NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2012 NASCAR Driver Review: Travis Kvapil

Travis Kvapil

2012 Rides: Nos. 73, 93 BK Racing Toyota
2012 Primary Sponsors: Burger King (28 races), Dr. Pepper (7 races – 6 in the No. 93, 1 in the No. 73)
2012 Owners: Ron Devine, Wayne Press
2012 Crew Chiefs: Todd Anderson (34 races), Buddy Sisco (Darlington)
2012 Stats: 35 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10, 0 poles, 27th in points

High Point: Talladega, October. Sure, Kvapil earned a top-10 finish at this plate track late in the season, but that was mainly because he was able to get through the gigantic wreck on the final lap a little quicker than other drivers. Pure luck – simple as that. Still, overall Kvapil had a respectable year at Daytona and Talladega, posting a 13.3 average finish in the three races he ran at those facilities.

Arguably, the best portion of the season for Kvapil was in August, when he put up back-to-back top-20 results at Michigan and Bristol. I know, it doesn’t sound like all that much (Kvapil accomplished the feat at Kentucky and Daytona earlier in the season as well). However, the second back-to-back was more impressive than the first because it did not involve a restrictor-plate race. The 15th-place finish at Michigan was Kvapil’s best outside of Talladega at October.

Low Point: Since this pattern occurred early in the season, it is generally hard to say whether it was self-inflicted or just the results of the mad dash to just get out on track at the beginning of the year. But Kvapil (and BK Racing in general) had serious problems early in the season on intermediate tracks. After finishing a decent 19th in Phoenix, Kvapil’s debut in the car, he went to Las Vegas and promptly blew an engine in the race.

Teammate Landon Cassill didn’t do much better, blowing his motor as well. The only difference was that Cassill’s powerplant lasted longer before, as our former colleague John Potts would say, the car “let out its magic smoke.” Kvapil’s intermediate issues continued with another blown engine at Texas.

Summary: Kvapil’s original plan was to drive the No. 93 in only 26 or so events when Danica Patrick was not wheeling her GoDaddy-sponsored No. 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing. When Patrick was competing, David Reutimann was scheduled to take over the No. 93 from Kvapil. Ultimately, this scenario only played out at February’s Daytona 500, with Reutimann running one more event – at Darlington – and then subsequently was released from the team. Kvapil, clearly through team chemistry and performance earned his spot at the No. 93.

But the car had only so much speed. With BK Racing only coming together in January, it meant that the first portion of the season would see the team go through growing pains as they, for lack of better words, got used to working together. Qualifying pace was never there for Kvapil, who posted one of the worst average starting spots (36.6) of anyone who ran in Sprint Cup in 2012, including only one start in the top 30 all season (29th at Richmond in April).

As the season continued on though, the team began to gel and put together decent results. Avoiding trouble at Talladega (May) and Daytona (July) gave them 16th-place finishes to build on. Runs that would have been in the 30s early in the season during the second half of 2012 became results in the mid-20s. For a team like BK Racing, staying out of trouble and putting in laps is absolutely paramount. Aside from the two early engine failures, the only other DNF came at Indianapolis due to a blown right-front tire causing a crash.

By the end of the season, Kvapil still wasn’t qualifying well, but the team was able to overcome those lackluster efforts to put up decent finishes in each race.

Team Ranking: First of two. Kvapil appeared to be the quieter of the two BK Racing drivers both on and off the track in 2012. Despite the fact that Cassill out-qualified him by an average of seven spots per race, Kvapil was more consistent with his finishes and had three DNFs to Cassill’s four.

2013 Outlook: Officially unclear at the moment. However, it appears likely that Kvapil will be back with BK Racing for another year. The team is also looking to change the number of one of their cars to No. 23 to create synergy with sponsor Dr. Pepper. Aside from the couple of races in which BK Racing ran a third car, Dr. Pepper’s red scheme only appeared on the No. 93, so this particular team is the likely candidate for a number change if it goes down.

With Mike Ford and Pat Tryson now in the fold, leading the charge at the shop this team will likely grow stronger in 2013. Step one in their improvement should be to work on their qualifying package, since they were notably out to lunch there for nearly the entire season.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: D
2008 Grade: C
2010 Grade: C-
2012 Grade: C+

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