the NAPA Auto Parts 200 presented by Dodge on the outside pole. In front of a sold out crowd of 150,000 people, Papis would take the green flag and run consistently in the Top 5 before surrendering second place when he made his first trip down pit road. Although it was a green flag pit stop, the Phoenix Racing pit crew would do an exceptional job and return Mad Max to the track in 7th position, losing only 5 spots while the rest of the field paced the road course at full speed.
Papis would run comfortably in the 6th position, holding a five second lead over Robby Gordon, who ran in the 7th spot. Papis would be one of six cars that broke away from the rest of the field running their own race of sorts. Crew chief Chuck Meyers would frequently urge Papis to slow his lap times in order to conserve the brakes, as this would be a major issue for all teams on such a challenging road course.
Papis's final pit stop of the day would result in a fuel mishap that would require him to return to pit road under green just three laps later to get the necessary amount of fuel to complete the race. This would cost Mad Max dearly, as he would return to the track in the 18th position after running in the Top 5. The 2004 Rolex Grand-Am Series Champion, Papis would show why he is a champion, as he patiently made his way from 18th back up to the front of the field. Meyers and spotter Randy Howe would routinely state Papis's lap times each time he crossed the start/finish line, while also reminding him to take care of his brakes.
In what would become one of the wildest NASCAR races in recent history, Papis would survive a last lap melee that included race leader Marcos Ambrose and Robby Gordon. Kevin Harvick would go on to win NASCAR's inaugural race in Canada, and Papis would finish 3rd, just behind friend and Canadian Patrick Carpentier, and just ahead of Corvette teammate and Canadian Ron Fellows.
After taking the checkered flag, an emotional Papis thanked the team over the radio and acknowledged his father who passed away in December after a bout with cancer.
"You guys are awesome. I'm so proud of you guys. We did a great job today. I know my Dad is looking down and smiling right now."
Before attending the post-race press conference, Papis would be greeted by Patrick Carpentier who would thank Mad Max for racing him clean. Race winner Kevin Harvick would also convey his thanks to Papis for running a clean race when Papis visited Victory Lane to congratulate the team on their win.
Summarizing his day, Papis was excited about the outcome of the race.
"I was in a wait and see mode for a lot of the race, saving my brakes and keeping a close eye on what was happing in front of me, as I could always see the leader a few seconds in front of me. We ran consistently in the Top 5 and Top 6 up to our final pit stop of the race when we had to come for a 3rd time for gas, which unfortunately was not expected and it sent us back to the middle of the pack. From that point on, I started to drive super hard to gain positions and move up through the field."
He continued, "On the last two restarts, I knew that was the best way to make up ground and in both cases I passed a lot of cars. With three laps to go I got on the inside of the #28 car in Turn 6, braking as late as I could and I started battling with Harvick and Carpentier for the Lead. I went on the outside of the hairpin trying to pass both cars but I could not find the place to do it. On the last lap, I had an awesome battle with Carpentier going side by side for a few corners trying to find my way by them. It was a great race and a testament of what I always say, which is never give up. I fought hard all day long, together with all my guys, and it's a great result to end up finishing P3."
During the post-race press conference, Papis was grateful for everyone around him.
"I want to thank my wife, Tati, and son, Marco. I also want to thank my agent, Doug Barnette, for putting this deal together with Phoenix Racing," Papis said. "It's an honor to represent the Miccosukee Indians of Florida and get them a Top 5 finish. This team did an awesome job of giving me a great car all weekend. This is like Christmas coming early. I am so happy and I only wish my Dad could have seen this race today. My Dad passed away in December, but I know he's looking down and smiling right now." Papis continued, "I'm grateful to NASCAR for letting me come out here and be a part of what they're doing. This is very exciting for my family and I and we are so happy to be here."
He drew the expected laughter when he said, "This is a diversity program; we have an Italian (Papis), a Canadian (Carpentier) and an American (Harvick) on the podium."