The view for Carson Kvapil at the start of Saturday’s Drive For Puryear 125 at Wake County Speedway was a little different than usual.
Instead of starting inside the Top 5, a bad qualifying run for Kvapil relegated him to 18th out of 21 cars on the starting grid. With Wake County only being a quarter-mile in length, Kvapil only had a limited amount of time to carve his way through the field to challenge for another win.
Kvapil only needed half of the 125-lap feature to accomplish that goal. After dispatching Bobby McCarty on a late restart, Kvapil set a familiar yet dominant pace to pull away with his fifth victory of 2023 and further stretch out his commanding Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour points lead over Brenden Queen.
Carson Kvapil continues to set elite benchmark
Starting in the back half of the field initially forced JR Motorsports to explicitly focus on points racing in the Drive For Puryear 125.
As the opening laps clicked off, Kvapil realized just how strong his No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet was and picked off his fellow competition one-by-one. The circumstances may not have been ideal for Kvapil, but he was more than happy to show off the speed of his car in front of a packed Wake County Speedway crowd.
“We just had a really good car,” Kvapil said. “I really wasn’t expecting this after starting 18th. The goal was to stay out of trouble and finish the race, but at around Lap 50 it was game on. We had great turn and could just get off the corner better than the others. It was pretty fun coming from the back like that.”
Kvapil admitted he struggled to get comfortable in his first laps around Wake County and was working diligently with his crew to find a perfect balance ahead of Saturday evening.
Being so far back in the field presented a plethora of risks for Kvapil, but he had to be both patient and aggressive while climbing through the field. Several restarts allowed Kvapil to gain spots by the choose cone, but progress became more arduous for Kvapil as he encountered faster cars like McCarty and Chad McCumbee.
The perseverance displayed by Kvapil helped him rebound from a rough start to the weekend and add on to his impressive 2023 win total in the CARS LMSC Tour. In some ways, Kvapil appreciated the adversity he endured at Wake County but is hopeful for smoother weekends as he closes out his second title.
“There are [races] where it comes down to the end, but from a whole race standpoint, I’d say this was the hardest one,” Kvapil said. “We started almost dead last and had to really drive through the field. There were no pileups, so we just kind of passed them.”
Mason Diaz continues strong summer with runner-up finish
While Carson Kvapil pulled away with the victory, Mason Diaz and Ronnie Bassett Jr. were left to settle the second position amongst themselves.
The two veteran Late Model Stock competitors engaged in a spirited battle for the runner-up spot on the podium, with Diaz prevailing on the last lap. It was a grind for Diaz to earn that solid finish, but he was satisfied to continue a great summer that saw him earn his first CARS Tour win at Hickory Motor Speedway last month.
“It was a battle,” Diaz said. “We qualified up front but had to pit. The car was bottoming out and wasn’t turning, but this Chad Bryant Racing crew worked on it and got us back out. We plugged our way along, got to second with about 15 to go and just tried to hold ground on Ronnie.”
Rebounding from his early pit stop required Diaz to hustle his car, which he said was imperative around Wake County Speedway’s freshly paved surface.
Diaz tried to chase Kvapil down in the closing laps but ended up having to play defense on Bassett. Each driver nudged the other as the checkered flag drew closer, but Diaz keeping Bassett pinned to the top on the final lap was the difference maker in Diaz maintaining second.
Although the two disagreed over what happened, Diaz appreciated Bassett for racing him aggressively but cleanly. With Wake County now behind him, Diaz is eager to tackle more abrasive tracks and add a couple more victories before the end of 2023.
“I can’t wait for [New River All-American Speedway],” Diaz said. “I’m tired of this high grip stuff and I want to go back to a low-grip track. I haven’t been to Wake County in a couple of years and I got my start here in Legends and Bandoleros. It’s fun racing here and I hope we can come back.”
Ronnie Bassett Jr. nabs second straight third-place finish
Although Ronnie Bassett Jr. wanted to bring home his career-best CARS LMSC Tour finish on Saturday night, he found some solace with a third-place performance.
Bassett’s first season in the LMSC Tour has seen him accumulate four consecutive Top 10 runs, which now includes two consecutive thirds. There are many areas Bassett wishes to see improvement on but said great weekends in the Old North State Nationals and at Wake County Speedway highlight the strides his program has made in year one.
“We have to keep putting solid runs together,” Bassett said. “A lot of attrition happens throughout these races. We didn’t start off great and tried to make some chassis adjustments to make this car better. We did that, but we have to start where we ended.”
High-grip tracks have been a strength for Bassett during the summer. He previously struggled to put together consistent runs at tracks with fresh pavement, which is why the string of Top 10s at Ace Speedway, Tri-County Motor Speedway and now Wake County have come as a pleasant surprise for Bassett.
The increased speed in his Late Model Stock only made losing out to Diaz even more frustrating. Despite this, Bassett’s optimism has continued to grow with every strong performance, which is why he believes the upcoming abrasive tracks on the LMSC Tour schedule present a perfect opportunity for him to claim that elusive first win.
Carson Kvapil’s dominant Wake County victory only reinforced Bassett’s mindset of continuing to make progress amidst the positives. He has confidence in his small team to stay determined and get his program back to the race-winning caliber it was known for during the early 2010s.
“We still have to be better,” Bassett said. “We’ve had solid finishes, but to make that next step by putting together a winning car is a big deal. We’re going to put our heads down and get to work. These solid finishes are great, but at the same time, these cars can always be better.”
Following three straight races at high-grip tracks, the CARS LMSC Tour heads to the abrasive New River All-American Speedway situated in Jacksonville, North Carolina on Sept. 9. The event will serve as the final standalone LMSC Tour race of the 2023 season.
FloRacing will provide coverage of all the on-track action.
For more information on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.
Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located inMooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 24 Mason Diaz
- 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr.
- 03 Brenden Queen
- 16 Chad McCumbee
- 22 Landon Huffman
- 6 Bobby McCarty
- 15 Ryan Millington
- 1J Clay Jones
- 05 Mason Bailey
- 81 Mini Tyrrell
- 2 Brandon Pierce -2
- 8B Chase Burrow -2
- 4 Dylon Wilson – OUT
- 11B Buddy Isles – OUT
- 95 Jacob Heafner – OUT
- 67 Cameron Bolin – OUT
- 1 Andrew Grady – OUT
- 19 Ethan Johnson – OUT
- 08 Deac McCaskill – OUT
- 5C Giovanni Ruggiero – OUT
-CARS Tour Press Release