Comfortable in Close Quarters
Martinsville Gives Kvapil Early-Career Flashbacks
Statesville, N.C. (March 29, 2011) - The twice-a-year races at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway can be among the most grueling on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. But Travis Kvapil feels as comfortable there as anywhere.
The half-mile, paperclip-shaped track is reminiscent of the short tracks where Kvapil launched his racing career in his home state of Wisconsin. The track is also the scene of his first Cup race in 2004, when he announced his arrival with a fifth-place qualifying run and a 21st-place race finish.
Now the seven-year veteran and his No. 38 Long John Silver's team enter the race weekend outside the top 35 in owners' points but confident they will make the starting field. Kvapil has 10 Cup career starts at Martinsville, with a top finish of 18th.
Comments from Long John Silver's driver Travis Kvapil on Martinsville:
"Martinsville is one of my favorite racetracks on the schedule. It's kind of special for me. I actually started my very first Sprint Cup race there in the fall of 2004. Coming from the short tracks of Wisconsin, the little bull rings, and going to a place like Martinsville, the little half-mile, close-quartered racing, I feel very comfortable with it.
"I have a great feel in the racecar for what I need to make it handle good, get it to turn and have good power and good drive off the corners. So, I'm excited about Martinsville. Like I said, it's one of my favorites and I think we can go there and have a great day.
"Short-track racing is obviously a different kind of racing compared to your superspeedways and your intermediate tracks. There's really no aero involved, it's pure handling and getting through the corners well. You've really got to 'feel' your way through it and you've really got to have a good-handling car.
"You've also got to do your best to keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble. At a place like Martinsville, it's not uncommon to see people getting into each other. Maybe someone owes somebody a payback or maybe it's just aggressive racing. You're not going 200 miles an hour, so it's less of a risk to try to nudge somebody or move him out of the way than at, say, a Daytona or a Talladega where if you get into someone you can cause a huge wreck and ruin a lot of guys' days.
"We haven't started the season the way we expected to. We've struggled a bit. And we definitely didn't expect to be five races in and having to start qualifying into races on speed. It's been a combination of missing some set-ups and just bad luck - we got caught up in some wrecks and had some flat tires and came away with some bad finishes. But I have a lot of confidence in our team and our new crew chief, Jay Guy. We've got all the pieces. We're going to put them all together and get this thing turned around."
- source: front row motorsports