David Gravel chases second win at Wilmot Raceway in O’Reilly Auto Parts Badger 40
WILMOT, Wisc. — July 27, 2016 — David Gravel had only been to Wilmot Raceway once, prior to the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series event at the track in 2014. That was in 2012, when he finished sixth with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions. He didn’t let that lack of experience at the third-mile slow him down, though, as he battled veteran Joey Saldana for the top spot and came out victorious at the bullring located on the Wisconsin/Illinois border.
Gravel took the lead from Saldana in that race on a lap-8 restart and paced the remainder of the 30-lap race. The 24-year-old returns to Wilmot Raceway this week, on Saturday, July 30 for the running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Badger 40 for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series.
“That was a night where we got in the dash and put ourselves in a good position,” said Gravel of his win at Wilmot in 2014. “We had a good restart and took advantage of that. There was a cushion up top, so I was able to run up there. We’ve been pretty good on the smaller tracks this year. We’ll be chasing our third short track win of the year at Wilmot (Raceway) and hopefully we are in the ballgame to do that. Putting yourself in a good position at the beginning of the night is key to that.”
In the couple of weeks leading up to the O’Reilly Auto Parts Badger 40 at Wilmot Raceway, Gravel and his fellow World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series competitors have contested a number of events on half-mile tracks. Prior to taking the track at Wilmot, Gravel will have competed on half-miles in six races in an eight-race stretch.
“We have been racing on bigger tracks the last few weeks, but we race so much that it doesn’t matter if it’s a big or small track, we approach them all the same,” he explained. “We have everything on our schedule from very small tracks to medium to large to very large, so we get a good variety and learn to adapt quick. Being able to get up to speed quick at a track is a skill you learn out here and one that is vital to being successful.”
Gravel used both open track and lapped traffic to his advantage en route to winning with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series at Wilmot Raceway in 2014. Having a car that will maneuver in traffic is a must at a bullring like Wilmot, where the leaders will encounter slower machines just a couple of laps into a green flag run.
“Lapped traffic wins and loses you races,” Gravel said. “Lapped traffic is tough at Wilmot and it’s a tight track. To have a car that is good in clean air (open track) is good, but having a maneuverable car in dirty air (lapped traffic) is what decides races more times than not.”
Gravel is in the midst of his first season behind the wheel of the No. 5 Big Game Treestands car for the CJB Motorsports team, based out of Pennsylvania, with veteran crew chief Barry Jackson turning the wrenches. Gravel has won five races, including the $25,000 Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup at Lernerville Speedway in Pennsylvania last week. The five wins match his career-high in that category, which he previously set in 2014. The native of Watertown, Conn., is currently third in points and has 44 top-10 finishes of which 31 are top-five performances. Gravel is second in both top-five and top-10 finishes to only point leader Donny Schatz.
“We’ve had a pretty good season so far,” Gravel said. “There have been three nights that we would like to forget about, but take away those three nights and it’s been a great season. We are trying to minimize our bad nights and that’s what it takes to be successful out here, because when you race 90 times a year, you are bound to have a bad night or two. The key is putting those behind you quickly and looking ahead to the next race.”
With the format utilized this season by the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series lining up heat races up heads-up by qualifying time, time trials have an added importance to them. Gravel, who traditionally has been one of the strongest qualifiers on the tour has four fast time awards this year and has won 16 heats races.
“Qualifying good is the biggest key to being a contender again this time at Wilmot (Raceway),” he stated. “Getting in the dash is so important nowadays, because it hard to win when you start outside of those first three or four rows, but it can be done, like we saw at Attica (Raceway Park in Ohio) a few weeks ago.”
Tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Badger 40, featuring the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at Wilmot Raceway in Wilmot, Wisconsin on Saturday, July 30 and can be purchased online at https://slspromotions.ticketforce.com or at the track on race day.
Discount General Admission tickets are available for purchase at O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. Each General Admission ticket purchased at an O’Reilly Auto Parts location will feature a special $5 discount. Tickets buyers will exchange their O’Reilly receipt for tickets at the Main Grandstand ticket booth on race day.
For more information on tickets, visit https://slspromotions.ticketforce.com.
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