Carson Kvapil
Carson Kvapil. (JRM photo)

Kvapil Credits CARS Tour, Dale Jr. With Preparing Him For NASCAR

On the eve of his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April 6, Carson Kvapil admittedly would’ve been happy with just logging a clean run.

Staying out of trouble, finishing all the laps and bringing the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet home in one piece were among his leading ambitions. But in the midst of the 251-lap race, the switch flipped in Kvapil.

“When you’re running so good at that, you just switch from wanting to just finish the race to trying to go for a win. And I felt like we had the speed to do it,” Kvapil said. “It just felt like pit stops and a few other things kind of threw some curve balls in our race.”

Nonetheless, the 20-year-old had no reason to hang his head over a top-five run in NASCAR’s second-tier touring series. Plus, the only part the team had to replace was the nose.

“I was satisfied,” said Kvapil, who is the son of 2003 Craftsman Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil.

The nerves that emerged before his Martinsville debut have returned ahead of this weekend’s Xfinity Series race at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway, where Kvapil will make his second start with JRM.  

But he’s carrying a little more confidence this time around.

“I feel like I’ll be a little bit better off just being that I’ve done one before. I know these guys (crew), the people I’m racing against and the car. I just know what I’m doing a little bit more now,” Kvapil said.

It’s a bit of a give and take, because although the two-time CARS Tour champion is more comfortable in the No. 88, there are a few new challenges being thrown his way.

Primarily, he’s never raced at Dover’s one-mile concrete oval.

“Martinsville, I had raced there before in the late model,” Kvapil explained, referencing the annual late model race NASCAR holds at the .526-mile short track. “But even though (Dover) is a new track and I’ve never been to it, I think I’ll be a little less nervous.”

After checking his first Xfinity Series race off the list, the North Carolina native is pleased with how his years of experience running a late model stock car in the CARS Tour have paid dividends in his new NASCAR endeavor.

Kvapil feels the rising level of competition in the Southeast touring series is comparable to what he faced that Saturday in Martinsville.

“These late model stock guys, there’s 15 to 20 cars that I feel like could win a race every week,” Kvapil said. “If you look at qualifying, there’s two or three tenths at the most separating the first from last. And it’s just really good, hard racing.”

To his point, in the first four races of the CARS Tour season, there have been four different winners — Kvapil, Bobby McCarty, Connor Zilisch and Brent Crews.

“You’ve gotta be really good to be able to win in the CARS Tour,” Kvapil said.

Beyond that, the young late model star credits the JR Motorsports late model program with preparing him for the next rung on the racing ladder.

“They (JRM) has put a bunch into me, obviously,” Kvapil said. “I’d say the biggest thing being with these guys is just that you have Dale Jr. right there in your back pocket. There are so many off-track things that I never really understood that now that I’ve been with these guys for a few years, it’s something that I understand now, just being around Dale and stuff like that.”