Fuel & Tires: Thieves foil Kvapil's Sprint Cup return
Update: Police found Travis Kvapil's stolen race car early Saturday morning.
Janesville native Travis Kvapil was due to attempt to qualify for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway with the No. 44 Team Xtreme Chevrolet.
However, it's difficult to race without a car.
Kvapil was already at the track Friday morning when he got word that his race car had been stolen from a hotel parking lot in Morrow, about 15 miles south of Atlanta, Georgia.
Because of the missing race car, the team had to withdraw from this weekend's race.
The team was already behind, having missed the Thursday practice session, but was looking forward to practice and attempting to qualify Friday.
The deal came together rather quickly for Kvapil, who was talking with the team last weekend in Daytona when they offered him the chance to run Atlanta.
Reed Sorenson, who drove for the team in last weekend's Daytona 500, is now driving for the No. 29 Toyota of RAB Racing.
The car that was stolen was not the same one the team ran at Daytona, but they were planning on running the missing car this weekend as well as at Las Vegas next weekend.
Though the team does have a backup car, it was too late to get it to the track when the primary car went missing.
“We're going to have to work hard over the next couple days and get ready for Vegas,” Kvapil said. “It's a pretty big setback.”
Kvapil is planning on running at least the west coast races for Team Xtreme, including Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Fontana, California. He is also planning on running some Sprint Cup races in the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevy.
“I don't know all of the dates yet,” Kvapil said regarding driving the No. 33 car. “It's still somewhat week-to-week.”
As for the No. 44 team, Kvapil “believes their intentions are to run the whole year. Obviously this week is a huge step back for them.”
If the team makes it to the Las Vegas race, it's a track where Kvapil has had some success. He won a truck series race there in 2007 and led a number of laps during the Sprint Cup race in 2005.
“Vegas is probably one of my favorite tracks. It's a track I feel comfortable with and confident in, and hopefully we go out there and have a good showing there next week,” Kvapil said of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kvapil, who won the Camping World Truck Series championship in 2003, still runs a number of truck races.
He ran in the truck series race last Friday night at Daytona, driving the No. 94 Jay Robinson Racing Toyota and qualifying second. He was running in that position early in the race when he ran into trouble. The hood pin bar, which holds the hood down to the body, started coming apart.
“We thought we could just get some tape and get it back on the track, but that didn't work out for us,” Kvapil said. He ultimately finished 15th.
Kvapil was also scheduled to run the truck series race in Atlanta on Saturday with Empire Racing, but he got word from the owner late this week that there were issues with the sponsor.
Empire Racing has been around in the ARCA series the last few years and has also run two or three truck series races.
As for the missing race car, it seems it's just another stroke of bad luck for a driver who has had his share.
“I was really looking forward to Atlanta and having the truck and the Cup car,” Kvapil said. “Within 24 hours, it went from two series to nothing.”
In the meantime, if you run across a missing NASCAR racing machine, you know who to get a hold of.