News & Media

BK Racing goals being hit, but consistency desired

July 18, 2012, Mark Aumann,

Like a lot of people in the business, Travis Kvapil started hearing last fall a new Cup team was being formed from the assets of Red Bull Racing. But as it got closer and closer to Daytona -- and the phone didn't ring -- Kvapil was about to give up on pursuing it.

"I heard about this team happening in November and December," Kvapil said. "I was in contact with some of the people involved, but it was still a big waiting game. And at the end of January, I was like, 'This is just too late. This ain't gonna happen.' But it did."

"I get the sense that it's coming together. We've still got a ways to go, but Landon and I are getting some top-20 finishes here and there."


Good thing he stuck it out. Nineteen races into the 2012 season, Kvapil is sitting 31st in the points for BK Racing -- one position ahead of teammate Landon Cassill. That might not seem all that impressive, until you realize the team didn't even have a key to its shop until Feb. 1.

How much of a last-minute deal was it? Team president Scott Gunderson didn't announce the driver lineup until Feb. 18 -- nine days before they raced in the Daytona 500. Somehow, in the span of less than three weeks, BK Racing got two haulers on the road for Daytona, even though many of the crew guys were still getting to know each other's names as they completed final preparation on the cars in the track's parking lot.

"Our shop was a mess," Kvapil said. "We had to move into a different building from where Red Bull was. Everything was not very well organized, with parts and pieces all over. But we've come a long ways."

When Cassill finished on the lead lap in 22nd place and David Reutimann ran competitively until being involved in a late-race crash, some chalked it up to "beginner's luck." But Kvapil credited the ownership group for making good choices when it came to both parts and people.

"They made the investment in getting good race cars and that's what's giving us the opportunity to run good," Kvapil said. "It was an incredible task, just getting to the race track. We got there and had reasonable speed and reasonable competitiveness."

The team kept riding positive momentum the following week at Phoenix, when Kvapil scored a 19th-place finish. But the luck ran out shortly thereafter, as neither Kvapil nor Cassill cracked the top 25 again until Kansas.

First-year growing pains? BK Racing had them in spades. But Kvapil said it wasn't unexpected, particularly under the circumstances.

"The first couple of months were just getting to the track, [and we were] not as prepared as we could have been," Kvapil said. "We had problems along the way -- engine trouble and some misfortune -- but I feel like the last month or six weeks, we've done a good job of bringing well-prepared race cars and had some decent finishes. We're staffed up in the areas where we needed some support. And the performance is improving."

Certainly that's been the case for Cassill, who scored his first top-20 of the season at Richmond, then added 18th-place finishes at Charlotte and Michigan. He knew coming in that it might take some time for everything to come together -- and he was right.

"It's harder than it looks, but I think I was prepared for that," Cassill said. "Right now, we're just trying to gain some consistency. We've got the speed and we've shown some performance, some results there. But we really need the consistency."

"At times, a top-25 finish should be our expectation, and when we finish 24th, we should be proud of it."


The primary goal of the team this season was to make sure both cars were solidly in the top 35 -- and guaranteed a starting spot each week. That's been met. The next step? Improvement on a weekly basis.

But measuring that can be tricky. According to Cassill, the most difficult thing for a new team to do is manage its expectations. By getting off to such a good start at Daytona, the bar may have been raised a little too much for a team still learning its way.

"At times, a top-25 finish should be our expectation, and when we finish 24th, we should be proud of it," Cassill said. "And sometimes when you think that you should have finished in the top 15, you can leave with a 24th-place finish and an opportunity to grow off that, but instead people are upset."

Now the expectation is that BK Racing should perform better when visiting tracks for a second time. That's a reasonable assumption, Cassill said. But at the same time, it's no guarantee of success.

"When we start going back to Richmond and Charlotte and Dover and Michigan and Pocono, those are tracks that we've just raced at," Cassill said. "So we can unload where we finished the last race, and maybe that'll put us in a position to run better. But we're not the only team that is getting to go to that track again. Everybody else is doing the same thing."

So what would be considered a successful first season? Cassill's goal is to have a car that's capable of running in the top 25 each week, and can challenge for the top 20 when everything goes right. For Kvapil, it's working with crew chief Todd Anderson to create a notebook of setups for future use.

Both drivers see the key being measurable, steady improvement. And Kvapil believes he's seeing signs of that now.

"I get the sense that it's coming together," Kvapil said. "We've still got a ways to go, but Landon and I are getting some top-20 finishes here and there. If we could be just a little more consistent and keep improving the team -- especially the second half of the year where we go to these places a second time -- our performance will continue to be on the rise."