Watertown, Conn.— After getting caught up by a lapped car while running fourth on Friday night at Kings Speedway, David Gravel was on a mission on Saturday night to wrap-up the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series West Coast Swing on a strong note in Bill Rose’s No. 6 Firetext Response Maxim. Gravel was able to accomplish that as he finished seventh at Perris Auto Speedway.
Gravel lined up seventh on Saturday, April 13 at the half-mile Perris Auto Speedway for the SoCal Showdown, which marked the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series only visit of the season to Southern California. After falling back a spot on the start he got back around three-time World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champion Sammy Swindell on the second circuit to move back into seventh. The entire 30-lap main event went non-stop green-to-checkers in just under eight minutes on a very fast surface that was challenging to pass on.
“We got in the dash, which is always important and to come away with a top-10 in the feature was good,” said Gravel. “We didn’t quite get the dash draw we were hoping for, which put us back a bit, but at least we were up there. The track was definitely fast and tough to pass on and we finished where we started, so we didn’t lose any spots, so you can’t complain about that.”
In time trials to start the night, Gravel turned the ninth-fastest lap, which put him on the outside of the front row in the third and final eight-lap heat race. He would finish second in that contest to earn a spot in the World of Outlaws dash. The native of Watertown, Conn., would come home seventh in the dash to earn a fourth row starting spot for the A-Feature.
Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif., presented one of the raciest tracks the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series has seen all year on Friday, April 12, with Gravel starting 11th in the main event. After losing a few spots early in the race, he worked his way into the top-10 by the fifth lap. Gravel would run near the top-10 for a majority of the 35-lap contest and would charge to the front just past the halfway point of the race. The 20-year-old was all the way up to the fourth position with six laps remaining when a lapped car spun and got into him, leaving him nowhere to go and flattening his left rear tire. After a trip to the work area, Gravel restarted at the back of the pack and sliced his way through the field to come home 12th.
“It was a frustrating end to the night,” he shared. “We fell back a bit at the beginning of the feature and during the fuel stop, Tyler (Swank) made a few changes that really helped and we were able to move forward pretty quick after that. It’s a shame that all of the hard work all night went for naught with someone spinning out in front of us.”
Gravel qualified ninth-fastest at Kings Speedway, which put him in the heat race inversion and on the front row of the third eight-lap heat race. He would finish fourth in the heat to earn a spot in the 35-lap main event, where he would take his spot on the grid on the inside of the sixth row.
In 11 starts in Rose’s car during the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series West Coast Swing, Gravel picked up five top-10 finishes, including a pair of fourth-place showings at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. Gravel visited a total of nine tracks in three states over the last five weeks.
“All in all, it was a decent trip out west,” Gravel stated. “We didn’t have luck go out way too many times, especially in the dash draws and with lapped cars and having a tire pop tire at Tulare and then the last lap at Chico (Silver Dollar Speedway). I think I made my mark, though, and got to meet quite a few new people. Racing at a bunch of new tracks was great as well. I had wanted for a long time to race in California and am glad I had the opportunity. Hopefully, next time I race there I can do even better.”
Gravel is currently seventh in points with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series on the strength of sixth top-10 finishes with two of those being top-five performances. The 20-year-old will make his next start in the series inaugural event at El Paso Speedway Park in Texas on Tuesday, April 16, driving for Rose’s team.
“Going to tracks for the first time seems to level the playing field a little bit against these guys,” he noted. “I’m usually pretty good at getting up to speed when I see a place I’ve never been to. I feel pretty comfortable in Bill’s car and as long as we have a good surface that we can pass on, we should have a pretty good night. Qualifying well and getting in the dash will be important as always.”
|Photo Courtesy of Jack Hedstrom|