Fort Worth, TX (April 19, 2010) – There are many skills required to be a racecar driver, but probably none more important than having a short-term memory.
When Max Papis and the GEICO team arrived at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday it would have been easy to reflect on the negatives of their past visits to the 1.5-mile quad-oval. After all, their first visit in November 2008 found them missing the race and returning to North Carolina prematurely. The Spring of 2009 saw them sit near the top of the speed charts in practice only to end up finishing eight laps down in 35th place when the race concluded. Then when November rolled around again, Papis and the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry once again found themselves excluded from the race after failing to qualify. Once again, short-term memory is important because there is no getting past a racetrack that appears on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule twice yearly.
A world-class driver, 2004 Grand-Am Series champion Max Papis knows well the importance of moving forward and this would never be more evident than it was in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ opening practice session on Friday. Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry would quickly shoot to the top of the charts, sitting as high as 5th, which easily made him the fastest ‘go or go home’ car on the racetrack. When the session concluded, he rested 25th on the speed charts and remained the fastest ‘go or go home’ racecar.
Qualifying would follow suit, as he placed the #13 GEICO Camry 27th on the starting grid and was the 3rd fastest among the ‘go or go home’ cars. When Papis peered into his rearview mirror on the parade laps, he would see himself ahead of former Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.
Rain would set in on Saturday and remain in place until early Monday morning, causing the final practice sessions to be canceled and the race itself to be postponed until noon (EDT) on Monday.
When the race got underway, it was anyone’s guess how the #13 GEICO Camry would react in race conditions. Aside from having a green racetrack, Papis had not turned a single lap in race trim in practice. Crew chief Bootie Barker would be forced to guess and it seems as though he guessed right.
When the race got underway, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry put forth a solid run and remained on the lead lap until late in the race. At times Papis had to feel as though he was playing a video game, as he was forced to navigate his way through and around crashes that could have otherwise ended his solid run. Notably, he wheeled the #13 GEICO Camry through a major crash that included nine cars with 17 laps to go in the race, resulting in a red flag.
When the green flag was displayed, Papis pressed forward as the race began to wind down. He even passed two former Sprint Cup Series Champions on the final laps; beating both Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte to the checkered flag to record a 22nd place finish.
“We had a really good day and I’m happy that we were able to get a good finish for GEICO and the Germain team,” Papis said. “We’ve worked really hard and I’m so proud of Bootie Barker and this entire team. Our work is paying off and I look forward to getting the #13 GEICO Camry to Talladega next week and running up front.”
Next weekend, Max Papis and the GEICO Racing team will travel to Talladega, Alabama, for NASCAR’s second restrictor-plate race of the season. A year ago, Papis and the #13 GEICO Camry started 43rd and charged to an 18th place finish in his debut Sprint Cup Series race at the historic superspeedway.
Papis and the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry will make their way around the 2.66-mile tri-oval when their first practice session kicks off at 2:00 PM (ET) on Friday, April 23rd. Qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon at 11:35 AM (ET).
The Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is on Sunday, April 25th, and it will be televised live on FOX beginning at 1:00 PM (ET), while the 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