Sunday, June 15, 2014

CUP: Opening-Lap Tangle With Vickers Nets Kvapil First Last-Place Finish Since 2011

SOURCE: Twitter - @TravisKvapil
Travis Kvapil picked up the 6th last-place finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway when his #32 / Ford fell out with crash damage after he completed 23 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish is Kvapil’s first of the 2014 season and his first in a Cup race since Phoenix on November 13, 2011 - 89 races ago - when his #55 Aloft Hotel Tempe Ford fell out with brake problems after 20 laps of the Kobalt Tools 500.

Following his departure from BK Racing after the 2013 season, Kvapil, the 2003 NASCAR Truck Series Champion, now drives the lion’s share of the races for Go FAS Racing.  Go FAS’ #32 team was founded in 2011 by Frankie Stoddard after the reorganization of the #26 Latitude 43 Motorsports team, and this year has merged with Archie St. Hilaire’s Go Green Racing to continue running the full season.  In eleven starts for Go FAS in 2014, Kvapil’s best finish is a 29th last week at Pocono.

At Michigan, Kvapil trailed both of the first two practice sessions, then improved to 36th in Happy Hour.  In qualifying, he secured the 43rd and final starting spot with an average speed of 194.963 mph.  Locked-in on Owner Points, this allowed Kvapil to bump from the field Ryan Truex, one of his replacements at BK Racing.  Truex was the only driver to miss the show after the withdrawal of last week’s last-place finisher Dave Blaney and the #77 Randy Humphrey Racing team.

On the very first lap of Sunday’s race, 10th-place starter Brian Vickers ran too high in Turn 4 and lost control, sending his car spinning to the inside.  The rest of the field took evasive action, including Kvapil, who clipped the infield grass as he ran to the inside.  Unfortunately for him, Vickers’ Toyota hooked left at the last second and the two collided, shearing all the sheet metal from the passenger side of Kvapil’s Ford.

While Vickers remained stopped on the apron, Kvapil made it to the garage area under his own power and crossed the start-finish line, putting Vickers in a position to finish last without completing a lap for the second time in two years.  However, both Vickers and Kvapil committed to returning to the track.  Vickers returned first, 83 laps down, with duct tape numbers on the door of his #55.  Kvapil returned to the track 112 laps down, just as Brett Moffitt brought out the sixth caution of the afternoon.  Mathematically unable to improve his position unless Vickers fell out, Kvapil pulled behind the wall after running just 22 more laps, ending his day.

Vickers finished under power in 42nd, narrowly averting his second last-place finish in three races despite three consecutive top-ten starts.  41st went to Kyle Busch, who ended up with his second Bottom Five since Dover after he broke a hub on an early restart.  In 40th was rookie Alex Bowman, whose struggles continued with a mid-race accident that made him only the second retiree from the race.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was David Stremme in the Circle Sport #33, his second Bottom Five in five starts this season.

Next week at the Sonoma Raceway, it is likely the #32 will be driven by Boris Said for the fourth straight year as Said’s longtime crew chief Frank Stoddard owns the team.

Speaking of which, this weekend at Sonoma, I will be reporting from the track as a credentialed media member!  Click here for the full details, including a special deal on my LASTCAR eBooks!

*This is the first last-place finish for the #32 in a Cup Series race since September 11, 2010, when the late Jason Leffler’s #32 Braun Racing Toyota fell out with brake problems after 30 laps of the Air Guard 400 at Richmond.
*This is the first last-place finish for the #32 at Michigan since August 21, 1994, when the late Dick Trickle’s #32 Active Trucking Chevrolet was involved in a huge opening-lap accident in Turn 1 during the GM Goodwrench Dealer 400.
*It is Kvapil’s first last-place finish in a Cup race at Michigan.

43) #32-Travis Kvapil / 23 laps / crash
42) #55-Brian Vickers / 110 laps / running
41) #18-Kyle Busch / 169 laps / running
40) #23-Alex Bowman / 169 laps / crash
39) #33-David Stremme / 195 laps / running

1st) Dave Blaney (2)
2nd) Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., David Gilliland, Timmy Hill, Travis Kvapil, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Morgan Shepherd, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Truex, Brian Vickers (1)

1st) #77-Randy Humphrey Racing (2)
2nd) #14-Stewart-Haas Racing, #15-Michael Waltrip Racing, #32-Go FAS Racing, #33-Circle Sport, #38-Front Row Motorsports, #43-Richard Petty Motorsports, #55-Michael Waltrip Racing, #66-Michael Waltrip Racing / NEMCO-JRR Motorsports, #78-Furniture Row Racing, #83-BK Racing, #87-NEMCO-JRR Motorsports, #88-Hendrick Motorsports, #95-Leavine Family Racing (1)

1st) Ford (6)
2nd) Toyota (5)
3rd) Chevrolet (4)

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