While some drivers ran at the front or middle of the field, others chose the back-of-the-pack strategy throughout the truck series opener at Daytona International Speedway.
The fifth place finish for Kvapil allowed MAKE Motorsports to score their first top 10 since entering the sport in 2011. It’s a finish Kvapil said he wasn’t expecting as a small team without top-notch equipment.
Kvapil said he made the decision to hang out toward the back after making a couple runs up through the field, and only got halfway through. He didn’t want to be in the middle when the big one happened.
“We knew at some point that there’d be one or two big wrecks, and we just didn’t want to be a part of that,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “We knew that we had to be there at the end of the race, and the best way to do that was to either be in the front of the pack or ride around the back. I didn’t feel like we had a fast enough truck to get it to the front and hold it up there, and I definitely didn’t want to be stuck in the middle. So we elected to just hang out in the back and draft up there, and wait for the big wreck, and sure enough, it happened.”
For Young, the sixth place finish marked his career-best showing after posting a pair of top 10s last year.
“I think it was a really good run last Friday night,” he said. “The guys did a good job. The truck was really good. It was great to get a sixth-place finish, and hopefully, work from there to have a good season.”
Young added the run was a huge accomplishment for his team as they continue to grow.
“Everybody here at Young Motorsports has been working real hard, and to start off the season like this feels really good,” he said. “Everybody did a good job, and hopefully, we can carry the momentum forward.”
For both drivers, their runs came by virtue of playing a strategy call, which can be a tough decision to make. Sometimes the approach works and there’s a big wreck, like Friday night, while other times a major wreck never occurs.
Young said he made the decision to ride in the back because it worked out well before, noted by a 10th place finish last year at Talladega Superspeedway.
“Just saw (the wreck) starting to happen and just was in the right place at the right time and the strategy worked out,” he said about Friday night’s truck race.
With solid starts to the season, both drivers look to carry the momentum into Atlanta.
After placing 22nd last year, Young hopes for a better finish in his second trip to the 1.5-mile track. With three top-15 finishes in the previous five races, the team has improved. Young said the growth stems from the team working on various things, ranging from their equipment to team personnel.
Meanwhile, Kvapil looks forward to Atlanta, and said the multiple grooves make it an exciting race track for the drivers.
“You can run from the top to the bottom,” he said. “These trucks on fresh tires — you should be able to run around there wide open or darn near wide open, but as the tires wear out, you have to come out of the throttle and search for grip. It’s just a really fun race track.”
Kvapil admits that his team probably won’t be in contention for a top 10 most of the time, but hopes to get the best finishes they can, as they shape their program.
“We’re building this program week by week,” he said. “We’re slowly introducing newer and better equipment and things like that into the team. I can’t tear our stuff up and the better we run and less stuff tore up, the more opportunity it gives us to purchase new equipment or take what we have and make it better. So the first key is to be there at the end of the race and take care of the equipment. If we do that and get the best handling truck that we can, we should come out of there with another solid finish.”
The efforts by Kvapil and MAKE Motorsports showed last year, as he was able to go from mid-20 finishes during the first half of last season to a couple of top-20 runs during the second half of the year. The shift in their program, according to the veteran, is a result of new additions to the team.
“We hired more experienced guys near the end of last year, and they were able to bring knowledge and put information into the team,” he said. “It’s just like any other team, whether Sprint Cup, Truck Series or ARCA. It’s all about having good equipment and smart people working for you. This is definitely a people sport. Obviously, you have to good equipment, that’s a key, but that’s a given. But the difference from a 10th-place truck to a winning truck is the personnel and engineering. Hands on — physically on the truck — makes the difference.
“We’re a long ways away from being a contending effort, but we try to make few steps every week and improve on what we do have and continue to grow the program.”
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