MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 6, 2005) - Travis Kvapil is learning more every day as a rookie driver in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and heading into Richmond International Raceway for the second and final time this year, he plans to use what he...
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 6, 2005) - Travis Kvapil is learning more every day as a rookie driver in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and heading into Richmond International Raceway for the second and final time this year, he plans to use what he learned from his first trip to the 0.75-mile track.
If Kvapil learned anything during his first round at the eastern Virginia-based facility, it was that the track tightens up as the night racing progresses.
"The last time we were at Richmond [International Raceway] the car handled great off the truck and we qualified OK, it was the race that got us," Kvapil said. "It's not like we were the only ones at a disadvantage, but we qualified in the heat of the day and then raced under the lights.
"The track tightened up on us and that wasn't something I was prepared for. This time we are heading into a very similar situation and I sort of know what to expect. Shane [Wilson, crew chief] has his notes from May and they should be pretty close to what we need this time around."
Kvapil understands the mechanics of short-track racing. He knows that success in close quarters will be a result of a good handling race car in addition to patience and perseverance.
"I started on short tracks and did pretty well," Kvapil said. "Short track racing is about keeping it together. Whether it is the car, the mindset or whatever, you just have to keep it together.
"On a short track, you never know what is around the corner. Yeah, you have your spotter up there looking out for you but the bottom line is he can't see everything all at once, even if he thinks he can."
Spotting at a short track takes a lot of concentration. John Erickson, Penske Racing South's general manager, handles spotting duties for the No. 77 team.
"I don't know what's worse, spotting at a short track or on a superspeedway where the cars are sometimes three and even four wide," Erickson said. "I guess they are both about the same. You have to look ahead of your car and behind your car all at the same time. The driver has to be up on the wheel and watching what is around him but you still have to give guidance. A driver's view is limited so spotters are the 'eye-in-the-sky.'
"Spotting is something you never get bored with; there is too much going on to get bored - especially on a short track."
Kvapil started the May race at RIR from the 21st position and finished in the 22nd position. With any luck, the rookie can improve upon those statistics and start the final quarter of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series building on momentum.
NEWS OF NOTE
Upcoming Birthdays: * Sept. 8 - Dennis "Moose" Cabe
Equipment: Primary - PRS-092
The Kodak Racing team is taking PRS-092 to Richmond International Raceway. Kvapil drove the same car on that track in the spring.