[media-credit name=”Gary Buchanan” align=”alignright” width=”182″][/media-credit]For Travis Kvapil, whose No. 93 Burger King Toyota team came together in February of this year, the focus, as a driver and a team member, is all about building. And building they are, both on the track and in the point standings.
“Everything is new, my crew chief, the team, everything,” Kvapil said. “So, it takes a little while to build that notebook and build those relationships.”
“I think overall for the season, our goal is to scratch our way into the top 25 in points,” Kvapil, who currently sits in the 32nd points position, continued. “That would be a good goal for us.”
“It will be tough to get there because if you look at who is around us in points, there are no slouches,” Kvapil said. “We’re going to have to perform better.”
“Our goals are to finish in the top-20,” Kvapil continued. “That’s where we set our standard and for the most part, we’ve been able to achieve that.”
“I just believe as the season goes, we’ll continue to building and get better and better.”
Kvapil also had to do some character building, particularly after the tough run he had in Dover. He and his team were involved in the early ‘big one’ at the Monster Mile and, to make matters worse, his teammate Landon Cassill was also involved in the wreck.
“To finish 23rd with a car all torn up and 50 laps down, I didn’t really expect that,” Kvapil said. “It’s just one of those things that Dover, you’re going so fast there.”
“So when they wreck in front of you there coming off Turn Two, you can’t see,” Kvapil continued. “When I came around the corner I saw Landon (Cassill) sideways.”
“Immediately I’m on the brakes but you’re just going too fast and there’s nowhere to go,” Kvapil said. “I saw him and I kind of made the move I thought would help, but Landon was sitting here parked.”
“And I thought ‘perfect, just perfect, of all the guys.’
“I tried my best to avoid him but I just really couldn’t,” Kvapil said. “There’s going to be days when we’re going to race each other and days where we’re going to be in the same wreck.”
“And it just happened to be one of those days last weekend at Dover.”
Kvapil definitely felt that the Dover experience was not only a gut check and character building experience him as a driver, but also for his race team. He was especially with the resilience of his team in the face of such adversity.
“I was really proud of the guys,” Kvapil said. “We’re obviously a brand new team.”
“I feel like some of the things, like crash repair and having fenders ready, I didn’t think we were quite prepared for all that,” Kvapil continued. “We have enough to worry about getting cars to the track and getting caught up..”
“So, a lot of times, those kinds of things get pushed to the side but I was very impressed with our team,” Kvapil said. “They did a great job.”
“They got the fenders cut off and got the car rolling and we didn’t have to go to the garage so that saved us a bunch of time,” Kvapil continued. “I’m really proud of them and they did a great job and gained us a bunch of points last week.”
Kvapil is also anticipating continuation of the building process as he and his team tackle the ‘Tricky Triangle.’ And he has high hopes for his race at the newly repaved Pocono Raceway, especially after the days of testing this past week.
“It was a good opportunity to get up here and test,” Kvapil said. “It’s been a long week but we don’t get many opportunities to get real information at the real track with the real tire and have data acquisition telemetry on the car.”
“So, we have really good feedback when we make a change,” Kvapil continued. “We can go look at the computer and see what it really did to the shock travels or where the splitter’s at on the race track or whatever.”
“It’s been invaluable for us to get that information,” Kvapil said. “For us it was a lot about making changes and collecting data so that when we go to tracks down the road, we can maybe pull that out of our memory bank and apply it and have more of an educated knowledge of what it does to the race car.”
Kvapil, like many of his fellow competitors, had nothing but praise for the repave at the Pocono Raceway. Unlike some of the other drivers, however, Kvapil feels that we might just see another groove come into the track, especially as the racing continues over the weekend.
“The track is great,” Kvapil said. “It’s got a lot of grip.”
“When we first got on the track on Wednesday, the groove was pretty narrow but it’s widening out,” Kvapil continued. “I’d say it’s one and three quarters of a groove right now.”
“So, the more the weekend goes, the more the groove will widen out,” Kvapil said. “It’s just a matter of getting out there in race conditions and forcing that second lane. I think the racing will be great.”
Kvapil is also looking forward to building his racing notebook about Pocono, especially as it pertains to track position and tire strategies.
“Tires are one thing we have been looking at,” Kvapil said. “It doesn’t seem like the left side tire wear was too bad so there might be opportunities to do two tires and pick up some spots or maybe even fuel only.”
“The tires that Goodyear brought are holding up real well and it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of fall off,” Kvapil continued. “So, anytime there is something new, it will take a while to figure things out and what the best strategy will be.”
“Track position is always important, especially when you’re running 170 miles an hour,” Kvapil said. “Track position is important but I think with the long straight-aways, you should be able to make the passes if you have a good handling car. Hopefully we can do that Sunday.”
In addition to building his on-track performance, Kvapil is also working hard to build a solid relationship with his teammate as well as between the two teams. And he thinks the world of his new teammate Landon Cassill.
“I really have a lot of respect for Landon,” Kvapil said. “Being as young as he is, he’s very mature. He’s got a lot of experience and he’s great with sponsors, owners, and the media.”
“He’s a really good kid and a really good race car driver,” Kvapil said. “We share information, our thoughts, and what’s happening at the track. I’m happy and I couldn’t ask for a better teammate.”
“Me and him both are trying to build BK Racing and take it to the next level,” Kvapil continued. “I think we have a great relationship so we can do that together.”
Whether on or off the track, Kvapil feels there is just one thing needed to continue to build his own team and his BK Racing team, perseverance.
“I think the lesson is hard work, dedication and perseverance through the hard times,” Kvapil said. “I think back in my career in racing and my days growing up in Wisconsin, working on my car all hours of the night to get to the race track just to race for a couple hours on a Saturday night.”
“It was something I loved but it was a lot of hard work and dedication,” Kvapil continued. “There’s always bumps in the road but you have to figure out a way how to get through them.”
“You just keep fighting and if it’s something that you have your heart set on and enjoy, you always find a way,” Kvapil said. “You build by being dedicated and believing in yourself.”