In front of a raucous sold-out crowd at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Wednesday evening, Carson Kvapil held off Mason Diaz for the win in the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Window World 125.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. was stalking the top-two finishers in the closing laps of the event, but ended up coming home in third.
Kvapil, the son of former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil, was piloting the No. 8 machine for JR Motorsports and scored the epic win by 1.263 seconds over Mason Diaz.
For Kvapil, it was a truly special night and the victory ranks up there with the biggest so far in his young racing career.
“That was awesome. I mean, this is probably one of the biggest races we run, especially for the CARS Tour,” Kvapil, who now has three CARS Tour wins this season said. “I mean, it’s huge to win at North Wilkesboro. First time being on track in over 10 years. Without Dale Jr. and all of these guys out here, we wouldn’t be doing it.”
After capturing the win, Kvapil’s team owner, Earnhardt, who finished third, actually pushed his car onto the lift, which takes the car to victory lane. It was a memorable moment for Kvapil.
“I’ll never forget that one. That was awesome,” Kvapil explained. “I think he’s just as happy as I am. I think he’s just as happy just to have this place back and happy that one of his cars won it.”
After the car began it’s journey up to victory lane, Earnhardt helped carry the celebratory beer cooler to victory lane. The Athletic’s Jordan Bianchi caught the cooler haul on film:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. grabs the beer cooler and makes his way to victory lane to celebrate with JRM teammate and race winner Carson Kvapil. pic.twitter.com/jP3wI73N1O
— Jordan Bianchi (@Jordan_Bianchi) September 1, 2022
As special as the night was for Kvapil, it was equally special for Earnhardt, who helped spearhead bringing back North Wilkesboro Speedway, as he personally helped clean up the track so that it could be scanned for iRacing last season.
The push to get North Wilkesboro into iRacing led into a push for Marcus Smith and Speedway Motorsports to bring real-world racing back to the iconic short track.
When Earnhardt had a chance at the leaders when a caution came out with two laps to go, the crowd went nuts. Earnhardt said he was having a blast watching the crowd from the car.
“You could absolutely see everyone of those fans in the grandstands doing whatever they were doing. You could see all of them,” Earnhardt said. “They were here tonight. I want to thank all of the fans for coming. It was awesome to have y’all here. Y’all made this a big special deal. I hope you enjoyed what you saw, and we’re going to try to keep this old racetrack going. It was pretty fun this week.”
Ultimately, Earnhardt came up just shy of the win, but not a bad run for a guy, who hadn’t run a late model in a competitive race since 1997.
“Well, it was a couple of spots short of a win,” Earnhardt stated. We definitely had the fastest car at the end of the race, but just had a rub on the right rear mid-way through the night. That made the car way loose. So, when we needed to go forward, I couldn’t.”
After Earnhardt burned the rear tires off the car in the opening half of the race, he says he became the fastest car on track when he was able to get a repair to right rear damage and a new set of tires. Alas, he just didn’t have enough time to get to the lead.
Behind the trio of Kvapil, Diaz and Earnhardt was Jonathan Shafer in fourth and Bobby McCarty in fifth.
Here are the complete race results from Wednesday night’s CARS Tour Window World 125 at North Wilkesboro:
- 8-Carson Kvapil, 125 laps
- 24-Mason Diaz, -1.263 sec.
- 3-Dale Earnhardt Jr., -1.390 sec.
- 91-Jonathan Shafer, -1.605 sec.
- 22-Bobby McCarty, -1.902 sec.
- 12-Kaden Honeycutt, -2.024 sec.
- 32-Zack Miracle, -2.157 sec.
- 43-William Sawalich, -2.171 sec.
- 21-Stefan Parsons, -2.356 sec.
- 2-Brandon Pierce, -2.828 sec.
- 95-Jacob Heafner, -3.001 sec.
- 2R-Braden Rogers, -3.053 sec.
- 8b-Chase Burrow, -3.117 sec.
- 14-Jared Fryar, -3.547 sec.
- 16-Chad McCumbee, -3.745 sec.
- 77-Connor Hall, -4.074 sec.
- 1-Andrew Grady, -4.185 sec.
- 28-Connor Mosack, -4.888 sec.
- 4w-Dylon Wilson, -1 Lap
- 44-Conner Jones, -1 Lap
- 10-Jason Marchbanks, -1 Lap
- 81-Mini Tyrrell, -1 Lap
- 34-Pat Rachels, -1 Lap
- 03-Brenden Queen, -2 Laps
- 78-Corey Heim, -2 Laps
- 71-Katie Hettinger, -2 Laps
- 29-Bryan Reedy, -2 Laps
- 4-Hayden Swank, -15 Laps
- 87-Mike Looney, -55 Laps
- 5-Carter Langley, -91 Laps