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Notebook: Kvapil's memorable family adventure

August 18, 2011, Dave Rodman,

During the next few weeks, there's no question Travis Kvapil is going to have his head down on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Kvapil is attempting to do what a couple other go-or-go-home squads have already been able to accomplish this season by racing the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford back into the top 35 in the Series' owners' points. Since Daytona, FRM has only achieved a net gain of two points against Robby Gordon's No. 7 team, one position ahead in the owner standings.

RV maintenance was par for the course while Kvapil was on vacation.

Heading to Michigan, Kvapil isn't without achievement in recent week after fitting a family vacation via motorhome into his itinerary in conjunction with Cup races at Pocono, Watkins Glen and Michigan.

While on the road, Kvapil filtered slices of his family's experience via his Twitter feed, including photos of everything from views of Niagara Falls, RV maintenance and what might have been his young son's first love.

In a recent tweet, Kvapil said the highlights of their journey were "probably the Statue of Liberty or Niagara Falls -- both were amazing." The family is already making plans for next summer's journey, but not without some qualifiers.

"We'll probably do two weeks again next year," Kvapil said. "[Even though] my teenage daughter is missing her friends."

One thing I can be 110 percent sure of: I bet Travis didn't liberally sample a variety of Canadian lagers while traversing the Northern highways.

* Cup Series Owner Standings

The shuffle's on

As usual during NASCAR split-venue weekends, the initial entry lists for each division either doesn't represent race weekend reality or it masks the identities of whoever will have to substitute when the schedule's clash.

With five drivers entered at both Michigan for the Pure Michigan 400 and at Montreal for the NAPA Auto Parts 200, FAS Lane Racing was processing a driver change in its No. 32 Ford that will see veteran Ken Schrader working at Michigan, while effective journeyman and 2002 Truck Series champ Mike Bliss wheels his No. 19 Chevrolet on Ile Notre Dame.

Once again, Continental Tire Challenge dynamo Billy Johnson will set up and qualify Carl Edwards' No. 60 Roush Fenway Ford while Edwards toils at MIS. The Cup Series' most recent winner, Marcos Ambrose, will once again try to erase several chapters of Montreal frustration and Australian countryman Owen Kelly will fill Johnson's role in a unique Richard Petty Motorsports Nationwide car.

Michigan, Montreal Entry Lists: Cup Series | Nationwide Series | Truck Series

Joe Nemechek's typical sub, Kevin Conway, was initially entered at Montreal in the No. 87 Toyota, until Nemechek replaced him. But Conway will probably warm up and qualify the car as a teammate to impressive newcomer Kyle Kelley, who was 26th at Watkins Glen in his NEMCO debut.

Robby Gordon plans to concentrate his efforts on Montreal -- where you could argue he has some scores to settle. Gordon has entered a No. 77 Dodge with Truck Series title contender Johnny Sauter running RGM's No. 7 Charger at MIS on Saturday.

Gilliland driving a blank canvas

For the past few weeks, Gilliland's No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford has raced without any sponsor logos on it, and either with or without the Taco Bell signage carried for most of the first part of the year, the team is trying to do a better job of getting their message out that it needs marketing partners.

Team manager Jerry Freeze said at Indianapolis that the team went that route because, even though Taco Bell does have some sponsorship money invested in the team, the primary load falls to team owner Bob Jenkins, who holds a portfolio of Yum Brands restaurants --- such as Taco Bell and Long John Silver's --- and thus the money is really mostly his.

Gilliland's been solidly in the top 35 all season, so don't expect that status to change.

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Au revoir Patrick

Affable Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier -- with two pole and some notable top-five runs in 54 career starts -- said this weekend's Nationwide race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve will be his last.

"It's going to be a different experience," Carpentier said. "I have been doing this for 27 years now. I am happy with the decision -- it feels right. I want to spend more time with my family and become more involved in real estate.

"I know I will miss it, but in the last three years the races have been few and far between. So at some point you have to realize it's time to move on and let the young kids have their chance."

Carpentier has a 10-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son and says they are driving most of his decision. Sounds like a great call, from that angle.

"There are a lot of reasons why I decided to retire after this race [but] I wanted to spend more time at home [with my kids]," Carpentier said. "Honestly, I was very fortunate to have great teams to drive for during my career. However, the past couple of years it's been tough to find a good ride. It has either been start-and-parks or with underfunded teams that just aren't competitive. All of that made me realize that it was time to move on to something else. I am at peace with my decision."

For one last time, fans at Ile Notre Dame and in its lead-up should go out of their way to shake a man's hand that was always a shining light in any garage area.

Busch on pins & needles?

Three days after he competes in the Pure Michigan 400, Kurt Busch admitted he'll have the shakes when he serves as honorary chairman of another Michigan event, the 23rd annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony at the Fillmore Theater in downtown Detroit.

"When you look at the all-star lineup that'll be honored that night, it's a little intimidating, to tell you the truth," Busch said. "I started working on my speech during our off-week and I look forward to being there. This is always a first-class affair and it's a genuine thrill to be able to participate."

Busch has a right to be nervous, as the induction class for the event includes NASCAR icon Donnie Allison, motorsports pioneer Ed Winfield, legendary sports car driver Augie Pabst, USAC champion Roger McCluskey, drag racer Ed "The Ace" McCulloch, speedway motorcycle world champion Bruce Penhall and the former radio voice of the Indianapolis 500, Sid Collins. The event is open to the public.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.