ROOKIE RUNS UP FRONT AT NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK RACE, FALLS TO ENGINE WOES
Travis Kittleson's Top-Ten Chances Go Up In Smoke at Vegas
CONCORD, NC (September 25, 2006) -- Rolling the dice often tells a person's luck at Vegas. Unfortunately, "snake eyes" came up for Travis Kittleson this weekend when he took part in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series' "Smith's Las Vegas 350" at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But Kittleson didn't something as little as a blown engine get him down; the experience he gained from running up front and passing seasoned veterans on the track was more than worth it.
"Vegas was fantastic, except for the engine blowing up," joked Kittleson. "Unfortunately the engine let go with around 30 to go. I definitely was having a good run up until that point. We had good pit strategy; we stayed out when the leaders pitted and were running in second. We were able to hold out ground and only fell back to around the 13th position.
"Then we came in to the pits and made another adjustment and the truck was really good after that. I think, had we been able to finish, realistically we may have had a top-15 finish. Judging by the people we raced against with 30-to-go when the engine let go, I think that was a realistic goal. We were racing with Rick Crawford and I think he ended up 12th. I was actually getting ready to pass of him when the engine developed its problems."
The weekend started off with an optional practice that gave Kittleson some much needed extra track time.
"There was no way I was going to miss that one, not with the new asphalt the track had. I guess there was a little bit more banking too. Someone said there was going to be some progressive banking, but I guess that they never did it."
Once the practice session got underway, Kittleson began to get more and more comfortable out on the track and was preparing his truck for a good race.
"I got talking to some people and I was like 'man I am not even lifting in three and four.' It got in the point that by the end of the day, you weren't even lifting all the way around the track. I thought that was pretty cool. I think the track officials did a really good job with the track and reworking some of it. Right there at the end of the race, it really started to get a second groove going. It also had a couple of bumps and stuff just to give it a little bit of character."
Despite not being able to get the finish that the team deserved, Travis was able to walk away from the track with an incredible amount of knowledge and experience that he can use as he continues to move up through the ranks.
"It is disappointing. I really think that we had a good run going and could have had good finish," added Kittleson. "But I learned a lot this weekend. I learned a ton about racing in dirty air. I would get the truck set up well in practice and it wouldn't show on the scoreboard, but every time that the green flag drops, it doesn't matter what times these guys were running in practice, they all slow down. Same thing happened at Nashville; once the race starts, we aren't that far off the leader at all."
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at Las Vegas may have marked the end of the 2006 truck season for Kittleson, but he is open to other opportunities.
"This was probably our last truck deal we will run this year with Green Light Racing, so unless another good deal can come along, we'll probably focus our efforts elsewhere. We are even thinking of trying to put together a Talladega ARCA deal."
-credit: r/t racing