CONCORD, N.C. – When asked to describe his plans for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next year, David Gravel spoke with unmistakable disappointment.
“As of right now, I’ve got nothing in the Truck Series,” he said. “It’s been a real bummer with everything that’s going on.”
But as Gravel dawdled in the pits before the final World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series race of the year Saturday at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, his mood perked. That is the fun nature of sprint car racing, and Gravel was immediately reminded he’s still in a good place.
Next year the 28-year-old is set to race full-time on the World of Outlaws tour for Big Game Motorsports.
“I’m still fortunate to be driving a race car for a living,” Gravel said. “I can’t complain.”
Gravel had six Truck Series races lined up with GMS Racing at the beginning of the year. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic forced NASCAR to get creative with its schedule in order to survive. One-day shows became the new normal and on-track practice quickly became a thing of the past. Since he had no asphalt experience, these circumstances worked against the 58-time World of Outlaws winner, who has long wanted a crack in NASCAR.
Earlier in the year, Gravel racing full-time in NASCAR’s third-tier series in 2021 didn’t appear far-fetched. Gravel did get two Truck Series races in this year, where he finished 10th at Michigan Int’l Speedway and 35th at Kansas Speedway, but it hasn’t been enough to spur more opportunities.
“It’s one of those things that’s out of my hand,” Gravel said. “COVID ruined a lot of momentum that I had built up. We’re just going to take it one day at a time and see what happens. As of right now, I know I’m racing the sprint car a whole bunch no matter what. We’ll see what happens.”
Gravel wrapped up his final season with Jason Johnson Racing on Saturday in Concord, N.C. In two seasons with Jason Johnson Racing, he collected 23 wins and nearly guided the No. 41 to its first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series team championship this year. Brad Sweet and the Kasey Kahne Racing with Mike Curb No. 49 edged Gravel and Jason Johnson Racing by 24 points for the title.
“It’s one of those things where we gave it our all,” Gravel said. “We’ll hang our heads high and move on to next year. I can’t thank these guys enough. I think I’ve really grown as a person.”
Now, Gravel is set to reunite with Tod Quiring, the owner of Big Game Motorsports and a former sponsor of Gravel’s when he drove for CJB Motorsports from 2016 to ’18. Gravel said this move from Jason Johnson Racing to the Killer Instinct Crossbows No. 2 for 2021 comes down to business.
“Tod has a very well-funded team,” Gravel said. “He’s trying to find a home that could fulfill my needs and hopefully I can fulfill there’s. Just trying to make a name for myself and grow my brand.”
Though Gravel didn’t obtain the number of wins hoped for this year, he bagged some of the biggest races. He won sprint car’s return to racing on May 8 at Knoxville Raceway and followed it up by winning the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway, night two of The One and Only at Knoxville, the Governors Reign at Eldora Speedway, night one of the National Open at Williams Grove and night one of the Last Call at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
Next year Gravel is set to chase the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series title again, but he is still hoping a Truck Series deal materializes.
“I have to see if there’s anything on the table,” Gravel said. “If there isn’t, there isn’t. If there is, there is, and if it’s worth giving up the World of Outlaws tour for it. We just have to kind of see and cross that bridge when we get there.”