Race Weekend Central

Counting CARS: 3 Takeaways from Carson Kvapil’s Win at Wake County

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Solid Rock Carries CARS tour delivered once again Saturday night (Aug. 27) as the Late Model Stock Cars made their stop at Wake County Speedway. The smallest track on the series schedule delivered plenty of side-by-side racing, but in the end it was Carson Kvapil picking up his series-leading fifth win on the season.

The Late Model Stocks had not visited Wake County Speedway since the track’s surface had been repaved and the long-awaited return to “America’s Favorite Bullring” did not disappoint. Battles throughout the field, a winner who started back in 18th and a three-car battle at the end highlighted what was an eventful night at Wake County.

Wake County is the only quarter-mile track on the CARS Tour schedule and the Carolina bullring produced plenty to talk about. Here are three of the biggest takeaways as the series takes a week off before heading to New River All-American Speedway in two weeks’ time (September 9).

Kvapil Extends Points Lead With Championship-Caliber Drive

Just one week ago, Kvapil came home a disappointing second in the Old North State Nationals at Tri-County Speedway, just one spot shy of winning $30,000. However, the night still ended with an extended points lead leading into Saturday’s race at Wake County.

See also
Counting CARS: 3 Takeaways from the Old North State Nationals

The reigning CARS Tour champion, Kvapil once again extended his points lead over Brendan Queen, as it is looking more and more likely Kvapil will become a two-time CARS Tour champion with JR Motorsports. However, it wasn’t easy by any means for the driver of the No. 8. An uncharacteristic qualifying effort saw Kvapil clock in 18th out of 22 cars, something Kvapil later chalked up to “driver error” more than anything.

Kvapil didn’t look much better as the green flag flew on the 125-lap feature, as the No. 8 struggled to make progress through the field. However, a spin for championship contender Queen seemed to give Kvapil new life, as Kvapil started to make progress through the field. With the help of the choose rule under caution, Kvapil worked his way through the field and eventually took the lead from Bobby McCarty on lap 62.

After another caution bunched up the field, Kvapil held off a challenge from Butterbean Queen before Queen faded back to fourth. In the end, Kvapil checked out to over a four-second lead by the time the checkered flag flew on the Puryear 125.

Many have become so accustomed to watching Kvapil qualify up front and dominate races, but this one was certainly different. It took some perseverance and some self criticism, but in the end the result was the same. Kvapil has now surpassed his win total from his championship season last year and with a statement performance at Wake County, is likely on his way to a second. 

Diaz and Bassett Get the Elbows Out at the End

As Kvapil drove away to the win, nothing less than war waged behind him for the second spot. Brendan Queen had recovered from an early spin to drive up to the second position, but never was able to fully challenge Kvapil for the race win. It seemed as though Queen would settle for second, but a hard charging duo of Mason Diaz and Ronnie Bassett Jr. had other plans.

Diaz ran down Queen with eight to go, getting into the back of the No. 03 and moving Queen out of the groove to get around him for the second spot and Bassett quickly followed. Bassett wasn’t done yet, as he got to the bumper of Diaz with two to go. Bassett took the second position heading into turn 3 before Diaz crossed back underneath Bassett and returned the bumper to the back of the No. 04.

More contact was made throughout the final lap, but it was Diaz who ultimately came away with the second spot. After the race, conversations were had between the drivers involved, but ultimately there were no hard feelings as both Bassett and Diaz chalked it up to “hard racing.”

In the end, the three-car battle, albeit not for the win, was a refreshing reminder of just what kind of action quarter-mile tracks can provide and why we need them to stick around in the short-track scene. It was nice to see some elbows-out racing at the bullring, with all smiles at the end of the day. 

Wake County Deserves a Permanent Spot On the Schedule

Over the past few seasons, Wake County has failed to find a permanent spot on the CARS Tour schedule. Typically being placed on the schedule every other season, the track actually lost its date on the Pro Late Model schedule during the 2022 season, as the event was postponed due to weather and later moved to North Wilkesboro Speedway.

With the fresh repave for 2023, many wondered if the new asphalt would be the difference maker that could give Wake County a permanent home on the series schedule in the future. Only time will tell what the schedule will look like, but Wake County certainly put in a good resume with the racing that took place with the Late Model Stocks on Saturday night.

Many were skeptical due to the nature of racing on a quarter-mile bullring, but besides the overheating issues that plagued some drivers throughout the night, the on-track product was excellent. The overheating issues had much to do with the late-summer heat barring down on North Carolina in August and less to do with the racetrack itself, so it shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a knock on the facility.

Both Diaz and Kvapil said after the race that the track was great for having a fresh repave and that it promoted good racing, and that alone is enough reason to bring the series back in 2024 instead of waiting until ‘25. Having a bullring like Wake County on the schedule gives the drivers a chance to get the elbows out, beat and bang a little, and it should absolutely be back in ‘24. 

The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour will be back with the Late Model Stock Series on Sept. 9 at New River All-American Speedway, live on FloRacing. The Pro Late Models continue their time off, as they will be back in action on Oct. 7 at South Boston Speedway, live on FloRacing.

About the author

Chase_folsom_ROVAL_2022

Chase began working with Frontstretch in the spring of 2023 as a news writer, while also helping fill in for other columns as needed. Chase is now the main writer and reporter for Frontstretch.com's CARS Tour coverage, a role which began late in 2023.  Aside from racing, some of Chase's other hobbies include time in the outdoors hunting and fishing, and keeping up with all things Philadelphia sports related.

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