Milwaukee: Travis Kvapil - NASCAR spotlight

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 25, 2003) -- Travis Kvapil can look at the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series either way: glass half empty, glass half full. The pessimistic side of Kvapil (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet) might be frustrated over a...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 25, 2003) -- Travis Kvapil can look at the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series either way: glass half empty, glass half full.

The pessimistic side of Kvapil (No. 16 IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet) might be frustrated over a failure to win eight races into the campaign.

On the other hand, a more optimistic Kvapil can point out that he's finished six out of eight times among the top five and -- with a second place in last week's O'Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park -- ranks second to Bobby Hamilton (No. 4 Square D Dodge) in the championship chase.

The impartial observer might find a little merit in each argument.

Last year's Xpress Motorsports driver (and 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion) Mike Bliss already had won heading into Saturday's traditional GNC 200 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Conversely, Bliss was then ranked fourth in the points, 74 behind leader David Starr, with one fewer top five on the board. Kvapil is currently 84 behind Hamilton.

Kvapil, however, has won before -- twice, in fact -- and has no doubts he'll visit victory circle again.

History says the Janesville, Wis. veteran has a pretty good shot at a track that, in eight previous races, never has crowned a repeat winner. Last year's champion Terry Cook (No. 29 Power Stroke Diesel/Oil Mate Ford) and 2001 victor Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Performance Dodge) are the only former winners expected to enter the GNC 200.

"I feel like our team's on a roll," said Kvapil. "We had a truck capable of winning at Memphis and we've been consistent. We've run up front but up until last weekend, we never had hit it just right.

"Maybe this is the week we'll break into victory lane."

A Kvapil victory wouldn't exactly be a long shot. He finished third at The Mile in 2001 as a Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender and was 10th last season.

Kvapil was part of the three-truck, blanket finish at Daytona International Speedway, finishing a split-second behind winner Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Motel & RV Ford). Since then, his team has changed crew chiefs with Chris Showalter coming aboard four races ago.

All of those finishes -- at Charlotte, Dover, Texas and Memphis -- have been top fives.

"I get along real good with Chris; he's a hard worker and a down-to-earth kind of guy," said Kvapil. "He receives my information really good and it didn't take him long to figure out what I like."

Then there's the intangible of a Wisconsin driver returning home to The Milwaukee Mile, the crown jewel of Badger State competition.

Kvapil, 27, took in his first race at State Fairgrounds Park two decades ago.

"I saw a lot of the great drivers race there and it would be a huge accomplishment for me to win for all the people who've supported me over the years," he said. "I love going back to Milwaukee. When I go to driver introductions, it seems like the whole crowd's cheering for you."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , David Starr , Ted Musgrave , Terry Cook , Mike Bliss , Travis Kvapil