Monday, July 26, 2010

CUP: Papis’ Return To Indy Ends Early After Engine Blows

Max Papis picked up the 5th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career in Sunday’s 17th Annual Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his #13 GEICO Toyota lost the engine after 15 of the race’s 160 laps.

Papis, a two-time starter of the Indianapolis 500, rebounded from a DNQ in 2009 to qualify 35th for Sunday’s race at a speed of 178.621 mph. In practice the day before, the car was even faster: not only the top car outside the Top 35, but 3rd-fastest overall behind front-row starters Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmie Johnson.

In the early stages of Sunday’s race, it appeared that Elliott Sadler would have his first Cup last-place finish since the 2008 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta. Sadler was one of four cars that sustained serious damage in a multi-car wreck off turn two during the opening lap. When the race restarted, several cars had tire problems while others overheated due to wet infield grass dislodged during the lap 1 crash.

Papis was likely overheating on lap 16 when his engine suddenly blew, starting a small fire beneath the car as it entered the backstretch. Robby Gordon’s car then exploded a right-front tire in an unrelated accident, bringing out the second caution of the race. Neither Papis nor Gordon were injured, but both were eventually done for the day. When Sadler returned to the race 105 laps down, it was Papis who fell to 43rd.

With the finish, the 2010 LASTCAR Cup standings have tightened-up even more. Both Papis and defending LASTCAR Cup Champion Dave Blaney are one finish away from tying Joe Nemechek for the lead in both the owner and driver standings. Though not involved in the lap 1 accident, both Blaney and teammate Michael McDowell went to the garage during the ensuing caution, but returned to the track for a handful of laps before finishing 41st and 42nd. Nemechek finished 40th, having stayed out to lead a lap under yellow along with 39th-place Landon Cassill in #71. Sadler ran just enough laps to finish ahead of all five of them and come across the line 38th.

*Neither Papis, Germain Racing, nor the #13 had ever finished last in the 16 previous Cup races at Indianapolis.
*Interestingly, no Cup driver had ever finished last at Indianapolis with an engine failure since Kenny Wallace’s #81 Square D Ford lost his 65 laps into the 1998 Brickyard 400. 10 of the 17 races run at this track had last-place finishers who fell out in early crashes.

43) #13-Max Papis / 15 laps / engine
42) #55-Michael McDowell / 19 laps / overheating
41) #66-Dave Blaney / 20 laps / electrical
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 33 laps / vibration / led 1 lap
39) #71-Landon Cassill / 52 laps / overheating / led 1 lap

1st) Joe Nemechek (5)
2nd) Dave Blaney, Max Papis (4)
3rd) Aric Almirola, Michael McDowell (2)
4th) Robby Gordon, Johnny Sauter, Reed Sorenson (1)

1st) #87-NEMCO Motorsports (5)
2nd) #13-Germain Racing, #66-PRISM Motorsports (4)
3rd) #55-PRISM Motorsports, #09-Phoenix Racing (2)
4th) #7-Robby Gordon Motorsports,#32-Braun Racing, #36-Tommy Baldwin Racing (1)

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