LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 13, 2005) - Travis Kvapil's early racing days in Wisconsin provided the 29-year-old driver with a special knack for short tracks, a skill that has spilled over into his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career and one the Janesville, ...
LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 13, 2005) - Travis Kvapil's early racing days in Wisconsin provided the 29-year-old driver with a special knack for short tracks, a skill that has spilled over into his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career and one the Janesville, Wis., native, will test this weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway - a speedway that possesses short-track characteristics.
Kvapil has raced in 29 Cup Series events in two years - three in the 2004 season and 26 in 2005. In six starts on short tracks, Kvapil has an average start of 13.7 with an average finish of 17.8. His average start for speedways, superspeedways and road courses combined is 29.7 with an average finish of 30.3. The statistics speak for themselves. This rookie likes the nuances of short tracks
With an average success on short tracks in his Cup career thus far, Kvapil hopes to use his short-track skill to improve his speedway statistics this weekend as NASCAR's upper echelon makes its final swing to NHIS where the 2005 NNCS Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender posted a victory on Sept. 18, 2004, while competing in the NASCAR Truck Series.
"My win at New Hampshire was pretty special," Kvapil said. "Everyone wants to win and they all count, but that one came on the heels of my first conversation with Roger Penske. It's not like the conversation was big or anything. He just needed a contingency plan for the 2005 season and I was on his short list. No promises, just a, 'Hey, I would like to talk to you,' kind of deal. Nothing pumps a driver up like a talk with RP before a race."
On, Sept. 18, Kvapil will race in his second Cup Series event on the "Magic Mile". While the driver of the No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger is not superstitious, there are several signs pointing his way.
For one thing, the date. Kvapil's single victory at that track came exactly one year ago this Sunday. Kvapil's teammate Ryan Newman earned his first victory on the 1.058-mile flat track, as a rookie, in September 2002.
When asked if there was anything to the signs, Kvapil replied, "You're kidding me, right? The only signs that matter in NASCAR are black and white checkered."
Newman and Kvapil are not the only Penske-Jasper-powered drivers who have visited victory lane at NHIS. Penske Racing South's Rusty Wallace took the checkered flag in the inaugural Cup race in New Hampshire in July 1993.
Coming off what the Penske-Jasper Racing team considers a strong weekend at Richmond International Raceway, Kvapil means to carry the momentum.
"Last week at Richmond, the Kodak Racing team found something," Kvapil said. "We practiced OK and then qualified great. We are proud of our performance during the race. The [car's handling] was tight all night but we made changes and kept digging. We have to keep moving forward. We are at the point right now where we build up for next year. We have the cars; we have what Mr. Penske calls human-capitol; we have all the tools we need. It is time to put them to use."