After a bad start to the season, Travis Kvapil is looking to get his season on the right track this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
"Martinsville is one of my favorite racetracks on the schedule," Kvapil said in the team's preview. "It's kind of special for me. I actually started my very first Sprint Cup race there in the fall of 2004. Coming from the short tracks of Wisconsin, the little bull rings, and going to a place like Martinsville, the little half-mile, close-quartered racing, I feel very comfortable with it."
Kvapil made his first start at Martinsville in 2004, where he finished 21st after starting fifth.
"I have a great feel in the racecar for what I need to make it handle good, get it to turn and have good power and good drive off the corners," Kvapil continued. "So, I'm excited about Martinsville. Like I said, it's one of my favorites and I think we can go there and have a great day.
"Short-track racing is obviously a different kind of racing compared to your superspeedways and your intermediate tracks. There's really no aero involved, it's pure handling and getting through the corners well. You've really got to 'feel' your way through it and you've really got to have a good-handling car."
While having a strong car is important, Kvapil also says you have to keep out of trouble, which is something that he found the first two races this season with crashes at Daytona and Phoenix.
"You've also got to do your best to keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble," Kvapil continued. "At a place like Martinsville, it's not uncommon to see people getting into each other. Maybe someone owes somebody a payback or maybe it's just aggressive racing. You're not going 200 miles an hour, so it's less of a risk to try to nudge somebody or move him out of the way than at, say, a Daytona or a Talladega where if you get into someone you can cause a huge wreck and ruin a lot of guys' days."
With an average finish of 33rd and no finishes in the top 20, Kvapil currently sits 48th in the standings, despite running the first five races of the year, and will have to qualify his way in to the field by speed.
"We haven't started the season the way we expected to," he said. "We've struggled a bit. And we definitely didn't expect to be five races in and having to start qualifying into races on speed. It's been a combination of missing some set-ups and just bad luck —we got caught up in some wrecks and had some flat tires and came away with some bad finishes. But I have a lot of confidence in our team and our new crew chief, Jay Guy. We've got all the pieces. We're going to put them all together and get this thing turned around."
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