WATERTOWN, Conn. — The last month has certainly been a long one for David Gravel as he battled mononucleosis, which included an enlarged spleen and also a double ear infection, and kept him out of 13 races with World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series.
With a clean bill of health and clearance from his doctor, he’ll return to action this weekend with the series in a pair of races in the upper Midwest.
“It was definitely tough having to sit on the couch and listen to the races and not be able to be there, but I had to get healthy,” said Gravel. “I am young and have a lot of years ahead of me and it was in my best interest to get back to 100-percent and make sure everything was back to normal before returning to the track. I feel great now and am ready to climb in the car on Friday night.”
Gravel, who pilots the FMR Racing/JRC Transportation/Musco Fuel/Model Craft J&J, will take to the track on Friday at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa, for the Arnold Motor Supply Shootout. He’ll then head north to Minnesota for the Asgrow/DeKalb Clash at the Creek at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley on Saturday.
“It’s been a while since I’ve raced, so I am anxious to get back in the car,” he noted. “The last few races we competed in, we did well, so hopefully we can pick up where we left off. We know we have a good car and engine, and hopefully everyone else did not learn too much when they were out west and we did not fall too far behind.”
The last race Gravel competed in with the series prior to his illness was the finale of the 53rd Annual FVP Knoxville Nationals at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Iowa, on Aug. 10. He finished 23rd in that event after early engine problems forced him to the pit area. The 21-year-old was victorious on the opening night of the Knoxville Nationals, which locked him into the 50-lap A-Feature on the final night of sprint car racing’s biggest event. This weekend will see Gravel visit two more tracks he has never been to. The East Coast racer has added over 20 new tracks to his resume this season.
“We’ve been to so many new tracks this year that you try to treat them all the same,” said Gravel. “All season our main goal has been to learn as much as we can every time we are on the track. It helps having a guy like Tyler (Swank-crew chief) who has been to these tracks and knows what to expect when we roll in.”
Gravel, the leading contender for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series, is 13th in points. He has two victories, including one in the state of Minnesota at I-94 Speedway in May. Gravel has earned 24 top-10 finishes, with seven of those being top-five showings, heading into this weekend’s pair of races.
“We want to qualify well and get into the dash both nights this weekend,” he shared. “To get a couple of top-10 finishes would be a great way to return. Obviously, I’d love to win, but it we can get in the top-10 on my first couple of nights back, we’ll be happy. We are looking to finish the season on a consistent and strong note and pick up where we were earlier this year.”