Caden Kvapil hasn't raced full-time with the Carolina Pro Late Model Series during his young career, bouncing between pavement and dirt Outlaw Karts. Nonetheless, the tour's 2021 season ended the same way as the 2020 season concluded, with Kvapil in victory lane.
Kvapil, who won in his Pro Late Model debut one year ago as part of Florence Motor Speedway's Charlie Powell Memorial South Carolina 400 weekend, took the checkered flag on the second night of the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park.
It was a dominating performance throughout the evening for the son of NASCAR Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil and younger brother of CARS Super Late Model Tour champion Carson Kvapil. The younger Kvapil had no problem getting up to speed despite limited seat time in the Pro Late Model this year.
"We haven't run much this year. We've only run it maybe five, six times," said Kvapil. "It's nice to be back in the seat with a car this good, and have such a dominating performance to get the win.
"The car was really good and strong throughout the entire race. We ran a few good laps at the end. We saved a ton, I feel like that's what helped us the most."
Josh Lowder finished second in the event, narrowly missing out on a four-car draw for the invert and starting fifth. Lowder acknowledged that the qualifying effort put a damper on the evening, with passes challenging to come by on the 4/10-mile oval in Lucama, North Carolina.
"I blew it in qualifying, completely overdrove the car. This track is so tough to pass at. Track position was so critical. Our car fired off really good for about 15, 20 laps and then it'd get really tight.
"I got to battling with that 51 [of Mason Maggio] for second, we raced it out and it was a ton of fun, but by the time we got clear, Caden had a pretty good lead and his car was working really well. There was no running him down tonight."
Maggio finished third, making his Pro Late Model debut as part of Rick Ware Racing's development program before joining the team full-time in 2022 for the Carolina Pro Late Model Series.
It was a weekend of new experiences for Maggio, between a new car, a new track and much longer races than he has previously competed in with the Limited Late Model division at Hickory Motor Speedway, where he scored four wins in 2021.
"It was a whole bunch of new stuff this weekend," explained Maggio. "Had never driven a Pro Late Model, never driven at Southern National, never driven more than 50 laps. The RWR guys brought a really good car. I didn't think I'd be racing for a while, so it was cool to do something a little different than the Limited Late Models at Hickory."
Maggio also impressed one of his teammates for the weekend, NASCAR Cup Series competitor Garrett Smithley. Smithley jumped into a Pro Late Model as part of the weekend's festivities during the NASCAR offseason, soldiering home to a fifth-place finish after faulty power steering slowed him down.
"We had a lot of fun," said Smithley. "We're all born into racing, this is where we all started. It's always fun to go back and do a little short track racing. In the Pro Late, it was a lot of fun. I think we had something for them, but a power steering issue took us out of contention for a win.
"Mason Maggio's first time running with us, he finished third. I'm really happy for him. I know he's doing a full season with these guys next year, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do."
Carolina Pro Late Model Series Thanksgiving Classic Unofficial Results
1. Caden Kvapil
2. Josh Lowder
3. Mason Maggio
4. Carter Langley
5. Garrett Smithley
6. Michael Speeney
7. Federico Gutierrez
8. Michael Pilla
9. Jasec Holladay
10. Josh Van Winkle
11. David Thomas
12. Landon DeVaughn