At Talladega Superspeedway, the steering wheel may be in the driver's hands, but deciding his course is a team effort. When it comes to picking drafting partners, clearing the 'big one' and knowing who's surrounding his car, it's the spotter that helps relay the critical information. Travis Kvapil, driver of the No. 93 Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota, relies on Toby Whealdon to be his eyes in the sky. They worked together to bring Kvapil a 16th-place finish at Talladega earlier this season. They look to improve their results in Sunday's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at the 2.66-mile, high-banked tri-oval.
Kvapil has nine Cup Series starts at Talladega. His best finish is sixth place, which he achieved in 2008. Kvapil has one pole (2008) and has led laps in five events, including four of the last five races. In his last race at Talladega, Kvapil started 41st and finished 16th.
Comments from BK Racing Driver Travis Kvapil heading to Talladega Superspeedway:
"Restrictor-plate racing is so unpredictable. There are 43 cars all running in a pretty tight pack and it only takes one car to get of shape to wreck us all. It's intense. You feel like you don't have time to blink. That's just how fast things can unfold there.
"I'm really excited about racing at Talladega. A couple of our best finishes came at restrictor-plate tracks, so I'm looking forward to getting back. We seem to do well at them and I know we can do it again this weekend.
"We try to minimize the radio chatter at Talladega. We want the spotter to have an open channel so that he can chime in at any time. I'm always waiting for him to let me know what's going on ahead or around me. Things happen so fast and there's barely any time to react, so you've got to make sure that when Toby comes over the radio, he can be heard without interruption."
Comments from BK Racing spotter Toby Whealdon heading to Talladega Superspeedway:
"You've got to be looking everywhere when you're spotting at Talladega. Everything can happen so quick there. Cars can go two-wide or three-wide without a lot of warning, so you have to keep an eye on your driver and make sure he knows what's going on around him. At the same time, you have to keep a lookout for the 'big one,' basically just looking for smoke. You're always glancing ahead and glancing back. The tough part is that you're looking through a pair of binoculars about 40 percent of the time. The paint scheme we're running at Talladega has a bright roof, so that will be helpful.
"When the 'big one' happens, the first thing I like to do is let Travis know that there's a wreck in front of him and to back it down. Also, normally you're running two-wide, sometimes three-wide, so you've got to get him cleared of that before you can steer him past the wreck. A lot of times when there's smoke, I can't see the car. I always remember where they were so I can spot them as soon as it clears. Most of the time, the wreck is going to move down the track because of the banking. It's a self-cleaning track, so try to set them up to be on the high side to get by it.
"You have your friends up top that you try to work with and make deals that will help out our drivers. I'll keep an eye on who Travis runs well with and who's going to give him the best chance of reaching the front if they draft together. We aren't allowed to talk with other drivers anymore, but we can scan them, so we'll listen to make sure that the drivers we're working with all know the plan and are on the same page. When it comes down to the end, though, the last five laps or so, the driver has to make his own choice on the race track."
BK Racing PR