Kaden Honeycutt had to put together the drive of his career to win Saturday’s CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour feature at Florence Motor Speedway.
The CARS Tour rookie had the unenviable task of passing the always consistent JR Motorsports #8 for the win inside of 25 laps to go, which was being driven by Carson Kvapil in his first start for the team.
Honeycutt tried every single line on the track to take the lead before finally powering past Kvapil on the outside line in Turn 4 with eight laps remaining to claim his second CARS Tour victory.
“I gave it all of my heart and dedication,” Honeycutt said. “Everything I’ve learned this year, I used it right there. I appreciate everybody so much for all of the support they’ve given me and hopefully we can build some momentum and win another race at Wake County.”
— CARS Tour (@CARSTour) October 3, 2021
Honeycutt knew that the #8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was going to be difficult regardless of its driver, having watched Josh Berry pilot the car to victory lane twice in 2021.
Kvapil easily matched the efficiency previously displayed by Berry from the opening lap on Saturday. He quickly passed polesitter Zack Miracle and proceeded to maintain an uncontested lead up until the second competition caution at Lap 80.
Although he attempted to conserve his tires while out in front, Kvapil began to feel his right rear go away as Honeycutt began to apply pressure. Kvapil aggressively defended the top spot but ultimately could not hold off Honeycutt for the win.
The worn tires continued to hamper Kvapil after losing the lead and he ended up settling for fourth after being passed by Brandon Pierce and Justin Johnson.
Kvapil believed that being more conservative during the first two green flag runs would have resulted in a different outcome but he admitted that simply being able to drive for JR Motorsports was worth cherishing.
“Honestly, I’m happy right now,” Kvapil said. “I probably shouldn’t be because we had a win secured all the way until five laps to go. I wasn’t even expecting to run this car until about a week ago. I’m happy for the opportunity but I guess I’ll have to try again next time.”
He dominated the first 100 laps but ran out of tires at the end. pic.twitter.com/r2SSh0mHZ4
— Short Track Scene (@ST_Scene) October 3, 2021
Honeycutt’s ability to run down and overtake Kvapil in the closing laps carried more benefits that just a victory.
With Bobby McCarty faltering late and coming home with an eighth place finish, Honeycutt erased his ten-point deficit to the two-time champion in the CARS Tour point standings and now has momentum entering next weekend’s event at Wake County Speedway.
McCarty’s struggles also brought the other two contenders in Johnson and Jared Fryar closer to the championship lead, so Honeycutt anticipates having a very slim margin of error to work with before a champion is crowned in two weeks.
“It really feels good to not be so far behind going into these next two races,” Honeycutt said. “This is going to be a dogfight but I think if we stay focused on winning, the points will take care of themselves.”
He talks about what he had to do to pass Carson Kvapil in the closing laps. pic.twitter.com/fKmjBf1BXO
— Short Track Scene (@ST_Scene) October 3, 2021
Honeycutt has all the confidence in his ability to bring home a CARS Tour title in his rookie season.
Since making his first Late Model Stock in the Icebreaker at Florence back in February, Honeycutt has spent the ensuing months working diligently alongside Johnson and his crew to find his comfort zone and ascertain what he needs to be competitive each and every week.
Despite dealing with some early-season inconsistency, Honeycutt is proud of all the progress he has made during the year and is determined to reward Johnson’s hard work with a CARS Tour championship.
“It’s been a big learning curve going from Supers to [Late Model Stocks],” Honeycutt said. “I genuinely didn’t think we’d have this kind of year after things started so rough. We turned our luck around at Caraway and we’re still going strong.”
Two more challenging facilities stand in the way of Honeycutt’s goal in Wake County and South Boston. Honeycutt is not expecting anything to come easy in those events but he fully intends to finish out 2021 with two more incredible drives.
1. Kaden Honeycutt
2. Brandon Pierce
3. Justin Johnson
4. Carson Kvapil
5. Layne Riggs
6. Ryan Glenski
7. Jared Fryar
8. Bobby McCarty
9. Connor Mosack
10. Deac McCaskill
11. Mike Darne
12. Sam Yarbrough
13. Tyler Matthews
14. Jonathan Shafer
15. Mini Tyrrell
16. Joe Valento
17. Zack Miracle
18. Jonathan Findley
19. Conner Jones
20. Michael Bumgarner
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- Hoosier, American Racer Urging Caution With Tires
- At Bowman Gray Stadium, a Return to Normal in Unnormal Times