Max Papis, known by most as “Mad Max,” lived up to his name by giving NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Billy Johnson a slap on Saturday.
The 44-year-old Italian earned the nickname after a racing feat that involved finishing the 1996 24-hours of Daytona in a battered Ferrari 333 SP prototype. Being an experienced racer, Papis didn’t appreciate being run off the road by a younger Johnson during the Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Elkhart Lake’s Road America.
Papis ran in the top 10 for most of the race but finished 17th after Johnson ran into him. “Mad Max” then found Johnson on pit road and lightly slapped him on the side of his helmet as he walked past.
“I apologize to all the kids,” Papis, told Sporting News. “I should not have slapped him here, I should have slapped him inside… My temper got the best of me. I was just disappointed because the 16 car just ran me off the track, and we were having a great race.”
Johnson’s race entailed an early lead spoiled by a pit lane speeding penalty that dropped him to the back of the pack. The subsequent comeback charge eventually led to incident with Papis and later Regan Smith.
After Papis expressed his disapproval with words and gesticulations, the Roush Fenway Racing driver Johnson did take the blame for the incident.
“I guess he was living up to his name ‘Mad Max,’” Johnson said. “As far as the incident on the track, that was my fault. Everybody was checking up really early and I got into the back of him. […] He took it a little personally.”
AJ Allmendinger won the race for Penske Racing.
James Harris is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com