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A Familiar Ringer is Ready to Take Another Shot At NASCAR

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This weekend’s race at the Indianapolis Road Course was highlighted by big-name road course ringers taking their chance at racing in NASCAR. Another driver wants to join that group, and he may be familiar to some NASCAR fans.

Max Papis has run in multiple different racing series throughout his career, and he has had success in some big races. However, he still remains very closely tied to NASCAR, and the bug is now back for him to race in the series again. Who is Max Papis, and what could make him want to come back to NASCAR?

The Wild Career of Max Papis

If it has an engine and four wheels, chances are that Max Papis has probably driven it at some point. He ran in Formula One briefly for seven races in 1995, but he left shortly thereafter. He moved to CART in 1996, and his prime started in 1999 when he went to race with Bobby Rahal.

Papis won three races in IndyCar with one in 1999 and two in 2000, but sports cars came calling during that time. In 2000, he scored a class win in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and he would win overall in the 2001 race. Fun fact, the 2001 race featured Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Eventually, he would move to sports cars full-time. He would win the 2004 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Championship, which was a precursor series to IMSA. He would also win prestigious races such as the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

He also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but he never won. Eventually, Papis made the jump to stock cars, competing in his first Xfinity Series race in 2006 at Watkins Glen. He was a popular ringer in the Xfinity Series for a few seasons recording four top-5 finishes, and coming oh so close to winning at Montreal in 2010.

He also ran part-time for the start-up team, Germain Racing between 2009 and 2010. His final Cup Series start came in 2013 at Watkins Glen substituting for an injured Tony Stewart.

Since his career ended, Papis has worked at his business Max Papis Innovations which designs racing products such as seats and steering wheels. He also has served as a mentor to current NASCAR star, William Byron.

Who Could Papis Race For in NASCAR?

Now, if Papis wants to race in NASCAR on a road course, he has to find a race team. Because it is a one-off scenario, he does not have to worry about a charter. All he needs is a car. Here are three teams he could go with

Trackhouse Racing

Papis would be an interesting choice for Project 91. Sure he has raced in NASCAR before, but Kimi Raikkonen had raced in NASCAR once before he drove Project 91. The recent emergence of Shane Van Gisbergen may put the future of Project 91 in doubt, but this would be the most obvious place for Papis to go.

Hendrick Motorsports

It is not out of the question for Rick Hendrick to field a fifth car. He has done it before, most recently with Chase Elliott for a few races in 2015. With the current relationship Papis has with one of Hendrick’s top drivers in William Byron, this could be a good place for him to land.

23XI Racing

23XI Racing has fielded a third car twice this season for Travis Pastrana at Daytona and Kamui Kobayashi at Indianapolis. Papis could be an easy sell as he has already run in NASCAR before. He understands how stock cars and stock car racing work, and that could make him attractive to 23XI Racing for a one-off race.

Max Papis would be a fun addition to the grid for a race next season. It would be another chance for NASCAR fans to appreciate him for the road racing talent that he is, and he could probably have success as well.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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