Mooresville, N.C. (Aug. 2, 2005) - Travis Kvapil started the 2005 racing season with thoughts of securing top RaybestosÂ© Rookie-of-the-Year honors in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, but heading into the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway...
Mooresville, N.C. (Aug. 2, 2005) - Travis Kvapil started the 2005 racing season with thoughts of securing top Raybestos© Rookie-of-the-Year honors in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, but heading into the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway his focus has shifted to the task at hand: Earning highest-qualifying rookie honors and securing the Raybestos© Top-Wrench Award for his crew chief, Shane Wilson.
As if the Raybestos© Rookie-of-the-Year competition weren't enough for Kvapil to focus on, the brake company has once again initiated heated competition for the qualifying efforts at The Brickyard. Following the Allstate 400 qualifying session Saturday, Raybestos© will present the crew chief of the top-qualifying rookie with a $5,000 check.
"The Raybestos© Top-Wrench Award is a big deal and Shane would love to win," Kvapil said. "All year long - well not really all year long because it's only happened a handful of times - I have to go the media center if I am the top-qualifying rookie. The media talks to the driver and that is all you ever hear. There is more to a NASCAR team; whether it be Cup, [NASCAR Busch Series] or the [NASCAR Truck Series].
"There is a reason it is called a team. I can't prepare a car by myself. Someone has to make the calls. For the No. 77 team, that person is Shane."
Kvapil's rival, Kyle Busch, currently enjoys a 49-point lead overall in the Raybestos© Rookie competition against the Janesville, Wis., native but Kvapil is not ready to rest his defense.
"This season has been a struggle for the Kodak Racing team," Kvapil said. "This late in the game, excuses don't matter. What does matter is that we have four months to turn our performance around and it can start at [Indianapolis Motor Speedway]."
Throughout the 2005 season, Kvapil has posted top-rookie honors six times. His best finish was seventh at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.
Despite the lack of illustrious finishes, Kvapil feels his team's hard work will persevere under Wilson's guidance.
"Shane has had his work cut out for him this year with another rookie driver at the wheel but he hasn't given up," Kvapil noted. "Shane just about pulls his hair out trying to give me the best cars he can. I know I have let him down during several qualifying sessions.
"It has to be a hard pill for him to swallow when I climb out of a car after making my qualifying laps and say, 'The car is good, I just didn't get all I could.' That is something Shane and I have talked about extensively. I need to just gain confidence in the car and put it on the edge. That is the only way we are going to make improvements."
With 16 races left in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season, Kvapil and Wilson have their work cut out for them.
NEWS OF NOTE
Equipment: The Kodak Racing team is taking a new chassis to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, PRS-096. PRS-096 spent some time in the wind tunnel at Lockheed on July 7. Shane Wilson said, "The data was favorable."
Upcoming Kodak Racing Birthday Celebrations:
Aug. 9 - Clay Robinson, Body hanger and front tire changer
Aug. 14 - Steve Williams, Rear-end mechanic