Defending Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour champion Carson Kvapil is hoping to score his sixth win of the season, and his first at New River All-American Speedway, in Saturday’s Milam Equipment Rentals Carolina 125 in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Kvapil, 20, from Mooresville, North Carolina is the son of 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil. Driving for the JR Motorsports Late Model team owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., the younger Kvapil has emerged as one of the brightest stars in short track racing with nine career CARS Late Model Stock Tour wins – five of those coming in 2023. However, he has only raced one time at New River, finishing fourth in last year’s CARS Tour race.
This year, the goal is to get his 10th career series victory.
“I think we’ll have a really good shot at winning the race,” Kvapil said. “We’ve kind of worked on some stuff over the year and made some big gains from last year. I think we’ll be better than the last time there. The last 50-60 laps, last year, we came from the back. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll definitely be there at the end and, depending on how the car is, hopefully going for the win.”
Wins and consistency have both been key for Kvapil, who holds a 41-point advantage over Brenden “Butterbean” Queen, who won a Late Model Stock Car race at New River in March 2023, in the CARS Tour championship standings. Kvapil comes into New River with momentum after scoring the victory at Wake County Speedway in Raleigh, North Carolina, in late August.
“Honestly, [our expectations are] just to get through the race clean and with a good finish obviously,” Kvapil stated. “We’re just focusing on trying to finish good, consistent runs for the end of this CARS Tour season. I think, New River, we ran pretty good last year there. I’m looking forward to going back. I really like the track, it’s kind of unique and I think we’ll have a pretty good car.”
Tire management will be the key to winning at the abrasive 4/10-mile track in Onslow County, but Kvapil is no stranger to that element of racing. Among his nine CARS Tour victories are the gritty surfaces of North Wilkesboro (NC) Speedway, Florence (SC) Motor Speedway, and Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway.
“A lot of places we go to, tire management is a really big deal,” Kvapil explained. “Especially New River this weekend, it’s going to be more important as the race goes on. Us winning at Florence and Hickory, those places are pretty abusing for tire wear. I think we’ll have a pretty good setup and know what to do for the race this weekend.”
Much like Florence Motor Speedway in Timmonsville, South Carolina, New River will lend itself to plenty of side-by-side racing throughout the night.
“New River has a few lanes you can run,” Kvapil continued. “Obviously, the bottom is dominant but, the uniqueness of the track, you can be on the outside and make gains. It’s definitely a track you can pass at unlike a few others we race at, so it will put on a good show with the tire wear and stuff like that. It will be exciting.”
After Saturday’s CARS Tour race, Kvapil will turn his attention to the mid-week NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. It will mark Kvapil’s debut in the series where his father won the championship in 2003.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me,” Kvapil remarked. “It’s a new type of deal for me. I want to go out there and run good, but it’s pretty tough. The competition is stout in the Truck Series. I’m just looking for a good finish at Bristol. Hopefully, next year or two, I’ll get some more seat time in the NASCAR stuff. For right now, I don’t have anything solidified for next year so it’s just kind of, take it as it comes.”
New River is not the only race on Kvapil’s schedule for the weekend. On Friday night, he will compete in an ARCA Menards Series race in Kansas City, Kansas.