WATERTOWN, Conn.—May 5, 2013— It’s hard to believe it had been since last July that David Gravel had taken to the high banks of the famed Eldora Speedway in Ohio. After Mother Nature halted a couple of scheduled trips to the half-mile last fall, the native of Watertown, Conn., made his first two starts of 2013 at the historic oval this past weekend. He finished seventh in the opener of the two-night Outlaw Thunder weekend to earn his third-career top-10 finish with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series at Eldora.
The Outlaw Thunder weekend was the first of three separate trips the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series will make to Eldora Speedway this season. Gravel plans to race in all of those events, which equate to five total nights of racing for the series at the track, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
In the opener on Friday, May 3 at Eldora, Gravel lined up eighth for the main event aboard the Wright Process Systems/Firetext Response/JRC Transportation Maxim for Bill Rose Racing and ran among the top-10 for the duration of the 30-lap contest. The first stoppage of the night occurred just before the halfway point, when the red flag flew on lap-14. Gravel restarted eighth following that and was in the same position as the laps wound down. A pair of yellow flags would come out on the 21st circuit, and the East Coast racer found himself in seventh at that point and would cross the finish line in that same spot.
“We wanted to come away with a top-10 finish and were able to do that on the first night,” said Gravel. “Qualifying and track position is so important at Eldora and we were able to time in among the top-five and got a little help getting in the dash. Right now, with how tough the competition is, you definitely have to make the most of a top-10 starting spot and we did that against a very strong field on Friday night.”
The 20-year-old opened the Outlaw Thunder weekend at Eldora by recording the fifth-fastest lap in time trials, with a stout 39-car field in attendance. He both started and finished third in the first eight-lap heat race, which earned him a spot in the dash. With an inversion of eight for the dash, Gravel lined up fourth and would come home eighth, which put him on the outside of the fourth row for the A-Feature.
On Saturday, May 4 in the finale of the Outlaw Thunder weekend, Gravel finished 14th, after taking the green flag for the 30-lapper in the 18th spot. He began the night by timing in 18th-fastest of the 34 cars in attendance. Gravel finished sixth in the second eight-lap heat race, coming up just one position short of transferring to the main event, which put him in the B-main, where he finished second to earn a spot in the main event.
“We were just a little bit off,” he shared. “We gained a few spots in the feature, but weren’t quite where we needed to be with the car. We learned a few things and should be better when we go back to Eldora in July for the Kings Royal. That’s a place where if you are just a little off, you are really battling and that’s what we were up against.”
Gravel, who is currently sixth in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series championship standings on the strength of 10 top-10 and four top-five finishes, returns to action next weekend at Elko Speedway in Minnesota and the legendary Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.
“It sounds like it’s going to be a pretty neat event at Elko, with them covering the track with dirt,” he said. “We were hoping to race at Knoxville a couple of weeks ago and were delayed a day at Salina (Oklahoma) due to rain, so it will be good to get some laps there next weekend with the Outlaws. Any laps we get can at Knoxville prior to the Nationals will help us come August.”