Carson Kvapil Impresses with Top-Five in Xfinity Debut

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Martinsville, Va. – Two-time CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car champion Carson Kvapil made the most of the opportunity Dale Earnhardt Jr. presented him in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Martinsville Speedway.

Carson kvapil impressed with a top-five finish in his nascar xfinity series debut at martinsville speedway for jr motorsports.
Carson Kvapil. (Photo by Zach Catanzareti/Kickin’ the Tires)

Throughout much of the Dude Wipes 250, Kvapil’s No. 88 Chevy Truck Season was inside the top-10. Opting for an alternate strategy, pitting under caution in Stage 1, moved the Late Model driver up from just outside the top-10 to fifth. The second-generation racer hovered around the top-five for the entirety of the final Stage at ‘The Paperclip.’

The ultimate goal for Kvapil’s Xfinity debut was to bring the car home in one piece. The JR Motorsports driver accomplished that, much like Josh Berry and Bubba Pollard when they were given similar opportunities by team co-owner Earnhardt. The only place that Kvapil felt like he struggled was on pit road, where in Xfinity competition he had live pit stops, a rarity in the Late Model racing world.

“I feel pretty good right now, I’m really, really happy,” Kvapil admitted. “My goal going in was honestly to finish the race and then the next goal would be to finish as best I can, and I feel like we pretty much came right up on that.

“I felt like we kept losing positions on pit road. I passed a few cars and then all of a sudden coming out of the pits, I’m right back behind him and I’m just like, ‘man, I got to pass these guys again.’ So that was a little bit of a struggle, I’d say that was about the only thing we really struggled with.”

Though he ran inside the top-10, Kvapil didn’t feel much pressure from his competition. In fact, he was pressuring series regulars and teammates alike for positions inside the top-five. On an overtime restart he snuck by Sheldon Creed, as well as JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier to enter the top-five. Kvapil was sizing up Chandler Smith for third when the race-ending caution waved.

“I felt like all race long, we didn’t, we weren’t pressured the whole time we were able to kind of get into a rhythm, every stage and just kind of pick guys off as the run went on,” Kvapil said. “At the end, I felt like I didn’t want to go to the top on that last restart because I knew it was going to get put three wide and stuff was going to go down but. 

“We just kind of had to and kind of were messing around through wide for a minute and got clear coming off (Turn) 2 on the white flag, we were able to get under third, but the caution came out. So, I was really hoping to say that I got a top three in the first race, but fourth will do.” 

Carson kvapil impressed with a top-five finish in his nascar xfinity series debut at martinsville speedway for jr motorsports.
Carson Kvapil. (Photo by Zach Catanzareti/Kickin’ the Tires)

The opportunity to compete in the Xfinity Series was one that allowed Kvapil to learn. From the radial tires to live pit stops and more, the championship winning driver was able to adapt. However, as the Mooresville, N.C. native noted, it’s just another racecar that he gets to check off the list as having competed in.

“It’s a pretty huge (learning opportunity),” Kvapil explained. “These are radial tires. That’s something that I’m not really used to racing on and it’s just different. I mean, these Xfinity cars, they’re pretty close to the Late Models geometry wise, but they’re different. Every racecar drives different. Everything’s just a little different. So, to get that experience, it’s just another racecar. I get to check off [a Xfinity car] on the list.”

Kvapil is the latest short track racing talent that Earnhardt has embraced. At Richmond Raceway, Pollard made his Xfinity debut, and much like Kvapil turned heads before finishing sixth. Berry, who also won CARS Tour titles driving for Earnhardt, finished 12th in his Xfinity debut at Iowa Speedway in 2014.

“You guys have seen what he’s done for our short track racers the last few years,” Kvapil stated. “It’s an honor to drive his Late Model full-time and it’s an honor to get to run Martinsville here with him, so obviously I was wanting to go out and win, right? That’s everyone’s goal. But I’m pretty happy with how I did.”

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