Gravel Continues to Shine at Roth Motorsports, Earns Wilmot Victory
The 21-year-old racer wins his third World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car race of 2014
WILMOT, Wis. – May 9, 2014 – David Gravel is settling in nicely behind the wheel of the Roth Motorsports #83 car, winning a thriller on Friday night at Wilmot Raceway for his second victory in the past three World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series events.
Gravel, of Watertown, Conn., is now tied for the series lead with three victories this season after he held off a late charge by Joey Saldana, Paul McMahan and Brad Sweet at the 1/3-mile clay oval in southeastern Wisconsin.
As is often the case, this 30-lap feature came down to just a few split-second decisions. Gravel started on the pole for the second time this season, but it was Saldana on the outside who got the jump going into the first turn on the high side of the track. When Phil Mock spun to a stop in turn four with seven laps complete, the entire complexion of the race was about to change.
Saldana chose the outside lane on the double-file restart. It had worked for him only seven laps earlier, he expected it to work again. Gravel was to his inside with McMahan, Kraig Kinser and Steve Kinser breathing down their necks. Green waved and Saldana again rode the cushion, but this time Gravel found just enough speed on the bottom to slide up in front of Saldana and into the lead on lap eight.
When three cars tangled with 12 laps in the books for another caution, Gravel figured he better stay on the bottom, and he was right. Gravel raced back to the lead with Saldana and McMahan in tow, and Brad Sweet charging into fourth.
Gravel tried but he couldn’t completely escape Saldana and McMahan as they gave chase. Sweet joined the fray and with a couple laps to go the four cars raced nose-to-tail, waiting to see who might bobble.
But Gravel was solid in only his fourth start for Roth Motorsports. Saldana and McMahan gave it everything they had. A spinning car hampered McMahan’s momentum and allowed Sweet to pounce for a moment before McMahan went to the high side and charged back around. Saldana also went to the top in a last-lap shot at getting his car owner, Dan Motter, a special birthday victory.
It wasn’t to be, though, for Saldana or McMahan on this night. Gravel continues to prove he’ll be a force in the sport for a long time to come.
“It’s been a dream come true,” said the 21-year-old Gravel, who has driven for three different car owners this season on the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series tour. “It’s just amazing. We’ve been so fast every time we’ve been on the track. We had a lot of adversity with things happening and motor trouble and all that. I wish I was in this car at the beginning of the year.”
Gravel, who also has wins this season at Merced (Calif.) Speedway and Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, can empathize with Saldana on that crucial restart. Just last week at Eldora he was in a similar situation.
“It’s just one of those things, when you get put in those situations and start on the front row, you get used to it and try to treat it like any other start,” said Gravel, who dedicated the victory to his former car owner, Tom Leidig, who fell ill this past week. “Joey got the lead and at Eldora I lost the lead early, too. I’m sure Joey wishes he chose the bottom on that restart. Everything worked our way. I can’t believe how good we’re running this year.”
Saldana pushed forward in his Motter Equipment/HEMSaw car during the waning laps, but it wasn’t to be. His runner-up finish was enough, however, to catapult his team back into the championship lead for the second time this season.
“Hats off to the whole Roth team,” said Saldana, of Brownsburg, Ind. “They did an awesome job, they were good all night. I definitely chose the wrong line and paid the price for it. We got to lapped traffic and Paul showed me where I needed to be and I got moving around a lot better. I had a shot there, I just didn’t get it done.
“If it worked before you want to use it again and it just didn’t work. The biggest thing is the guys behind me are pretty smart racers, too, and when I saw Paul moving around there I knew I needed to start moving around. We were in the right spot, just didn’t get it done.”
McMahan had found a lane that was helping his CJB Motorsports car gain on Gravel and Saldana with about 10 laps to go. Then suddenly Paul Nienhiser’s spinning car blocked his path, yet the car kept running to avoid a caution. The damage had been done, though, for McMahan as that single moment broke his stride, allowing Sweet to close in for a shot at a podium finish. McMahan went high, Sweet went low and down the stretch it was McMahan regaining the momentum he needed to hold the third spot.
“We were pretty good, we just got cars spinning out and doing 360s, it cost me a lot,” said McMahan, of Nashville, Tenn. “I lost a lot of ground to Joey and David there. We had a pretty good race car. I was racing with Joe and he was running the bottom so I had to move up and that opened the bottom for Brad. He gave me a big flyer at the end, but I was able to keep up on the top and just barely beat him to the finish line.”
Gravel’s three victories ties him with Sweet, Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman for the most wins by any single driver so far this season.
The World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series is back in action on Saturday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., before the series invades Pennsylvania next week on Wednesday at Lincoln Speedway then Friday and Saturday at Williams Grove Speedway.
WILMOT RACEWAY NOTES: Friday night marked the third time the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series raced at Wilmot, with Mark Dobmeier winning in 2006 and Daryn Pittman winning in 2008. … Cody Darrah was the fastest qualifier around the 1/3-mile Wilmot Raceway, marking Darrah’s first quick-time of the season. Also earning qualifying points were Brad Sweet (4 points), Joey Saldana (3), Paul McMahan (2) and Steve Kinser (1). … Kraig Kinser, Daryn Pittman, David Gravel and Jason Sides earned heat race victories. … The dash draw was a 6 for the 10th time this year. … David Gravel won the dash to earn his second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series A-main pole of the season.
WINNERS: Brad Sweet – 3 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 14, Tucson International Raceway on March 8 and Calistoga Speedway on April 5); Daryn Pittman – 3 (Thunderbowl Raceway on March 14, Calistoga Speedway on April 6 and Devil’s Bowl Speedway on April 19); Donny Schatz – 3 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 15, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 6 and Devil’s Bowl Speedway on April 19); David Gravel – 3 (Merced Speedway on March 28, Eldora Speedway on May 3, and Wilmot Raceway on May 9); Kerry Madsen – 2 (Stockton Dirt track on March 22 and El Paso Speedway Park on April 15); Joey Saldana – 2 (Perris Auto Speedway on April 12 and Salina Highbanks on April 25); Rico Abreu – 1 (Thunderbowl Raceway on March 15); Cody Darrah – 1 (Kings Speedway on April 11); Steve Kinser – 1 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 16); Paul McMahan – 1 (The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 5); Shane Stewart – 1 (Eldora Speedway on May 2); Sammy Swindell – 1 (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on April 26).
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway; May 9, 2014
A-Main – (30 Laps): 1. 83-David Gravel [$10,000]; 2. 71M-Joey Saldana [$5,500]; 3. 51-Paul McMahan [$3,200]; 4. 49-Brad Sweet [$2,800]; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser [$2,500]; 6. 11-Steve Kinser [$2,300]; 7. 29-Kerry Madsen [$2,200]; 8. 9-Daryn Pittman [$2,100]; 9. 15-Donny Schatz [$2,050]; 10. 1-Sammy Swindell [$2,000]; 11. 7S-Jason Sides [$1,500]; 12. 4-Cody Darrah [$1,200]; 13. 18-Ian Madsen [$1,100]; 14. 7-Craig Dollansky [$1,050]; 15. 17B-Bill Balog [$1,000]; 16. 77X-Wayne Johnson [$900]; 17. 1S-Logan Schuchart [$800]; 18. W20-Greg Wilson [$800]; 19. 17M-Joey Moughan [$800]; 20. 5J-Jeremy Schultz [$800]; 21. 1M-Phillip Mock [$800]; 22. 79-Blake Nimee [$800]; 23. 9X-Paul Nienhiser [$800]; 24. 1A-Jacob Allen [$800]. Lap Leaders: Joey Saldana 1-7, David Gravel 8-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 29-Kerry Madsen [+7]
Qualifying: 1. 4-Cody Darrah, 12.815; 2. 49-Brad Sweet, 12.817; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana, 12.865; 4. 51-Paul McMahan, 12.886; 5. 11-Steve Kinser, 12.927; 6. 15-Donny Schatz, 12.983; 7. 17B-Bill Balog, 12.986; 8. 1-Sammy Swindell, 12.994; 9. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 13.012; 10. 29-Kerry Madsen, 13.045; 11. 83-David Gravel, 13.071; 12. 18-Ian Madsen, 13.077; 13. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 13.080; 14. 9-Daryn Pittman, 13.092; 15. 9X-Paul Nienhiser, 13.128; 16. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.186; 17. 7-Craig Dollansky, 13.230; 18. W20-Greg Wilson, 13.253; 19. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.274; 20. 1M-Phillip Mock, 13.281; 21. 19-Todd Daun, 13.289; 22. 79-Blake Nimee, 13.296; 23. 17M-Joey Moughan, 13.300; 24. 5J-Jeremy Schultz, 13.365; 25. 4S-Danny Smith, 13.393; 26. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.491; 27. 68-Dave Uttech, 13.511; 28. 94-Brandon Thone, 13.602; 29. 7U-Scott Uttech, 13.651; 30. 83D-Tommy Sexton, 13.654; 31. 43-Jereme Schroeder, 13.672; 32. 23-Russell Borland, 13.708
Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 2. 11-Steve Kinser ; 3. 4-Cody Darrah ; 4. 77X-Wayne Johnson ; 5. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 6. 4S-Danny Smith ; 7. 19-Todd Daun ; 8. 7U-Scott Uttech 
Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 2. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 3. 15-Donny Schatz ; 4. 49-Brad Sweet ; 5. W20-Greg Wilson ; 6. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 7. 83D-Tommy Sexton ; 8. 79-Blake Nimee 
Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 83-David Gravel ; 2. 17B-Bill Balog ; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 4. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 5. 17M-Joey Moughan ; 6. 68-Dave Uttech ; 7. 9X-Paul Nienhiser ; 8. 43-Jereme Schroeder 
Heat 4 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 7S-Jason Sides ; 2. 51-Paul McMahan ; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 4. 18-Ian Madsen ; 5. 5J-Jeremy Schultz ; 6. 1M-Phillip Mock ; 7. 94-Brandon Thone ; 8. 23-Russell Borland 
Dash – (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 8 starting positions of A-feature): 1. 83-David Gravel ; 2. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 3. 51-Paul McMahan ; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 5. 49-Brad Sweet ; 6. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 7. 4-Cody Darrah ; 8. 7S-Jason Sides 
Last Chance Showdown – (12 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 9X-Paul Nienhiser  [-]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [-]; 3. 1M-Phillip Mock  [-]; 4. 79-Blake Nimee  [-]; 5. 4S-Danny Smith  [$200]; 6. 19-Todd Daun  [$180]; 7. 83D-Tommy Sexton  [$175]; 8. 68-Dave Uttech  [$160]; 9. 43-Jereme Schroeder  [$150]; 10. 23-Russell Borland  [$150]; 11. 7U-Scott Uttech  [$150]; 12. 94-Brandon Thone  [$150]