It’s been nearly eight years since Max Papis competed in NASCAR’s top-three series, rounding out his tenure with a top-10 finish and a dislocated jaw in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. However, as the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Indianpolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course for the second-time, the 51-year-old will return to the track, for what he hopes is a slapless weekend.
The Como, Italy-native will be piloting the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro for SS Green Light Racing, in partnership with Rick Ware Racing, who is partially responsible for the oval-only effort that fields Papis’ nephew, Pietro Fittipaldi, in the NTT IndyCar Series. At the time of publishing, no sponsorship has been attached to the effort.
Although Papis hasn’t been competing in NASCAR for nearly a decade, the veteran road racer has still been around the sport, serving as a “Performance Advisor” for NASCAR Cup Series winner, and NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, William Byron, who currently sits third in points at NASCAR’s top-level. On top of his efforts with Byron, Papis’ company MPI – Max Papis Innovations — provides steering wheels for many drivers in the sport, including champions such as Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
Throughout his NASCAR career, Papis contested a total of 95 starts across NASCAR’s top-three series, notching four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes, including a second-place finish at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2010, losing out to Boris Said in a finish that came down to the wire, between himself and fellow road racer, Boris Said, with Papis’ Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet coming up 0.012 seconds short of the victory.
Interestingly enough, NASCAR’s preliminary entry list has Max Papis listed ineligible for points in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the series he’s listed to be racing in this weekend at Indianpolis’ Road Course. However, with Rick Ware Racing’s No. 53 currently listed as TBA, and Papis set to compete for the organization in the Xfinity Series, could a double-duty weekend be in store for the 51-year-old, after an eight year absence?
UPDATE – August 11, 2021 at 1:41pm / ET: On Wednesday Afternoon, Rick Ware Racing officially announced that Papis would be piloting the No. 17 Nurtec ODT entry for SS Green Light Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing.
🚨🚨🚨BREAKING NEWS🚨🚨🚨#MADMAX is back!!! @maxpapis returns to @NASCAR @XfinityRacing series this weekend @IMS as he will pilot the #17 @NurtecODT @SSGLR0717 Saturday, Max will fulfill his official @IndyCar duties then jump into the #17 @TeamNurtecODT @NASCAR_Xfinity pic.twitter.com/Ae1EPGKkBP
— Rick Ware Racing (@RickWareRacing) August 11, 2021
UPDATE 2 – Thursday, August 12th at 2:40pm | ET
Max Papis WILL NOT compete in Saturday’s Pennzoil 150 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course, after the 51-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. Instead, J.J. Yeley will pilot the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro, like it was originally listed on the entry list.