The return of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour to Florence Motor Speedway saw a race dominated by tire conservation.
With Florence’s abrasive surface notably hard on tires, drivers implemented a variety of strategies in Aaron’s 125 in order to gain an advantage over one another. Some drivers chose to test their luck at the front of the field while others elected to be extra cautious to the point of nearly getting lapped.
Ultimately, a familiar face found their way to victory lane in the form of defending CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour champion Carson Kvapil, who maintained solid track position through the entire evening before passing Brenden ‘Butterbean’ Queen on the final restart of the night.
Carson Kvapil finally wins at Florence
Throughout his career, Carson Kvapil has endured many close calls at Florence Motor Speedway.
From coming up short in his first CARS LMSC Tour start with JR Motorsports to being in contention during the South Carolina 400, Kvapil believed he was inching closer to that elusive first victory at Florence when he and his team arrived for the Aaron’s 125.
Kvapil finally put together a complete Florence race by perfectly executing the tire strategy while simultaneously waiting for the right opportunity to pounce for the lead
“We just had a pretty strong car there at the end,” Kvapil said. “We were a little faster than Butterbean and [Mini] Tyrrell during the last 40 laps. I was trying to get around them but couldn’t really set it up. Those restarts helped me out and my car could fire off really good. I’m just glad I finally won one at Florence.”
Kvapil admitted his triumph in the Aaron’s 125 came as a major relief after both JR Motorsports cars were non-factors in Florence’s season-opening Icebreaker back in February.
Despite the poor showing, Kvapil was not overly-concerned with how the team performed in that event, as he knew everyone at JR Motorsports would work diligently to find the necessary speed that would allow him to defend his LMSC Tour title from 2022.
The first two races for Kvapil showed him the commitment his team put in to bounce back from their slow start. Kvapil knows maintaining consistent speed will be tough with so many competitive teams in the LMSC Tour this year, but he fully expects JR Motorsports to overcome any obstacles in their way.
“It just shows how much we can rebound,” Kvapil said. “We were [18th] in the IceBreaker but went to Southern National and finished second. [The IceBreaker finish didn’t influence] too much of what we were thinking [on Saturday]. We made a few changes but were just more prepared for how we wanted to run this race.”
Brenden Queen keeps momentum going with second place run
Just over three months removed from a win in Florence Motor Speedway’s prestigious South Carolina 400 Brenden Queen entered Saturday’s Aaron’s 125 with confidence on his side.
Queen managed to lead a good portion of the 125-lap feature but could not fend off Carson Kvapil on the final restart of the night. Despite the loss, Queen still came away from Florence with plenty to celebrate after another strong run with Lee Pulliam Performance.
“I’m known for dropping to the back in these races, but I learned a lot [on Saturday] by staying forward all night,” Queen said. “This is a big confidence booster for myself. [Kvapil] was a little better there at the end but it felt like a [South Carolina] 400 rematch between us. Hopefully I can be the guy to battle him all year.”
Having fended off Kvapil during the preceding run by keeping his car pinned to the bottom, Queen elected to take the high side for the last restart so that his car would not get free underneath Kvapil.
The two did end up making slight contact with one another, but Queen attributed that outcome to hard racing for the win. Queen holds a tremendous amount of respect for Kvapil and knows that he and JR Motorsports set a high standard of efficiency in each race they enter.
Queen is confident he will factor into the championship battle with the cars four-time NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion Lee Pulliam provides him. He admitted the second place finish at Florence is going to sting for a bit, but said there’s still plenty of room for improvement as the 2023 CARS LMSC Tour season progresses.
“I’m making gains with [Lee Pulliam Performance], so the pressure is on me to perform,” Queen said. “I wish we would have came away one spot better, but we qualified second and led some laps, so not a bad night. I can’t thank Lee Pulliam and this whole organization enough for believing in me.”
Third place finish a sentimental victory for Ronnie Bassett Jr.
Once a recognizable name amongst the Late Model Stock faithful, Ronnie Bassett Jr. reminded drivers and fans of the talent he possessed in the discipline during the 2010s.
After starting in the 20th position, Ronnie gradually worked his way through the field to position himself inside the Top 5 with only a few laps remaining. Although Bassett did not claim the win, he took pride in knowing he could still hold his own with the best in Late Model Stock competition.
“I felt like we had a pretty good car all weekend,” Ronnie said. “We wanted to qualify a lot better and didn’t want to ride around in 20th all night but it kind of worked out. We kept the fenders on it this week and we were there at the end.”
With victories in the Bobby Isaac Memorial and Thanksgiving All-Star Classic, it was only a matter of time before Ronnie and his brother Dillon made the jump into NASCAR’s top divisions.
The past several years for Ronnie have been dominated by adversity from losing several cars in a shop fire back in 2016 to being unable to qualify for most NASCAR Xfinity Series events in 2021 due to temporary COVID-19 guidelines, yet he and Dillon have never lost their passion for building a competitive team in motorsports.
That dream for Ronnie and Dillon now involves a full-time commitment to the CARS LMSC Tour after scaling back their Xfinity Series program. Ronnie knew such a move would not be easy, but was drawn in by the competitive nature of the series and the potential for him to shine at the tracks where he developed his race craft.
Now with a Top 5 finish under his belt, Ronnie is eager to move forward with the rest of the LMSC Tour season with the goal of adding a victory in the series to his prestigious Late Model Stock resume.
The CARS LMSC Tour competitors will have a month to regroup before joining their Pro Late Model Tour counterparts for a trip to Hickory Motor Speedway, which will take place on Apr. 22.
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 in Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.
- 8 Carson Kvapil
- 03 Brenden Queen
- 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr.
- 44 Conner Jones
- 95 Jacob Heafner
- 81 Mini Tyrrell
- 6 Bobby McCarty
- 28 Ryan Glenski
- 98 Cody Kelley
- 5B Bryant Barnhill
- 16 Chad McCumbee
- 14 Jared Fryar
- 77 Connor Hall
- 32 Zack Miracle
- 42 Carson Brown
- 2 Brandon Pierce
- 08 Deac McCaskill
- 4 Dylon Wilson
- 21 Lanie Buice
- 20 Joshua Dickens
- 0 Landon Pembelton
- 1 Andrew Grady
- 8F Tate Fogleman
- 22 Cale Gale
- 8B Chase Burrow
- 59 Blake Lothian
- 15 Ryan Millington
- 67 Cameron Bolin – OUT
- 55 Isabella Robusto – OUT
- 2W Ryan Wilson – OUT
- 97A Jason Kitzmiller – OUT
- 24 Mason Diaz – OUT
-CARS Tour Press Release