Thursday, August 23, 2012
Unfinished Business: David Gravel Returns to Mercer Raceway Park
WATERTOWN, Conn. -- Ever since the door closed on the DDR Motorsports hauler on May 12, at Mercer Raceway Park in Pennsylvania, David Gravel has been anticipating his return to the semi-banked three-eighths-mile in Western Pennsylvania. That’s because he laid down the fastest lap in time trials that night, only to have an electrical problem prevent him from starting the main event.
Gravel returns to Mercer this weekend with the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions on Saturday, August 25, for a full night of racing, beginning with time trials, followed by heat races, a dash and concluding with a 30-lap main event.
“Every time we’ve been to Mercer we’ve been strong,” said Gravel. “We’ve been very fast lately, and just had some bad luck with lapped cars. We definitely have the speed, we just have to put a whole night together and we know we are more than capable of doing that.”
Gravel finished third at Mercer in 2011 with the All Stars. The 20-year-old opened that night as the eighth-fastest driver in qualifying, with a very strong 46-car field in attendance. He finished third in the fourth eight-lap heat race, which earned him a spot in the dash. Gravel came home fourth in the dash, which lined him up on the outside of the second row for the A-Feature.
“Mercer is a little different than the last few tracks we’ve run on, but I try to treat them all the same,” he noted. “You have to concentrate on turning a couple of good laps in qualifying, and then transferring through your heat race. Being aggressive in the heat race is always important, especially with the inversion.”
The native of Watertown, Conn., wrapped up the annual Thunder Through the Plains with the All Stars last week at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota. He was running second in the main event when a lapped car spun in front of him, leaving him nowhere to go. Despite heavy damage to his No. 89G and the lack of a front nose wing, Gravel was able to charge back through the field and salvaged a seventh-place finish. He opened the night as the sixth-fastest driver in time trials, and finished fifth in the third heat race, which put him in the dash, where he finished sixth to earn a starting spot in the main event on the outside of the third row.
“It’s frustrating sometimes dealing with lapped cars, because you don’t know what they are going to do,” he explained. “At some of the places you are racing against drivers you don’t know, so it’s hard to get a feel for them. At a place like Mercer this weekend, there will be a lot of good cars and drivers we know, so lapped car shouldn’t be a problem.”
Following the event at Red River Valley Speedway, Gravel headed back east for a visit to Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan. The East Coast racer was again running second in the A-Feature when bad luck befell him. This time it was a lapped car forcing him off the track, and he suffering a flat tire in the process. Gravel would again restart at the tail of the field and worked his way back up to 12th at the checkered flag. He opened the night as the second-fastest driver in qualifying, ran fifth in the second heat race and was second in the dash, which put him on the outside of the front row for the 30-lapper.
“You can’t complain too much when you are fast, even if you have some bad luck,” he said stoically. “If we wouldn’t have had the bad luck we would have been right up there, so at least we can take a little comfort in knowing that we have had one of the fastest cars a lot of nights of this year, including both races last week.”
Gravel heads to Mercer Raceway Park third in the All Stars championship standings on the strength of one win, 20 Top-10 finishes. He has been fastest in time trials on six occasions with the series, as well as five times with the World of Outlaws, with whom he will compete with a number of times down the stretch this season.
“The schedule is slowing down a little now, so the main thing is to stay focused,” said Gravel. “Tyler (Swank) and Kyle (Ripper) work hard every single day and we’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing. Our goal is to finish off the year on a good, strong note.”
David Gravel and DDR Motorsports would like to thank: J&J Chassis, JRC Transportation, Kistler Engines, Musco Fuels and P&M Transportation for their continued support.
Keep up-to-date with David Gravel and DDR Motorsports by visiting www.DavidGravel89.com. Follow David on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/DavidGravel89g. Like David on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Gravel-Racing/143538695709198.