The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

NASCAR driver Travis Kvapil forced to drop out of race after Sprint Cup car stolen from hotel parking lot

(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Consider this a lesson learned: Never leave your Sprint Cup Series race car in a hotel parking lot. If you do, it might get stolen. That’s apparently what happened to NASCAR driver Travis Kvapil who tweeted out the unfortunate news Friday morning.

Kvapil’s No. 44 Chevrolet was enclosed in Team Xtreme Racing’s unmarked dually trailer, which was also lifted. The team’s hauler, which housed its tools, was already at Atlanta Motor Speedway, however, where this Sunday’s race is scheduled to take place, USA Today reports.

The tools without the car, however, won’t do Kvapil or his team much good. The car was forced to withdraw from the race, team owner John Cohen confirmed to USA Today, but plans to participate at next weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In the meantime, the whole team is searching for the missing car’s whereabouts. Kvapil is leading the search on Twitter, while local police keep an eye out for the trailer and the vehicle on the streets.

Cohen tells USA Today that the only evidence is surveillance footage that showed a man getting out of a silver jeep Cherokee around 5:30 a.m. then steeling the trailer with the car, worth a reported $250,000, inside.

“They pulled off together,” Cohen said.

Police are uncertain whether the thieves knew what was in the trailer.

“Sometimes what happens when thieves see trailers, they might just assume there’s something in the trailer they can go off and sell,” Morrow Police Sgt. Larry Oglesby told USA Today on Friday. “Sometimes when things like this occur, they will drop off the items in a parking lot somewhere — like a Walmart parking lot — once they realize what they have.”

“They’ll open it up and say, ‘Oh my God, this is not what we thought it was. Let’s get out of here.’ And they’ll take off and leave it sitting there. We’re hoping that will be the situation so he can get back to his races this weekend, because they drove quite a distance to participate,” Oglesby added.

This story will be updated as more information comes to light.