The closing laps of the 2003 Ford 200 at a recently repaved Homestead-Miami Speedway featured one of the closest championship battles in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history. Series points leader Brendan Gaughan was eliminated in a crash with only laps remaining, which left NASCAR veterans Ted Musgrave, Dennis Setzer and newcomer Travis Kvapil as the only drivers mathematically eligible for the Truck Series title.
On the final restart of the race, Musgrave attempted to make a pass for position before crossing the start/finish line, which resulted in him getting black flagged by NASCAR, leaving Kvapil and Setzer to settle the championship amongst themselves. Kvapil received a strong challenge from Setzer in the closing laps but managed to finish one spot in front of him in sixth, which was enough for Kvapil to secure the 2003 Truck Series championship.
At the time of his championship, Kvapil was also focusing his attention on raising his son Carson, who had only been born six months prior to the season finale at Homestead-Miami. Fast-forward fifteen years, and the elder Kvapil now finds himself behind the pit wall fielding cars for his son, with the next race being Carson’s CARS Response Energy Tour debut in the Do the Dew 150 at Tri-County Motor Speedway.
“My dad has been the main thing that’s been pushing my racing career so far,” Kvapil said about his dad Travis. “Me and him are really the only two people who work on my car since we don’t have any guys working for us. It’s pretty much all him, and he’s the one who gives me advice on how to drive and work on the cars, and whenever I come home from school I try to go to the shop and help as much as I can.”
A career in auto-racing was not immediately assured for the 14-year-old Kvapil, as he had to convince both of his parents that he could successfully make a living behind the wheel of a stock car. Kvapil planned to accomplish his goal by competing in several races in Mooresville’s indoor go-kart facility known as The Pit, where he quickly began to find his stride as a racer, and gradually developed a passion for auto-racing as a whole.
Kvapil’s success at The Pit convinced his parents to buy him his first Bandolero, and began regularly competing in the Bandolero divisions at both Charlotte Motor Speedway and Concord Speedway in 2013, where he contested for Top 5 finishes against several promising young drivers, including NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Todd Gilliland. During the 2014 season, Kvapil elected to balance out his Bandolero schedule with dirt track racing, and appeared in select events at Millbridge Speedway in the track’s Mini Outlaw Sprints division.
The following seasons would see Kvapil expand on his dirt track schedule, as he would venture out to several different tracks across the country, which ranged from Thunder Hill Speedway in Wisconsin to Cycleland Speedway in California. Kvapil’s 2017 season would prove to be his most successful, as he scored 10 feature wins, including four consecutive victories, during his first season in Millbridge’s Wednesday night Open division, which propelled him to his third consecutive championship at the track.
Kvapil was able to carry over his success from the dirt track into his Late Model program, as he picked up two victories in his #35 CorvetteParts.net/Keen Parts Late Model at Dillon Motor Speedway and Florence Motor Speedway during the 2017 Southeast Limited Late Model Challenger Division season. The momentum for Kvapil continued into 2018, as he was able to score a victory in the LLM feature in the Winter Meltdown at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, which came as a pleasant surprise to the Mooresville, North Carolina native.
“We honestly weren’t expecting to win Greenville-Pickens,” Kvapil said. “There was great competition there, and we were honestly hoping to get a Top 5 finish, but I guess we just had everything right in order to take home that win.”
The win at Greenville-Pickens gave Kvapil a confidence booster going into his first Late Model test at Tri-County last weekend, which gave him an opportunity to shake down his car ahead of his CARS Response Energy Tour debut this weekend. While Kvapil was able to show some speed during the afternoon test session, he stated that his car was extremely tight throughout the day and that he and his father are working to resolve the issue in time for the Do the Dew 150.
Kvapil will be among 36 drivers attempting to make the 28-car field for the CARS Response Energy LMSC Tour season-opener at Tri-County, and understands that he will have to qualify better than several strong teams in order to obtain a strong starting spot. However, Kvapil believes that he got a good feel for the track during last weekend’s test session, and plans to be conservative during the early stages of the race in order to be a factor at the end.
“There are going to be a whole bunch of great drivers there like Lee Pulliam and others,” Kvapil said. “I think the best strategy would be to just no fall back in the pack, and just avoid any problems and just stay in the race until the end. Hopefully, we’ll be able to drive up through to field and get ourselves a win.”
Along with Pulliam, Kvapil will also have to contest with fast drivers such as Ryan Repko, who posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s test session at Tri-County, as well as Josh Berry, who will be looking to win his third consecutive race at Tri-County. Regardless of the outcome in Saturday afternoon’s event, Kvapil remains thankful of the help that his father has provided him in his racing career over the past few years, and is looking forward to continuing his family’s auto racing legacy.