KVAPIL STILL HOPES TO EARN A STARTING SPOT FOR THE NASCAR NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 17, 2005) - Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger, has one opportunity left to earn a starting spot to compete against...
KVAPIL STILL HOPES TO EARN A STARTING SPOT FOR THE NASCAR NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 17, 2005) - Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger, has one opportunity left to earn a starting spot to compete against 21 other Cup Series drivers, including his two teammates, in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge - he must win the NEXTEL Open.
If Kvapil's goal is not attained, his fate will lie in the hands of the NASCAR fans.
Kvapil, one-of-two 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Rookie of the Year candidates who compete in that series on a regular basis, would love nothing more than to control his own destiny but says, "I'll take any help I can get."
"A win is something we hope for every week," Kvapil said. "What goes unspoken is that on any given weekend you get an added bonus with a win - a guaranteed spot against the best of the best [in the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge]. I'm not one to ask for help, but I sure won't look a gift horse in the mouth. I hope the fans are voting for me. Just in case I don't take the checkered flag in the NEXTEL Open I will need their vote. A starting spot is a starting spot; there is a lot of money on the line!"
To prepare for the next two weeks of competition at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte, Kvapil and his Kodak team tested at the Concord-based facility. Prior to the two-day test session, May 3-4, Kvapil's experience on the 1.5-mile tri-oval had been in NASCAR's Truck Series. In two events driving the truck, he posted an average start of 15th and an average finish of sixth.
"I was real happy with the test [session]" Kvapil said. "The track has a different feel to it than it did when I drove the truck. You can tell they have spent some time on the surface and did it up right. There is a lot of grip and I don't think it will be as heat sensitive as it has been in the past. I guess we'll find that out for sure this weekend though.
"It would be very cool to race my way into the All-Star event by winning the [NEXTEL Open]. Looking back at my truck stats, I am obviously a better closer at Charlotte than I am an opener."
Kvapil realizes there is a lot on the line from money to bragging rights, and not necessarily in that order. He also realizes his competition will be stiff in The Open as well as the fan voting.
"There are some great drivers already locked into the All-Star event but there are just as many great drivers hoping for their chance to join the top-dogs," Kvapil said. "There are some for-sure fan favorites that haven't won a race to secure their spot. Ken Schrader won the fan's vote last year and he is still waiting. You've got Kyle Petty without a win, Sterling Marlin, Ricky Rudd, etc.
"I am a realist. I haven't been around long enough to make a name for myself like those guys have. Not to take anything away from the Brian Vickers and the Jamie McMurrays of the group, you know, the young guns still looking for a starting spot in the All-Star Challenge. I have to win The Open, bottom line."
NEWS OF NOTE
Celebrate Good Times, C'mon: Carson Kvapil will be 3 years old on Sunday. What better way to celebrate than to have Daddy in victory lane Saturday night.
On the Subject of Daddy: Kvapil's recent test schedule had him traveling frequently, as all Cup drivers do during the racing season. While watching the race one weekend, Carson caught a glimpse of his father during an interview with a FOX personality. In a move that reportedly made Jennifer, his mother, want to cry, Carson touched the television screen and said, "Da Da home".
There's No Place Like Home, Well, Sort of: While the NASCAR community loves making the "Charlotte Swing" in May, the drivers still stay in their motor coaches on track property.
"I used to think it was nice to be home because we got to sleep in our own beds," Kvapil said. "Not this year. I guess I've gotten used to the coach. It is nice to have the option to stay or go. I'm not sure what I'll do yet. More than likely, I will end up staying at the track."
Equipment: PRS-080 - The Kodak Racing team is taking PRS -080 to the NEXTEL Open with hopes of racing it in the NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. The Open will be the second race for No. 080. Kvapil raced No. 080 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year (St. 6th/Fin. 26th). The Las Vegas event is the only one Kvapil has led in the 2005 season. No. 080 was new for that event. PRS-080 is also planned for competition in the Coca-Cola 600 the following weekend.
Wind Tunnel: PRS-080 has been to the Lockheed wind tunnel twice this year - Jan. 4-5 and April 11.
Event Preparation: The team attended a two-day test session at LMS on May 3-4.