Front Row Motorsports kicked off the 2011 season Sunday by securing all three of its cars into the biggest race of the year -- next week's Daytona 500. After making huge upgrades in equipment and adding key personnel in the off-season, the team came to Daytona International Speedeway much improved over last year.
The enhancements were evident Sunday when Travis Kvapil, who was not locked into the race by points, posted the 20th fastest qualifying time in the Long John Silver's Ford to secure a spot in "The Great American Race." His teammates, David Gilliland in the Taco Bell Ford and Robert Richardson Jr. in the North Texas Pipe Ford, qualified 38th and 43rd respectively. Thursday's Gatorade Duels will determine the starting positions for all three cars, but all three are secured in Sunday's starting grid.
The team has two days off before hitting the track again on Wednesday for two more practice sessions to prepare for Thursday's Duels.
Comments from Taco Bell Ford team driver David Gilliland after Daytona 500 qualifying:
"It was good. It drove great. They've done a great job repaving this place. It's really smooth and drivability is not an issue anymore. We didn't really put a whole lot into qualifying our car. Our main focus at Front Row Motorsports has been to focus on Travis Kvapil's car and getting him locked into the race today. And we did that. I'm proud of all the work the guys in the shop have put into his car, but we didn't really do anything special for qualifying. I feel like our car has good speed, much better speed than we had last year, and I feel like it's gonna race really well."
Comments from North Texas Pipe Ford team driver Robert Richardson Jr. after Daytona 500 qualifying:
"This is really my first time on the race track. I didn't get to come down here and do any of the tire testing with all of the other teams, so they kind of have an advantage over some of us.
"This is our first time on the race track this week and we're trying to get the car dialed in as quick as possible. The car is driving really good. It doesn't really matter where you qualify today because the duel races kind of determine where you start for the 500 anyway. We'll see how it drives next week in the draft and go from there."
Comments from Long John Silver's Ford team driver Travis Kvapil after Daytona 500 qualifying:
"It's the Daytona 500. It's the first race of the year. Being a go-or-go-homer is just so incredibly nerve-racking. The qualifying format here is very unique. If you're not locked into today by the top three on speed, you can always race your way in on Thursday, but tonight, Monday night, Tuesday night and Wednesday night you don't hardly sleep. All you think about is the race on Thursday, especially this week because it's so different.
"In the past, you could not have a very fast car, but if it handled good, you could race your way in on Thursday. Now it's all about speed in those two-car drafts and a lot of us guys don't have any experience with that, so I was hoping we could do what we did today. The next couple of nights we'll rest easy and take care of this race car throughout practice and the duels and get a good, solid finish on Sunday for the 500 and kick our year off great for our Front Row Motorsports team."
-source: front row motorsports