TURNING THE TIDES Travis Kvapil Sees the Light at the End of the Tunnel MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 24, 2004) - It's been a long time coming but Travis Kvapil feels the tide is about to turn for his No. 77 Kodak Racing team and good luck is on the...
TURNING THE TIDES
Travis Kvapil Sees the Light at the End of the Tunnel
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 24, 2004) - It's been a long time coming but Travis Kvapil feels the tide is about to turn for his No. 77 Kodak Racing team and good luck is on the other side.
Kvapil's boost of confidence stems from his team's performance during the NEXTEL Open at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte last Saturday night. Kvapil started the 30-lap event from the fourth position. When the checkered flag was displayed signifying the end of the event, the No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger was posted third and credited with leading 43 percent of the total laps.
Following The Open, Kvapil credited his team's hard work and commitment.
"The Kodak team is making strides and this finish shows what we can do," Kvapil said. "We know we have a team capable of winning, we just need to work on the little things to get us there. This weekend was all about the little things.
"Shane [Wilson, crew chief] and the guys worked hard to put this car together and give me a set-up I could race. The car was a little tight all weekend but I guess it didn't hold me back any. Thirteen laps in the lead are 13 laps and we will take it," Kvapil added with a smile.
Kvapil makes no bones about the struggles the Kodak team has endured this year. Kvapil's statistics in the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season show one top-five with an average start of 18th and an average finish of 26th. He has completed only 86.2 percent of the total laps run.
"I sound like a broken record but this team has the components necessary to be successful," Kvapil said. "We have been our own worst enemy at times. One of our biggest challenges has been taking the No. 77 out of contention. We don't fault anyone but ourselves for some of the problems we have run into. We understand that if we qualify poorly, we are lessening our chances of finishing the event, let alone finishing well.
"This past weekend we executed well during practice and qualifying which resulted in a good finish. Buddy [Baker, driver coach] pointed out some mistakes that I made on the track during The Open and that will help this weekend for the Coca-Cola 600. We are taking the same car."
The Kodak Racing crew members have high hopes for the Coca-Cola 600. Wilson says expectations are running high for this weekend.
"This past week's performance gave us a glimpse of what we can expect for the 600," Wilson said. "The entire Penske-Jasper crew worked hard to give Travis a competitive car. He said it was a little tight and that is something we can adjust on more this weekend.
"Personally, I like heading back to a track for a second time with Travis. He learned a lot during The Open that we can carry over to the 600. He knows what line to run and he knows how his car should feel. Hopefully, the track won't have changed since last weekend."
While Kvapil enjoys the high he experienced leading The Open, he knows better than to rest on his laurels.
"I liked not having to look at someone else's taillights [last weekend]," Kvapil said. "The thing I have to remember is last weekend was last weekend and this weekend could be different. There will be different circumstances. Once the Kodak team and I can rise to the circumstances and adjust accordingly on a weekly basis, we can look forward to running up front every week.
For now, I will be happy knowing I can run up front. I will concentrate on making every lap count and the Kodak team will work on making the best adjustments for the situation. It may not be this year, but when we, as a team, can execute our respective roles to the best of our abilities, we will be a championship contender. Just watch."
NEWS OF NOTE
Inching Out the Competition: Bill "Stump" Lewis, hauler driver for the No. 77 Penske-Jasper Racing team clinched a small victory in the most recent installment of competition in the The Pilot Truck Challenge on Monday at Knight's Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C. Lewis completed a chicane course designed to test the trucker's skills in route planning and stopping distance. 4 inches separated Lewis from his competition.
Equipment: PRS-080 - The Kodak Racing team is taking PRS -080 to the Coca-Cola 600. Kvapil raced PRS-080 in the NEXTEL Open last Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway (St. 3rd/Fin. 4th). He also raced No. 080 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year (St. 6th/Fin. 26th).
No. 080 is the only car Kvapil has led events in this year (The Open - 13 laps/Las Vegas - 9 laps). No. 080 was new prior to the Las Vegas event.
Wind Tunnel: PRS-080 has been to the Lockheed wind tunnel twice this year - Jan. 4-5 and April 11.
Event Preparation: The team attended a two-day test session at LMS on May 3-4.