6/30/07

Kvapil Wins in Memphis But NASCAR Taking a Second Look


Brad Keselowski was within nine laps of adding a huge exclamation point to a storybook weekend when contact sent him spinning out of the lead at Memphis Motorsports Park. The contact came from Travis Kvapil who went on to score his sixth career victory and second of the season.

Keselowski got “The Call” from Germain Racing when Ted Musgrave became the first driver in Craftsman Truck Series history to be suspended. Musgrave earned that dubious distinction for intentionally ramming into Kelly Bires under caution last weekend at The Milwaukee Mile.

The 23-year old driver vowed to make the most of his big opportunity and he made believers out of everybody else when he scored his first career pole award just hours before the green flag flew. After leading the first 20 laps of the race, Keselowski settled comfortably into the top five.

With 52 laps to go, he took the lead from Kvapil and that began a spirited battle between the two that lasted until their collision put Keselowski into the infield grass and out of contention for the victory. “I’m a huge Brad Keselowski fan,” said Kvapil as he accepted the winner’s trophy. “That’s definitely not how I wanted to make that pass. I just feel terrible. He did a great job all weekend. My crew just made perfect adjustments and after the first stop the truck was darn near right on.”

As it turned out, Kvapil’s victory wasn’t without controversy but it had nothing to do with the way he took the lead. NASCAR officials revealed much later that night that they had discovered an unspecified issue with the team’s engine during the post-race inspection. Possible penalties and fines are pending further testing, which will be done back at NASCAR’s R&D Center in Concord, NC early next week.

Keselowski led 62 laps, second only to Kvapil’s 66, and was understandably disappointed with what turned out to be a 16th place finish. “The end result is we got hit from behind and got spun out,” said the dejected driver. “I was just as loose as I could be and any little hit was going to spin me around. It’s pretty frustrating. You want to believe that we had a great run and it will lead to other things but it’s pretty hard to look past tonight. Hopefully we’ll get more opportunities like tonight.”

While Kvapil pulled away for the victory Jack Sprague and Ron Hornaday waged a fierce battle for second that was won by Sprague with two laps to go.
“This is just what we needed,” said Sprague who has been snake bitten in recent weeks. “Seriously, this is good start to getting that monkey off our back. I really think we were a little better than Travis there at the end.”
Point leader Mike Skinner finished fourth with Aaron Fike right behind him with a career best finish.

Skinner’s advantage over Hornaday now sits at 103 points while Musgrave’s week off dropped him from seventh to tenth in the standings. The entire series will take next weekend off before they join up again at Kentucky Speedway on July 14.