|Sam Martin photo|
After a rough weekend last week, David Gravel will be on the hunt to rebound at Lake Ozark Speedway where his starts are few but superb.
In three World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car races at the 1/3-mile track near the Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri, Gravel has one win and has never finished worse than second – with two teams, as well.
“It’s just a fun track,” said Gravel, of Watertown, CT. “I think it races really good. I’ve been there three times in total I think, and the track has been racy every time. They’ve got a good product there. It’s also an added benefit that it’s right down the road from Jason Johnson Racing.”
The JJR shop, in Rocky Mount, MO, is about 15 minutes away from the speedway and Gravel was able to give them a special hometown win in front of fans, family and sponsors in October for the Jason Johnson Classic.
He’ll look to repeat that win and sweep the weekend during the May 29-30 doubleheader at Lake Ozark to rebuild the momentum he and his team established after winning at Knoxville in May. They lost a bit of it at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 last weekend with a sixth-place finish the first night and a 17th-place finish the next.
The first night they found an issue in the motor, the next he had the misfortune of going out late on a slick track in qualifying and was unable to recover from it the rest of the night.
A return home for JJR is the perfect opportunity to regroup and rebound. A win for Gravel would also make him the first repeat winner at the track. So far, there have been five different winners in five race — Tim Shaffer, Craig Dollansky, Donny Schatz, Brad Sweet and David Gravel.
Qualifying is key to having a good run at the speedway, according to Gravel, and in the past year there’s been no one better at that than he and JJR. The duo collected 21 overall Quick Time awards in 2019 – one of them being at Lake Ozark in April – and already have two this year at Volusia Speedway Park.
His first start at Lake Ozark was in 2018 with CJB Motorsports and drove the #41 for JJR in the other two. While the teams’ setups don’t correlate, they’re in the same vicinity, he noted.
“I think as a driver if you’re really good at a track, historically you can bring an added benefit to that team,” Gravel said. “I think we just did our normal deal there and it worked out good. I think the CJB car and the JJR car are both good late in the Feature and if you can position yourself close to the front, you’re going to have good results.”
With the rust fully shaken off after the nearly two-month break, Gravel said he is primed and 100% committed to his Sprint Car racing. His NASCAR Truck racing plans are on hiatus at the moment with the series still developing its schedule and running races without practice, so his focus is solely on winning with the World of Outlaws.
His one win of the year, so far, at Knoxville was his 52nd career World of Outlaws win – tying him for 15th on the all-time wins list with reigning champion Brad Sweet. One thing he missed at Knoxville that he’d experience with a win at Lake Ozark is the cheer of fans back in the stands.
“It’s just not the same,” Gravel said about winning with no fans in the stands at Knoxville. “No one wants to race without fans as long as we don’t have to. Hopefully it will be the new normal in the coming weeks. People can enjoy it on DIRTVision and in person.”