HAMPTON, Ga. – Without taking a lap at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Travis Kvapil was eliminated from two NASCAR races this weekend by his teams withdrawing their entries.
After the Empire Racing truck owned by John Corr pulled out of Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race Thursday night, Kvapil learned Friday morning that the No. 44 Chevrolet of Team Xtreme in the Sprint Cup Series apparently was stolen overnight from a Morrow, Ga., hotel.
“This has been a rough weekend for me,” Kvapil, who turns 39 Sunday, told NBC Sports. “I’m not sure what my plans are. I’m definitely going to hang out (Friday), watch the Cup guys qualify and practice. I’m not sure what my plans are really.”
Kvapil, who had been scheduled to drive the car through at least the races at Atlanta and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, said the team had shipped its hauler to the Atlanta track Wednesday night because of a forecast for heavy snow. Because the car still needed prep work, the team skipped an open test at the 1.5-mile oval Thursday afternoon and sent the vehicle via a trailer pulled by a Ford pickup truck Thursday night.
Kvapil learned of the theft at 8 a.m. Friday
“I feel horrible for my guys,” he told NBC Sports. “They’ve been working really hard the last couple of days. Hopefully we can recover the parts and the car and a lot of components we need to go to Las Vegas are missing right now.
“We wanted to get the hauler down the road (and) at least get that here safely, get our parking spot, even though we weren’t going to be here for the test. That all worked out as planned. Obviously, ideally we would have had the car finished earlier and been down here for the test, we just didn’t have the time, and the guys didn’t quite have all the parts and pieces to make that happen. So we needed an extra day, and everything was fine when we drove down last night (and) checked into the hotel. Woke up this morning, and it was gone.”
Kvapil said the hotel has surveillance video of a vehicle entering the parking lot, and the truck and trailer being taken so “they have a little bit to work with and hopefully track it down. … I’m sure (the thieves) had no idea what was inside the trailer. It’s going to be a big surprise when they find out.”
It’s a tough break for Team Xtreme, which had rallied and finished 32nd in the Daytona 500 with Reed Sorenson in a backup car after a crash in qualifying.
“They had a lot of momentum after Daytona,” Kvapil said. “It was a big deal for them to make that race. So we were looking to carry that on here. This is a huge setback for this small team.
“Hopefully they can recover the car and parts and pieces. If we can’t recover it, it’ll be a huge expense to get another car prepared.”