Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another New Track for David Gravel this Weekend at Merced

Watertown, Conn.— It’s another race weekend for David Gravel this week with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series and that mean he’ll be visiting yet another track for the first time. That’s become a common theme for the young driver this year, as in each of the last three weeks, he has raced at venues on the West Coast for the first time with the STP World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series as he continues to fill-in for the injured Bill Rose. This week he heads to Merced Speedway in California, which will mark the fourth track he has visited in the state of California in a three-week stretch.

Gravel will take to the third-mile Merced Speedway on Friday, March 29 aboard the Firetext Response Maxim for Rose’s Indiana-based team. The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series made their debut at Merced Speedway in 2011, which at the time was a quarter-mile. The surface was then reconfigured to a third-mile in time for the 2012 series event at the track.

“Chico (Silver Dollar Speedway) is pretty small, so going from one small track to another little one should help,” Gravel said. “We’ve had a good baseline set-up the last few weeks, which gives us a good starting point at Merced and then we can work from there. Getting a few good, clean laps in hot laps will be important.”

The 20-year-old has made a pair of starts at a high-banked, third-mile in the state of California this season, with those coming at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, a couple of weeks ago. In that two-night event, Gravel finished fourth in the opener and was 16th in the finale after suffering a flat tire while running just outside of the top-10.

Last weekend at the quarter-mile Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Gravel finished sixth in the Mini Gold Cup. He was battling for second on the final lap with three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, when he spun, leaving the latter nowhere to go, which set off a chain reaction accident. The night before, Gravel finished 13th in his debut at the brand new Stockton 99 Dirt Track, which is a three-eighths-mile.

“Racing on all different kinds of tracks you really learn how to adapt,” noted the native of Watertown, Conn. “You try to treat them all the same, no matter what size they are and get around them as quick as you can. Having raced places like Waynesfield (Raceway Park in Ohio) and Haubstadt (Tri-State Speedway in Indiana) definitely has come in handy during the first few short track races in California.”

Gravel has competed in each of the first seven races of the 12-race West Coast swing for the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. He opened the season with the series in Florida at Volusia Speedway Park and thus has perfect attendance in the first 10 races of the 2013 campaign. Along with his fourth-place finish at Thunderbowl Raceway, Gravel also came home fourth in the finale of the two-night show in Las Vegas, which kicked off the West Coast swing earlier this month.

“You are going to have some off-nights here and there, that’s just part of the game out here, explained Gravel. “I feel pretty good in Bill’s car and we have been able to get to the front. Running well definitely has boosted my confidence when we go to a new track. Hopefully we can keep this up and continue to have a good season.”

Entering this weekend’s event, Gravel is seventh in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship standings, which is the second time this season he has been as high as seventh in points. He is just two markers out of the sixth position and 14 out of the top-five. In 10 starts in 2013 with the World of Outlaws, Gravel has five top-10 finishes, with two of those being top-five performances.

“Looking at the numbers, it’s been a pretty good season so far,” he shared. “There are a couple of races I wish we could have back, but you’re always going to have that. To be in the spot that we are right now against the level of competition we are facing night in and night is definitely a great accomplishment. I’m ready every day to get back to the track and climb in the car and that’s a great feeling to have.”


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