CARS Pro Late Model Tour
Jake Garcia Ends William Sawalich Streak in Controversial Fashion
Sep 10, 2022
Conner Jones has tried just about everything to find consistency in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour.
Circumstances ended up favoring the Fredericksburg, Virginia native on Saturday evening, as he muscled his way towards the front of the pack and survived the onslaught of late-race cautions to end what had been two years of adversity in Late Model Stocks.
“Last year was a rough year and this has also been a rough one until now,” Jones said. “I think this is a turning point where we can really start to go out and win more races. I couldn’t do this without all the guys who worked on the car.”
Jones admitted that Tri-County has become one of his favorite tracks, adding that the recent repave to all four turns at the facility gave him and everyone else the ability to run multiple grooves, particularly during the closing laps.
Seeing how aggressive his competition became with every passing restart, Jones knew he could not pull any punches while searching for his first victory. This mindset became more apparent once he found himself face-to-face with current LMSC Tour points leader Carson Kvapil on the final restart.
The two had previously traded blows in an earlier restart but managed to fight their way back towards the front. One last assertive push from Jones was enough for him to power past Kvapil and pull away for a cathartic debut win in the CARS Tour.
“It just came to a point where you have to man up and drive hard back,” Jones said. “Props to Carson, because he drove a hell of a race but really raced me clean as well. He drove me up a couple of times, but that’s just hard racing, especially when you’re trying to get everything out of the track.”
As for Kvapil, the JR Motorsports driver was just pleased to get out of Hudson, North Carolina with a top-five.
After colliding with Connor Hall and being shuffled to the middle of the pack, Kvapil took advantage of the rapid restarts to get back up to the point, but ultimately had to settle for fourth after hard racing with Jones caused him to lose track position once again.
“It was a demolition derby,” Kvapil said of the racing. “Just caution after caution. We could hold on to the lead, but then two laps later, we’d have a caution. It was a bunch of short runs and I felt we had a better car on the long runs. [Conner] Jones just gave me a little bit of door on that last restart, but we were just racing for the win, so I can’t be too upset about that.”
Kvapil’s eventful night did not even end once the checkered flag was displayed.
Frustrated with the way Zack Miracle had been battling him during the final sprint to the finish, Kvapil expressed his frustration to the young racer by turning Miracle into the outside retaining wall on the cooldown lap, resulting in significant damage to the latter’s car.
Miracle said that everyone had to fight for each position with how difficult it was to pass all evening. While Miracle was disappointed over what happened after the checkered flag, he could not help but feel elated after bringing home such a strong run.
“This was our first ever CARS Tour podium,” Miracle said. “I can’t even describe the emotions right now, but I’m just so proud of my guys. They work super hard every week. The damage is a lot but we’ll be back to race.”
Miracle admitted that he was stunned by Kvapil’s post-race maneuver. He did not believe his battle with Kvapil crossed any boundaries, but he did not express any malice towards the current LMSC Tour points leader and plans to move on from Tri-County.
Conversely, Kvapil felt Miracle was out of line with the moves he made at the end of Saturday’s feature. He does not plan to seek out Miracle for a conversation and hopes the young driver understands not to be overly aggressive when battling with others at the end of a race.
“I thought [Miracle] was racing me too hard,” Kvapil said. “The other guys gave me a door, which is kind of how you race [at Tri-County]. I can’t be too mad about that, but when a guy straightlines me from two lanes below while going for third place, I’m not going to be happy afterwards.”
Even though he is now the eighth different driver to win in the LMSC Tour this year, Jones understands that there are still many aspects where he could improve himself behind the wheel.
Jones is tempering his own expectations ahead of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway and the next LMSC Tour event at Ace Speedway, but he is determined to add on to his win total before the end of 2022.
“This gives me confidence, but only so much,” Jones said. “I feel a lot better about myself and this race team. To win Martinsville, we have to do the same thing we did [at Tri-County], which is to qualify up front and survive the heat races.”
CARS Late Model Stock Tour
Tri County Motor Speedway
September 9 2022