Bristol, TN (08-19-2010) – As Bristol racing goes, Wednesday night’s O’Reilly 200 was everything it should be. The air was thick with humidity and it electrified when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series took to the track for what ended up being a 206-lap race. Max Papis qualified the GEICO Tundra in 21st position and after 206 laps of highs and lows, finished 14th as fellow Toyota driver Kyle Busch took his third Bristol Motor Speedway win.
“I have to say, I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish tonight with our GEICO Tundra. At Bristol there are so many things out of your control. We managed to race the GEICO Tundra in the top-five, and we were very close to getting a top-ten finish. That was out of our hands, but, I am very proud of our performance and what we learned for the future,” said Max Papis, of Como, Italy, who will showcase the GEICO colors full-time in the Truck Series in 2011, making a run for the series championship.
The GEICO Racing team fought a tight handling condition with the racing chassis throughout both practice sessions and in qualifying. Once the O’Reilly 200 race began, the truck remained tight.
Papis and the GEICO crew brought the GEICO Tundra to pit road for service under the night’s second caution period to make adjustments that would combat the tight-handling condition. The lap-25 pit stop efforts paid off, as the GEICO Tundra steadily moved to the front of the field, making it as high as the runner-up position.
In second place just 14 laps after the pit stop, Max Papis followed veteran Truck Series racer Mike Skinner through a pair of restarts before returning to pit road at lap 54 for four fresh tires and fuel.
“Tonight we struggled with a tight handling condition with the GEICO Tundra, which was consistent with practice and qualifying. The truck was definitely better in clean air when we were running behind Skinner than when I was in traffic. This will be important for us when we are building our truck for Bristol next season,” said Papis, who has raced in 16 Truck Series events to date, and will add three more to his resume before next year.
Papis knifed his way back through traffic, flirting with the top-ten as the race was drawing to a close. Under the 12th caution flag of the night, Papis told crew chief Bootie Barker he was worried something was wrong with the GEICO Tundra.
“During the caution period, I told Bootie I felt something had gone wrong with the race truck. We pitted on lap 200 and it was a good thing we did. Our right rear tire was flat. After that, the GEICO Tundra was in ninth position. We thought we would finish in the top ten, but, at Bristol, there are many things you can’t control,” said Papis.
As the 36-truck field came to the green flag for the final time at lap 205, the GEICO Tundra was ninth, behind teammates Todd Bodine (fifth) and Miguel Paludo (seventh). It looked certain that Papis would be part of Germain Racing’s top-ten effort, but coming to the checkered flag, Papis entered turn four in the top-ten and was sent into the spin cycle. He came out in 14th-place after becoming a victim of circumstance.
“We are using tonight and our three remaining GEICO Tundra truck series races to prepare for a full season of racing in the Truck Series in 2011. Tonight was a great experience. We ran competitively and we learned a lot to build our team for the future,” said Papis.
Next up for Papis and the No. 9 GEICO Toyota Tundra will be New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Papis and the GEICO Racing team will hit the 1.058-mile, low-banked oval in Loudon, NH, for the opening practice session at 10:00 AM (EDT) on Friday, September 17th. Final practice follows at 1:15 PM (EDT), while qualifying will be on Saturday, September 18th at 10:05 AM (EDT).
The 175-lap/185.15 mile NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race begins on Saturday, September 18th, at 3:00 PM (EDT) and will be televised live on SPEED television network, and Motor Racing Network (MRN) will carry the live radio broadcast.
To learn more about the GEICO Racing program, please visit: www.geicogarage.com
You can also follow GEICO Racing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/geicoracing
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