Kyle Dudley believed the Long Run Transportation 225 at Motor Mile Speedway presented the best opportunity for him to claim a CARS Tour victory.
The five-time Franklin County Speedway track champion made a strong early impression by pacing the two Saturday practice sessions before putting his car on pole with a time of 16.260.
Although he left Motor Mile without a win, Dudley now enters the final months of the 2021 season with more confidence in his ability to perform against tough competition following his Top 10 run.
“It was an all around good weekend,” Dudley said. “An eighth place against these guys is nothing to hand your hat on. These are the best Late Model Stock drivers around and they’ll make you look bad real quick. The car is in one piece and we have something to build on.”
Dudley has long considered Motor Mile to be one of his favorite tracks. He enjoyed success at the facility piloting a Limited Late Model before earning his first victory in Motor Mile’s Late Model Stock division back in April.
With track position being crucial at Motor Mile, Dudley knew that the balance on his No. 4 Chevrolet had to be perfect for him to not only earn his pole-winning run but stay at the front through all 125 laps.
The advantage Dudley held in the daylight began to fade at the drop of the green flag when he lost the lead to Bobby McCarty. Dudley continued to lose spots as the evening progressed before ultimately settling for an eighth-place finish.
Dudley admitted that he could have tightened his car up much sooner in the day but he said Saturday was far from a disappointment and that the positives and negatives from the Long Run Transportation 225 will help improve his program going forward.
“We fell off a little bit and had to use too much to stay where we were,” Dudley said. “The car was free in and tight off, but we are close and we just need to keep working. You need to be perfect to beat these guys and we were far from perfect [on Saturday].”
While Saturday was only Dudley’s second career appearance in the CARS Tour, he is no stranger to holding his own in big Late Model Stock fields.
Dudley recorded a ninth-place finish in the 2018 running of the Rodney Cook Classic at Ace Speedway and has also qualified for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway twice in seven attempts, both of which resulted in Top 10 performances.
Dudley is hoping to take one of his two Late Models to both prestigious events. He would love to add another CARS Tour event to his schedule but said that work commitments will likely prevent him from returning to the series until 2022.
“I doubt we’ll be back with the CARS Tour this year,” Dudley said. “This is a hard deal to make. I can do [Motor Mile] because it’s so close to home but all of us have full-time jobs and running these types of races involves taking a day off from work, which that’s challenging enough.”
Even though he is done with the CARS Tour for the time being, Dudley still finds himself in contention for a Late Model Stock championship at Motor Mile despite trailing Kres VanDyke by 35 points in the standings.
Maintaining efficiency is something that Dudley is looking to accomplish at Motor Mile and his other planned races in 2021, which he knows is possible after a solid weekend with the CARS Tour.