CONCORD, N.C. – Though he won’t win this year’s World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship, David Gravel made sure to serve notice on Thursday night that he’ll still be a force during the final race weekend of the season.
Gravel led the way during the first round of qualifying time trials during the opening night of the Textron Off-Road World Finals on Thursday, posting the fastest overall lap around the four-tenths-mile oval with a time of 12.530 seconds (114.924 mph) in his No. 5 GoMuddy.com/CJB Motorsports machine.
The Connecticut native is looking to close his season with his 18th and 19th wins of the season.
“Fast time is obviously how you want to start any night,” said Gravel, who landed third in qualifying flight A and seventh-overall for Saturday’s program. “Hopefully we can park this CJB Motorsports on the frontstretch a couple of times this weekend.”
“Qualifying is so important because of how this format works; it’s unique and unlike anything else we do all season long,” he added. “You have to start well and show speed so you’re not having to come from behind the rest of the weekend and fortunately, we were able to do that here tonight. I think we’ll be in good position the rest of the way.”
Daryn Pittman’s lap of 12.551 seconds (114.732 mph) in the No. 9 Great Clips entry for Kasey Kahne Racing was fastest in qualifying flight B and good for second overall on the Friday speed charts.
Dave Blaney, Donny Schatz and Joey Saldana completed the overall ‘Fast Five’ in Friday’s qualifying.
Schatz officially clinched the 2017 World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series championship – the ninth of his career and fourth in a row – simply by rolling out for hot laps, but he had a power effort in qualifying as well, going fourth overall and second in his flight in both rounds.
Washington state young gun Trey Starks shocked everyone by laying down the fastest overall lap during the second qualifying session, used to set heat race lineups for Saturday’s program, as the second-to-last car to take time.
Starks toured the four-tenths-mile oval in 12.606 seconds (114.866 mph) with his No. 44 Textron Off-Road/Gobrecht Motorsports sprinter, proving the longevity of the track surface throughout the evening.
“It’s really nice to see the track didn’t change with all the laps put on it,” said Starks, who was fourth-fastest in his flight and sixth overall for the Friday program. “As a driver, especially when you don’t draw well, that’s all you can ask for. The track being equal for everyone is a big key when you have a big car count and I think it definitely showed that was the case here at Charlotte.”
Australian Kerry Madsen was fastest in qualifying flight A and second-overall for the Saturday program, taking his No. 2M Big Game Treestands machine to a time of 12.647 seconds (113.861 mph).
Pittman, Schatz and Bill Balog completed the overall ‘Fast Five’ for the Saturday portion.
Coleman Gulick had his time disallowed during qualifying for Saturday’s show after losing his muffler during his two-lap run.
Night two of the Textron Off-Road World Finals kicks off at 12 noon on Friday, when the pit gates open for fans. Opening ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m.
Full qualifying results can be viewed on the next page…