Sprint Cup car stolen from hotel

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Travis Kvapil is without a race car for the Sprint Cup Series race this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway as authorities are investigating the Friday morning theft of the Team Xtreme No. 44 car from a hotel parking lot in Morrow, Georgia.

Video obtained by police shows that the incident happened at 5:34 a.m. in the parking lot of the Drury Inn. Sgt. Larry Oglesby of the Morrow Police Department told ESPN.com that the incident was reported at 5:50 a.m. and that they are treating the car's disappearance as a stolen vehicle.

Team Xtreme Racing owner John Cohen, who was not at the track, told ESPN.com by phone that the team will have to withdraw from Sunday's race. Kvapil tweeted about the situation Friday morning after discovering the vehicles were missing.

Cohen said he used to own a truck company and was worried about ice in Atlanta on Wednesday night, so he sent the hauler to the track early without the race car. The team didn't have the car ready after the team had wrecked a car in Daytona 500 qualifying Feb. 15 and had to spend time a week ago getting a new one prepared for the Daytona 500.

The car for Atlanta went down Thursday night in an enclosed hauler towed by a dually.

"With everything that happened at Daytona, it set us a week back," Cohen told ESPN.com in a phone interview Friday morning. "I've got a decent staff, [but] not a big staff. ... It's getting frustrating. I've got four cars at the shop now."

Oglesby said there is video surveillance of the alleged robbery.

"We're going to say [it is a] stolen vehicle at this point in time," Oglesby said. "That's as much as we know. We have no idea where it is. ... (The video) shows one male walking up to the vehicle between 5:30 and 5:32 [a.m.], you see him get out of the vehicle and then you see him walk up to that vehicle about 5:34 and the vehicle is driving out of the location."

Kvapil, who said many of the parts and pieces needed for next week at Las Vegas were on the Atlanta car, got a call at 8 a.m. Friday. At first, Kvapil said he was told about trouble with the car and he thought maybe there was a problem in tech.

"Come to find out, we had big problems with the car," Kvapil said. "It's really a crazy story. I feel bad for the guys, John Cohen and the team ... they worked so hard the last couple of days and a lot of hours to get us here, and to have it kind of just pulled out right from under us ..."

Oglesby asked for help in locating the vehicles -- a black 2004 Ford F-350 pulling a white trailer. Both had New Jersey tags. He estimated the overall value of all vehicles -- including the $250,000 race car, engine, parts, etc. -- was between $350,000 and $400,000.

"I just can't believe it. I'm sure that whoever stole it had no idea they were getting a Cup car and a spare engine," Kvapil said. "There's a lot of money inside that little trailer right now. For the team's sake and John Cohen's sake, hopefully the parts and pieces can be recovered or it will be a really huge setback for the team."

Cohen is hoping that because it's a race car -- which can't really be sold without someone knowing where it came from -- that authorities can recover the car.

"I just feel bad for my guys," Cohen said. "They were really proud of this car. ... I want the car back. That was my favorite car I had in the shop. I called that car 'Old Faithful,' because you could run that car anywhere and it would do good."

Oglesby said it appears to be a crime of opportunity -- a hauler located near a highway with people knowing the race was nearby.

The first practice for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, and teams typically must present a car for inspection an hour or two before the start of Sprint Cup practice.

The race is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

Reed Sorenson finished 32nd in the Team Xtreme car in the Daytona 500.

The team is planning on using a mix of drivers this year. Kvapil said he would run select races for Team Xtreme Racing and the Circle Sport Racing No. 33 team.

"Missing this race will be a big setback for this little team," Kvapil said. "The beginning of the year, it's so important to establish yourself in the points, and they did a good job with a decent finish last week."