David Gravel, Jeff Gordon Preview ARCA race at Daytona Intl. Speedway

When it comes to racing at close quarters at high speeds, David Gravel is very comfortable. After all, he regularly flies into banked corners at 140 to 150 miles per hour.
But Gravel’s expertise isn’t on paved short tracks or even with cars that have fenders. He does it on dirt, inches away from his closest competitors in a winged sprint car with the World of Outlaws. One of the most popular drivers in the open wheel wars as that circuit crosses the country with over 90 races annually, Gravel will be making the transition to stock car racing in 2020.
“I have an asphalt background, going back to when I was 13. The first part of my career was on asphalt, and I feel like you learn certain things at a young age that stick with you throughout your career,” Gravel said. “Sprint car racing, you’ve got to be aggressive, but to be well rounded. You have to know when to take it easy and not take chances. I feel at my age, I’ve learned a lot of those things and that will benefit me to be patient and not push the envelope all the time, like staying in line at a superspeedway when we need to.”
The 28-year-old Watertown, Connecticut native has collected 51 career wins over his tenure on the Outlaw tour, nearly ten percent of his starts. He’ll be making the transition to stock cars with a partial season in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, but before he does that, he’ll get his feet wet in the ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway.
Gravel will drive a KBR Development entry at Daytona for team owner Mike Bursley, with support from team alliance partner GMS Racing. Gravel will run six select NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series races for the Statesville based organization throughout 2020 but begins the season in the No. 28 KBR Chevrolet SS. Gravel impressed everyone by adapting quickly to the draft. He timed in second quick with a lap at 181.236 miles per hour.
He knows the race will be vastly different than test, with drivers being much more aggressive, but racing with aggressive drivers is something he’s quite used to on the cut-throat Outlaws tour.
Gravel’s career was given a boost when he caught the eye of former open wheel stand out-turned-NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon. Now an analyst for Fox Sports, Gordon still keeps his eyes on the short track world and quickly found Gravel to his liking. Gordon helped broker a sponsorship deal for Gravel for last year’s Knoxville Nationals, and he’ll be keeping a very close eye on his open wheel compatriot at Daytona.
“Jeff is going to be at the ARCA race, helping and coaching me through everything,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having him in my corner, and that will certainly give us a lot of confidence. Really couldn’t ask for anybody better.
Gordon is no stranger to finding and mentoring young talent. He helped identify a young Jimmie Johnson and was instrumental in the early stock car career of the future seven-time Cup Series champion. He’s looking forward to working with another young driver in Gravel.
“David was able to turn a lot of laps and seemed to feel good about the (Daytona) test,” said Gordon. “He didn’t get the opportunity to draft in a big pack, though. When the green flag drops, there will be a learning curve for him, but I believe he’s up to the challenge.”
With no racing experience at Daytona, Gravel might seem like a longshot for victory. But the list of ARCA winners at Daytona is peppered with drivers who entered the race with no big track experience and ended up in the sport’s most hallowed ground, victory lane. He’s not coming down just to make laps, Gravel’s intentions are to race to the front and compete for the win.
“My initial goal is to finish the race and be competitive,” he said. “A win or top ten would be great, but I want to at least have a chance at the end to be in the hunt and compete. I really look forward to trying to play the chess match right.”
Tomorrow, General Tire Pole Qualifying at 12:30 pm ET. The 80-lap race will go green shortly after 4:30 pm ET; the race will be televised live on FS1 and broadcast to select affiliates of MRN Radio nationwide. Live timing & scoring of all on-track activity will be available for free at ARCARacing.com.

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