TRIALS AND TRIBULATONS OF A ROOKIE Travis Kvapil Talks About Rookie MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 10, 2005) - Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger and 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender, understands...
TRIALS AND TRIBULATONS OF A ROOKIE
Travis Kvapil Talks About Rookie
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 10, 2005) - Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 77 Kodak Dodge Charger and 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender, understands that it takes time to find a groove in racing, but he is ready to move forward and put the trials and tribulations of a rookie behind him.
Kvapil is excited about his venture into the Cup series but wishes he had better statistics posted in the results book.
"This rookie thing is hard," Kvapil said. "I knew it wouldn't be a coaster when I accepted the ride in the [No.] 77 but man, I am ready to finish a race here."
Kvapil has not finished a race on the lead lap since the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in April. His regular season totals show an 84.5 percent ratio of laps completed versus total laps.
While reflecting on the recent events, Kvapil said, "The thing is, I have been in the wrong place at the wrong time a couple of times. Then there was this past weekend at Darlington when I caused the wreck with Scott Riggs. Rookie mistakes like that do not help my cause. I had Scott pinched up high and I don't know, I guess I thought he would give me room. That wasn't his job. His job was to hold his line and I wrecked him, bottom line.
"I have to race smarter than that if I want to move up in the points. I definitely will not gain any respect racing like that."
Kvapil feels pretty good about lessons learned this season. He enjoys racing in NASCAR's upper echelon and wants to stick around for a long time.
"I race clean and I think I have gained respect this year," Kvapil said. "So far, no one has come knocking on my motorhome to let me know otherwise, anyway. I try to stay safe and keep it on the edge. That is the only way to gain an advantage at this level. I have learned who to race with and who not to. I have learned who the give-and-take racers are. That is all good information to have at Talladega when you are three or four wide.
"It isn't easy to get to this level. I know; I traveled that road. I can't say I ever really thought seriously about racing in the Cup series when I started out on the short tracks, but somewhere along the way it entered my mind. I think it does every racer. Now that I am here, I plan to stay."
Kvapil takes his racing seriously and hopes to keep his name in the good.
"The guys I am racing now are the best at what they do. There is a reason they are in the cars they are in and I have to work hard to keep my nose clean. I think a rookie can make it or break it in the first year. People often times look at a rookie and say, 'Well, he didn't cut it over there, he won't make it here.' You have to make the best of every situation you are in and that is what I plan to do.
"The Kodak Racing team is where I want to be for a long time and there is only one way to make that happen. Every time I get in the car, I have to give it my all to remind Roger Penske and Doug Bawel why they signed me."
NEWS OF NOTE
Old News, but Funny - Avis Bus Driver Gives Kvapil a Reality Check: After his NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series test session at Infineon Raceway, Kvapil traveled from San Francisco, Calif., to Phoenix, Ariz., for the Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Matt Lucas, the Kodak Racing team engineer, was with Kvapil on the trip and witnessed what Lucas called "one of the funniest things he has ever seen."
"We got on the Avis bus and the driver walked down the aisle to ask for preferred renter names," Lucas said. "Travis gave his last name and the bus driver said, 'That is almost like the race car driver, only his name is spelled with an 'o'.
"I'm sitting right there next to Travis in my Kodak Racing wind shirt and the driver never even made the association. Travis just said, 'Yeah, almost.'"