Preseason Thunder: Daytona day two report

Kvapil ready for another close finish in Florida Dodge Dealers 250. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 11, 2004) - Travis Kvapil finished second in a three-wide photo finish in last year's Florida Dodge Dealers 250, losing out to winner Rick Crawford...

Kvapil ready for another close finish in Florida Dodge Dealers 250.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Jan. 11, 2004) - Travis Kvapil finished second in a three-wide photo finish in last year's Florida Dodge Dealers 250, losing out to winner Rick Crawford by .027 seconds.

"I've thought about (the finish) quite a bit, especially when you can win a race in Daytona," said Kvapil, the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion on Sunday during the lunch break. "We were about three feet away from a win. But it was great for SPEED Channel, great for the Speedway, and great for the Truck Series. I hope we have something just like that this year.

"The way we have the whole package and considering how competitive everyone is, I'm sure the racing will be tight like last year. If I could do last year's finish all over, I don't think I could have really done anything different. Second place was probably the best I was going to be that day anyway because Rick was pretty strong. I'm excited to come back to Daytona and hopefully I can win it this time."

In the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 on Friday night, Feb. 13, Kvapil will be behind the wheel of the No. 24 Toyota Tundra for Bang Racing, which is co-owned by Internet entrepreneur Alex Meshkin and FOX Sports analyst Larry McReynolds.

Toyota will be competing in their first season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and this weekend's test session is their first public test.

"We've been able to come out here and learn a lot of stuff," Kvapil said. "That's where I think we've been strong. All the teams have been able to communicate real well. Everybody puts their heads together and tries to learn as much as we can in the shortest amount of time."

While Kvapil says the team is working hard on finding more speed, handling will also be important.

"The biggest thing I learned last year here at Daytona is this place is definitely a handling race track and I never really considered it as that until last year," Kvapil said. "I had probably one of the best handling race trucks on the track last year and I was able to come from the back of the pack to lead a few times.

"That's what me and (crew chief) Eric (Phillips) worked on already. We know we've got to race good here. We worked on that quite a bit last night during the last hour of drafting practice. We need to get as much drafting time as we can. It was two years ago - I think my first race here - I remember Mike Wallace started last or took a provisional and within 10 laps he was leading, so we definitely have to work on race trim."

Ready for the lights: For the first time in event history, the Florida Dodge Dealers 250 will be held under the lights on Friday night, Feb. 13. Both Steve Park, driver of the No. 62 Orleans Dodge, and Kvapil sounded off about nighttime racing at historic Daytona International Speedway.

"Daytona is a great place to race under the lights," Park said. "Daytona is probably one of the best places to race under the lights. It's lit up so well. I think the visibility is even better at night because you don't have the high glare from the sun coming down. There's plenty of light. There's no question about the lights at Daytona. They did a great job putting the lights up."

Said Kvapil: "Racing at night is always fun. I really enjoyed watching the Cup race here at night. I think it's like there's a different mood in the air. It seems like everybody's real excited about night races. I think the race trucks just look faster. You can see the sparks flying. It's just cool. It takes you back to your Friday and Saturday nights of local short track racing. I think it's going to be really neat. I can't wait to race under the lights."

Fastest on the day: Bobby Hamilton's Dodge was the fastest after the second day of testing with a lap of 180.774. Following Hamilton, rounding out the top speeds were Carl Edwards (180.647), Phil Bonifield (180.556), Chad Chaffin (180.350) and Steve Grissom (180.281)

Daytona Mystic: Dodge driver Chad Chaffin of Smyrna, Tenn., said he's excited about driving at Daytona International Speedway: "Twenty years ago, maybe 30 years ago, (Daytona) was the only race that was really on TV. Everybody grows up dreaming about racing at Daytona, so it's great to be here. There's a lot of mystic involved with the place."

Testing open: All the test sessions during Preseason Thunder is free and open to the public with access to the Oldfield Grandstand through the lobby of DAYTONA USA.

Test speeds from the second day of NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series testing at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the Feb. 13 Florida Dodge Dealers 250: <pre> 1. Bobby Hamilton Dodge 180.774 2. Carl Edwards Ford 180.647 3. Phil Bonifield Chevrolet 180.556 4. Chad Chaffin Dodge 180.350 5. Steve Grissom Dodge 180.281 6. Chase Montgomery Dodge 180.137 7. Jon Wood Ford 180.007 8. Jack Sprague Chevrolet 179.637 9. Steve Park Dodge 179.165 10. Steadman Marlin Ford 179.101 11. Matt Crafton Chevrolet 178.778 12. Andy Houston Dodge 178.678 13. L.W. Miller Chevrolet 178.515 14. David Starr Chevrolet 178.412 15. Tiny Gordon Chevrolet 178.409 16. Tracy Hines Chevrolet 178.204 17. Ted Musgrave Dodge 177.999 18. Kelly Sutton Chevrolet 177.943 19. Brandon Whitt Ford 177.883 20. Ken Weaver Chevrolet 177.715 21. Terry Cook Ford 177.658 22. Mike Skinner Toyota 177.497 23. Bill Lester Toyota 177.434 24. David Reutimann Toyota 176.949 25. Shane Sieg Chevrolet 176.883 26. Travis Kvapil Toyota 176.883 27. Dennis Setzer Chevrolet 176.741 28. Rick Crawford Ford 175.874 29. Geoff Bodine Chevrolet 175.545 30. Wayne Edwards Ford 175.309 31. Robert Huffman Toyota 175.060 32. Shelby Howard Toyota 175.016 33. Hank Parker, Jr. Toyota 174.348 34. Loni Richardson Dodge 172.170

Speedweeks 2004 tickets, including the Florida Dodge Dealers 250, are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

-dis-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Steve Park , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Mike Wallace , Andy Houston , Ted Musgrave , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Terry Cook , Rick Crawford , Jon Wood , Chase Montgomery , Matt Crafton , Shelby Howard , Kelly Sutton , Bill Lester , Chad Chaffin , Steve Grissom , Tracy Hines , David Reutimann , Steadman Marlin , Phil Bonifield , Carl Edwards , L.W. Miller , Wayne Edwards , Brandon Whitt , Ken Weaver , Shane Sieg , Robert Huffman , Loni Richardson , Travis Kvapil