Watertown, Conn.— It’s become second nature for David Gravel over the last six weeks to visit a track for the first time and have a handful of laps to get up to speed. He did exactly that on 11 occasions in four different states during the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series West Coast Swing. Now back in the Midwest, he’ll visit a pair of tracks that he made his debut at last year and will thus be visiting for the second time as the series begins a stretch of races in the Midwest.
Prior to returning the Midwest, the native of Watertown, Conn., competed in the inaugural World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series event at El Paso Speedway Park in Texas, on Tuesday, April 16. He set a new track record in qualifying en route to his first fast time honor of the season at the three-eighths-mile and finished fourth in the 30-lap main event, which matched his best finish of the season. He charged from fourth to finish second in the first eight-lap heat race and finished fourth in the dash.
“We were fast right off the truck and to set a new track record is always neat, especially in a World of Outlaws event,” said Gravel. “Qualifying well and getting into the dash is so important with the Outlaws and we were able to do that and really put ourselves in a good spot. If we hadn’t had that late restart, I think we probably would have finished on the podium, but all in all, to finish fourth in our first time at El Paso was great.”
This weekend, Gravel heads to Paducah International Speedway in Kentucky for an event on Friday, April 19 aboard the Firetext Response Maxim for Bill Rose Racing. He then travels north to Indiana for a stop at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt on Saturday, April 20.
Gravel made his debut at Paducah International Raceway last season, finishing ninth in the 30-lap main event at the high-banked, three-eighths-mile. The native of Watertown, Conn., opened the night by turning the eighth-fastest lap of the 29 drivers in attendance. Gravel started on the outside of the front row in the second eight-lap heat race, winning that contest to earn a spot in the World of Outlaws dash. He finished eighth in the dash, which put him on the outside of the fourth row to start the A-Feature. Gravel has made four starts with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series this season on three-eighths-mile tracks with a best finish of eighth at Tucson International Raceway in Arizona.
“I enjoyed racing at Paducah last year in my first trip over there,” he noted. “It’s a pretty quick track and if we get a wide surface to race on, it should be a pretty good show. I seem to run pretty good at higher banked, momentum-type tracks like that.”
In his first career start at Tri-State Speedway in 2012, Gravel finished 11th in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series 40-lap main event at the quarter-mile bullring. He was 10th-fastest in time trials, which put him on the pole of the first 10-lap heat race. The 20-year-old was victorious in the heat race to put himself in the dash where he started ninth and finished 10th. Gravel has made one start in 2013 on a quarter-mile, with that coming at Silver Dollar Speedway in California, where he finished sixth.
“Haubstadt is a pretty tight race track,” said Gravel. “We ran on some similar tracks in California and had some good runs out there, so we’ll look to use some of what worked for us out there this weekend at Haubstadt. We raced on a lot of heavy tracks out west, so if the track is heavy, we’ll be ready for it.”
Gravel is currently sixth in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series standings on the strength of seven top-10 finishes, with three of those being fourth-place showings.