Travis Kittleson Ready to Win at Speedweeks Youngster Ends Up a Lap Short of Victory in Pete Orr Memorial CONCORD, NC (February 7, 2005) -- In 2004, Travis Kittleson was able to gain racing experience and learn from the masters of the sport...
Travis Kittleson Ready to Win at Speedweeks
Youngster Ends Up a Lap Short of Victory in Pete Orr Memorial
CONCORD, NC (February 7, 2005) -- In 2004, Travis Kittleson was able to gain racing experience and learn from the masters of the sport by competing on the ASA National Tour and, on one occasion, in the NASCAR Busch Series. He had several impressive runs and showed that he was more than capable of running with the big dogs of racing.
The problem was, for the first time in his racing career, he went a season without winning a race. That shouldn't have been an issue - to just compete at a national level is a big step. To lead laps in ASA, log top-five or top-ten finishes and qualify for a Busch Series event are victories in themselves.
But Kittleson is a racer. He's not happy with turning heads and getting attention. He wants to collect trophies and that's why he straps into a racecar. He vows not to go winless in 2005 and just two races into this season, he came within one lap of already making good on that promise.
Kittleson dominated the Pete Orr Memorial 100 this past weekend at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). Despite a stuck bleeder valve on one of his tires and a bump from the eventual winner, Kittleson hung on to finish third. It wasn't what he wanted, though.
"On our last restart, I wanted to wait until one lap to go to warm up my tires," said Kittleson. "I didn't know that the bleeder valve was sticking and the caution was just long enough to build up pressure in the rear right. It tightened the car up and that allowed the 70-car (Jeff Choquette) to get right up to us when the race went green. We had a good battle. He got underneath me and we ran side by side for two laps. He got into me once and I didn't think anything of it. We were digging as hard as we could; if I was in the same position I would have done the same things at that point. Then with one to go, he got into me again and I had to back off to avoid climbing the wall."
"After that, I had to wonder if it was on purpose and I washed up the track trying to get back at him. Mike Garvey got by and we finished third. If we didn't make contact, I think that we would have won the race by a nose. It would have been a close finish."
Since Kittleson wanted to win so badly, the third-place finish was painful.
"This really stung," Kittleson said. "It's the first time that I've ever lost a race in the last few laps. I can usually win them that way. I try to play my cards right and be there at the finish. On the other hand, we had an excellent car and I'm happy in that sense."
Looking ahead to Speedweeks at New Smyrna, Kittleson has plenty to look forward to. It's probable that he won't have to wait long for the victory that he covets.
"We are back in the game now," said Kittleson. "We have been chasing the car since the Governor's Cup race last fall. Something was wrong, but we couldn't figure out what. Then, we had an extra set of eyes look over it. My buddy, Jarrod Warren, found our problem. It ended up that the trailing arm bracket had a bolt on it that was working its way back and forth in the axle tube. It was spinning around and caused the car to be really inconsistent. I don't know how we made 200 laps with it at Lakeland."
"I'm pretty pumped up from Speedweeks. We have a good car; we just need to do a little maintenance on it and work with the set-up and we'll be ready."
Since Kittleson has been focusing on running his Super Late Model in Florida for the past month, he hasn't made it back to his North Carolina shops to work on the car. Instead, he has set up shop in the service department of sponsor Bob Steele Chevrolet. The arrangement has been a winning one for all parties.
"They are letting us share a bay with the guy that does interior work and pin striping at the dealership," said Kittleson. "He works from 3am until 10am and then we take over the space at 10am and work into the night. It works out good and the salesmen love it because they can bring their customers out to see the car and get autographs. There is a wall at the dealership with photos of the car and trophies that we won and now everyone can see the car up close. About 15 customers have come out and spent time with us and a few even went to the racetrack on Saturday night to cheer us on."
Those fans will have nine more opportunities to cheer on Kittleson and the R/T team from February 11th-19th at New Smyrna for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The team will have nine nights of competing against Super Late Model teams from as far north as Maine to earn checkered flags during Florida Speedweeks.