WATERTOWN, Conn.—July 14, 2013— David Gravel had two main goals in mind when opening the “Month of Money” this past week, with the running of the 25th Ohio Logistics Brad Doty Classic Presented by Racing Optics and the 30th Kings Royal for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. First, he wanted to qualify for the A-Feature at each event and second, he was looking to earn a top-10 finish in each of the marquee events. The 21-year-old was able to accomplish both as he came home fifth in the Brad Doty Classic and was ninth in the Kings Royal, earning the KSE Hard Charger Award in the process for passing the most cars during the A-Feature.
The native of Watertown, Conn., lined up 14th for the 40-lap Brad Doty Classic at Limaland Motorsports Park in Ohio, on Thursday, July 11, aboard the FMR Racing/JRC Transportation/Musco Fuel/Model Craft J&J, and had worked his way into the top-10 by just the third circuit. A couple of cautions on that lap moved Gravel to eighth and he took another spot when the green flag came back out.
By the fifth lap, the 21-year-old was up to sixth. He would run in that spot for a large portion of the race, before breaking into the top-five on the 29th go-around. A strong restart following a caution propelled Gravel to third, where he would run for a couple of laps, before slipping back to fifth. He would ultimately finish fifth to earn his sixth top-five finish of the season.
“We had a really good start in the feature at Limaland (Motorsports Park),” Gravel said. “We moved up pretty quick and the top was working pretty well and everyone was running on the bottom. When I got up there I kind of showed everyone my lane and those guys figured it out and stayed where I was. To come from 14th to fifth in an Outlaws race is a great result.”
Gravel was seventh-quickest in time trials at Limaland with 47 cars taking to the track for qualifying. He finished seventh in the second heat race, which put him in the B-main. Gravel would win the B-main to punch his ticket into the Brad Doty Classic.
Starting 19th in the 24-car field for the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway on Saturday, July 13, Gravel had his work cut out for him. He gained a couple of spots in the first few laps. When the first red flag of the night flew on lap-16, he was in 15th. On the ensuring double-file restart, Gravel picked up two positions and by the 20th circuit, he was in 11th. He would gain two more spots when two cars running ahead of him got together, bringing out the second red flag of the night.
Gravel lined up ninth on the final restart with 10 laps remaining. He followed Kerry Madsen, who won the Knight Before the Kings Royal, for the remainder of the 40-lap contest. For Gravel, the ninth-place finish, was his best-career finish, which came in just his first Kings Royal main event start, after missinng qualifying for the feature the last few years. He also earned the KSE Hard Charger Award for passing the most cars in the feature.
“We tried a few new things for Saturday night and they really worked,” he noted. “We capitalized on some restarts and when I got the wing back, the car was great. It was definitely a confidence builder for when we come back in the fall. That was the first Kings Royal main event I’ve qualified for in my career, so I am proud of that and hopefully will get to race in many more Kings Royal events down the road.”
The Kings Royal at the famed Eldora Speedway began for Gravel with a fifth-place effort in time trials of the 42 entrants that took to the half-mile. He started fourth in the fifth heat race and ran fourth, with the top-three transferring to the main event. By way of the traditional Kings Royal format, the fastest two cars from time trials that were not first, second or third in their heat, earned a spot in the main event, and Gravel was one of those two drivers.
The East Coast racer finished 16th in the 30-lap Knight Before the Kings Royal main event on Friday, July 12. He opened the night by timing in 10th of the 45 entries in attendance. Gravel finished second in the second heat race to earn a spot in the dash, where he came home ninth. He lined up on the outside of the eighth row for the feature, which ran green-to-checkers without a single caution.
With the second half of the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series season officially underway, Gravel is currently seventh in points. He has one victory to go along with 20 top-10 finishes, of which six are top-five performances. He’ll return to action this week at Lernerville (Pa.) Speedway in the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup Twin 30s and the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove (Pa.) Speedway, followed by a trip to New York next week for a pair of races.
“We have a lot of races coming and a lot of tough races,” Gravel said. “The key is to stay on top of things day in and day out. If you have a not so good night, you have to put that behind you pretty quick and focus on the next one. Qualifying will be very, very important this week, especially at Williams Grove (Speedway). We’ll do our best to put ourselves in a good position in that regard.”