Houston: Travis Kittleson race notes, rookie point leader

Travis Kittleson scores another top 10, takes over rookie point lead. R/T Racing team still shocking ASA community with consistency. CONCORD, NC (April 15, 2003) -- Rookie Travis Kittleson was expecting big things from his first trip to Texas...

Travis Kittleson scores another top 10, takes over rookie point lead.
R/T Racing team still shocking ASA community with consistency.

CONCORD, NC (April 15, 2003) -- Rookie Travis Kittleson was expecting big things from his first trip to Texas and while it was not the victory he had hoped for, an eighth place finish on the slick and slippery track was pretty huge.

Kittleson also finished fifth in the ASA season opener (Lakeland, FL), so two back-to-back top-10 finishes have things rolling in the right direction for the 23-year-old. The Texas trip was filled with 250 laps of bumping and grinding at Houston Motor Speedway, but when the race was done and the smoke settled, Kittleson emerged out of the pack lead in the race for the $50,000 Rookie of the Year award in ASA. He also sits fourth in the National Championship standings.

"That was a fun race. That was short track racing at its best right there," commented Kittleson about the inaugural race for ASA at the .375-mile oval. "It was just a slam-bang'em night out there; both the front and rear of my car is tore up, but that will happen on little bullrings like that.

"My team called for some great pit strategy. We came in for four tires and ran the entire race on one tank of fuel. It gave us even better grip on a track that was very hard to find grip. If you got just six inches out of the second groove, you were done and headed for the wall.

"We know we still have a lot of work ahead of ourselves to be able to maintain these types of finishes. I figure if we have good finishes in the first four or five races, we will be able to build a foundation on it. You are bound to have a bad race here and there; that's just a part of racing, but if we can build a decent foundation under us, then those bad races may not hurt us as much."

Kittleson, who has surprised many with his early season consistency considering this is his first shot as a full-time ASA competitor, qualified his car in the eighth position on Saturday afternoon. He then held onto the top-10 races until pit stops shuffled the field. After the pit stops cycled through, Kittleson found himself comfortably riding in the top-10 for the rest of the night.

"It was a real tough place to pass. Someone who didn't change tires could hold off someone with new tires for quite a while, so it made it a track position battle. It was one of those tracks where you would run into the corner and the guy in front of you slow up so much because he was protecting the bottom that you lost your momentum. I think if we could have got out front, we could have held them off."

Kittleson has reason to be excited for the season to continue, as the series moves into the state of North Carolina this weekend for the BFGoodrich Tires 250 at Concord Motorsport Park. While running a part-time ASA schedule in 2001, Kittleson finished eighth at Concord after leading 81 laps on that sunny afternoon before running out of gas late in the race.

"There isn't a place I would rather be heading next. It is like a second home for us there because we will spend most of our time now on in my crew chief's shop in Mooresville. I think we will be good."

-r/tr-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Travis Kittleson