Kvapil's team honors late HS basketball player Print
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Sunday, 19 June 2011 14:03
NASCAR Headline News

 BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) - Travis Kvapil took some time before the Sprint Cup race Sunday to meet with the family of Wes Leonard, the Michigan high school basketball player who died this year after making a winning shot.
Kvapil's No. 38 Ford carried the logo of the Wes Leonard Heart Team on its rear quarter panels. The foundation was set up in Leonard's memory to honor children who have lost their lives to sudden cardiac arrest and help prevent similar tragedies in the future.
``It's been 13 weeks, and I'm still all over the place,'' said Leonard's mother, Jocelyn. ``I never know if it's going to be a bad day or a good day, but every time I work with our heart team, it's better because at least I'm doing something important.''
The 16-year-old Leonard had cardiac arrest March 3 because of an enlarged heart.
The Wes Leonard Heart Team is lobbying for legislation providing schools with automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and training to help prevent sudden cardiac arrest in athletes.
``There's been a lot more kids in this country that died from sudden cardiac arrest since Wesley 13 weeks ago,'' Jocelyn Leonard said. ``Our kids can't die because we don't make our schools buy AEDs, period. ... Everybody should want to save lives for $1,400. That's it. It's $1,400 per school.''
Jim Leonard, the boy's uncle, was overcome with emotion during the day at the racetrack. He described himself and his nephew as casual racing fans.
``The overall response from just everybody has been overwhelming,'' he said. ``I spent 10 minutes crying just thinking how much he would enjoy being here to see this.''
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FRUSTRATION: Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought out the race's final caution when he made contact with the second-turn wall. Earnhardt, whose winless streak on the Sprint Cup circuit reached 108 races, wasn't pleased with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin, who he said ran him into the wall.
``I try really hard to take care of people and try not to be careless and I don't like putting up with carelessness,'' he said.
Martin admitted making a mistake after the race. He said he thought the matter could be smoothed over.
``I don't have a history of having problems,'' he said. ``I don't think I have one now. I think we will get it sorted out. I feel like I give everybody on the racetrack respect.''
The accident led to a 21st-place finish for Earnhardt, but it didn't alter his place in the season standings. He left MIS in third place - the same spot he was in at the start of the day.
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CHANGES?: Carl Edwards led for 30 laps Sunday and kept his series points lead after finishing fifth, but he said he hopes NASCAR considers car designs that create more passing by putting more of a premium on handling and driver ability.
``I am really hoping that NASCAR will take the opportunity in 2013 to take downforce away so the fans can see the guys race cars and not race downforce,'' he said. ``I am not whining. Denny earned this win and those are the rules we are under. Track position was huge and I just wish it wasn't like that.''
Kyle Busch, who finished third, isn't so sure there's a problem.
``I don't know that I've ever seen a guy in the last run of the race take four tires and drive by everybody and win the thing. Last time that happened was probably a long time ago,'' Busch said. ``I don't feel there's anything wrong with what we have.''
Edwards also came up in the post-race news conference when J.D. Gibbs was asked about the possibility that Joe Gibbs Racing might try to sign Edwards.
``We're going to focus on Denny (Hamlin), Joey (Logano) and Kyle,'' said Gibbs, the team president. ``When we get that going right, we can worry about other stuff in the future.''
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NASCAR(R): Former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr served as grand marshall and gave the command for drivers to start their engines. Carr also took part in a prerace news conference with university surgeons to encourage people to become organ donors.
 

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