Sprint Cup driver Travis Kvapil set to achieve two milestones Sunday at Fontana

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Travis Kvapil may not be the flashiest or most successful driver in NASCAR, but he definitely has staying power.

Ever since he made his first starts in 2001 in both the-then Craftsman Truck Series (now Camping World Series) and the-then Busch Series (now Nationwide Series), he’s built a career based upon decent talent, persistence and a drive that is still as strong today as when he first began.

In Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, Kvapil will set not one but two significant personal milestones.

First, the Janesville, Wis., native will make his 250th career Sprint Cup start.

In addition, he’ll make his 400th overall career start across all three NASCAR national professional series.

Here’s his career breakdown to date, by series:

Sprint Cup: 249 career starts, no wins, no top-fives and seven top-10s.

Nationwide (formerly Busch): Five career starts.

Camping World Trucks (formerly Craftsman Trucks Series): 145 starts, nine wins, 51 top-fives and 85 top-10s.

Kvapil turned 38 on March 1 and is in his first season of driving for team owner Frank Stoddard.

Thus far in the Sprint Series this season, he failed to qualify for Daytona, finished 38th at Phoenix, 39th at Las Vegas and 33rd this past Sunday at Bristol.

Overall, he is 41st in the Sprint Cup standings coming into Sunday’s race.

While those may not be the greatest of stats, Kvapil deserves a lot of credit: he’s been running at the end of each event.

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Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”