By DDR Motorsports PR
WATERTOWN, Conn.—June 23, 2013— With his 21st birthday just mere hours away, David Gravel gave himself an early present, as he was victorious in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series inaugural event at I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minn., on Saturday, June 22. The native of Watertown, Conn., led all 30 laps en route to earning the second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series win of his career.
“To win a World of Outlaws race anytime is huge, and to win it right before my birthday, that is just absolutely amazing,” said Gravel. “We’ve had an up and down year, but have continued to work hard each and every night. I really have to thank my crew chief Tyler Swank for everything he does day in and day out. The car was great in open track and I just had to pick my spots in traffic to get around the slower cars. Everything worked out and it’s definitely an awesome way to celebrate my birthday.”
Gravel started o the pole for the 30-lap A-Feature in the FMR Racing/JRC Transportation/Musco Fuel/Model Craft J&J, after leading all six laps to win the dash. At the drop of the green flag, he got the jump on current World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series point leader Daryn Pittman, who started second. Gravel quickly began to pull away and found himself negotiating lapped traffic just six laps into the main event on the high-banked, three-eighths-mile.
The East Coast racer encountered very heavy traffic on the ninth circuit and continued to put slower cars a lap down. Near the halfway point of the 30-lapper, Gravel had about a one-second lead. The only caution of the night flew on lap-16, setting up a double-file restart. Gravel chose the low side of the track and used a strong restart to again to maintain his lead over Pittman. Over the final 10 laps, traffic again came into play and with just five laps to-go, Pittman had cut the lead to about a half-a-second. Gravel was able to then put a couple of lapped cars between himself and Pittman as the laps wound down. He would take the checkered flag first by over a full second at the line.
“The caution didn’t really worry me, because I knew how good the car was and the start I was able to get at the beginning of the race,” he shared. “You ever know how close anyone is, so you always have to keep digging and trying to put as much of a gap between yourself and other cars as you can. The lapped traffic worked to our advantage and they were all pretty respectful of the leaders when we got to them. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
Gravel opened the night at I-94 Speedway by recording the fourth-quickest lap of the 28 drivers signed in. He finished fourth in the first heat race, which put him in the dash. An inversion draw of four in the dash put him on the pole for that six-lap contest and he led from flag-to-flag to earn his first pole position of the season.
“Getting in the dash is the key,” Gravel noted. “I’ve been saying that all year and it definitely showed at I-94 (Speedway). If you get in the dash, then you give yourself a chance. The draw went our way with a four and when you have that, you have to capitalize on it and we were fortunate enough to be able to do that and just had an awesome car all night long.”
The weekend kick-off for Gravel at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D., as he added yet another track to the list of venues he has competed at for the first time in 2013. He finished 10th in the action-packed 40-lap main event at the always racy high-banked, three-tenths-mile. Gravel timed in ninth to start the night and ran third in the first heat race to earn a spot in the A-Feature, where he lined up 14th.
Gravel, who is the leading contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series, remains seventh in points, on the strength of 15 top-10 finishes, with five of those being top-five performances, including his win at I-94 Speedway. The 21-year-old will return to action next weekend with a trio of races at LaSalle (Ill.) Speedway, Beaver Dam (Wis.) Raceway and Cedar Lake (Wis.) Speedway.
“I’m going to spend a few days at home this week and be able to celebrate my birthday with my family, which will be great,” Gravel said. “When you win you want to enjoy it as long as you can, but at the same time, you want to get right back in the car and continue the momentum. The three tracks next week should bode well for us and we were fast at Cedar Lake and came close to winning there last year, so I am pretty excited to get back up there and to go to LaSalle (Speedway) and Beaver Dam (Raceway) as well.”