Kvapil qualifies 34th for Michigan race

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Travis Kvapil qualified 34th for Sunday's NASCAR Cup race at Michigan, undaunted by penalties levied on his Front Row Motorsports team for using illegal valve stem caps on his tires during last week's race at Pocono.

Kvapil was forced to make it in on time after NASCAR docked him and car owner Doug Yates 150 points each after the infractions were discovered at Pocono.

The penalty knocked Kvapil from 32nd to 36th in points, meaning he had to get in to Sunday's 400-mile race on time. The top 35 cars in owner points are guaranteed a spot in the race.

"It is a good feeling to qualify on time," Kvapil said. "It has been a long week."

The effort came two days after NASCAR came down hard on the No. 38 team. Crew chief Steve Lane was fined $100,000 and suspended for 12 weeks, along with car chief Richard Bourgeois and tire specialist Michael Harrold.

Team co-owner Bob Jenkins took responsibility for the "unintentional" mistake and plans to appeal the penalty. The violation was found following a rain delay in last Sunday's race. Kvapil's rear tires were almost flat, and NASCAR discovered that the valve stem caps on the tires had been altered to allow air to gradually leak out -- an act that would help the car with its speed during a long run.

Though Jenkins recognizes the need to discipline the team, he believes the penalties were "excessive."

"It was obvious to me, and I think to others, that there was no intent," Jenkins said. "Obviously it is a big fine and it is a lot of points. ... I understand there should be a fine, but I felt that 12-week suspensions and that level of points are pretty high."

Jenkins pointed to the timing of the infraction, early in the race, as evidence the mistake was innocent.

"If you look at the specifics of it, it just doesn't make sense," Jenkins said.

Front Row also fields cars for David Gilliland and Kevin Conway, who are both currently inside the top 35 in owner standings. Gilliland qualified 36th and Conway 42nd for the race.