FORT WORTH, TEXAS * Travis Kvapil, destined to finish no better than third, inherited his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory when tire trouble struck down Ultra Motorsports teammates Scott Riggs and Ted Musgrave in the waning laps of...
FORT WORTH, TEXAS * Travis Kvapil, destined to finish no better than third, inherited his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory when tire trouble struck down Ultra Motorsports teammates Scott Riggs and Ted Musgrave in the waning laps of Friday night's Silverado 350 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Kvapil picked up the lead on the 141st of 146 laps when the right front tire of Riggs' Team ASE Racing Dodge went flat, sending the Bud Pole winner down pit road * a trip Musgrave's then second- place Mopar Performance Dodge had made the trip with identical trouble a few minutes earlier.
The 25-year-old Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year contender then held off the challenge of veteran Rick Crawford's Milwaukee Electric Tool Ford to prevail by 0.501 second. Kvapil, the eighth different winner of the season, won $59,665 at a slow, 112.020 mph average speed reduced by seven caution periods that consumed 41 laps.
"I think we were a winner by default but we'll take it," offered Kvapil, the year's second freshman winner. "I set my goals to finish in the top five in points, to be rookie-of-the-year and to win races. We are right on target with that."
Kvapil's CAT Rental Store Chevrolet previously had finished second three times, most recently at New Hampshire International Speedway on July 22. The Addington Racing team last won, with Andy Houston, on April 22, 2000 at Portland, Ore.
Crawford, who logged his best series finish since winning at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1998, was trailed by Jack Sprague's NetZero Platinum Chevrolet which dodged several bullets to increase his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship advantage to 64 points over Joe Ruttman.
Sprague narrowly escaped disaster on lap 51 when the engine in Lance Hooper's Chevy let go, forcing Sprague to slow dramatically and brush the Turn 3 wall. Already struggling with an ill-handling mount, Sprague made several trips down pit road but * as the race progressed * worked his way back to the front.
David Starr, driving a limited schedule in the Chasco Contracting Chevrolet , took fourth. Lance Norick placed fifth in the Aventis Behring Choice Silverado. Sixth through 10th were Dennis Setzer, Coy Gibbs, Ricky Hendrick, Ruttman and Musgrave. Riggs, like Musgrave a lap down, was 13th.
A spate of accidents * beginning with a six-truck pileup after a third turn oil-down on lap two * decimated the field as only 19 of the event's 36 teams completed the 219-mile affair.
Among those knocked out were both Roush Racing entries of Kyle Busch and Jon Wood * top-10 runners until the 16-year-old Busch, being passed in Turn 1 by Hendrick on lap 72, lost control and spun into Wood. Donnie Neuenberger, Larry Gunselman and Eric Norris also were felled by accidents.
Riggs, who qualified at a record 181.953 mph, lost the first lap lead to outside front row starter Musgrave by the length of his Ram's bumper cover. Riggs regained control on lap two and held the point until the 73rd when he pitted, for the second time, under caution. Terry Cook, who remained on the track with Starr, held the point on the restart but Riggs roared back to lead again on lap 79.
The field pitted again, on lap 102, after Cook's Power Stroke Diesel Ford slammed the wall in Turn 2 after its engine exploded. Kvapil won the battle on pit road with Riggs exiting second, ahead of Setzer, Musgrave, Crawford, Hendrick, Sprague and Norick.
Riggs passed Kvapil in Turn 2 on lap 108 and Musgrave took the No. 2 spot two serials later. Both drove away from their pursuers until fate dealt her hand after the 10-laps-to-go signal had been shown.
Musgrave slowed dramatically exiting Turn 2 on lap 138, his tire flat. The crowd barely had time to catch its breath when Riggs did likewise. Simultaneously, Hendrick, who'd climbed to fourth-place on Crawford's rear bumper, dropped a cylinder, taking him out of the mix.
"Unbelievable. The two fastest trucks," said Musgrave. "The tires just gave up, I guess."
Said Riggs, "I saw Ted go low and I thought he was going under me (for the lead). We had a great truck. It was consistent * we had great pit stops and we didn't make adjustments.
"I don't know. It's heartbreaking."
Kvapil was equally shocked.
"I saw Ted head to the pits when I was coming out of Turn 4. I could not believe they were going to give me second," he said. "Then my spotter told me the two truck (Riggs) was off the pace. There were so many emotions. I tried to be calm and concentrate on winning the race."
And he did.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next heads for Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Sunday's Orleans 350.