Kvapil's unsponsored race team to shut down

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Gazette Staff
Monday, March 23, 2009

Like so many Americans in this economy, Janesville's Travis Kvapil is looking for work.

Unless a last-minute sponsor can be found, Yates Racing plans to close the doors on Kvapil's No. 28 team. The car has not been entered for next weekend's event at Martinsville Speedway, team co-owner Max Jones told ESPN.com on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kvapil is still under contract at Yates, but he will be allowed to pursue other opportunities.

"Until (Monday) or Tuesday or whenever they say we're definitely 100 percent sure we ain't going to Martinsville, I'm not giving up," Kvapil told ESPN.com after Sunday's race. "We're making phone calls and dialing for dollars the last couple days. We got a meeting (Monday)even. So you never know. I'll never say die."

Just like last year.

Kvapil fought an uphill battle throughout the season, but he still drove the No. 28 to 23rd in the owners' standings while Yates patched together a piecemeal program with 16 different sponsors. The car raced in six events without a sponsor.

"With the success we had doing that last year, we said 'Let's do that again,' but we're not going to run a whole year," Jones said. "We just don't feel like, in this economy we can piecemeal that together, so we decided to give it five races and see how it goes.

"There isn't a plan to run it after (Bristol) because there isn't any sponsorship The only thing that's keeping us from going there is we don't have a sponsor. I'm not going to keep Travis from driving for someone else, from making a living."

Just weeks before the Daytona 500 the team decided to transfer the No. 28's points to the No. 98 car for driver Paul Menard, who brought full sponsorship from the Menard's home improvement store chain owned by his father, John Menard.

Yates' efforts to attract a sponsor for Kvapil beyond the first five races took a hit when Kvapil failed to qualify for the race in Las Vegas and then blew an engine early during the next race at Atlanta. Kvapil qualified 17th and finished a respectable 18th Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

That effort left the No. 28 39th in owners points and not guaranteed a starting spot for the upcoming race at Martinsville. Kvapil is 33 points out of the coveted 35th spot. Had the team not blown the motor at Atlanta and made the race in Vegas, it almost certainly would have been comfortably inside the top 35 in owner's points.

"We had a great car (Sunday) and quite honestly, as I've said throughout the last couple weeks, I felt more competitive and like I had a car capable of running up front all year long, more so than I did a year ago," Kvapil said.

"We've just had bad luck {in 2009) and haven't had the results to show for it. (Sunday) we ran in the top 15 most of the day but got the car a little bit off on one run and that hurt us and got us a lap down.

"I was hoping for a little bit better result to give us something more to sell, but I thought overall we did an OK job. It was fun to drive up through there and race hard. I leave here knowing in every race so far we've had

competitive race cars. But it's gonna be a bummer when we realize it might be the end."

Golden Corral has been on the No. 28 for most of this season's races, but it's uncertain whether or not the restaurant chain will continues to sponsor the No. 28.

"Those two races kind of put us behind," Jones said of the back-to-back failures at Las Vegas and Atlanta. "If we're sitting here 20th in points, I think we're having a different conversation, like maybe we'd run some more or maybe we'd have sponsorship by now if some people believed in us. Where we stand (now) we're not in a position to keep running it, because I want to be healthy with the (sponsored) teams that I've got."

The ultimate slap in the face to the Yates organization involves David Gilliland, Kvapil's 2008 teammate.

Let go by Yates in January, Gilliland missed the Daytona 500, but landed a ride with an upstart team for the last three races. Gilliland has put that team into the top 35 in points.

Kvapil continues to hold onto a sliver of hope.

"Hopefully in the next 24 hours something great happens to this team," Kvapil said. "That's all we can pray for."

Last updated: 9:50 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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