Kittleson Takes 2nd in ASA Season Opener,
Battles Miller at Finish and Gets Early Championship Points Lead
3/27 - Travis Kittleson is a man on a mission. In his rookie ASA season
in 2003, Travis had a great run finishing 9th in the overall points battle. In
2004, Travis is looking forward to making a chase for the ASA National Tour
Series Championship. If the 2004 season opener at USA International Speedway in
Lakeland, Florida is a sign for things to come, this could be one heck of a
Friday's practice didn't end the way the team wanted it to. Travis was running
in the top 20 but not top 5 like they had hoped. Crew Chief Gary Crooks, Travis
and the entire crew put their heads together and by the Saturday "Happy
Hour" they had moved into the top five. Travis had a good qualifying run
Saturday afternoon which put the Bob Steele Chevrolet Monte Carlo in 5th
position with a lap time of 21.755 and an average speed of 124.11 mph around the
quick 3/4 mile paper-clip shaped oval.
ASA had modified the restarts for the 2004 season significantly from last year.
The "choose your line" rule was implemented which allows each driver
to choose the outside or the inside line and can advance as far up that line as
possible prior to the restart. This new and very unfamiliar rule proved to be a
little difficult for the 40 cars that made the start. The preferred line at USA
International Speedway was the bottom, however the side-by-side restarts often
put impatient drivers on the outside fighting for the bottom line which resulted
in an excessive amount of wrecks and cautions.
Travis decided early on to stay at the bottom of the track on the restarts which
actually caused him to fall back to 18th position after three restarts early in
the race. Determined to stay at the front of the field, Travis made quick work
of the field as he made his way back to the front taking the lead at lap 91.
Travis held the lead for 10 laps as his BF Goodrich T/A tires started to show
their wear. Travis came in for tires and the crew was able to get him off pit
road first. Travis was now running on good rubber and enough fuel to finish the
Lap 127 Travis regained the lead and pulled away from the field with about 5-7
car length advantage. Butch Miller had made his way into the second position and
had a great car on the longer green flag runs. Travis' car was easily the
fastest car on the track when his tires were cooler (less than 25 green flag
laps), but Butch was quicker on the longer runs. After a long green flag run,
Butch had caught Travis and made the pass on lap 176. A caution came out with
about 20 laps to go which made for a great finish.
Travis raced Butch clean during the final laps getting the nose of his car under
Butch going into the corners but was not able to make the pass. "I had
every opportunity to (take him out) those last five laps. He even left the doors
open for us a couple of times but we jut couldn't take advantage of it. But I
wasn't going to do it. It isn't how I wanted to win my first ASA race."
To the delight of the huge amount of Travis Kittleson fans in the stands, Travis
took the Bob Steele Chevrolet Monte Carlo home in one piece and in second place.
It was a great homecoming for Kittleson as he led the most laps in the race and
now stands on top of the leader board in the ASA National Touring Series
Championship Points standings by 1 point over race winner Butch Miller.
Travis Kittleson and the R/T Racing Team are heading back to the race shop in
(Mooresville) Charlotte, North Carolina to prepare the race cars for super
speedway testing coming up in April.
The next ASA National Tour event is on Saturday, May 1st at Lanier National
Speedway in Braselton, Georgia and will be covered live on SpeedChannel.
R/T Racing Inc.
Crew Member and Website Designer
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