NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought innumerable fanfare and excitement to a sold-out North Wilkesboro Speedway on Wednesday night, but the spotlight shined brightest on one of Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports drivers.
Carson Kvapil dominated the Window World 125 CARS Late Model Tour event, a showcase of past-meets-present that concluded the paved portion of the Racetrack Revival.
Kvapil’s No. 8 iRacing Chevrolet withstood a last-gasp charge from runner-up Mason Diaz to notch his first North Wilkesboro victory.
Earnhardt, Kvapil’s boss, electrified the crowd with a third-place finish. Jonathan Shafer and Bobby McCarty completed the top five.
Kaden Honeycutt was sixth with Zack Miracle seventh, William Sawalich eighth and Stefan Parsons ninth. Brandon Pierce rounded out the top 10.
Kvapil won the pole, led the most laps, turned the fastest lap time – a blistering 20.223 seconds – and withstood all comers on a restart with two laps to go.
“It’s huge to win at North Wilkesboro,” said Kvapil, who was eight years old the last time North Wilkesboro hosted a late model tour race. “We were able to sweep the first late model show here in 11 years. We had such a dominant car. I could tell it was going to be good from the moment the green flag dropped.
“I was a bit worried about Mason (with two laps to go), because I knew he’d square up with my bumper in turns one and two. That was probably my only weak spot, but he raced me clean. I’ll definitely remember that the next time I’m around him. I’ll race him the same way.”Earnhardt rallied from ninth to third in the final 50 laps. Earnhardt’s No. 3 Sun Drop Chevrolet – painted like the late model car he drove in the 1990s – took some bumps and scrapes, but emerged intact at the end of the night. “That was a tremendous amount of fun,” Earnhardt said. “We had a really good car. At the midpoint of the race, we had some contact and it knocked the right-rear quarter panel onto the right-rear tire, so it was just burning up the tire. I couldn’t move forward the way I wanted, hanging out in the backside of the top 10. When we came in and put right-side tires on and fixed the quarter panel, man, that thing flew.“Josh (Berry, Earnhardt’s crew chief for the night and a driver on his NASCAR Xfinity Series team) did a great job. … That’s probably the best late model car I’ve ever driven.”
Carson Kvapil, Mason Diaz, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jonathan Shafer, Bobby McCarty, Kaden Honeycutt, Zack Miracle, William Sawalich, Stefan Parsons, Brandon Pierce, Jacob Heafner, Braden Rogers, Chase Burrow, Jared Fryar, Chad McCumbee, Connor Hall, Adrew Grady, Connor Mosack, Dylan Wilson, Conner Jones, Janson Marchbanks, Mini Tyrrell, Pat Rachels, Brenden Queen, Corey Heim, Katie Hettinger, Bryan Reedy, Hayden Swank, Mike Looney, Carter Langley.