The bizarre moment at this year's Daytona 500 when Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet drier also opened an opportunity for Cassill and the BK squad to get some notoriety. When the race was red-flagged, Cassill ran in second place behind Dave Blaney, after staying out of trouble throughout his first 500 start. Although both he and Reutimann were involved in an accident with less than 10 laps to go to end 22nd and 26th, it was the first chance for the NASCAR world to see the team had its act together.
“That was a unique situation and would have been very humbling (to finish second),” Cassill says. “It was cool to put our team on the map, get some exposure during our biggest race. We gave everyone a peek at who we are and what we're about, but we need to back it up with results going forward.”
So far, the team's best result is 19th – the following week by Kvapil in his team debut at Phoenix. Engine woes struck both cars at Las Vegas, with both cars surviving Bristol in the 20s and then adding its second engineer last weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.
“It's tough to get results straightaway, without a prior notebook,” Kvapil admits. “We've had competitive racecars, but that's been bottom of the mid-pack so far. We're beginning to make some good strides. As we get better prepared at the race shop, we can come with more speed in our cars, with a better understanding. We're zeroing in, and when we start coming to places a second time, we'll be a lot closer to where we need to be in terms of speed, performance, and results.”
“It's constantly evolving,” Gunderson says of the team's progress. “The superspeedways, to me, are anyone's game. The 1.5-mile stuff is where we need to get better, and we need to put some more attention into that. Short tracks provide us a chance for good, old school racing and setup. As we bring in more engineers and technological guys to help us for setups on the 1.5 and 2-milers, we'll catch up.”
Rather than a quantum leap the rest of the year, BK Racing seeks incremental strides as it works to run more regularly in the top 20 and top 25. After five races, the No. 93 remains locked in to the top 35, 30th in owner points, while Cassill's No. 83 is five points outside in 36th. Reutimann, Kvapil and Cassill are 32nd, 33rd and 34th in the driver points.
So far, the chemistry is solid between drivers and crew chiefs and the upper management of the team. The team now looks to build both character and its results.
“It's extremely hard to break into in the top-25 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and I hope by the end of the year we're consistently there,” Cassill says. “If you're looking at 25th, that's the 78 car (Regan Smith, a 2011 race winner), the 47 (former series champion Bobby Labonte), and the 56 (the improving Martin Truex Jr. at Michael Waltrip Racing). Those are 20th-to-25th place teams that are fully funded and well funded. We are a brand new team trying to establish what we are. We don't know yet. It takes weeks and months to get there.”
“We hired everyone here and said, ‘OK, it's one team, two cars,'” Gunderson adds. “We don't want to be two separate teams. We have great knowledge sharing right now. We want it to be interchangeable if we need to be, and go from there.”