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Wild Last Lap Nets Logan Jones Wake County CARS PLM Win

Logan Jones was prepared to settle for third in Saturday’s GXS Wraps 100 at Wake County Speedway.

Instead of picking up a career best finish in the Solid Rock Carriers Pro Late Model Tour, Jones found himself celebrating his first career victory after Caden Kvapil and Gio Ruggiero tangled while battling for the win on the final lap.

Having raced with the CARS Tour since 2017, Jones’ best performance across the PLM and Late Model Stock divisions prior to his upset win on Saturday was a fifth, which he obtained at Hickory Motor Speedway in the PLM Tour last year.

Logan Jones scores one for the underdogs

A late caution for Rusty Skewes’ crash gave Logan Jones an opportunity to position himself for the win.

Even though he had been waiting for a caution, Jones was unsure his car would be strong enough to chase down Caden Kvapil, who had dominated the entire evening. After Gio Ruggiero inadvertently turned Kvapil in Turn 3 coming to the checkered flag, Jones found himself in disbelief over the circumstances that led to his victory.

“We were saving there a little bit and I thought there was one more [competition] caution,” Jones said. “I spun the tires on the last restart, but I saw [Ruggiero] get really aggressive, and I had seen that play before. I knew we were in a good spot, and as it turns out, we were.”

Jones was hoping to just finish inside the Top 5 when he and his small team arrived in Raleigh for the GXS Wraps 100.

The first four races of the 2023 CARS Pro Late Model Tour season only saw Jones tally one Top 10 in the season-opener at Southern National Motorsports Park. He has since rebounded to score three consecutive Top 10s, but Wake County Speedway presented a perfect chance for Jones to turn his season around.

When Jones climbed out of his black No. 77, the first person he greeted was his father Joey Jones. The younger Jones admitted that getting to the track each weekend is challenging with the limited resources he and his father have, which is why Saturday’s triumph was so emotional for both.

“This means everything,” Jones said. “My dad and I are a two-person team. We sweated all day because we didn’t think we had a good car in practice. He busts his tail at the shop and works about five or six hours [on the car]. He is the reason I’m here and this one is for him.”

Stellar night for Caden Kvapil undone in final two turns

Caden Kvapil was only two turns away from earning his second consecutive victory in the CARS Pro Late Model Tour.

Contact with Gio Ruggiero ended what had been one of the most efficient races of Kvapil’s career up to that point. Kvapil managed to drive his destroyed car across the finish line in seventh place, but he and Highlands Motorsports were left frustrated over Ruggiero’s actions on the final lap.

Kvapil felt his win at Caraway Speedway was a major turning point for Highlands Motorsports following a slow start to 2023. He easily carried over the speed from Caraway into Wake County Speedway on Saturday, as he set a commanding pace from the pole after rain washed out qualifying.

Despite Kvapil’s dominance, the final restart of the night allowed Ruggiero to mount a significant charge for the lead during the last eight laps. Kvapil successfully fended off Ruggiero until the white flag, in which a bad run off Turn 2 created a opening for Ruggiero, resulting in the race-ending crash.

With Kvapil finishing seventh in the GXS Wraps 100, he will end up losing significant ground in the point standings to Katie Hettinger, who salvaged a challenging night with a third-place run. Kvapil entered Wake County only trailing Hettinger by nine points.

Gio Ruggiero ends rollercoaster evening with battered car

The last lap crash served as an unfortunate end to what had been an adversity-filled evening for Gio Ruggiero.

After starting alongside Caden Kvapil on the front row, Ruggiero sustained significant left-rear damage following an early collision with Ashton Higgins. A separate incident with Higgins a few laps later prompted Donnie Wilson Motorsports to make more repairs to Ruggiero’s injured car.

Ruggiero was not phased by the damage and methodically worked his way back up to the fourth position when the final caution of the night was displayed. With Kvapil, Logan Jones and Kyle Campbell all taking the inside line for the restart, Ruggiero was able to line up to Kvapil’s outside with a clear shot at the victory.

Rather than celebrate a win with his team, Ruggiero was left frustrated over the accident that ended up costing him and Kvapil solid finishes. Ruggiero did limp his car home in fifth, which continued his perfect streak of Top 5 runs in his three CARS PLM Tour appearances this season.

With a solid 2023 that includes a victory in a drag race over William Byron at Hickory Motor Speedway, Ruggiero has emerged as one of the brightest young prospects in short track racing and will be among the frontrunners once again when he returns to the PLM Tour.

CARS Tour Pro Late Models
Wake County Speedway
July 8 2023

  1. 77 Logan Jones
  2. 03 Kyle Campbell
  3. 81 Katie Hettinger
  4. 13 Austin MacDonald
  5. 28 Gio Ruggiero
  6. 6 George Phillips
  7. 96 Caden Kvapil
  8. 43H Joshua Horniman -1
  9. 8 Rusty Skewes – OUT
  10. 9 Ashton Higgins – OUT
  11. 7 Tristan McKee – DNS

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