Kvapil Focuses on the Finish Line
Travis Kvapil and the No. 38 Long John Silver's team did some experimenting in last weekend's Showdown at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and now they're ready to apply lessons learned in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at the 1.5-mile oval.
The 600-mile race is the longest of the year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the team knows they have to successfully adapt to the day-to-night conditions to be there at the end of the marathon event. The race is in stark contrast to last week's Showdown, a 40-lap, non-points event in which Kvapil finished 16th. But the team can apply knowledge learned throughout the Showdown weekend to their race approach this Sunday.
Kvapil has eight previous career starts at Charlotte, with a high finish of 17th.
"For a driver in the 600, you just have to focus on getting to the finish. When you have that long of a race, you don't want to be wrecked in the first couple hundred miles. The points and the money don't pay anything until the end, so you've got to be there at the end. But it gives you a lot of opportunity to work on your car all night and get it better. And you have to do that throughout a 600-mile race. When we start, it's kind of the end of the evening and it's still sunny out. And then the sun sets and you go to full night-time. So, the grip level in the track changes a lot throughout the four or four-and-a-half hours of the race, and the temperature changes quite a bit. So, you're always tuning your racecar on every pit stop, making adjustments just to compensate for track conditions - let alone if you're dealing with a pushing car or a tight car.
"The 600 is obviously the longest race of the year, so there are some aspects the team has to think about mechanically, like in the engine shop. You also have to make sure you have brakes for 600 miles and plenty of cooling to the rear-end gear. The reliability is always great from Doug Yates and those guys, but when you're factoring in another 100 or 200 miles to a race, you're probably not going to run the same engine All-Star weekend and in the 600.
"It's a long race, and a long time to be sitting in that car, so you really have to stay focused. There's no halftime or time-outs or anything like that - maybe some long yellows - so you've got to stay on your game.
"We used last weekend (the Showdown) to do some experimenting, more so in practice than in the race. We tried a couple different set-ups Friday, just to touch on some things and get a feel for them. And we also tried a couple different things during the Showdown itself that we probably wouldn't have tried in a points-paying race. Whereas, David (Gilliland) and the No. 34 team went with our usual set-up for this kind of track, so we had a really good comparison. So, either way, we felt like we'd be in good shape going into the 600."
Breaking Limits/Front Row Motorsports PR