Kvapil will race at Daytona
Janesville’s Travis Kvapil can breathe a little easier. He’s officially locked into the 2009 Daytona 500.
Kvapil posted the second-best effort Sunday among the 19 drivers forced to qualify on speed or race their way into the 43-car Daytona 500 field in Thursday’s Twin 150-mile Gatorade Duels. Kvapil’s top lap of 187.574 mph was the eighth-fastest overall among the 56 cars to take qualifying laps. Bill Elliott and Tony Stewart are the other two drivers not in the top 35 who locked in Daytona 500 starting spots based on their Sunday speeds.
Kvapil lost his guaranteed starting spot when Yates Racing swapped his points with Eau Claire’s Paul Menard, who brought his father’s company as a sponsor to the team.
Kvapil will have sponsorship from Golden Corral on his car for next Sunday’s Daytona 500. His team is committed to just the first five races, although that schedule could expand if more sponsorship signs on to support the No. 28 team.
“I’m just really proud of everybody on this Yates Racing team,” Kvapil said of his qualifying run. “We’re just really excited to have Golden Corral come on for the 500 and, hopefully, we can have a good showing for them and there might be more down the road.
“What we had here today, we knew we had some in the bag, but we really didn’t believe we had four-tenths (more speed per lap).
“In practice (Saturday) we didn’t do all the little tricks like pulling the brakes back and all the heaters, all the oils, all the things everybody does and we didn’t do any of that. We didn’t think it was gonna be worth that much, but that’s a good thing and I’m just really proud to have our Ford in the top 10 right now.”
Kvapil wasn’t totally sure he had a fast car as his qualifying attempt unfolded.
“I knew it was a pretty good lap because you get a pretty good gauge by looking at your tachometer how many RPMs the engine is turning,” Kvapil said. “I told them on the first lap that it was the best RPM I’d seen all weekend.
“But we took the radio antennae off to qualify, and I was on the backstretch and couldn’t hear. It was just a bunch of static and just a bunch of noise. I was trying to find the scoring pylon and I saw a couple cars with two somethings in there in the top 10 and I was just praying that one was mine and it sure was, so that’s great.”
Kvapil will be making his fourth Daytona 500 start. His best finish in the event is 19th in 2005. Kvapil’s starting spot in next Sunday’s race won’t be determined until after Thursday’s two 150-mile duels.