MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2005) - Travis Kvapil has had fun driving his No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger this year, especially when the chassis is PRS-080, as is the case this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte for the UAW-GM Quality 500.
Kvapil cannot put his finger on anything in particular about the car. He says, "It just feels good. It doesn't matter where we run PRS-080, it just gets up and goes.
"It's just one of those things, I guess. All of our cars are built the same way; sometimes it just all comes together differently but feels so right."
Kvapil has raced PRS-080 four times this year, beginning with the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.
Kvapil started his No. 77 Mobil Clean 5000 Dodge from the sixth position in that 267-lap event. He led twice for nine laps on the 1.5-mile track but was relegated to a 26th-place finish, one lap down.
"The car was so good all day but after that last pit stop it was horrible," Kvapil said. "It was the tire pressure change that hurt us. Unfortunately, it happened at the end and there was no time to fix it."
PRS-080 made its next showing at both LMS events in May.
Kvapil started the NASCAR NEXTEL Open from the fourth position and led three times for 13 laps before posting a third-place finish.
He started the Coca-Cola 600 in the 18th position, and led twice for 23 laps before finishing 32nd. After working with tight handling conditions throughout the night, Kvapil's gold No. 77 Dodge broke free, hit the wall, cut a tire and was sent to the garage for repairs. Even following the repairs Kvapil was able to run lap-times competitive with the leaders.
"It doesn't really matter when you are as far back as I was but I had a fast car that night," Kvapil said. "Both races at Charlotte the Kodak team put up some good numbers and I hope we do it again this time around."
The third outing for PRS-080 was at Chicago in July where Kvapil's machine sported a Jasper Engines and Transmissions paint scheme. Once again, 080 was on top of its game at the Joliet, Ill.-based 1.5-mile oval. Kvapil qualified 16th but mechanical failure forced him to park his ride just 13 laps into the 267-lap event.
Most recently, Kvapil drove his favorite No. 77 chassis at Michigan International Speedway in August. The Kodak team seemed to struggle throughout the weekend, but turned it around during the race before Kvapil's quick demise.
Kvapil had to take a provisional to start the event from the 41st position but managed to work his way through traffic. He was posted 14th when Stuart Kirby's machine cut a tire and drifted up the track. Kvapil said he misjudged his competitor and, "tried to shoot the gap."
Kvapil moved to the high-side of Kirby's machine at the wrong time and was pinched against the wall.
"I thought I had enough room, but it was obviously tighter than what I thought," Kvapil stated. "I had been running the high-side and thought I would be OK. I was wrong."
Given his history in PRS-080, Kvapil looks forward to climbing into the driver's seat Thursday.
"This weekend will be fun," Kvapil said. "I know what this car can do at Charlotte and I know what it has done at tracks similar. This is going to be a great weekend for the Kodak team. I am not going to be overly arrogant though. I don't know if we will go out and lead laps. What I do know is that Penske-Jasper Engines are always strong and my history in this car speaks for itself. Right now, I can use a little bit of whatever good there is [in PRS-080]."
NEWS OF NOTE
The Kodak Racing team is taking PRS-080 to Lowe's Motor Speedway. Earlier this year, Kvapil raced PRS-080 at Las Vegas (St 6th/Fin 26th), both Lowe's Motor Speedway events (NEXTEL Open (St. 4th/Fin. 3rd)) - Coca Cola 600 (St. 18th/Fin. 32nd), Chicagoland Speedway (St. 16th/Fin. 43rd), and most recently, Michigan International Speedway (St. 41st/Fin. 38th). Other than the race at Chicagoland where Kvapil's day ended early due to equipment failure, PRS-080 has made a strong showing.
Kodak Racing Test Sessions:
Kvapil and his Shane Wilson-led Kodak Racing team spent Tuesday testing at Martinsville Speedway.
Travis Kvapil on overall racing at LMS:
"So far, Charlotte has been good to me. I just hope to keep that streak going."
Kvapil on the challenges LMS presents:
"[Lowe's Motor Speedway] is such a heat sensitive track that it always presents a different challenge than the teams usually deal with. Given the changes 'Humpy' [Wheeler] has made to the surface, we are going to have our hands full. It's nice to know I'll be driving my 'Old Faithful.'"
Shane Wilson on the newly levigated track surface - What will the new surface mean for a team who has not tested?:
"We will take it as easy as we can when we first hit the track. We know we have a good car. Travis drove the same car back in May. We have had relatively good results in it and there is no need to push it. We will probably start with [the same set up] we had before to see where we need to go. It is the standard every week. We know what we think will work, we just have to put it to the test carefully."