Italian driver Max Papis said Saturday at Daytona that he chose Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his debut in the #13 Geico Toyota Sprint Cup car because he wanted to ease into the season.

With support from Michael Waltrip Racing, the Germain Racing team that fields Papis' Camry will run 18 races in 2009.

"You're going to see a crescendo, more races toward the end of the season," Papis said. "We're going to gather momentum, getting geared in for the year after. It's a little easier starting in Vegas. Everyone speaks about me doing the road courses and everything. I don't care about the road courses, honestly.

"I want to win my first NASCAR race on an oval. That's what I want to do."

The versatile Papis, now a resident of Miami, Fla., was competing in the GT division in the Rolex 24 hours. He said he will run the season finales at Homestead-Miami Speedway in both the Cup and Camping World Truck series.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News

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