News & Media


Getting to Daytona is BK Racing's biggest victory

February 26, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The deal with Red Bull wasn't even signed until the final week of January. They didn't move into their shop until the first day of February. And yet somehow, the newest team in NASCAR's premier series made it to Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500.

BK Racing, which purchased the assets of the former Red Bull Racing team and assumed the top 35 points that organization's No. 4 and 83 cars earned last season, is at the Great American Race despite a hectic few months that saw the outfit evolve quickly from theory to reality. A group of investors that had been affiliated with TRG Motorsports are now fielding a No. 83 car driven by Landon Cassill and a No. 93 shared by David Reutimann and Travis Kvapil, and have hopes of top-20 finishes on the Sprint Cup tour.

"I didn't know if they were for real, if it was really going to happen. But for me, I looked at it as an opportunity to get in really good race cars and help build a program."

--TRAVIS KVAPIL

Their biggest accomplishment, though, may have been just getting to Daytona. Team president Scott Gunderson said his group began talking with Red Bull right after last season, with negotiations heating up the week after Christmas. They met with a contingent from Austria -- where Red Bull is headquartered -- in the middle of January, and signed the deal transferring Red Bull's assets to the new organization about a week later.

They didn't move into their shop in Statesville, N.C., until Feb. 1, a fact that led to some cars being reconfigured for Daytona in parking lots. But 16 days later they rolled into Speedweeks, to the surprise of everyone but themselves.

"Our employees were stellar," said Gunderson, also an investor in the team. "We would say that everybody did everything they could to make the deal work .... I was walking into the shop the other day, and Travis was walking out with seat brackets. Everyone wants to make it work. They had been told too many times by too many people that they couldn't get to Daytona and run any cars, and so they were going to be here."

Added investor Wayne Press: "There were a lot of surprised people that were here at Daytona saying, 'We're amazed you guys actually showed up here.' So we surprised a lot of people. It was a lot of hard work by a lot of people who are very dedicated. But they all knew we were going to do this."

Cassill will pilot the No. 83 on a full-time basis. Reutimann is in the No. 93 at Daytona, but Kvapil will be in the vehicle for Phoenix, Las Vegas, and most of the remaining races given that Reutimann's availability will be limited because of his commitment to the No. 10 car he will pilot in the Sprint Cup events Danica Patrick does not participate in. Kvapil heard rumors late last year about the new team coming together and reached out to Press at Homestead, but initially still had his doubts.

"You're wondering, 'Are they really going to pull this off?' " he said. "Honestly, I had never met Scott until a couple of weeks ago. I met Wayne at the final race at Homestead .... I didn't know if they were for real, if it was really going to happen. But for me, I looked at it as an opportunity to get in really good race cars and help build a program."

Red Bull was negotiating with other potential buyers as well, but the BK group knew they were in the running when the former owners cancelled one meeting to extend another with Gunderson and Press. "We knew whatever we were doing, it was moving forward," Press said. The eventual deal transferred to the new BK Racing two vehicles that were inside the top 35 in owner points -- guaranteeing them starting spots in the season's first five events -- as well as a vehicle Kasey Kahne used to win at Phoenix last fall.

That doesn't mean the new team is expecting similar results. "I think candidly, we don't have the team of engineers they had," Gunderson said. "The actual steel of the cars, they're good cars. I think they're great pieces of equipment. The question is, how well can our team set them up? There are a lot of great cars in the garage. It's how you turn the bolts on them that make them worthwhile."

BK Racing currently has about 40 employees, Gunderson said, including some that came over from TRG. He'd like to add a few more and fill out the personnel roster in the mid-40s. The name of the team comes from the fact that the investors are Burger King franchisees and business partners, which gives them license to use the company's name and image, as well as those of its vendors.

The rush job to get to the race track may have showed in Thursday's twin 150-mile Daytona qualifying events -- Cassill finished 25th in the first, and Reutimann 23rd in the second. The team is trying to stay realistic with its goals for the season. "Realistically, if [Travis] and Landon and David can get two cars in the top 20, it would be a thrilling season," Gunderson said. "Top 25 would be great."

As for the Daytona 500? "Personally, if we finish between 15th and 25th," Press said, "I would be over the moon."