NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Amy Henderson · Wednesday May 30, 2012
Travis Kvapil is one of several drivers in the NASCAR ranks to race his way from the short tracks of the Midwest to the upper echelons of NASCAR. The 2003 Camping World Truck Series champion is a veteran presence with the upstart BK Racing team this year, and his input is vital to his team and that of young teammate Landon Cassill as they work to succeed in the pressure cooker that is Sprint Cup. With almost 200 Cup starts under his belt (he’ll eclipse that milestone later this year), Kvapil understands what it takes to succeed in a changing sport, using the work ethic and racing lessons he learned as a young racer on the Midwestern short tracks. The 36-year-old driver took some time at Charlotte to sit down with the Frontstretch’s Amy Henderson to discuss his past, present, and future as his team works to move forward in the Cup ranks.
Amy Henderson, Frontstretch.com: Your deal with BK Racing was kind of an eleventh-hour partnership that came together quickly. Can you talk about how it all came about?
Travis Kvapil: Well, I guess for most of the offseason I felt like I was going to stay with Front Row. I felt like things were kind of building there for the last couple of seasons. Then, towards Christmastime, I kind of realized that wasn’t going to be the case, it wasn’t going to work out. So I started calling other teams about opportunities and seeing what options were available for me, and talking to a couple of the owners here at BK, it sounded like there could be an opportunity. But they were still pretty early in their process of figuring out and actually getting the deal done with Red Bull to purchase the cars and the points and the equipment and everything. So before they were really wanting to have serious conversations with any drivers, they wanted to get their deal done and actually have a race team. So, I guess it was really close to the end of January when it sounded like everything was coming together. Probably the last week in January, I met with the ownership group. I think they were looking at a handful of guys, and ultimately I ended up kind of getting a partial deal.
They had a deal with David Reutimann to run ten races, that for the Danica races they would provide him a race car. Basically I was to fill in the rest of those 26 races. Then, as it got going, we really started to click really well together, had some decent runs, took care of the equipment, got along with the guy really well, and it’s kind of looking like it’s going to be more of a full-time thing for me than just a 26-race deal. I guess, with all that being said, that February 1st is when this team really opened its doors and started to work on racecars. So we definitely got a late start. We’re not as prepared as we could be or should be, there was a month there where we were just kind of showing up. We didn’t have any seven-post time; we didn’t have any pull-down rig time. We were just coming to the racetrack and kind of doing it old-school. Here recently, we’re a little more prepared. Toyota has helped us out with some support. We’re progressing. We realize that we still have a long way to go, but we’re pretty proud of what we’ve gotten done in the last three months.
Henderson: It seems like the team is really committed to success, which is somewhat of a rarity today; you don’t get a lot of new teams coming in who have been able to run the distance and be successful. You’ve had fast cars, but how hard is it? You have the equipment from Red Bull, but how hard is it for a new team in NASCAR?
Kvapil: It’s really hard. Yeah, we have good racecars, but they were good racecars a year ago. Other teams that we’re competing against are building new equipment. They’re progressing; they’re in the wind tunnel, they’re building new equipment all the time where we’ve got cars that are a year old. That’s just what we have right now. We don’t really have a chance to develop, move forward, advance the program. So for now, we’re just trying to build a solid foundation, take care of our racecars, get them solidly in the top 35 and then evaluate what areas we need to work on. I think some engineering support, obviously manufacturer support is key in Cup racing, and our agreement with Toyota is progressing, and they’re helping us out more recently. It’s just going to take time. There are a few teams that are in front of us overall in the point standings that we should be able to compete with. We’re not quite there. The guys that are behind us in points, we feel like we should be ahead of them. It’s just going to take time to get a good solid foundation and start progressing weekly. Hopefully by the second half of the year we’ll be a consistent top 20 team; that’s really what our goals are this year.
Henderson: You’re a veteran in NASCAR, while your teammate, Landon Cassill, is a young guy. How much teamwork is there? Do you run similar setups? Are you a mentor for him?
Kvapil: We definitely share all of the information. We have meetings during practice and during the week to talk about what we’re bringing to the track and then while we’re at the track we talk about what we’re doing, what we’re changing, which direction we’re going in. So it’s definitely an open note book for the two teams. A lot of times, we do run similar setups, but each driver has their own feel. As far as experience, I’m really impressed with Landon. He does a great job for it only being his second year. He has good speed; he has a great feel for the race car. His input is very accurate. Really, the mentoring role doesn’t seem to have much of an effect. He knows what he needs. He’s got race experience in the Nationwide Series, he ran the Cup Series last year, and he does a good job. For as young as he is and the limited experience he has, he does a great job. I feel like the sky is the limit for him. He definitely has the talent and the ability to go fast. With some experience, I think he can be a consistent frontrunner.
Henderson: You talked about being behind because of not having time with the seven-post rig, not having time in the wind tunnel. How important is that technology today, and how much has it changed the sport since you’ve been involved?
Kvapil: It’s very important. Especially all the development that goes on back at the shop, with the engineers. The big teams are constantly building new equipment and spending hours in the wind tunnel, or on the seven-post weeks in advance of an event. If you look at the rules changes NASCAR has made in the last couple of weeks, we’ve not been able to go to the wind tunnel and really see what that did to the racecars. We just have to kind of get a feel for it when we get on the racetrack and adjust from there, where the bigger teams, they get that data and have a better idea how to overcome that change than NASCAR made. I feel like we’re always going to be a little bit behind the front-running, premier teams, but we know that. We’re a small team with 40 employees. Right now we just kind of have the cars and equipment we’ve got, and we’re just trying to make the most of it, take care of it, and build for the future.
Henderson: With that said, how much of the success of a team is still in the driver’s hands?
Kvapil: Well, being stuck on a small team, I feel like the drivers have a lot of say in things, even like the setup of the cars, changes during the race. My crew chief, Todd Anderson is a first-year crew chief, so he’s learning as we go. So it definitely takes everybody going 100%. I spend a lot of time at the shop, talking with Todd about setups and trends on how each track presents itself in the past. I think drivers have a critical role as every other member of the team does. With the big teams, they show up and the engineering and crew chiefs say ‘this is the best setup on the seven-post and this is what we’re going to run,’ and for us it’s more on past experience and really, seat-of-the-pants feel.
Henderson: You’re from Wisconsin, which has really been a racing hotbed. A lot of guys have come from there, and Jimmie Johnson even moved there when he wanted to get into oval racing. What makes it that way?
Kvapil: The thing about Wisconsin short track racing is that you can run one car four or five nights a week with very few differences in the rules packages Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. There are a bunch of short tracks around the Midwest. And I think there’s just a good work ethic, too. My family definitely was an average family. We weren’t wealthy by any means. My dad owned a body shop, and we worked on the cars day and night. We were just very committed to working on the cars; we enjoyed it. So, I think a good work ethic and being able to run a car at a bunch of different race tracks against a bunch of competition is a good way to get experience. Another thing I think the Midwest does, and Wisconsin in particular, if you qualify well up there, you don’t start on the pole like a lot of the short tracks do down in the South. There’s always an inversion, so you start from mid-pack or towards the rear, and you have to learn how to get to the front in a 30 or 40-lap feature race. You have to really drive hard and you’re not just starting on the pole and making laps like you would if you started up front.
Henderson: When you were coming up through the ranks, was there anyone in particular that you looked up to?
Kvapil: Growing up, I was a fan of Dick Trickle and Joe Shear. Those were the local short track guys that were winning every week. Those were the guys I looked up to when I was pretty young. Then, when I got a little older and first started racing super late models, Matt Kenseth was winning races and championships all over the Midwest and Wisconsin, and I really looked up to him. Really, when he got his shot in the Busch Series at that time and then the Cup Series, it really gave me hope and inspiration that I could possibly be there and the steps I could take in my racing future. So knowing that I raced Friday and Saturday nights with Matt and was competitive with him at the local short tracks, and then to see his career grow and the success he had, it gave me the confidence that maybe by doing the right things and working hard, following in his footsteps in the Midwest, that maybe I could have the same success.
Henderson: What’s your race day routine? Did you have to ramp it up for the 600 miles in Charlotte?
Kvapil: I don’t really do anything different. There are always sponsor or media obligations before the race. Then the drivers’ meeting is always two hours before the race. The schedule is pretty structured. I like to get to the track plenty early if I’m not staying in the motor home. I don’t want to get caught in traffic or stress that I’m going to be late. I like to get here early, talk to the guys, talk to my crew chief about the setup and changes that we might be looking to do throughout the event. Then I just kind of hang out and relax until the drivers’ meeting and then just relax for a couple of hours, maybe get a bite to eat and get ready for the race. It’s really nothing special. It’s pretty structured as far as sponsor or media obligations, meet and greets, stuff you have to do, and then once we get to drivers’ meeting time, you just put that stuff behind you and get ready to race.
Henderson: Talk a little about your interests away from the track. What’s fun for you outside of racing?
Kvapil: I have three kids, so any time I’m not at the track or I’m at home, I want to spend time with them. The kids are in sports, activities and things with their school, and I like to be involved with that. Simple things, just taking them to school and picking them up from school is a lot of fun. The Cup schedule means you travel three or four days a week and you’re gone from home. When I am home, I like to hang out with them whether it’s riding four-wheelers around or swimming in the pool, or school activities, just being involved with them. Pretty basic stuff, but when you are away from home three or four days a week, it’s very important, and it feels pretty good to be able to spend that time with them. My daughter will be 16 in June and my boys are eight and five, so it’s a pretty big range in age, so they’re all into different things. They keep me busy for sure.
Henderson: What would surprise people to know about you?
Kvapil: I don’t know if there are any surprises. I’m a huge motorsports fan in general. I love watching drag racing, IndyCar, Formula 1, all that stuff. I’m a big Green Bay Packers fan. I got to go watch them win the Super Bowl a few years ago. I’m pretty much just an average guy from Wisconsin.
Henderson: What did you think of the Indianapolis 500?
Kvapil: It was pretty crazy. You kind of root for the underdog, so I was kind of hoping Sato would pull it off and get the win, but it was pretty neat to see Franchitti. The Ganassi cars are so good over there.
Henderson: Was Franchitti out of line on that final pass attempt?
Kvapil: He gave him a lane. It was a very narrow, slim lane. But you’re racing for the win, and you’d do the same thing if it was the Daytona 500 or the Coke 600 coming to the checkers. You don’t want to give your competitors an inch.
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Wisconsin racing has always been known to produce excellence! During “the good-ole days” 5 nights a week of short-track action was a way of life. There was a reason that the IROC Series based in New Jersry (with the genius of Ray Evernham on board) used 3 Wisconsin short track drivers to test/set-up their cars. Obviously Dick Trickle, Jim Sauter and Dave Marcus (who was also the RCR/DE “test-pilot”) were masters of their craft honing their skills on the rough and tumble tracks of the Northland.
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