ASHEBORO, N.C. — Sunday evening’s Puryear Tank Lines Old North State Nationals at Caraway Speedway was a Kvapil family affair.
The youngest of the Kvapil brothers, Caden, kicked off the day by winning the first race in the history of the CARS Pro Late Model Tour before Carson completed a family sweep by holding off Kaden Honeycutt to win the Late Model Stock Car Tour feature and earn $30,000.
Carson Kvapil did not believe he would even be in the conversation for a victory when the final controlled caution of the Old North State Nationals was displayed at Lap 140.
The decision to stay out while other top contenders in Honeycutt and Deac McCaskill worked to the advantage of Carson, who had to survive a relentless assault from the former in order to get his first CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour victory with JR Motorsports.
Carson knew it was only a matter of time before he found victory lane in one of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s cars but was in disbelief that the occasion took place in one of the CARS Tour’s most prestigious events.
“Everybody was thinking about this race over the offseason,” Carson said. “We finished fourth, third and second during my first three races with JR Motorsports and we joked around that I would finish first [in the Old North State Nationals]. Everything turned out great and we got it done.”
When the fateful call came, Carson Kvapil was skeptical that his car would be strong enough to stay out in front for the last 60 laps.
Having struggled to work his way to the front all day, Carson’s woes were compounded when he contacted the wall with 82 laps remaining. Despite this, Carson’s crew assured him that staying out was the only realistic shot they had at winning the Old North State Nationals.
Once Carson did everything necessary to keep Honeycutt behind him, he became more focused on being perfect at each end of the track while simultaneously worrying about whether he would have to survive a green-white-checkered attempt.
“I was getting a little nervous there at the end,” Carson said. “With every single race we’ve nearly won before, it always seemed like something would happen like a late-race caution or another issue. We got lucky and fortunate that this race ultimately went green to the checkered flag.”
While a bad restart cost him an opportunity to hoist his first CARS Late Model Stock trophy at the track last year, Honeycutt said that a late-race incident between him and the lapped car of Conner Jones inside of 20 laps to go stymied the progress he made towards catching Carson for the win.
“I don’t understand why certain people are the way they are,” Honeycutt said. “[Conner] chose to do what he did but I’m not going to get into it. [Nelson Motorsports] gave me a great race car and I thought we were the best all day. The adjustments [Carson] made paid off at the end and they were a little better than we were.”
Jared Fryar, Jason York and Corey Heim filled the top five
One of the best parts of winning Sunday’s Old North State Nationals for Carson was sharing the moment with Caden after he had won just a few hours earlier.
Like Carson, the path to victory for Caden on Sunday was far from an easy one, as he had to overtake MPM Rookie of the Race Luke Fenhaus on a late-race restart and subsequently withstand every single challenge from the 2021 Slinger Nationals winner to make the idea of a Kvapil family sweep a reality.
“This is really big,” Caden said about his win. “We were really struggling in the beginning and frankly the car just wasn’t great the entire race. That last restart saved us and we capitalized on the chance.”
As for his $30,000 paycheck, Carson intends to keep that money confined to himself and JR Motorsports while Caden enjoys the $4,000 he received for winning the CARS Pro Late Model Tour feature.
“[Caden] isn’t getting any of that money,” Carson said. “He’s got the Pro Late Model Tour check.”
The event was broadcast by SPEED SPORT affiliate CARS Tour TV.
Carson Kvapil, Kaden Honeycutt, Jared Fryar, Jason York, Corey Heim, Chase Burrow, Carter Langley, Deac McCaskill, Braden Rogers, Brandon Pierce, Peyton Sellers, Heath Causey, Ronal Hill, Connor Hall, Trevor Ward, Bobby McCarty, Connor Jones, Chad McCumbeee, Andrew Grady, Jacob Heafner, Justin Johnson, Jonathan Shafer, Mason Diaz, Coy Beard, Mike Looney, Layne Riggs, Janson Marchbanks, Zack Miracle, Dylan Ward, Hayden Sawnk, Chase Dixon, Mike Darne, Ryan Wilson, Colby Higgins.