Watertown, Conn.— Faced with the prospect of racing just once for the second weekend in a row, thanks to Mother Nature interrupting the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series schedule, David Gravel did what any true racer would do. He found a race to fill the opening in the schedule and thus will get to compete twice this weekend in two different cars. He’ll continue to pilot Bill Rose’s Firetext Response Maxim with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series at Salina Highbanks Speedway in Oklahoma, before heading north to the famed Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, Iowa, to pilot his own No. 89G JRC Transportation J&J.
Gravel will open the weekend by making his debut at Salina Highbanks Speedway in Salina, Okla., on Friday, April 26. On Saturday, April 27, he will take to the track for the Knoxville Raceway season opener.
For Gravel, the trip to the three-eighths-mile Salina Highbanks Speedway will mark the first sprint car start of his career in the state of Oklahoma. The last time the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series raced in the Sooner State was in 2011 at Salina. Gravel has competed five times on three-eighths-mile tracks this season in Rose’s car, with a best finish of fourth at El Paso Speedway Park in Texas last week and also turned in an eighth-place performance at Tucson International Raceway in Arizona.
“From what I hear, Salina is a pretty decently sized track and obviously has a lot of banking to it,” said Gravel. “I’ve raced at a lot of new tracks this year and have been able to get up to speed pretty quick at them, so hopefully it’s the same this weekend. I’ve had some good runs at Eldora and other high banked tracks over the last few years and I’ll approach Salina the same way I do other higher banked, momentum-type tracks.”
Gravel competed at Knoxville Raceway last season during the Knoxville Nationals and also the Sunday prior to the event, racing in the inaugural Capitani Classic at the half-mile. During the new Friday night portion of the Knoxville Nationals, Gravel finished second which marked his best-career finish at Knoxville and more importantly earned him a spot in the Saturday night finale for the first time in his career. The native of Watertown, Conn., made his Knoxville Nationals debut in 2010, claiming Rookie of the Year honors.
“We haven’t been to Knoxville since the Nationals last year and one of the things we wanted to do this year was to get some laps in there before going back for this year’s Nationals and to get better there,” he explained. “It will be nice to get back in my car and see where we stand there at Knoxville. Any laps we can get at Knoxville will definitely come in handy when the Nationals roll around in August.”
The East Coast racer has made five starts in the No. 89G this season, opening the year with the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions at Bubba Raceway Park in Florida, with a fifth-place finish. He crossed the line sixth in the finale of that two-night event. With the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series at Volusia Speedway Park during the UNOH DIRTcar Nationals, Gravel finished eighth on the second night, earning the KSE Hard Charger Award, after starting 22nd.
Gravel is currently sixth in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship standings, just 29 markers out of the top-five on the strength of eight top-10 and four top-five finishes. Last weekend, he finished a season-best second at Tri-State Speedway in Indiana, piloting Rose’s No. 6 machine.
“We’ve been pretty quick the last couple of races in Bill’s car and hopefully we can continue that at Salina,” Gravel stated. “The main thing I think has been qualifying well and putting ourselves in a position to get in the dash and then having good runs in the dash to start up front in the feature. With how tough the competition is right now, you have to put a whole night together to be in contention and that’s what we’ve done the last few races.”
|Photo Courtesy of Mark Miefert|