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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Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.