Travis Kvapil admits he is pleased to have already secured a place in the starting line-up for the Daytona 500 ahead of Thursday's Gatorade Duel races.
The Yates Racing driver was one of four drivers not guaranteed a starting slot in the opening round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup to secure his place in the race after Sunday's qualifying session with the eighth quickest time at the wheel of the #28 Golden Corral Ford.
While the Duel will still decide Kvapil's starting position for the biggest race of the season, he can at least go into the event safe in the knowledge that he doesn't need to race into the event although he admitted that it would be vital for his preparations after missing the Budweiser Shootout.
“Locking ourselves into the race on Sunday was a huge deal for the #28 team,” he said. “I knew that Doug [Yates] and Ben [Leslie] would bring a fast car this weekend, and I know they were both really excited when we made the race on Sunday. We have Golden Corral on our car this weekend, which is great for all the kids out there, because if we finish in the top ten, all kids eat for free on Monday.
“Since we weren't in the Shootout, I don't know exactly how this car is going to handle when we put it in the draft. The goal on Thursday is to see what you have in terms of handling in the draft and then to make sure you don't get in any wrecks or mess up your car in anyway.”
Crew chief Ben Leslie agreed that securing a slot in the race had been important for the team and said the focus was on now getting the car in perfect shape for the 500.
“I think locking ourselves into the race on Sunday was huge for all the guys on this #28 team,” he said. “They've done a great job over the last couple of weeks putting together this programme and making sure that our car was fast on Sunday. Now that we're in the race, we can go out there the rest of the week and work on handling and seeing what we can't find to make our car just a little faster in the draft.”