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Carson Kvapil Wins CARS Tour Late Model Stock Opener at Southern National

The 2024 zMAX CARS Tour Late Model Stock season started on Sunday at Southern National Motorsports Park with a familiar face in victory lane.

The JR Motorsports driver took the lead on lap 91 of the 125-lap race and held off Connor Hall over a series of late restarts to take the checkered flag. With the win, Kvapil now has 10 career CARS Tour Late Model Stock wins, and 15 total wins under the CARS Tour banner.

It may not be a surprise to see Kvapil on the top step of the podium in the CARS Tour, but Sunday’s victory was anything but a foregone conclusion. The late cautions gave several opportunities for the likes of Hall, Deac McCaskill and Kaden Honeycutt a chance to challenge for the win.

“I was pretty nervous, honestly,” said Kvapil in victory lane. “Connor [Hall]’s a pretty good racer, obviously, and he knows what he’s doing. Having him right on my bumper on the last restart was something I was not looking forward to. I’ve raced with him in the past and he can get a little hairy sometimes.

“Fortunately, we really had just a good Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. We had a really good piece, and that made my life a little easier there.”

Hall readily admitted he was ready to force the issue to challenge Kvapil for the win on Sunday.

“In this series, passing at the end of the races are so tough. As bad as it sounds, I pretty much had one game plan, and that was to try to get him off the bottom. I gave him a pretty fair shot, I don’t think it was too egregious. Anything more, and it would have put both of us at risk.

“We were a couple of car-lengths behind him at the IceBreaker and a little closer here. Maybe we’ll get him in the next one.”

Deac McCaskill, a four-time track champion at Southern National and a former CARS Tour champion in his own right, is one of just three drivers ahead of Kvapil on the Late Model Stock win list. His 11 wins tie him with Bobby McCarty for second in the Late Model Stock Tour record books, behind Josh Berry (22).

As fate would have it, McCaskill is paired up with McCarty and R&S Race Cars for the 2024 season, and McCaskill started his season with a third-place finish on home turf.

“This thing needed a little more drive off the corner,” said McCaskill. “We were just talking about this tire and what we need to do for Jacksonville. We’re already thinking ahead. It was a good run for us.

“This is so much fun, man. The main reason I joined this team was to be more consistent and more competitive. Hopefully, this is a sign of great things to come.”

There are plenty of drivers who will be in contention for the CARS Tour Late Model Stock championship in 2024, but McCaskill doesn’t want anyone counting him out even if he is the “old guy” competing against some of the biggest rising stars in racing.

“I want to be the oldest guy to win a championship. That’s my goal. Everybody’s talking about these young kids, but this old guy’s still got it. I’m hooked up with a great team. I’ve got some awesome teammates.

“Bobby McCarty is teaching me so much. I’ve got more experience than he does, but he’s teaching me so much behind the wheel. It’s so much fun working with him and working with Logan [Clark] as well.”

Kvapil, meanwhile, could be on the outside looking in for that championship battle. That is due in part to knowing he will miss at least one CARS Tour race this season, on April 6 at Hickory Motor Speedway. That day, Kvapil will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with JR Motorsports at Martinsville Speedway.

Carson Kvapil to make Xfinity Debut for JR Motorsports at Martinsville

Winning a title while missing a race wouldn’t be unprecedented. In fact, Kvapil did so during his 2022 championship run. However, he believes the level of competition in the series this year will make that task much more difficult.

“You never know how it could go, right? We won the 2022 championship, we missed one race and were still able to win owners and drivers. Hopes are up, but I see the realism of it.

“Brenden [Queen], Connor, all these guys I’m racing with are A-class drivers and really good teams. It’d be cool to [win the championship], but it’d be tough.”

Chase Burrow finished fourth, with Kaden Honeycutt rounding out the top five.

Brent Crews took the lead on lap eight from pole-sitter Chad McCumbee, and led until a lap 91 restart when Kvapil assumed the top spot. Crews finished sixth in his No. 29 entry. Mini Tyrrell, Clay Jones, Treyten Lapcevich and Bobby McCarty completed the top-10 finishers.

-Image courtesy of Will Bellamy, Racing America

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS – ZMAX CARS TOUR LATE MODEL STOCKS AT SOUTHERN NATIONAL
Fin No Driver Laps Diff
1 8 Carson Kvapil 125
2 22 Connor Hall 125 0.709
3 08 Deac McCaskill 125 1.577
4 00 Chase Burrow 125 2.201
5 17 Kaden Honeycutt 125 2.829
6 29 Brent Crews 125 3.149
7 81 Mini Tyrrell 125 3.996
8 1J Clay Jones 125 4.185
9 77T Treyten Lapcevich 125 4.555
10 6 Bobby McCarty 125 4.824
11 62 Layne Riggs 125 5.258
12 11 Buddy Isles 125 5.513
13 15C Logan Clark 125 6.200
14 71 Katie Hettinger 125 6.429
15 04 Ronnie Bassett 125 6.609
16 2 Brandon Pierce 125 6.858
17 90 John Goin 125 7.796
18 95 Jacob Heafner 125 8.117
19 03 Brenden Queen 125 8.330
20 45 Bryce Applegate 125 8.819
21 15 Ryan Millington 125 9.937
22 55 Gavan Boschele 124 1 Lap
23 67 Cameron Bolin 124 1 Lap
24 50 Jamey Caudill 124 1 Lap
25 23 Kade Brown 99 26 Laps
26 16 Chad McCumbee 98 27 Laps
27 1 Andrew Grady 91 34 Laps
28 77 Trevor Ward 86 39 Laps
29 15J Ryan Joyner 76 49 Laps
30 14 Mason Diaz 45 80 Laps
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