Fuel & Tires: Kvapil back at Daytona in the Truck Series
For the eleventh time in his career, Janesville native Travis Kvapil will race in Friday's season-opening Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Kvapil will drive the No. 50 Chevrolet for Beaver Motorsports, a team making its debut in the series.
The new team is an evolution of MAKE Motorsports, the team for which Kvapil drove the last two seasons in the Truck Series. Team owner Mark Beaver split with the co-owner of the former team and essentially re-branded it with the focus on one truck.
Kvapil, who finished 16th in points last year with one top-five and eight top-20 finishes, says the team will operate out of the same shop with a lot of the same equipment as last season. The team is also working on improving their situation.
“The team has some things in the works to bring some sponsorship and dollars to bring in a better effort,” Kvapil said. “There's definitely a lot of room for improvement on the equipment side.”
Kvapil will have Florida Lottery as the primary sponsor at Daytona, and the team has another driver lined up for the next race on the schedule in Atlanta. Depending on what comes together for the team, Kvapil is interested in running more consistently or even full-time.
“The team is rebuilding and has some good things in the works. If that works out, I can run there most of the year,” Kvapil said.
Beyond running at Daytona, where he finished fifth last year, there are other opportunities ahead for Kvapil. He's had conversations with other teams in both the Truck Series and XFINITY Series and feels optimistic he'll be driving in plenty of races this season.
The sport of racing, and NASCAR in general, has seen a rather dramatic change over the last number of years. Instead of focusing on a driver's pure talent and ability, the focus for practically every team is now on drivers who can bring their own sponsorship and have their own funding behind them.
“That's not the situation I'm in. I like to get paid to race, not pay to race,” Kvapil said.
Still, Kvapil also realizes that if you aren't out there running races, the opportunities won't be coming.
“I still really like to compete, so whatever opportunities come along, I'll take a look and see if it's something I want to do,” he said. “I'm still out there making a living.”
That living is what enables Kvapil to take his two sons, Carson, 13, and Caden, 10, to the racetrack most weekends so they can compete. Last season, the Kvapil boys ran over 100 races combined and won 53 of the features they entered.
“I'm fortunate that I don't have to work a 9-to-5 job, I can be in my shop most days getting the cars ready and we can go to the track on the weekends,” Kvapil said.
Kvapil also knows these are precious years with the kids growing up, so enjoying it while making some great memories is the name of the game.
“I'm not forcing it down their throats, we have the approach of having fun. If they don't want to race a particular weekend or a particular track, we don't go. We're doing it as a family and wherever it goes, it goes,” Kvapil said.
Coverage of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday on FOX Sports 1.
Dave von Falkenstein is a digital content coordinator for The Gazette and an auto racing fan. Follow him on Twitter at @achtungvon or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.