STRATEGY CALL PROPELS MAX PAPIS TO 14TH PLACE FINISH IN ATLANTA
HAMPTON, Ga. (September 2, 2011) – Atlanta Motor Speedway is known for fast speeds and drivers holding the gas pedal wide-open around the entire 1.5-mile quad-oval. Add in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series making their one and only stop in Georgia and three and four wide action was sure to be the norm. Friday night’s Good Sam Club 200 was no exception.
Max Papis and the GEICO Racing team entered the Peachtree State with a plan of attack – keep the Toyota Tundra in one piece and finish inside the top-15. The one-day show started early with two practice sessions followed by qualifying before the race started shortly after 8 p.m. ET. During time trials, Papis clocked a solid lap of 31.679 seconds to place the Germain Racing entry in the 18th starting position.
As the green flag waved to start the 130-lap race, Papis quickly reported a loose handling condition and that he couldn’t “keep momentum all around the track.” The first caution flag flew on lap 20 for oil on the track, which allowed the No. 9 GEICO machine to come to pit road. The Como, Italy native received four fresh tires, fuel, and adjustments. Papis restarted on lap 27 from the 19th position.
Papis continued to wheel the GEICO Toyota despite the handling changing to “tight on entry and loose on exit.” The second caution of the night came on lap 38 for a two-truck accident in turn four. Papis returned to pit road for additional adjustments and fuel, before returning to green flag conditions on lap 43.
By lap 50, Papis had moved into the 21st position but reported to his GEICO team that the truck was now looser than it was before the previous adjustments. The third caution came on lap 60 and crew chief Randy Goss took the opportunity to bring his driver back down pit road. The No. 9 over-the-wall crew changed four tires, fueled the truck, and made major adjustments to dial in the truck.
The GEICO Toyota Tundra restarted from the 25th position on lap 65, as numerous leaders did not pit. In eight short laps, Papis drove up to 22nd-place before the fourth caution slowed the pace on lap 73 for debris. The truck was feeling better underneath Papis so the team made the decision to stay out, to restart in the same position on lap 77.
However, one short lap later another caution was displayed for a spinning truck on the frontstretch. Now that the GEICO team was inside their fuel window to make it to the end of the race, Papis brought his red and blue machine down pit road for fresh tires, fuel and one last set of adjustments. The field restarted on lap 82, with Papis in the 22nd position.
With the leaders unable to make it to the end of the race on fuel, Papis and the GEICO team were looking for the remainder of the event to be caution-free. Their strategy played out perfect as the frontrunners started to hit pit road around lap 115. On lap 120, Papis was running in the seventh position.
Over the final 10 laps, the competitors with fresh tires, who could run almost a second faster than those on old ones, caught Papis. The GEICO Toyota Tundra crossed the finish line in the 14th position.
“We raced hard all night long and finished the best way we could,” said Papis, after the race. “Our strategy was to stay out just like Hornaday did to win the race but we came up a little short when those guys with fresh tires caught us with only a few laps left. I’m proud of the GEICO guys to never give up and keep digging.”
With his top-15 effort, Papis moved up two positions, to 15th-place, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship point standings. Papis sits just one point behind 14th-place Jason White.
Papis and the No. 9 GEICO team have a one-week hiatus before returning to action at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, September 16th. Catch all the action live on SPEED Channel, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. MRN Radio and Sirius XM Satellite Radio will also have the live radio broadcast.
To learn more about the GEICO Racing program, visit: www.geicogarage.com <http://www.geicogarage.com> .
You can also follow GEICO Racing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/geicoracing <http://www.twitter.com/geicoracing> .
Contact: Samantha Jones, Player Management International, Inc.