Lapped traffic didn’t do him any favors but Carson Kvapil held off a hard charging Connor Hall to win the Late Model Stock Icebreaker at Florence Motor Speedway.
Hall, in his debut for Nelson Motorsports, took second from a dominant Casey Kelley, and started marching closer towards the JR Motorsports No. 8 as it caught several side-by-side battles in the back half of the field.
— NASCAR Regional (@NASCARRegional) February 10, 2024
Kvapil gave credit to spotter Brett Edwards in Victory Lane but also the whole team given the disaster of a race the Icebreaker was last year for both Kvapil and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“It’s awesome,” Kvapil said. “After last year’s run, it was good to have a good run, much less a win. I felt like we made gains on it all weekend. Maybe we didn’t have the speed some other cars had but it drove really good.”
The final 10 laps were dramatic.
“Spotter did work up there,” Kvapil said. “It was really hairy. I didn’t know what to do coming across so many cars side by side. But was really fortunate to have a good car and we had just enough of a lead over (Hall) that I could be patient and pick my spots.”
Hall, the reigning NASCAR Weekly Series champion, just ran out of time and maybe could have used a little more help but was more than pleased with his debut effort driving the iconic No. 22 for Barry Nelson.
“With 20 to go, I realized Carson was going to have the car to beat,” Hall said. “Once we got by (Kelley) for second, we were pretty much matching lap times until he got to traffic. If I had maybe one more lap or more traffic I would have had a shot.
“I drove it pretty deep on that last corner but not hard enough that I would have made a mistake. Really pleased to finish second in, with just a test, our first race together. We’re going to do some special things together this year.”
Kelley led the most laps and just feels like the caution with 20 to go bit him. Kvapil passed him on the ensuing restart and he nearly faded to fourth with Earnhardt pressuring him in the closing laps.
“I just wanted to stay up front and control the race,” Kelley said. “I was hoping for no cautions and try to maintain the gap. Third is still a really good race for us against a field this tough.”
Earnhardt qualified 13th and he believes that was the only thing really holding him back from chasing down the leaders. He had a long way to go to get to the podium and nearly got it there.
“With 20 to go, I was trying to do everything I could to park it on this front straightaway but just came up a little bit short,” Earnhardt said. “Thankful we got to running better we weren’t running as well the last couple of times we raced out here.
“We tested and worked really hard. Practice today and worked really hard. It’s a tough crowd and a lot of tough racing. I never have a bad time here. I had a blast and just thankful to be running a little better.”
Earnhardt runs this car three or four times a year and that’s the biggest hurdle for him to overcome after spending so much time away.
“You so badly want to win races but it’s such a tough crowd and when you don’t do it every week, that really shows up in qualifying,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong or need to do differently. Like anything else, you just need to do it more to be good at it.
“To come here and run 3-4 weeks in a single week, you can’t expect to win a lot races against all the guys who do this every week.”
Florence Motor Speedway
February 10 2024
- Carson Kvapil
- Connor Hall
- Casey Kelley
- Dale Earnhardt Jr
- Sam Yarbrough
- Kade Brown
- Jacob Heafner
- Mason Diaz
- Matthew Gould
- Justin Hicks
- Darren Krantz Jr
- Doug Barnes Jr
- Brandon Pierce
- Lanie Buice
- Adam McCumbee
- Riley Gentry
- Landon Huffman
- Strom Altman
- Alex Meggs
- Bryant Barnhill
- Donovan Strauss
- TJ Decaire
- Tyler Matthews
- Truett Miranda
- David Roberts
- Matt Cox
- Zack Miracle
- Colby Higgins
- Cody Kelley
- Jamie Weatherford
- Alex Hicks
- Blayne Harrison